Fans of European skiing can argue about their favorite destination, but for many of us, Switzerland is a tough one to beat. It's a classic that never seems to lose its luster, so much so that the destination clocked a 6% boost in overnight visitors from North America during the 2014-2015 winter season over the previous year.
And while ski enthusiasts encompass all markets, from groups and couples to families with children, the Arosa resort, located in eastern Switzerland between Davos and St. Moritz, has made a name for itself by making a successful play for LGBT travelers.
The annual Arosa Gay Ski Week, this year set for Jan. 10 to 17, started quietly in 2005 with the efforts of local hotelier Hitsch Leu and has since grown into one of the top LGBT international winter events in Europe.
Last year, the event drew some 600 participants from 30 countries, according to Alexander Herkommer, who organizes the program along with Leu.
"We continually increase the large number of partners who support and promote the week and we have an extensive network of friends, supporters and sellers all over the world," Herkommer said, explaining the strong visitor numbers.
Part of that effort is letting people know what to expect on arrival.
In addition to games and sunbathing on the Tschuggenhutte terrace, there are daily apres-ski parties and evening events like a cabaret show, a party at the top of Weisshorn, disco ice-skating, moonlight sledding and pool parties.
Culture buffs can take in a concert in the village church with pianist Michel Dalberto or channel their inner foodies with theme dinners featuring gourmet cuisine.
Of course, on-slope activities are key, and Arosa offers 140 miles of skiable terrain and the services of ski guides. Novices are welcome with instruction via ABC Snow Sport School, while experts can participate in a so-called Drag Ski Race.
Participating properties range from 1 to 5 stars, and weeklong packages can include an Event Pass Gold, good for access to all parties, apres-skis and concerts, as well as a 10% discount for the ski pass, 20% discount on ski rental and daily use of sun-loungers' deck chairs at the Tschuggenhutte terrace.
Rates vary by hotel category, but participants can expect to pay from about $999 for the week.
Travel agents are eligible for an additional 13% discount on the Event Pass Gold and can contact Arosa Tourism at [email protected] or [email protected] for information on participating tour operators.