Switzerland is celebrating 150 years of winter tourism, which started in St. Moritz in the Engadin valley. Legend has it that hotelier Johannes Badrutt made a bet with a few of his summer guests in 1864. The bet? If their winter holiday was not as sunny and pleasant as their summer holiday, they could stay at Badrutt’s property for free. The bet became the catalyst for British tourists becoming the first winter guests to vacation in the Alps.
Here are five reasons why your clients should bet on winter (and skiing) in Switzerland as a top choice.
Luxury isn’t taken lightly with the Swiss, that’s why 39 of the most exclusive 5-star hotels joined together to make up the Swiss Deluxe Hotels brand. Together these hotels add up to 4,500 rooms and suites that make up about 40 percent of the 5-star hotels in Switzerland. You can make sure your clients are booked for a getaway fit for royalty with any of those 39 choices. One of these deluxe hotels is the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. This 173-room property features five restaurants; the Kulm Spa St. Moritz with an indoor pool with playing underwater music, saunas, steam room, jacuzzi and fully-equipped gym; a 9-hole Kulm Golf Course St. Moritz; three tennis courts; a natural ice rink; a curling field and the Marmotta Club for kids. Guests can take in seven nights of luxury with the Ski Special package offering breakfast buffet; a daily Gourmet Dine Around pass allowing guests to dine at restaurants indtown, 7-day Hotel Ski Pass valid for all open mountain railways and public transportation in the Upper Engadine; roundtrip transfer from the hotel to Corviglia ski lift; a 25-minute Part Body massage; unlimited access to the Kulm Spa St. Moritz; and the well-being sports program with a daily changing activities schedule. Rates start at $4,072 for a lakeside view room during high season. For more information, visit kulm.com.
New Swiss Hotels
Opening this December is the Hotel de Rougemont, a Swiss Alpine Boutique Hotel, located 10 minutes from Gstaad. The 33-room property houses a spa and a gourmet restaurant. Le White, a modern and stylish four-star hotel with views over the Dents-du-Midi summits, opens February 2015 with 27 rooms and suites, a health spa, and the French restaurant, Le 42. Reka, a new family-friendly resort opens this Christmas, featuring an indoor pool and kids’ play areas. “There are ski resorts in Switzerland for serious skiers, for families, for groups which include non-skiers who prefer hiking or shopping, for travelers who are looking for nightlife and excitement,” says Alex Hermann, Director Americas, Switzerland Toursim. A new tool on the Switzerland Tourism website allows agents and consumers to easily find the perfect resort for them at winterfinder.myswitzerland.com.
Ski Lift Improvements
Guests can now ski the Gstaad Mountain Rides, the Alpes Vaudoises, and Adelboden-Lenk with the Superpass, which can be purchased for four to 15 days of consecutive skiing, or as a seasonal pass. Additional improvements have been done to ski lifts, such as the two cabins on the Titlis Rotair lift that have been replaced with fully rotating cabins, giving passengers a 360-degree experience. Also, a new 10-person gondola lift in the Bernese Oberland opens this winter, taking guests to the Metschstand, a unique viewing point in the valley.
A Mountain for Yourself
Who says luxury has to stop with an amazing hotel property? Why not shoot for your own private mountain while you’re at it? Your luxury clients can do just that when booking the VIP Snow Night at Corvatsch Mountain. Guests can even transform their cable car ride to a temporary suspended bar if they’d like. This package is bookable for groups with a minimum of 50 guests from December through early April 2015, from Saturday to Thursday 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Rates start at $4,755. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Little of This, A Little of That
“Skiing in the Swiss Alps offers so much more than just snow—gourmet restaurants on the slopes, off-the-beaten path chalets where skiers can eat and drink local specialties, and mountain villages with a lot of charm, history and tradition,” says Hermann. Here’s a sampling of that:
- Yogis can add a little wellness travel to their winter vacation at St. Moritz with the first yoga slope in the world on Corviglia Mountain. Guests can practice yoga on the snow by themselves, or with a professional instructor at four different locations on the mountain. For more information, visit engadin.stmoritz.ch/winter/en/activities.
- Guests can experience a real winter wonderland from mid-December through February when the center of Interlaken is transformed with various ice skating rinks linked by a 1,312 ft. curving runway. Various restaurants and bars are also located on the Ice Magic Piazza. For more information, visit icemagic.ch/en/home.
- Visitors can take in a movie at a new cinema lounge at Mattherhorn in Zermatt, the highest mountain railway station of the Alps at 12,800 ft. For more information, visit zermatt.ch/en/Media/News/New-Cinema-lounge.
- Adventurists will get a thrill on the new Peak Walk suspension bridge scheduled for completion in November on the Glacier3000. The 351-ft.-long bridge will be the only bridge worldwide to connect two mountain peaks. For more information visit, glacier3000.ch/en/newspeakwalk.
- Foodies can take in a little fondue during their ride up to Mount Rigi in a nostalgic railway car from 1911. The ride from Goldau through snowy scenery sets the backdrop for a fondue tasting and coffee, made with Rigi Kirsch, the local liquor. For more information, visit rigi.ch/Adventures/Majestic-moments. The city of Bern is offering a new tour, Voyage Culinaire, which combines activities with food and beverage, and sightseeing. Guests get a historic view of Bern, learn about wines, and experience a typical Bernese dinner in two restaurants. For more information, visit bern.com/en/social-program-bi/activities-incoming/VoyageCulinaireBern.