With its rich ski and après-ski traditions, Switzerland has long been a top choice for Europeans’ snow holidays. And now travellers from Asia are increasingly adding its storybook mountain towns, like St. Moritz and Gstaad, to their wish lists.
The APAC Snow Brand Study 2019 showed that Switzerland was one of the top three winter destinations for travellers from Asia, behind regional favourites Japan and South Korea. The study – which surveyed 2,200 travellers from across Asia-Pacific – also found that more than 90 per cent of respondents from China, India, Thailand and Indonesia were looking to the Alps, and Switzerland specifically, for their next winter holiday.
In response, Switzerland ski resorts are introducing experiences tailored to a wider audience, from cricket matches on ice to learn-to-ski programmes for both kids and adults.
Those offerings build on the timeless appeal of the Swiss Alps’ majestic peaks, Michelin-starred restaurants and classic comforts like fondue and mulled drinks. Read on for the best Switzerland ski resorts to enjoy on and off the slopes.
Credit: Crans-Montana Tourism & Congress
Crans-Montana delivers something for everyone in the extended family. The south-facing ski area is Switerland’s sunniest, with 140 kilometres of runs for all levels at altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 metres, plus a snowpark and a dedicated family area for the littlest skiers.
Off the slopes, across the neighbouring towns of Crans and Montana, visitors will find a thriving cultural scene, excellent restaurants, shopping, children’s activities and a variety of sports. Golf is played here year round, thanks to an indoor golf center, and there’s even a Winter Golf Cup held on a snow-covered course.
Credit: Crans-Montana Tourism & Congress
Stay here: For the best Alpine scenery, go with Chetzeron Hotel, a converted gondola station perched at an elevation of 2,112 metres with ski-in, ski-out access. On a clear day, both the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc appear in the hotel’s panoramic views. Le Crans Hotel is an exclusive mountaintop spot with the feel of a rustic ski lodge.
St. Moritz is world-famous for good reason – it’s the birthplace of alpine skiing and has hosted two Winter Olympics (in 1928 and 1948). With more than 350 kilometres of ski runs, St. Moritz caters to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Lessons are on offer for beginners as well as more experienced skiers and riders looking to improve their technique.
Advanced skiers can tackle the glacier run at the Diavolezza-Lagalb ski area, while Corvatsch offers epic panoramic views from the top of the Alps before a 9-kilometre descent. There is also night skiing on Fridays at Corvatsch.
Stay Here: The luxury hotels of St. Moritz are some of the oldest in Switzerland, with many still run by the families who started them. Kulm Hotel dates back 160 years yet has a contemporary feel, while Badrutt’s Palace is in demand for its lakeside location and Michelin-star restaurant IGNIV. Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski features a ski school, a tennis and squash centre and a casino.
In Zermatt, skiers and snowboarders can get their thrills along more than 360 kilometres of highly scenic mountain runs and show off their best tricks in Snowpark Zermatt. For a bigger rush of adrenaline, try heli-skiing on untouched snow or ice climbing on frozen waterfalls, helped by a mountain guide.
Take a gourmet break from the slopes at Zum See or Chez Vrony, restaurants that offer traditional fare along with ski-in, ski-out access. For the quintessential Swiss Alps experience, reserve a fondue picnic from Europe Hotel. Après-ski is also a popular activity in Zermatt, with lively bars dotting the mountains and main street of Bahnhofstrasse.
Davos-Klosters is an ideal destination for experienced skiers, with 300 kilometres of ski runs including challenging black-diamond trails and slalom courses, plus off-piste areas for free riding in powder. Cross-country skiing enthusiasts can explore 75 kilometres of trails, and there are also 150 kilometres of snowshoe trails and multiple toboggan runs.
Klosters has a refined and more family-friendly atmosphere, while larger neighbour Davos gets rowdier. It hosts the World Economic Forum and the Spengler Cup international hockey tournament. Since the 19th century, Davos has been known as a high-altitude health resort, with its fresh air at 1,560 metres said to help respiratory ailments.
Davos-Klosters has a free guest programme called Davos-Klosters Inside that offers winter experiences guided by locals. There are 30 activities in categories such as art, family, adventure and excursions, including a sunrise mountain walk and a nighttime hike by torchlight.
Stay here: In Klosters, Hotel Piz Buin is centrally located and styled like a chic mountain cabin, and features an indoor play room for children. The historic Hotel Seehof in Davos offers Alpine luxury with a prime location that allows access to all six ski areas of Davos-Klosters, including Rinerhorn for beginners.
In Switzerland’s German-speaking southwest corner, Gstaad is a short drive from the banking metropolis of Geneva, making it a popular weekend getaway for locals. They come for the 200 kilometres of ski runs and 42 kilometres of cross-country ski trails, plus kid-friendly, scenic toboggan runs with refreshment stops along the way.
Gstaad’s more mellow vibe – compared to glitzy Zermatt and St. Moritz – is also appealing. Wellness and relaxation are top priorities here; Ultima Spa by La Prairie has a 15-metre pool and treatments using luxury ingredients such as caviar and gold, while The Alpina Gstaad offers holistic anti-aging and yoga detox programmes.
For the ultimate in self-care, the Ermitage Wellness and Spa Hotel features a 3,700-square-metre wellness complex with an indoor-outdoor saltwater pool, 10 saunas and steam rooms, a juice bar and an extensive menu of massages and spa treatments.
Stay Here: Gstaad Palace is a popular heritage hotel with a fairy-tale like setting that’s perfect for Instagram shots. This family-owned luxury resort also specialises in one-of-a-kind experiences like helicopter rides up to the Matterhorn.