St Moritz is the original Swiss winter holiday resort, an extravagantly fashionable mountain resort world-famous for its skiing, fantastic scenery, the curative waters of its Health Spa and the social life. Although not the classic image of a Swiss mountain resort, the setting and spectacular scenery more than makes up for St Moritz' lack of charm.
Consisting of two villages, St Moritz-Bad on the lake and St Moritz-Dorf on the hillside above, its romantic setting in the wildly beautiful corner of the southeastern Swiss Alps is a combination of forests, mountain and lake that has twice hosted the Winter Olympics. A St Moritz holiday guarantees some of the most reliable and abundant winter snowfall in the country, and the miles of downhill runs offer some of the finest intermediate skiing anywhere.
The St Moritz area also encompasses a network of cross-country ski trails, legendary toboggan and bobsled courses, and an Olympic ski-jump. The spa section of this exclusive and exciting town, St Moritz-Bad, offers the long-time tradition of mineral baths, mud baths and spa therapies for a relaxing spa holiday. The nightlife on a St Moritz holiday is renowned as the most energetic and expensive of all the alpine ski resorts.
The St Moritz area has five major holiday resorts in the immediate vicinity, which can all be accessed by a general ski pass. Due to the altitude of between 5,906ft and 10,827ft (1,800m to 3,300m) the area is fairly snow sure, but there are also extensive snowmaking facilities available. St Moritz is ideal for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, as about 70 percent of the terrain is suited to the intermediate level.
Each of the four larger mountains also has challenging terrain for advanced skiers, a favourite being the famous Diavolezza-Morteratsch Glacier and the long steep runs from the summits of Lagalb and Diavolezza. The Corviglia-Piz Nair ski area is the most convenient and can be accessed by foot from most hotels in St Moritz.
Piz Nair is the highest skiable peak in the area at 10,030ft (3,057m) and is suited to more advanced skiers and snowboarders, while Corviglia has many broad intermediate runs. Corviglia is also the most versatile area for all abilities with slopes high up for beginners. The St Moritz Ski School for skiers and boarders is ranked as one of the top in the world, and has highly trained instructors for all levels.
With its reputation for style and elegance, St Moritz inevitably draws the elite of the world to its winter sports season and caters for them in its shops as well. Hundreds of designer boutiques are crammed into the resort leaving shoppers on a St Moritz holiday overwhelmed by the number of choices representing international brands and trends. Even the less well-heeled can indulge in pleasure simply by window-shopping.
In line with its promotional tag as being 'on top of the world', St Moritz does not lack for gourmet fare. A variety of delicious international cuisine is on offer in elegant formal restaurants, romantic rustic rendezvous, chic cafes and snow bars. Even the several pizzerias here are elegant, wood-panelled edifices with upholstered chairs, where the traditional base and toppings become a work of gastronomic art. Elegant fare can be had at popular eateries such as Talvo and White Marmite.
A refined new casino is the latest addition to St Moritz' renowned nightlife and entertainment scene, which encompasses close on 30 other nightspots ranging from hot nightclubs to cosy hotel bars, and discos to demure cigar bars. Bobby's Pub is a popular English-style bar, and the posh Badrutt's Palace Hotel offers a disco for those bent on dancing.
Anything imaginable that can be done on or in snow and ice is available on a St Moritz holiday, whether it be the legendary Cresta Run, bob-sledding, ice-skating, curling or kite-surfing. Of course the main holiday attractions are skiing and snowboarding, with more than 217 miles (350km) of snow-covered runs. All ski slopes are serviced with restaurants, ski huts and snow bars ensuring that apres-ski is just as much fun as the physical thrills.
St Moritz contains some hideous block buildings and lacks the classic Swiss 'chocolate box' charm, especially during the summer. There are no proper beginner slopes at resort level and there are very few blue (easy) runs in the area. Spread over several unlinked mountains, the ski terrain is vast and transport is needed between most areas. The holiday resort is exclusive and very pricey.