Skiing and snowboarding
Chalet Cristal is within a five minutes drive of the three télécabines at Morillon, Vercland and Samoëns giving easy access to the whole of the Grand Massif, with its fantastic skiing and snowboarding for all abilities. There is ample free parking at all the télécabines and the ski bus stops at the end of the road from the chalet (a one minute walk away).
The Morillon télécabine is the closest and goes to Morillon 1100 where the beginners' area and meeting points for lessons are located. It's also possible to drive up to Morillon 1100, which takes about 10 minutes. Morillon ESF has an excellent reputation for all levels of tuition and is especially popular for children learning to ski being graced with excellent blue runs, a great red slalom run (Stade) and possibly the best, and certainly one of the longest green runs in the Alps - Marvel, which is 5 km. A new blue piste Doina, which has snow cannons the whole length, goes from the beginners' area in Morillon 1100 back down to the valley next to the télécabine.
From Morillon 1100, the Sairon chairlift takes you straight to the top to access all the Morillon and Les Carroz pistes. Both Morillon and Les Carroz provide a wide choice of tree-lined runs - perfect at any time but particularly when the weather is more closed in, or for a morning if you have to meet people at the end of ski school. There are also ample opportunities for skiing off the side of the pistes and through the trees with new fun zones for freestyle and boarder cross.
All links to Samoëns and Flaine go via Tête de Saix. New for Winter 2017 was a 3.6 km blue piste and an express chair lift up to Tête des Saix from Morillon, winter 2018 has added a new red piste down to the same lift. From Morillon it takes 45 minutes to get to the top of Les Grands Platières above Flaine, which is the highest point in the Grand Massif. Flaine is a great sunny bowl for skiing when the weather is good as the majority of runs are above the tree line. It also provides access to some excellent off-piste skiing, notably the Gers bowl and the famous 15 km Cascades run all the way back to Sixt; ski buses run back to Morillon from the bottom of the piste.
As an alternative to the Morillon télécabine, both the fast Samoëns, and the more charming, and old fashioned, Vercland télécabines go directly to Samoëns 1600 where the beginners' area and meeting points for lessons are located. From Samoëns 1600, the Chariande Express lift takes you to the top of Tête des Saix to access the Samoëns runs or for the link to Flaine.
Pistes and links between the ski areas are all well signed across the Grand Massif. One big difference between the Grand Massif and some of the other 'larger' ski domains is that the resorts of Morillon, Samoëns, Les Carroz and Flaine are all truly linked; once on a lift, it's possible to get everywhere else by ski / snowboard. This is in marked contrast to some areas such as the Portes du Soleil for example where although it's advertised as a bigger overall area it's necessary to walk across town or use a bus to link between ski areas.
The area provides a great selection of nordic / cross-country pistes for all abilities. Within the valley it's possible to ski from Lac Bleu, very close to the chalet, to Samoëns, and beyond as far as the reserve at Fer à Cheval. In total there are over 38 km of tracks with five green, three blue and two red pistes.
If there is insufficient snow for the valley routes to open then the Col de Joux Plane sector offers seven runs (three green, two blue and two red) at an altitude of 1700m. There is also a designated tobogganing area suitable for all ages and stunning views over the whole of the Grand Massif to Mont Blanc. The Col de Joux Plane sector is accessed via a shuttle bus running between the Morillon and Samoëns tourist offices.
There are lots of other winter activities available in the area including fat biking, ice-skating, dog sledding, day and night-time guided snowshoes walks -night-time walks generally include a wonderful meal in a yurt or mountainside chalet, ice diving, snowmobile safaris and mountaineering to name a few.