Fun for everyone at Swiss Valley
Published 5:41 pm Thursday, January 2, 2014
Whether there is snow on the windowsill or not this winter, chances are, there will be plenty of snow for downhill fun at Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area, located at 13421 Mann St. in Jones, MI.
“Nowadays, we do have snow. We have state-of-the-art snowmaking,” said Jim Wiseman, or “J.W.,” owner and general manager of the ski and snowboard area for the past 45 years. “We can recover so fast. In 30 hours, we can come from green grass to fully open with all of our lifts.”
The staff at Swiss Valley provides many ways for skiers to check on their snow conditions.
“We have a snow phone people can call. It’s recorded nightly. We do text messaging, Facebook, and there’s the website,” added Jamie Stafne, J.W.’s daughter.
Once there, visitors will find that Swiss Valley offers a wide array of programs and special offers designed to help get just about anyone out on the slopes.
“We draw a lot of people from the area because we’re a great place to learn to ski, and we’re very family oriented. So, we offer learn-to-ski and learn-to-snowboard programs,” Stafne said.
Unlike many other ski resorts, Swiss Valley offers skiing and snowboarding lessons on-demand.
“We have a certified snow sports staff that is always available,” Stafne said. “Any time that we’re open, we have instructors here that are able to give lessons, and we have other programs that make it economical for the whole family to enjoy skiing or snowboarding.”
On just about every day of the week there is some kind of special being offered at Swiss Valley, and those specials can be found on their website at www.skiswissvalley.com or by calling (269) 244-5635.
“On Sundays, you can learn to ski for just $20 from 3 to 7 p.m. It includes lift tickets, ski rental, and a lesson,” Stafne said. “We offer other learn-to-ski programs through our mid-week Super Saver program. There’s great rates available during the week.”
And, learning to ski at Swiss Valley has its advantages.
“If you learn here, you can ski anywhere,” Stafne said. “If you like skiing and snowboarding, here you ski what’s available. We don’t get to wait for the day when there’s a two-foot dump of powder. We learn to ski on ice, on the slow sticky snow, on everything. People who learn to ski here learn to ski on any conditions.”
On the other hand, the owners note that Swiss Valley is popular with families because of the layout and their emphasis on safety.
“We’re a family area. We’re a small area, and a lot of people like it because of that. We don’t have the big verticals that some of them do up north,” J.W. said. “I think they’re real comfortable bringing the kids here. We can control it so easily. We keep security on all the time. People don’t worry about anything here.”
“You can find the kids easily,” Stafne added. “If you put them in bright colors, you can see them coming down the runs and see which lifts they’re getting on.”
Skiing and snowboarding at Swiss Valley isn’t only for beginners and families, though.
“For those who already know how, we also have a fair amount of intermediate and advanced terrain and two terrain parks, which are parks that offer jumps and rails and boxes and the kinds of features that allow the kids to do some of those things you’re seeing on the X-Games,” Stafne said.
And, if visitors to the resort happen to forget any piece of equipment or gear, Swiss Valley has them covered.
“We can rent what you need from head to toe. You have to buy your own socks, but everything else—the jackets, the gloves, the ski pants, the coats, we have all of that,” Stafne said. “So, if people have family visiting from out of town and they don’t bring their gear, we can rent all of that. So, helmets, boots, skis, snowboards. You can buy the socks here, too.”
Swiss Valley also offers several options for the times when folks want to take a break from the slopes, warm up by the large fireplace, get a bite to eat and relax for a bit.
“In the cafeteria, we have grab-and-go style food, and we also have a full-service restaurant. There’s hot toddies, there’s hot chocolate drinks, there’s beer,” said Stafne. “On the weekends, we have live entertainment down in the chalet during the afternoon hours.”
“We get a lot of people from northern Indiana, but not so many from north of here,” J.W. said. “People think, ‘You travel north to ski.’ It’s hard to fathom that you can go south to ski. It shouldn’t make any difference, but it seems to.”
So, whether there is snow on the windowsill or not this winter, there is good skiing to be had, and it’s not that far away, whether one lives north of Jones or south.