Updated: Apr 8, 2019
Text and photos by Charlie Grinhaff
Florida is well known for its countless lakes and beautiful scenery, but walking down the tree-lined path to the docks at Swiss Waterski Resort you are met with the most idyllic view. There are two main ski lakes here, Stephanie and Caroline, and if you want perfect skiing conditions then look no further. Caroline is the main lake they use for tournaments and rumour has it you can even ski on it during a hurricane!
What I love about this family run ski school is that waterskiing runs through their veins and their whole ethos seems to be to encourage new people into the sport and to keep the sport alive. Everyone is welcome here and what makes it so special is that one day you can be sharing the dock with someone who’s taking their first steps onto the water or tackling the slalom course for the first time and the next you are surrounded by the likes of Nate Smith, Will Asher and Regina Jaquess.
There’s such a friendly feel to the place and it seems to me once you’ve been to Swiss you return year after year. We’ve been in May and November and there are always familiar faces on the dock to greet you. Everyone is passionate about skiing and willing to share their own tips.
Unsurprisingly, in keeping with its name, the school is run by a Swiss family. Clint and Valerie really do go out of their way to make you feel welcome. The whole place has a very European feel to it and in addition to the many Americans and Canadians the school attracts guests from all over Europe.
I’ve skied at Swiss for a few years now and we always go for the short programme; two ski sets a day for six days and we go for two weeks at a time. From experience you usually alternate between mornings or afternoons but if you have a preference they are very flexible. We normally ski with Clint but we’ve also had great coaching from Patrice and Bebe. During your set your never feel rushed and you get a sense they really want you to improve; if you run your last pass or set a new PB they encourage you to go again. I have known of friends going to other ski schools where they have set a new PB on their last set and have not being given the opportunity to have another pass; that wouldn’t happen at Swiss.
The resort always has the latest Nautique boats and like many ski schools they operate a whiteboard system, but are flexible and do their best to accommodate people where they can. When we first came to Florida one of the reasons we chose Swiss was because other ski schools charged you up front, meaning if you miss a set you are still charged. The more flexible approach at Swiss really works for my mum who usually has one set a day but will sometimes have two.
The ski school is set in the grounds of an 18 hole golf course - there are even holes where the golfers have to wait for skiers to pass as they take a shot over the lake. There are some beautiful villas on site with great views of the lake or the golf course.
We’ve been in both May and November – May was scorching hot and busy, November was far more comfortable and quieter. There’s a handy pro shop on site; it’s not massive but they can order goods in for you to arrive during your stay.
The resort is set in a peaceful and quiet location but within minutes you are on highway 50 and in easy reach of supermarkets, bars and restaurants. You’re about 40 minutes from Orlando International Airport.
When we’re not skiing we like to relax around the pool and bbq on a night, but there are plenty of places to eat close by and the Tiki Bar is a great place to watch the sun set. If you want to get away from the typical American chain restaurants then head to Celebration, Winter Garden or Winter Park for a more European feel. Disney Springs is also worth a visit for restaurants, bars, live music and late night shopping.
I’m not really one for all the touristy stuff but Swiss is less than an hour from all the parks including Disney, Seaworld and Universal. There’s plenty of other stuff to keep you busy off the water too. If you want to see gators up close there are plenty of opportunities including the chance to zipwire over them at Gatorland. There are a number of natural springs where you can canoe and kayak, there’s indoor skydiving, the Kennedy Space Center is within reach and there are plenty of beaches. The list is endless and of course if you’re one for golfing then Swiss is the perfect place to indulge in both your hobbies.