150 Years of Winter Tourism in Switzerland

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Pop quiz: who was the innovative St. Moritz hotelier who attracted the first winter guests to the Alps in 1864 with a simple bet that turned out to be the birth of winter tourism? Tweet your answer to @skivirtuoso

Snow sports are amazingly addictive, they can take you across the world, and you’ll meet many new friends and have some of the most memorable days of your life. Following is my hand-picked selection of top Swiss resorts and destinations, and favorite experiences.

Recommendation from my favorite ski instructor: take lessons at every level as it is always possible to improve and there is always another harder slope to tackle.

All hotels below (except The Chedi in Andermatt) are members of the Virtuoso luxury travel network and my clients will receive guaranteed rates, complimentary upgrades, exclusive perks and amenities, and free breakfast daily. From A to Z:

Andermatt
• served as the stunning backdrop to James Bond in Goldfinger
The famous Glacier-Express railway that connects Zermatt and St. Moritz boards and disembarks in Andermatt. The cable car takes you to the Gemsstock with incredible panoramic views from the summit over the heart of Switzerland and about 600 Alpine peaks. The wide open slopes are ideal for experienced skiers, snowboarders and fans of deep snow.

The Chedi: Alpine chic meets Asian sleek in this sublime hotel chalet. Its
extensive facilities include fine restaurants and cosy lounges, a ski-in living room with sports boutique and ski butler, comprehensive spa and wellness center with a tranquil retreat of hydrothermal baths and a duo of swimming pools. Although this hotel is not in the Virtuoso network, I included it because of its unique ambiance. Currently, I can offer promotional rates for a 3-night minimum stay including spa access & treatments, daily breakfast and one dinner, and other perks.

Davos
• free “inside” guest program
Davos is a place of superlatives: the largest resort for mountain holidays and at 1560 m the highest town in the Alps. Guests of the ski hotels can benefit from local insiders providing free and exclusive skiing adventures on a daily basis from 20 December 2014 to 6 April 2015. At night, too, there’s plenty of entertainment, with bars, discos and a casino.

InterContinental Davos offers spacious rooms with a modern, warm alpine feel underlined by high tech amenities. The trendsetting dining and lounge experiences and state-of-the-art spa and gym complement the hotel’s Green Engage sustainability effort.

Gstaad
• Glacier 3000
The chalet village of Gstaad attracts countless celebrities who appreciate the quiet and discreet atmosphere. The resort appeals to active travelers offering one of the largest and most diverse winter sports regions in Switzerland with guaranteed snow.

Gstaad Palace, set on a hill overlooking the village, is an elegant hotel with a relaxing ambiance and awesome views of the surrounding Alps. Guests also enjoy the tastefully decorated rooms, restaurants, spa, and world-famous night club. I recently participated in an interactive webinar to get all the latest updates before the hotel opens on December 19.

Alpina Gstaad, the first luxury hotel to be built in Gstaad in 100 years, boasts stunning rooms, private apartments within the hotel, and 2 chalets. All restaurants share a single floor of the hotel with floor-to-ceiling glass doors flowing onto an outdoor terrace. Japanese restaurant Megu is the first European location of the celebrated concept, with its flagship in New York.

Interlaken
• Jungfrau
The Jungfrau Region offers no less than 43 mountain railways and ski-lifts offering perfect skiing over some 125 miles of slopes. Non-skiers also get their money’s worth: more than 60 miles of winter footpaths enable you to explore the mountains on foot.

Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel combines modern comfort with old world charm. The most recent renovation of the rooms and the spa was in 2010. The spa is a veritable fountain of youth and health, offering virtually unlimited sporting possibilities matched by few other hotels.

St Moritz
• White Turf Horse Race
St. Moritz is the cradle of winter tourism and it is the only Alpine destination with own regional airport, located at an altitude of 5.905 ft. There are more than 200 miles of pistes with a state-of-the-art infrastructure in the surrounding area. Benefit from the countless opportunities in the region with a visitor’s card that is a travel pass for mountain transport facilities and buses, a parking disc and a credit card all in one while also entitling its holder to a great many discounts. Every winter, frozen Lake St. Moritz is the site of the White Turf Horse Race, which attracts the world’s finest thoroughbreds.

Badrutt’s Palace Hotel is where it all began 150 years ago! The answer to the pop quiz is Johannes Badrutt. At Badrutt’s Palace Hotel graceful ambience is matched with breathtaking, pristine alpine scenery that surrounds this fairy-tale hideaway. Fashion and food are just as celebrated as outdoor activities, making for a well-rounded experience.

The Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains is ideally located in St. Moritz Bad, with direct access to the cable car station for Corviglia. All rooms and suites are elegantly and timelessly appointed and reflect unpretentious luxury and stylish class. The hotel also boasts award-winning restaurants, a spa and many more facilities. My friend, Alessandro Benedetti, is the Director of Sales & Marketing at the hotel.

Verbier
• Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition Portfolio
I learned to ski in Verbier as a junior in high school. Verbier and the entire 4 Vallées ski area (not to be confused with Les 3 Vallées in France) is a paradise for all winter sports enthusiasts, from beginner to expert.

The Lodge is a stunning nine bedroom chalet (including a specially designed bunkroom for up to 6 children) accommodating a total of 18 guests. Although we also stayed in bunk beds during our “ski class”, it was nothing like you will experience at Sir Branson’s Lodge… with its private party room, indoor pool & jacuzzi, steam room, and mini ice-rink. Gastronomes will appreciate the private chef , wine cellar and house Champagne.

Zermatt
•    Matterhorn
The idyllic mountain village at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn has developed into one of the world’s most famous ski resorts with more than 188 miles of marked trails and a resort lift capacity of nearly 92,000 people per hour.

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof has been welcoming guests from all over the world since 1879. You will enjoy the newly renovated rooms, fine restaurants, popular bars, and a lavish spa with indoor pool.

Mont Cervin Palace stands out with its attractive façade and roof with numerous turrets and the hotel’s red horse-drawn carriage is an ever popular photo opp. Well-appointed rooms, Dine Around concept, and exquisite spa facilities & wellness center make for a fine stay.

Viviane Tondeur, CTC, DS is the Departure Lounge winter sports expert with a passion for anything snow, a wealth of knowledge, and some very cool tools to lead you to the right slopes. Viviane has completed the Switzerland Tourism program through the Virtuoso Travel Academy and has received the designation of “Switzerland Specialist

What is your most memorable snow adventure? Contact me here and let’s plan another one!

 

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