St. Moritz is the Hottest Destination of Winter

St. Moritz

Winter sports and Swiss hospitality reach their peaks in St. Moritz. image: andrea badrut

St. Moritz is an alluring destination for its physical beauty, fresh air and many cultural and recreational activities. It has been attracting daredevil winter athletes and members of high society to Switzerland for more than a century. This exceptional winter resort remains popular with Europe’s elite skiers, jazz aficionados and high-end shoppers, all of whom pursue their pleasures amid the sublime scenery on the shores of Lake St. Moritz. A never-ending calendar of events offers exceptional experiences throughout the year culminating in February at the height of the social season. This month enjoy White Turf when horse races and polo take place on the frozen lake during weekends.

Regional Culture

St. Moritz

 image: robert la bua

Not all of the pleasures of St. Moritz are ephemeral. The excellent Segantini Museum is one of the town’s most impressive sights. The works of local artist Giovanni Segantini, a celebrated painter in Switzerland but hardly known outside the country, are displayed here in a remarkable collection.

The Forum Paracelsus showcases the mineral baths that first attracted visitors; a history dating back more than 3000 years. In Samedan, next to St. Moritz, is the impressive Chesa Planta Museum, an old-time manor house now transformed into a cultural center where the program of events often includes classical music concerts by performers in period costume. Not to be missed are the excellent pastries, cakes and chocolates at Café Hanselmann, where the regional Engadine walnut cake is just one of the many delicacies.

Ski-in, Ski-out Luxury

St. Moritz

 image: swiss helicopter

Occupying a bluff overlooking a turquoise-green glacial lake, Suvretta House is only 1.5 miles from the village but worlds away in demeanor. Entering the enormous main hall one finds a world of unpretentious excellence, historic charm and exceptional service. It’s no accident that Suvretta evokes images of English manor houses: when it opened its doors in 1912, many of the hotel’s guests were British and to this day they are still a considerable presence here, now joined by a cosmopolitan mix of guests.

As in many historic hotels, the rooms and suites vary greatly in size and configuration. They are neither ornate nor opulent, that is not the hotel’s style. Instead, there is an abundance of space and elegance to suit an exacting clientele’s needs. One unique touch of careful attention is storing guests’ personal belongings between visits to ensure their suites feel more like home upon their return.

Suvretta House is also a ski resort of the highest caliber. It is the only five-star ski-in, ski-out lodging in St. Moritz, a two-time host of the Winter Olympics. And they take that exclusivity factor seriously. Direct transfer from Zurich Airport is of course available by car but other options include a private railway car or an entire private train—allowing passengers to travel in the elegance of a bygone era. Swiss Federal Railways maintains a number of special historic carriages and trains for private charter as well. If time is of the essence, Swiss Helicopter can provide transfers right to Suvretta’s grounds.

Their Snowsport Center is a marvel of organization, with numerous heated lockers and spacious areas for arriving and departing slalomists and snowboarders. It even has its own ski lift to take guests to the top of the mountain; along the way is the cozy Trutz restaurant—a refreshing stop for coffee, hot chocolate or a hearty meal between descents.

At 2200 meters, the sun terrace at Trutz is a superb observation deck for taking in the views across the glacial lakes and mountain peaks of the Upper Engadin region. Another mountain lodge restaurant, Chasellas, is open during the winter season. Talvo by Dalsass, one of Switzerland’s premier dining establishments and the domain of Italian chef Martin Dalsass, is located nearby in St. Moritz-Champfèr.

Beyond St. Moritz: Landscapes and Railways

St. Moritz

 image: stephan knecht

The entire southeast of Switzerland is one picturesque valley after another, framed by postcard-perfect mountain peaks. Graubünden is the largest canton in Switzerland and thus encompasses a generous percentage of the region’s beautiful and serene landscapes. Outdoor enthusiasts revel in the splendid opportunities for hiking, cycling or simply admiring the scenery from the comfort of a train.

The famous Bernina Express and Glacier Express trains, with glass-enclosed observation cars that let the outdoors inside, provide excellent viewing opportunities. Passengers on Rhaetian Railway get even closer to Nature with their rolling stock of open-air panoramic cars. Rhaetian is one of only three train lines in the world to have UNESCO World Heritage classification; it’s famous for its many bridges and tunnels traversing gorges and mountains.

Deeper into the Graubünden region, the Alp Grüm railway station has a stellar vantage point to view the pristine, blue-green glacier and glacial lake. The on-site restaurant offers a panorama of the scenery and is a great place to fortify the body before a trek through the adjacent parkland.

Further along is Poschiavo, a convivial place where the Italian way of life dominates the pretty town square. At the end of both the Bernina Express railway line and Stelvio bus line is Tirano, across the border in Italy but served by Switzerland’s transport system. (How cool is that?) A return into Swiss territory on the Stelvio line bus route permits visitors to stop on the summit of the Stelvio peak and end the journey in the charming village of Müstair, home to the Claustra San Jon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves a convent from when Charlemagne ruled.

VIP Airport Services

SWISS International Air Lines’ new First and Business Class services are available on nonstop flights from both Newark and JFK to Zurich Airport, one of the world’s best for elite travelers. Two dedicated lounges are exclusive sanctuaries for the select few. Whether flying commercial or private, travelers are greeted by a uniformed agent who escorts them until departure, expediting the process and minimizing any unforeseeables. If a flight is delayed, canceled or overbooked, the representative leverages contacts within the airport’s management to ensure the client’s needs are met.

Choppers to Engadin Airport in Samedan, just a few miles from St. Moritz, are also possible. Travelers coming by private jet can fly directly to Engadin Airport which, despite its tiny size, is nevertheless equipped to handle the needs of sophisticated travelers.

St. Moritz Celebrates Year-Round
In summer, the Festival da Jazz, more discreet than the renowned festival in Montreux, allows for attending concerts by world-famous singers in intimate venues such as the legendary Dracula Club. July’s British Classic Car Meeting sees dozens of vintage Bentleys, Jaguars, Rolls-Royces and Aston Martins lining Via Serlas, the town’s main street. The St. Moritz Art Masters Festival showcases international contemporary art and the Engadin Festival brings masters of classical music to town.