Chic, sophisticated and stunning, the Swiss resort of St.Moritz has been attracting the rich and famous (and others) for more than a century for its crisp, sunny weather in summer, stunning snow-covered peaks in winter and its modern, alpine lifestyle.
Christine Karan recommends,
At 1,850 metres above sea level, St. Moritz has been credited with starting the concept of “Winter Tourism” over a century ago. Here, world-class ski runs and upmarket hotels have hosted stars such as Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. And with top-class restaurants that can satisfy the gourmet demands of connoisseurs, St. Moritz is truly a haven for those who want to spend a few days in style.
Nestling within the southern slopes of the Swiss Alps, St. Moritz is about three-and-a-half hours by a scenic train ride from Zurich, via several bridges and tunnels including the famous Albula tunnel.
St. Moritz also served as a location for part of the 1969 James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring George Lazenby and Diana Rigg, regarded by many film critics as one of the finest in the celebrated movie franchise.
Though some prefer St. Moritz as a summer getaway, most come during winter, not just for skiing but also to take part in winter sports like the traditional Cresta run, winter polo, skating and White Turf events (horse-racing) over the frozen lake.
For skiers who love to break the “snow carpet” and carve out their first tracks, the mountains Corviglia, Corvatsch, Diavolezza and Zuoz offer pistes of varying degrees. If you aren’t a skier, don’t worry; take one of the cable cars or gondolas to the top and simply enjoy breathtaking scenery from the terraces over a steaming cup of Swiss hot chocolate.
Summer offers a pleasant climate although it can get a tad chilly as the temperature hovers around 18 to 210C.
To get there, you can fly with Oman Air directly to Zurich International Airport. From there you can catch a train, from underneath the terminal’s airport, to St. Moritz (there are two per hour). The journey takes between three and four hours. You may book tickets online on the SBB website.
My favourite place- The Diavolezza. I’m not a skier but experiencing first-hand just how –19°C feels amid shimmering sunlight is beyond words. Standing on a terrace with a hot chocolate in one hand, a camera in the other, pure chill winds brushing through my hair while my knee-high boots are embedded in snow and bright sunlight hitting my face – goggles are a must in this weather to protect your eyes – it’s an incredibly spectacular view of the dazzling glaciers and the peaks that surround St. Moritz! This place is also aptly named: Diavolezza means “She-Devil”! For someone from Muscat, standing on top of a mountain at 3,300 metres is like being on top of the world.
Highlights- Winter is the best time to visit St. Moritz. The town is a picture-perfect postcard with trees, chalets and rooftops all resplendent in a pastel-blue hue. With many sports events here and in the surrounding villages, the area is abuzz with life and activity.
Lowlights- The temperature during winter months can drop to a freezing -17°C, so rugging up is very important. During such harsh conditions, certain mountain top observatory decks, cable car rides and ski routes may be closed. Also, St. Moritz is not for the budget-conscious. It is truly a luxurious and a spectacular destination, and you get what you pay for.
Souvenirs- Apart from the usual magnets and key chains, the must take-homes are the mountain cheeses or those fromages from the Engadine region that offer a mild and nutty taste. And don’t forget to pack some truffles or chocolates from a chocolatier.
Where to stay- Though St. Moritz is home to uber-chic hotels and chalets, it does have a few boutique B&Bs and apartments. However, if choosing to stay away from the crowd, there are several Swiss-style apartments in nearby picturesque villages such as Silvaplana, Pontresina or Celerina.