Crans and Montana-Vermala, at 4,985 feet (1,494m), are twin ski resorts and another one of Switzerland's big, world-famous ski resorts. Crans-Montana is occupying what is claimed to be the sunniest plateau in the Valais, facing south over the Rhône valley with a spectacular panorama of many peaks of the Alps. Along with Verbier and St Moritz, it is also fashionable and long associated with upscale International tourism.
Crans, whose hotel construction began in 1912, is composed for the most part of colonies of apartments and hotels, many in the half-timbered mountain style. Montana, clustered around the shores of Lac Grenon, is the older section, begun in 1892. Connected to them both, at a slightly lower altitude, is Aminona, still an infant resort but rising rapidly.
Crans Montana is well known as a Skier's Paradise with its perennially snow-bound mountains. Skiing takes second place to the round of wining and dining embarked upon by fashionable aficionados of Crans Montana's affluent social life - although the resort does have the advantage of access to year-round skiing on the Plaine Morte glacier, way up above 10,000 feet (3,000m).
Skiing aside, the place is best known for hosting the European Masters golf tournament every September, second only to the British Open for prestige and top names. Crans's scenic course - "by far the most spectacular tournament site in the world" according to Greg Norman - was redesigned in 1999 by Seve Ballesteros, and now boasts fiendishly complex upturned-saucer greens, which led one frustrated player to describe playing a round as "having eighteen teeth pulled one by one".