With its chocolate-box villages and captivating Alpine scenery, Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the best destinations in Europe for a luxury skiing holiday. There’s no shortage of resorts scattered throughout the valleys of the Swiss Alps, but in our opinion these five are the best place to start.
Despite having enough designer boutiques and fine dining restaurants to put a capital city to shame, Gstaad maintains its charming small town character. The town centre is lined with wooden chalets, giving it true nostalgic appeal. If you tire of eating at its Michelin-starred hotspots, you can escape the A-list crowds at charming restaurants like Le Petit Chalet. This intimate, 18-seater restaurant serves local cheese-based specialities fondue and raclette.
As well as its enticing après-ski options, Gstaad also excels when it comes to snow sports. The village sits in the Saanenland ski area, with connections to a variety of slopes and snow parks. Staying in Gstaad gives you access to 220km of pistes with altitudes of up to 3000m.
Dubbed “the pearl of the Alps”, Saas Fee boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in the region. This small town is surrounded by 13 peaks, each reaching more than 4km in altitude, and gives you the chance to experience glacier skiing.
Don’t let the old-fashioned wooden chalets of the car-free town centre fool you. Saas Fee prides itself on being contemporary. Snowboarding, carving and new school ski styles have been wholeheartedly embraced in this resort.
Off the slopes, Saas Fee offers a wealth of unique activities. Step inside the Ice Pavilion at the entrance to the Fee glacier, which sits at an altitude of 3500m. Here, you can admire the carved ice sculptures before trying the nail-biting avalanche simulator. Afterwards, steady your nerves with a tipple at the world’s highest revolving restaurant.
One of Switzerland’s most iconic resorts, St Moritz is where it all began – the British invented snow sports here in 1865. It’s had a reputation for A-list glamour ever since. The resort’s enduring jet set appeal can be attributed to its location near the Italian border, giving it the coveted combination of snow and sun. It has 350km of slopes reaching an altitude of 3,305m, making it an extensive, snow-sure region that’s ideal for intermediate skiers.
St Moritz takes its food seriously. Every January, the resort hosts a gourmet food festival, which attracts celebrated chefs from around the world. Last year’s line-up included Ian Kittichai, Ana Roš and Dominique Crenn. When it’s time for a tipple, don your black tie attire and rub shoulders with celebrities at King’s Club.
Part of the Four Valleys ski area, Verbier is one of the largest lift-linked ski areas in the world and has some of the best off piste in the Alps. It has 412km of runs spread across more than 200 pistes, and advanced skiers can put their skills to the test at the famous Tortin snow bowl.
The nail-biting terrain and vibrant nightlife have made Verbier a firm favourite among young, serious skiers. The resort hosts the finals of the Freeride World Tour – Xtreme Verbier. It also hosts the Verbier High Five, a tournament which pits hobbyists against the professionals.
Ski-in dining is also popular. The mountain is home to rustic cabins such as Cabane de Tortin, which serves French-Swiss snacks beside its wood-burning stoves, and luxurious options like Chez Dany, where the chefs reinterpret local fare with a modern twist.
Home of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is the quintessential Swiss ski resort. It won the Best Ski Resort in the Alps title in 2014 and 2016. With 200km of pistes, plus an additional 160km in neighbouring Cervinia, there’s plenty of powder to go around.
This car-free town has been settled since the medieval era, and you can feel the history as you stroll through the winding streets past weather-beaten chalets. It has a high concentration of fine dining restaurants, with two Michelin star eateries – the two-star After Seven and one-star Ristorante Capri. Additionally, 14 restaurants have been awarded a Michelin Plate.
After sunset, the crowds flock to the Unique Hotel Post. This well-loved venue has no less than five bars and clubs, including the Papa Caesar lounge bar with its panoramic terrace and Pink, which hosts live bands throughout the winter.
Craig Burton is Managing Director of Ski Solutions. Ski Solutions is the UK’s original ski travel agent with over 30 years’ experience in delivering high-end ski holidays to Europe and North America.
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