Best Ski Resort Awards 2018

Study surveyed 46,000 skiers and snowboarders in the Alps.

What winter sport enthusiasts want


Innsbruck, 8th November 2018// Which criteria are most important for the choice of winter athletes where to book their next vacation destination? What’s more crucial, the length of the slope, adventure of nature, the lodge on top of the mountain or still the price of transport and ski lift-tickets? And which skiing region finally makes the grade? 

The prestigious study “Best Ski Resort” (Mountain Management in cooperation with the University of Innsbruck/Bozen) has surveyed 46,000 winter sportsmen directly on the slopes of 55 selected top ski resorts in the Alps regarding their satisfaction in the past ski season and was presented on November 8 in the Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens/Tirol.

In the cross category overall evaluation with outstanding satisfaction, Kronplatz in South Tyrol/Italy takes the most popular place on the victory stage – just followed by Zermatt in Switzerland (2nd place). Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in Tyrol/Austria and Val Gardena – another “Dolomiti Superski region” in South Tyrol/Italy – are sharing 3rd place.


Largest “on mountain” survey in the Alps

The special feature of the study, which is published every two years by Mountain Management Consulting in collaboration with the University of Innsbruck/Bozen: The jury consists of 45,847 winter sportsmen (representative from beginner to professional), interviewed directly at the slopes of 55 selected top ski resorts in the Alpine region. Skiers and snowboarders provided information on more than 20 categories of “relevance” and “satisfaction”.

“Best Ski Resort Report” is thus the largest “on mountain” survey on customer satisfaction in the Alps, which is performed on a regular basis every two years. It offers interesting results and new insights for guests and for decision-makers concerning the quality of the skiing region, the satisfaction of the guests and the most relevant criteria when choosing the destination. Regarding the director of studies, Prof. Dr. Kurt Matzler of the University of Innsbruck/Bozen, this study has generated response even in fields of research and created the database for scientific evaluations and publications in terms of customer satisfaction.


Best Ski Resort 2018: Kronplatz (IT)

In the cross category overall evaluation with outstanding satisfaction (8,54 points), the italian Winter sport region Kronplatz overtakes the swiss Zermatt in Switzerland (2nd place with 8,51 points). Especially in the category transport comfort, Kronplatz leaves all other competitors far behind. And even concerning snow safety, friendlyness and the gastronomic offer, the guests of the South Tyrolean skiing area are especially content.

The 3rd place is shared by Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in Tyrol/Austria and Val Gardena in South Tyrol/Italy – 8,40 points respectively. In the ranks five to ten follow: 5. Alta Badia (IT), 6. Grächen (CH), 7. Arosa-Lenzerheide (CH), 8. Aletsch Arena (CH) 9. Livigno (IT) and 10. Laax (CH) und Sölden (AT).


Primary criterion in the selection of the winter sport resort: size matters!

The size of the ski resort and the slopes offer is decision criterion No. 1 in the selection of the resort for skiers and snowboarders. The rule of thumb is obvious: the desire for a large area increases with the skill on the slopes. The steadily increasing number of associations of individual ski resorts reflects the response of the regions. It’s become a consistent trend. Winter sports enthusiasts in Alta Badia / South Tyrol, in the heart of the Sella Ronda, were particularly satisfied in this category. This region also leads the ranking ahead of Lech Zürs am Arlberg – presenting a new association with St. Anton am Arlberg.


Shift of expectations

Compared to the previous year’s results, however, the category ski resort size / slope offers shows a slight decline – in favour of the category friendliness (the Austrian skiing regions score in the international comparison, whereas Grächen/CH takes 1st place in the individual evaluation) and slope-safety  (1st place Zermatt/CH) have increased their relevance. Besides, of course the categories fun and entertainment (1st place Grächen/CH) and experience of nature (1st place Alta Badia/ITA) become a more and more important criterion.

The second-most important criterion in the selection process of the winter sport area remains the category snow safety (1st place Saas-Fee/CH): last winter season the desire for white winter magic on the skiing holiday was more or less fulfilled in most of the skiing regions. The challenge was rather how to manage those masses of snow and to turn them into safe and lasting winter-wonderlands. An extraordinary white carpet was obviously rolled out for the guests in Swiss Aletsch Arena: they appreciated the effort with an outstanding evaluation of their contentment (1st place in the category preparation/quality of slopes).

As in previous years, Ischgl (AT) recorded the highest satisfaction ratings in the category après-ski. Laax remains the fun & snowpark Mecca of the Alps. This time, little skiers and their families feel the most comfortable in Grächen in Switzerland. In Sulden (IT), next to the Ortler, the service rendered seems to be particularly attractive to the price, which is an important factor in the purchasing decision as the price increases.


Conclusion: The competition is getting harder. Whoever wants to exist has to invest and stay innovative – above all, he has to create an outstanding position

The increasing tourist offer in winter – with long-distance, city and ship trips – raises the competitive pressure on ski regions. Rising satisfaction figures of the winter sportsmen confirm the high commitment of some regions in the area of new products and service quality. Interestingly, the top riders among the ski resorts are growing more positively than the rest, and this with a progressive expectation. The more popular a skiing region is (and thus the more expensive!), the more critical the guests are. For a higher valuation of satisfaction, the skiing regions have to put more effort into their service and offers.

A distinguishable positioning in terms of what the region stands for is important. If the individual advantages and excellences of the skiing region are clearly distinguishable for the guests, they certainly evaluate at a higher level.

According to the study manager Mike Partel, the current biggest challenge for ski resorts is to react proactively to changing guest behaviour, or more precisely, to the decreasing loyalty (about 30% of the guests continually change the ski resort). Even satisfied guests want to experience new winter sport adventures – in contrast to previous generations. It will be a matter of increasing “wow effects” that will inspire guests to recommend the ski region to others.


Popular categories in detail:


Category Price performance – 1st place: Sulden (IT)

It may surprise at first sight, that the contentment in the category price-performance increased on the whole, especially among the interviewed families. It seems as if winter sport regions had taken seriously the expectations of  the guests and reacted with matching offerings. Above all, families with children get more for their money, e.g. free Saturdays for children or free skiing-classes. The italian Ski Resort Sulden, located in the Ortler region, has a perennial intuition for the expectations of the guests and of their correspondent willingness where to spend their money. Even two Swiss skiing regions are in the Top-5 this year, something you wouldn’t really expect.

The Top-5 in the category price performance: 1. Sulden (IT), 2. Grächen (CH), 3. 3 Zinnen (IT), 4. Val Gardena (IT) und Aletsch Arena (CH)


Category comfort and convenience of mountain cableways/lifts – 1st place: Kronplatz (IT)

As comfortable as possible, as fast as possible! Transport comfort at its finest – guests at the Italian Kronplatz benefit from the millions of investments. Continuous expansion in this area is rewarded by the highest satisfaction levels. In particular, for the generous 50+ generation, comfort and convenience of lifts seems to be particularly important. Great praise of the winter sport guests reflects the acceptance of the great investment of the mountain railway operators, which is reflected in the best results for the winner Kronplatz by far.

The Top-5 in the category comfort and convenience of mountain cableways/lifts: 1. Kronplatz (IT), 2. Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis (AT), 3. Zermatt (CH), 4. Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang-Fieberbrunn (AT), 5. Adelboden-Lenk (CH)


Category child/family facilities on the mountain – 1st place: Grächen (CH)

40% of the guests in the skiing regions are on holiday with their families and children. Fun, action and variety for children as well as recreation/wellness for parents is on great demand. The ski resort Grächen – just as Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis does since 2010 – offers a top-family-programm and thus convinces the guests.

The Top-5 in the category child/family facilities on the mountain: 1. Grächen (CH), 2. Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis (AT), 3. Arosa-Lenzerheide (CH), 4. Kronplatz (IT),  5. Stubaier Gletscher (AT)


Category friendliness/cordiality – 1st place: Grächen (CH)

The focus on friendliness at the winter vacation destination is gaining more and more importance. This category meanwhile son 6th place among the decisive criteria, in Swiss ski resorts it ranks even on 4th place! No wonder, Grächen wins this category as a Swiss Ski resort.

The Top-5 in the category friendliness/cordiality: 1. Grächen (CH), 2. Sulden (IT) and Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis (AT), 4. Kronplatz (ITA), 5. Schladming (AT)


Category après-ski – 1st place: Ischgl (AT)

Great parties take place in Austria – Ischgl remains first in nightlife. As a trend-analysis confirms, party-offers are increasingly important for skiers and winter sport enthusiasts: for guests from age 20 to 34, the category après-ski is ranked even at 4th place when it comes to choose the skiing resort! Four Austrian skiing regions are among the top 5 in the après ski category, led again by the “party mecca” Ischgl in Tyrol (associated with the Swiss Samnaun).

Top 5 in the après-ski category: 1. Ischgl (AT), 2. Grächen (CH), 3. St. Anton am Arlberg (AT), 4. Sölden (AT), 5. Obertauern (AT)


Category fun & snow parks – 1st place: Laax (CH)

Laax is “the place to be” for snowboarders and friends of free skis. Laax has a tradition of freestyle and Laax is a cult. The respective target group knows the hotspots very well: Laax is once again a special category on its own, and not only offering the world’s biggest half-pipe, a pro-kicker line in Olympic size and over 90 obstacles spread over four snow parks.

The Top-5 in fun & snow parks: 1. Laax (CH), 2. Kronplatz (IT), 3. Livigno (IT), 4. Mayrhofen (AT), 5. Arosa-Lenzerheide (CH)


Further category rankings and information on the study on request.

We are happy to arrange interviews.


NEW from November 9 2018: Which ski resort is best for me? Winter sports enthusiasts find answers with a few clicks through the practical “ski resort finder”:

Worth knowing concerning this study:

As described before, guests evaluate the respective ski resort locally and not competitive with other winter sport regions. A very important influence regarding the satisfaction valuation are personal expectations and experiences, and of course the perception of the price performance. This may lead to the result, that popular regions, which are mostly higher-priced, get a more critical valuation because of the great expectations, or that a ski resort is valuated higher because the “total package” is coherent. It’s evident though that winter sport enthusiasts in the top-skiing areas of the Alps are getting more and more satisfied and content with the offers, which also confirms the permanent increase of the quality of it. In this year’s “Best Ski Report”, the “magical” 8,00 as an average peak indicator was reached for the first time.

The surveys were carried out in the respective winter sport resort for four times: two times each in the main and secondary season.

Selection criteria for the participation in the study are: name recognition, size of the skiing region, number of overnight stays and the regional importance in the respective country. Until 2020, further skiing regions can be accepted into the study, if they can provide with a certain minimum size (length of slopes, transport-offers, overnight stays) respectively if they can reach the average peak indicator in the domain of customer satisfaction of now 8,01. The total number of 55 ski resorts remains unaltered. For one period of evaluation, a total number of 3 new skiing regions can be accepted. The 3 skiing regions that are placed last on the ranking scale are removed from the evaluation. However, they can apply again for the following period of evaluation.


Pressekontakt Deutschland: Carolin Schmid
C.C. SCHMID • Kaulbachstraße 71 • D-80539 München
Telefon • Fax +49 (0) 89 340 866 29


Pressekontakt Österreich, Schweiz, Frankreich, Italien: Philipp Jochum kommunikation gmbh • Brunecker Straße 1, A-6020 Innsbruck
Telefon: +43 512 214004 -18 • Fax -28


Herausgeber der Studie: Michael Partel
MOUNTAIN MANAGEMENT Consulting • Industriering 21 • FL-9491 Ruggell
Telefon +423 231 1331