In contrast with its alpine neighbours, where French and Italian resorts have closed and Austrian lifts remain open exclusively for local use, Switzerland is limiting its number of lift passes and have introduced a set of Covid-19 restrictions throughout its resorts. Face masks must be worn on all ski installations, including chair lifts, drag lifts and all queuing areas, and private gatherings have been limited to five people. Whilst many non-essential shops and restaurants remain closed, the powdery white slopes of the Swiss Alps are still there to be enjoyed, whether this season or the next. In the meantime, here are five of our favourite Swiss ski resorts and where to stay when you’re not carving up the pistes…
For flawlessly groomed slopes and glitzy boutiques, the picturesque village of Gstaad has style as well as substance when it comes to ski holidays. Step away from the high-end shops on The Promenade and you’ll find a different side to this fashionable mountain retreat – with 220km of pistes, there’s a run to suit every taste and every level of experience. When you’re not celeb-spotting on the slopes, head up Glacier 3000 for breath-taking panoramic views of the Alps.
Far right photo credit: @perfectmomentsports
Where to stay: Enjoying a central location on The Promenade, Le Grand Bellevue benefits from all the local amenities of Gstaad town. With a Michelin-starred restaurant, Art Deco bar, and 3,000 square-metre spa, there are plenty of reasons to stay inside at this early 20th-century grand dame as much as enjoy the great outdoors.
As the gateway to the famous 4 Vallées, Verbier forms part of Switzerland’s largest ski area with 410km of powder-perfect pistes. On bluebird days, the sunshine reflects off the slate-roofed chalets and pretty café tables made for après-ski dancing as much as guzzling raclette. The resort’s main network of pistes is served by the Médran gondola, located directly above Verbier – and whilst there are slopes to suit all levels, some of the Alps’ best lift-served off piste can be enjoyed by more advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Where to stay: A warm welcome awaits every guest at Cordée des Alpes Hotel, a stylish wooden ski lodge which has been thoughtfully designed to integrate with the surrounding alpine architecture. Step inside the chalet-inspired reception to a crackling fireplace, decorated with vintage skis. Be sure to go for a post-ski dip in the hotel’s 15-metre pools to relax slope-sore muscles.
Home to the iconic Matterhorn (you know, the mountain on the Toblerone bar) and Europe’s highest altitude ski resort, Zermatt boasts over 360km of blue, red, black and yellow runs for snowsports enthusiasts of all abilities. Make the most of the modern lifts and cable cars, including the Matterhorn glacier ride, where freestyle skiers and boarders can throw some shapes at The Snowpark Zermatt. Budding alpinists should make the 4,000 metre ascent up Breithorn, which is one of the easiest hikes in the Alps and requires no previous climbing experience.
Where to stay: With two stylish options at the foot of the mighty Matterhorn, you’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding where to relax after a day on the slopes. Hotel Schweizerhof has an authentic Swiss chalet air about it (not to mention an indoor pool and jacuzzi) and the family-owned, all-suite Hotel Firefly is surrounded by stunning views of the soaring peaks of the Valais Alps.
Set high on a plateau above the Rhone Valley, Crans-Montana is a centre for outdoor adventure all year round. Together, these twin-resorts form a modern mountain town where you’ll find rustic inns and fine dining restaurants, designer boutiques and down-to-earth folk traditions – all surrounded by panoramic views across the Valais Alps. Offering some of the sunniest slopes in Switzerland, and with an extensive area of nursery runs, Crans-Montana is a great option for families and beginners.
Where to stay: With sublime mountain views at every turn, Crans Ambassador is a contemporary chalet which immerses guests in the surrounding natural beauty. Pick up snow-sport supplies at the on-site ski shop and stroll to the nearby lift to burn off the rustic Alpine dishes from the hotel’s gourmet restaurant and traditional wine cellar.
Seasoned skiers and novices will be at home in St. Moritz, but if you have an adventurous spirit, try the Cresta Run challenge or head off in search of a glacier route with a private guide – you’ll find black runs aplenty here. Or, when others have retreated for some après-ski, enjoy the piste by starlight at enchanting Upper Engadine. Renowned for its spas as well as its slopes, treatments here often make use of local, alpine herbs and the natural springs.
Where to stay: An atmosphere of understated elegance awaits at The Crystal Hotel, which makes for a refreshing contrast to the glamorous reputation of St. Moritz. Indulge in some post-ski pampering with a nourishing Crystal salt body scrub in the spa followed by an anti-stress massage with essential oils.