A picture of Vals will have to suffice, as I don't have any of Laax. The skiing conditions are similar, but the lifts in Vals are mostly surface lifts.
Last tuesday I took a trip out to Laax. I decided taking the train and bus would be a good way to get there, as I was going on my own. Fortunately, SBB (the swiss train service) had a deal on travel and lift tickets, so I ended up paying less than I would have for gas and ticket to get my trip. The connections are great, and the trip was more or less relaxing. Being a weekday, I didn't have to worry to much about the crowds. The views as the train headed down Lake Zurich were wonderful, and the weather was great. It is an adventure, however, to figure out what to do with your skis on the trip. The newer railcars have a luggage/skirack you can put your skis in. I was in an older car on the way down, and ended up placing my skis in the luggage rack over the seats. No problem.
Arriving in Chur for the transfer wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Fortunately, I was in a car that ended up stopping right in front of the escalator. From there it was easy to get to the bus. The bus had a rack in the back for skis and snowboards, so all I had to do was enjoy the trip up.
The bus took me all the way to Laax, though I could have disembarked in Flims. When I arrived at the ticket counter with my coupon from SBB for my ticket, I was told I'd have to pay FIVE FRANKS for the RFID tag card that was my ticket. I was fairly unhappy about this, as nothing anywhere said anything about the extra charge. Though, they had my money at this point, and if I wanted to ski, they were going to make me pay this. Still, it's a rip-off.
It was then time to ski. I worked my way to the top, riding various lifts. I spoke to a number of fellow skiers, all in German. Most were German, though I did speak in a combination of Swiss-German and English to a middle-aged gentleman from Appenzell. All complemented me on my German. The Germans said that I didn't speak with too much of a Swiss accent. I suppose my German is better than I think.
Lunch was interesting, as I had planned on just grabbing something quick, like a burger or brautwurst. Instead, I stumbled into a gourmet restaurant on the summit. It was still fast. However, it was a very nice meal with white tablecloths. I was thinking this is a far cry from what passes for food in the US ski resorts I've been at. I had a nice meal of capuns, which are dumplings filled with bacon or sausage and wrapped in a spinach leaf. They were very good. My mother-in-law also makes excellent capuns as well.
The skiing was pretty good. There was a bit of wind up top, but I found a chairlift on the west side of the area that was servicing a nice slope and that was in the sun. I skied there for a couple of runs, and as I liked this run the best, it was of course the slowest chairlift.
After a couple of runs on the chair, I had to work my way over to the Burton Snowboard Opens. The son of one of my cousins was competing, and that was really the reason I was up at Laax. So, I went over and saw him compete and met up with him and met a few of his friends. It was nice to talk to a few Americans again. Then it was time to go catch my bus home.
All in all Laax is a pretty cool place to ski. The tickets are a bit pricey, but the lifts are great (except for that slow chairlift). The snow was good. The views wonderful. The runs were good as well. In many ways it reminded me of skiing at Crystal Mountain in the Cascades, but the food was so much better.