FLIMS-LAAX, SWITZERLAND - A splendid, spacious area that deserves to be better known.

Flims/Laax has an impressive 220 km of mainly intermediate slopes. The resort is very popular with weekenders and has invested in some large-capacity lifts, including a 3-stage gondola from Flims, a jumbo gondola from Laax and several high-speed chair lifts.

It can be very quiet during the week, and it is virtually unknown outside the Swiss and German markets. It deserves better. Don't be put off by the unfortunate (for English-speakers) local name for 'peak', which is 'crap'. All the mountaintops are called crap, a top apr├Ęs-ski venue is the Crap Bar and the tourist office has used the slogan 'Flims is crap' in promotions.

There are very long runs from the tops of three different interconnected mountains, amid stunning scenery - all ideal for adventurous intermediates. And there's plenty to play around on in all areas. The two main drawbacks are its sunny orientation, which can soon spoil the snow on the lower part of the mountain (especially later in the season), and the lack of any sense of real Alpine charm in any of the alternative places to stay. They aren't ugly - just lacking in the chocolate-box charm you might look for in Switzerland.

What's Great
What's Not-So-Great

+ Extensive, varied slopes suitable for all but experts

+ Impressive lift system+ Virtually queue-free on weekdays

+ Fair number of slopes above 2000m, partly offsetting effects of their sunny south-east orientation

+ Lots of wooded runs for bad-weather days

+ Just 90 minutes from Zurich airport

? Sunny orientation can cause icy or slushy slopes and shut lower runs

? Buses or long walks to lifts from much of the accommodation

? Very subdued in the evenings

? Village very spread out, which detracts from its charm

? Weekend crowds

? Local dialect has unfortunate name for 'peak' - they call it 'crap'