St Moritz – The playground of the affluent
Luxurious, flamboyant and chic, the Alpine Town of St Moritz in the Engadin Valley of Switzerland has always been an ever rolling merry-go-round of unadulterated fun. Located at 1,856 metres altitude on the southern side of the Alps, its legendary champagne climate and year round sunshine make this picturesque paradise a much coveted holiday destination. As the birthplace of winter tourism, St Moritz made its mark when some one hundred and fifty years ago hotelier Johannes Badrutt made an impulsive bet with some of his summer guests. He promised them heaven on earth – including in winter and offered to pay for their expenses if he failed to deliver. The rest is all history but what remains unchanged till date is the intoxicating charm of this treasured hamlet that never fails to enrapture its visitors.
Swiss National Park – As the largest nature reserve comprising of 66 square miles and boasting of a rich variety of flora and fauna in a mountainous habitat, the Swiss National Park, founded in 1914, is one of the best attractions of the country. It has various events lined up in 2014 to mark its upcoming centenary.
Museums – St Moritz is home to a number of museums. The Engadiner Museum, Segantini Museum, Berry Museum, Nietzsche House, Mili Weber House and Museum St. Moritz, the World’s Smallest Museum, together present a wonderful cultural escapade for those who love to browse through the pages of history.
Scenic Trains – If you love the idea of exploring the countryside in the lap of nature, consider travelling by the railways of Engadin and Graubunden that are dotted with scenic routes like Albula and Bernina, which were recognised as UNSECO World Heritage sites in 2008.
Skiing and snowboarding: Equipped with 60 modern transportation facilities that open up on 350 km of snow covered runs, St Moritz offers plenty of walking, hiking trails, ice fields, snow parks, cross country skiing trails, tobogganing slopes, unlimited free-ride areas, enthralling excursions and the likes. The Corviglia hosts World Cup races and has been chosen as the venue for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in the year 2017. At 10,834 ft., Corvatsch is the highest summit station in the eastern Alps that features illuminated night skiing, hiking on snowshoes, breath-taking restaurants etc. Diavolezza’s glacial wonders and Muottas Muragl’s panoramic views are the other unique experiences for travellers.
Other winter wonders: Cross country skiing is a pleasure here with a total of 180 km of trails that lead to innumerable picturesque valleys. Ice skating on the frozen lakes is an age old tradition that has witnessed a recent boom owing to artificial skating rinks. Other fun activities are ice hockey, sledging, hiking, snowshoe trekking, ski jumping, hang glider rides, horse-back riding, winter golfing etc.
Summer sports: The summer thrills include mountain biking, hiking along 300 miles of captivating trails with an infinite choice of routes and Nordic Walking against the backdrop of the Bernina range and tranquil lake scenery. Touted as a haven for golfers, St Moritz has well-maintained golf courses nestled in a beautiful Alpine setting. The virgin lakes here are ideal for swimming, sailing, windsurfing and kite surfing. Other popular summer activities are river rafting, canoeing, hot-air ballooning, sky diving, hang gliding, climbing, inline skating, mini-golfing, skeet shooting, tennis, squash and fishing.
Wellness abode – St Moritz is well known for its therapeutic spas, healing mineral springs and its iron-rich water channels many of which date back to 3,500 years. Some of the public wellness facilities include – Bellavita Adventure Pool and Spa, Zernez Family Pool, Mineral bath and spa Samedan etc.
The gastronomic delights of this town are too many to count. It is home to around 300 well acclaimed restaurants, most of which offer sweeping views of the valley. Walnut cake and venison sausage rule the roost while other popular local delicacies include capuns, maluns, pizzoccheri, panini etc. The St. Moritz Gourmet Festival is a much sought after event. Ecco on Snow, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant Salastrains are few famous eateries here.
Classic bars, lounges, exclusive clubs, casinos, trendy pubs and plush discotheques are part of the thriving nightlife. More than 69 bars operate during winters and close to 65 in summers whereas the number of snow bars is around 11 in the region. From dropping in at the world’s largest whisky bar in Hotel Waldhaus to visiting the Dracula Club – your possibilities are practically limitless when it comes to enjoying a night of fun and frolic in the highland.
Time zone: Central European Time (GMT +1 hour)
Area: 998 sq. km.
Climate: Very pleasant climate due to its dry air and sunshine
Currency: Swiss Francs
Population: 5,147 (Dec 2012)
By air – The Zürich airport is 125 miles from St Moritz. The Engadin Airport provides regular flights to international destinations.
By rail – The Glacier Express connects St Moritz to Zermatt via the 2033 m Oberalp Pass. Regular trains run from Zürich to St Moritz every 30 minutes.
By car – Car transfers are easily available from Zurich, Milan, Munich and Basel.
Switzerland is known for its well-connected public transportation network. The Engadin bus will take you anywhere in the valley. The Rhaetian Railway (Rhb) is another popular mode of transport. That apart you can book taxis and private cars to take you around. You may also explore on foot.
From inspiring artists and story tellers to fascinating painters and travel buffs, St Moritz inspires everyone. Scoring high on glitz and glamour, it can blow you out of your mind as effortlessly as it introduces you to the dormant charms of Mother Nature. Enviously bewitching yet soothingly surreal – St Moritz can be as simple as your childhood fantasy or as mysterious as the unexplored cravings of your soul.