KLOSTERS, Switzerland — By the time the winter ski season arrives in this picturesque chalet village only three miles from the Austrian border, there will be new low-cost accommodation facilities for young visitors.
Many of the regular visitors to Klosters don't have to worry about tight budgets. This popular ski center attracted international attention last year when Prince Charles was involved in a serious avalanche accident after skiing away from official runs in the area.
By December of this year the SSR Soldanella Hotel, formally affiliated with the Swiss student travel service, will be converted into a youth hostel.
Swiss youth hostels have no age limits, but when space is tight, preference is shown to travelers under 25. The average rate for dormitory accommodations ranges from 6 to 16 francs ($4 to $11 U.S.) a night.
You may have to put up with a curfew, but hostels do offer the advantage of cooking facilities. In Switzerland, restaurant meals are at least 1 1/2 times the price at home.
A Bite Out of the Budget
Grocery stores are no bargain, either. A dozen eggs costs 3 francs while a loaf of bread is 2.60 francs. Don't leave your shopping until noon; you'll find that most stores close for a two-hour lunch break.
Even with a break on rates for accommodations, young travelers on limited funds will find that Alpine skiing will take a considerable bite out of a budget. A three-day adult regional ski pass (including the Davos area) is 114 francs ($76 U.S.). Renting skis, boots and poles would be an additional 77 francs for three days.
The Alpine resort areas of Klosters, Davos and Arosa offer less expensive winter alternatives such as cross-country skiing, but the best bet for those on tight budgets is to head this way during the hiking season, which lasts until late October.
In the Klosters area you'll find 155 miles of well-kept, marked footpaths, inexpensive dormitory lodgings in mountain huts and free guided walks.
At the Klosters tourist information office at Landstrasse 41, you can get advice on walking routes and lodging, buy hiking maps and arrange to join the free guided walks offered each Wednesday.
It's important to get knowledgeable route advice because the paths can vary from a gentle stroll through Alpine meadows to scrambling across foggy snowfields on a high mountain pass. Be sure to carry extra layers of warm, waterproof clothing.
Lighten the Load
If you decide to walk between villages in Switzerland, remember that you can lighten your load by sending baggage by rail to any station in the country for 5 francs per piece.
An eight-mile walk, or 10-franc ($7) bus ride, from Klosters is the Berghause Vereina mountain hut. It's a cozy stone inn with twin and dormitory rooms and a restaurant. Similar facilities are dotted over the countryside. A dormitory bed with breakfast is 23 francs, lodging with dinner is 45 francs.
The Davos area has 200 miles of walks and paths. Travelers on a student budget can stay at a central student hotel, camp near the edge of town or use a youth hostel at the north end of Lake Davos near the Wolfgang rail station.
The SSR Sporthotel, across from the Davos rail station, offers dormitory beds with breakfast for 19 francs a night during summer. In winter the rate rises to 30 francs.
Arosa, a charming chalet village of 2,800, offers hikers 193 kilometers of well-kept trails along with free guided walks.
Budget accommodations are available at a clean, convenient youth hostel in the center of the village. Rates range from 11 to 16 francs a night. Camping is also available on the edge of town for 5 francs per person a night.
For more information on travel to Switzerland, contact the Swiss National Tourist Office, 250 Stockton St., San Francisco 94108, (415) 362-2260.