Best Ski Resorts in Switzerland

Old Jan 3rd, 2013, 07:06 AM
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Best Ski Resorts in Switzerland

I will be traveling from Florence to ski in Switzerland and would appreciate any advice/recommendations on ski resorts. I will be using a Swiss Pass for travel, spending 8 days in Switzerland, and departing out of Zurich.

Considering Zermatt and St. Moritz and would like to be able to do day trips around either location on our non-skiing days.

We prefer intermediate level ski runs.

Also, any hotel or restaurant recommendations would be appreciated as well.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2013, 08:07 AM
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Considering Zermatt and St. Moritz and would like to be able to do day trips around either location on our non-skiing days.>

Zermatt is rather isolated at the end of a long valley and St Moritz has relatively few day trips in winter that most people would like that do not involve skiing.

I think the perfect resort is the Interlaken/Jungfrau Region where on non-ski days you can easily day trip by train to places like Lucerne and Bern, to me two of the finest cities in Europe - Lucerne being exceptionally gorgeous in a lovely setting on lovely Lake Lucerne. You can take the famous Golden Pass train up and over the scenic Brunig Pass to reach Lucerne.
And you can day trip right in the Interlaken area to places like Thun, another lovely city, or Spiez with its famous castle overlooking Lake Thun or even to the Ballenberg Open-Air museum - a very famous museum of traditional Swiss life (your Swiss Pass even pays for the $25 or so entry fee like it does at over 400 Swiss museums! - Not sure Ballenberg is open in winter however but assume it may be (take train to Brienz from Interlaken-Ost then postal bus to museum (postal bus also valid with Swiss Pass.

For loads of great info on Swiss trains and using your Swiss Pass in the Interlaken area - where it can be very very useful - I always spotlight these fantastic sites - www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

One great day trip in the Interlaken region involves going by train to Lauterbrunnen, then a thrilling aerial gondola up the cliff to Grutschalp, then mountain train with scintillating scenery along the cliff's edge to Murren, a famous Alpine resort and then aerial cable way down to Gimmelwald, a farming hamlet in the middle of nowhere that has become popular lately and from there a very very thrilling large aerial gondola that plunges down to Stechelberg and the Lauterbrunnen Valley from where postal buses take you back to Lauterbrunnen - every conveyance on this amazing loop if 100% covered by your Swiss Pass and if from Murren you want to go the awesome cable car ride to Schilthorn/Piz Gloria then the pass would get you 50% off that. I have done this loop several times and to me it is the best day trip in the area, even more than up to the more famous Jungfraujoch because it contains so many varied things and the Shcilthorn is unique because it is just an outpost in the midst of rocky peaks and ice - very remote but with fantastic views for miles around - Piz Gloria, the revolving restaurant here was featured in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's service - when it was first under construction.

So I think for day trips on non-ski days the Interlaken/Jungfrau Region is tops.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2013, 09:43 AM
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When are you intending going? Virtually all European ski resorts may not have sufficient snow early or late in the season, so you need to check resort reports before making a decision
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Old Jan 3rd, 2013, 11:05 AM
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I would go to Wengen and stay at the Hotel Schonegg. Herr Rene, the owner, was on the Swiss National Ski Team.

Another good hotel is the Minotel Bellevue which has gob-smacking views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley.

I don't like St. Moritz.

Gstaad is another alternative.

My father used to take us skiing there when my sister was at Le Rosey School. We used to stay at the Palace Hotel.

Gstaad is good for people who aren't the best skiers.

Tschuss,
Thin
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Old Jan 3rd, 2013, 01:12 PM
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a nice day trip from Zermatt goes to Saas-Fee, a nearby but very separate winter/summer resort - to get there take a train to Saint-Nicklas (I believe that is the name of the train station) and then take one of the legendary iconic Swiss postal buses to Saas-Fee - quite a nice thrilling bus ride on twisting roads. Saas-Fee is an Alpine resort on par with any in Switzerland I would think.

Longer day trips require going down to the Rhone Valley - take a train to Visp and change to mainline trains there to visit gems like Sion.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2013, 02:12 PM
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I will be in Switzerland the 11-19Feb2013. A friend recommended the Berner Oberland area for skiing instead of Zermatt or St. Moritz. Any suggestions for hotels in this area?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2013, 09:26 PM
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Hi susant100,

I recommend the Hotel Alpenrose in the wonderful car-free village of Wengen:

www.alpenrose.ch

I've stayed there twice and taken advantage of their special offers for a ski week. They usually offer seven nights, halfboard, and a ski pass for six days at a great price.

You should make your reservations asap because Feb is prime time for ski resorts.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Jan 4th, 2013, 01:29 AM
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> St Moritz has relatively few day trips in winter that most people would like that do not involve skiing.

I disagree. There are many day trips out of St. Moritz that are worth your time, and these do not involve skiing at all. It's quite the opposite - I can hardly imagine a skiing region that offers that much for non-skiers. Been there about a dozen times in winter in the last 20 years and only went skiing half of the days I was there.

First off, there are several villages and small towns in the region close to St. Moritz which are beautiful and offer some sights - Pontresina e.g., including the medieval church Sta. Maria with beautiful frescoes and an Alpine museum. Zuoz with three churches, coffee roasting show (Badilatti). Then there is Sils with Nietzsche museum and the Fex Valley (horse-drawn carriages into the valley, medieval church with frescoes).

The Bernina Express (or regional trains on the same route) offers spectacular scenery, the town Poschiavo is also worth to see (churches, museums). Or Tirano at the end of the route.

The picturesque villages Guarda and Ardez, castle Tarasp in the Lower Engadine.

The UNESCO world heritage site Benedictine convent Müstair is worth a day trip. 1200 years of history!

Or check out Chur, the capital of canton Grisons, an often overlooked town which has a nice medieval old town, churches, cathedral, museums.

Personally I wouldn't stay in St. Moritz itself. It's too (modern style) overbuilt. One of the nearby smaller towns/villages would be much nicer.
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Old Jan 5th, 2013, 08:29 AM
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Well Ingo has changed my mind about St. Moritz, an area I have only passed thru a few times and stayed once in Pontresina, a sweet smallish town that I liked much more than glitzy St. Moritz - I'll have to go back and spend some days. I did take the bus thru the Maloja Pass area and that area is spectacular!

And spend all day doing the Bernina Express - can take local trains over same rails and get off at the summer and walk around the glacier-fed Alpine lake and walk to the glacier - make a whole day of it.
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Old Jan 5th, 2013, 09:55 AM
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Now considering the Berner Oberland area. Murren and Wengen. We want quaint villages, shopping, good restaurants and the ability to do day trips in and about the area on our non ski days. We are also interested in other snow activities such as snow mobiles, etc. Night life is not that important.
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Old Jan 5th, 2013, 01:46 PM
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Well Murren is very remote - both is plus and its minus like for day tripping out of the area - Wengen about the same. If staying in either a Swiss Pass will cover trains and conveyances require to reach either - in Murren's case two of the few aerial gondolas fully covered and two of the most awesome ones in the Alps IME as you swoop up and plunge down from and to the deep Lauterbrunnen Valley floor.
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Old Jan 5th, 2013, 01:55 PM
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I'd go to the Pontresina area too. Gstaad would also be another good choice.
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Old Jan 5th, 2013, 06:00 PM
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Yikes...now I'm really confused! I'm looking for an upscale yet quaint Swiss flavor. Any other areas? I have nothing booked..Still leaning towards Zermatt again...
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Old Jan 5th, 2013, 11:48 PM
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Depending on the week you're travelling, many resorts are almost fully booked. Start researching and see where you can find a hotel.

Zermatt: Fantastic skiing, lots of tourists, amazing scenery. Too far away for day trips.

Grindelwald / Wengen: Fantastic scenery, OK skiing, better for day trips. Good sledding.

Pontresina / Celerina (St. Moritz area): Fantastic skiing, quaint villages, day trips only to Scuol or Bernina Pass. Too far away for more day trips.

Gstaad: I've never been but they say it's great there too.

All resorts are in the mountains. Berner Oberland and Gstaad are most accessible to other areas.

Look at the areas, choose some day trips you'd like to do from there and then find a hotel. Really, you can't go wrong in any of the ski resorts.
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Old Jan 6th, 2013, 01:20 AM
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Zermatt quaint? LOL
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Old Jan 6th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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! I'm looking for an upscale yet quaint Swiss flavor>

Well yes Zermatt could be seen as quaint if you look at the many stone sheds - ancient farm sheds that are scattered about town and even though is a modern resort nothing like glitzy St Moritz, Gstadd, etc. I do find it rather quaint though I see why Ingo would recoil at that term.

It will be quaint for someone who has never been to Switzerland before I think - to me also quainter than Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen and Wengen or Murren or just as quaint.

quain it ain't however in the true sense of the word.
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Old Jan 6th, 2013, 01:53 PM
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Zermatt is not quaint.

Wengen and Murren are quaint.

You could go shopping in Interlaken. There are shops there that sell 50K Wempe watches.

Thin
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Old Jan 6th, 2013, 09:09 PM
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Well, I agree with Ingo and Petter_v_s that Zermatt is not quaint.

The town is overbuilt imo, with new chalets, buildings, and hotels jammed together in an unappealing way. Because it sits at the end of a valley, there is no more room for more building . . and yet they do.

And of course all those hotels and vacation apartments are full of travellers, and Zermatt is likely to be crowded with travellers at all times of the year.

The overall impression I get from Zermatt is overcrowding, both in buildings and in people. I feel strangled and feel the need to bolt.

s
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Old Jan 7th, 2013, 08:22 AM
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Zermatt ain't quaint but to me just seeing the Matterhorn majestically dominating the end of the valley is reason enough for coming here - the world's most famous mountain peak, from a visual standpoint.

And hiking is great - easy to get away from the crowds on less traveled hikes like I have taken and the thrilling train up to near the Matterhorn.

No the town ain't the reason for coming here but what lies outside it - stupendous vistas - cable cars and toy like trains taking you to upper climes - glaciers, etc.
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Old Jan 7th, 2013, 10:48 AM
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Thank you all for your help. Zermatt is officially out now. How about Davos? I could then day trip to St. Moritz, correct?
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