Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
Skiing in the Swiss Alps is a favorite pastime of moneyed Europeans, and there are few glitzier locales than the town of St. Moritz. Packed with thrills on and off the slopes, the mile-high village, which is one of the best-known holiday resorts in the world. St. Moritz, a nominee for a Readers' Choice Award in the Best International Ski Destination category, is known for its beauty, culture, great shopping, dining and, of course, its world-class skiing.
Located at an altitude of 1,856 meters above sea level, St. Moritz is considered Switzerland's cradle of winter tourism. St. Moritz offers three different ski resorts: Corvatsch, Corviglia and Diavolezza and 350 kilometers of pistes. St. Moritz's "house mountain", the Corviglia, boasts the steepest start slope in Switzerland with the Piz Nair Wall's 100% vertiginous drop. For winter hikers, there are 150 kilometers of winter walking trails while cross-country skiers enjoy a track network of about 180 kilometers.
The town hosted the 1928 Winter Olympic Games and the stadium is still standing. Those who are adventurous may want to visit the Olympic bobsledding run, which is also the oldest bob run still in operation, which is located in St. Moritz-Celerina. There, visitors have the opportunity to have a one-to-one experience schussing down the run at speeds up to 84 miles per hour. The Fun Park for snowboarders features a permanently operational half-pipe, tandem parachute jumps as well as altitude training.
Though the town of St. Moritz dates back to the 12th Century at least, it didn't start to become a tourist destination until the middle of the 19th Century. According to local lore, in 1864 a man named Johannes Badrutt challenged a band of Brits visiting for the summer to return in winter. If they didn't like it, he'd pay for their roundtrip journey; if they did, they could stay as long as they liked. Pleased with the win-win wager, the Brits came back for Christmas – and ended up staying until Easter.
Today, Badrutt's Palace Hotel (a Readers' Choice Nominee for Best Ski Hotel) is a legend in St. Moritz and throughout the rest of the world. The century-old lodge boasts a spa, a fitness center, and the elegant French eatery Le Restaurant, among others. Those with more of an avant garde sensibility might prefer the nearby modern Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains.
Both Badrutt's and Kempinski can give travelers a taste of the finest the Alps have to offer, but be prepared to pay. Given the current exchange rates, Americans will be lucky to land a room for two at either locale for less than $800 a night.
Vote now for what you believe is the best of breed for each of the Winter Travel categories. Readers' Choice Awards for the Best in Winter Travel will be announced on January 31st.
Gallery: More from St. Moritz