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The Christmas card beauty of Switzerland, with its tiny wooden chalets draped in snow and ice, has long ensured its place as a popular and fashionable destination for a luxury skiing holiday with Elegant Resorts. The days of the Grand Tour have left the country with an unequalled selection of luxurious hotels, each with a rich heritage of Continental sophistication. Celebrities, the rich and famous continue to flock to the slopes in season and the long nights of après ski in the convivial restaurants and clubs can’t be beaten.
At 1620 metres, the village of Zermatt enjoys an idyllic, car-free location at the foot of Matterrhorn Mountain. A former farming village, the area is now awash with ski hotels, facilities and a feisty après-ski scene, although its natural charm remains – thanks to the beautiful chalets, narrow lanes and wooden barns. Post-ski opportunities are endless; there’s an extensive helicopter service as well as two ice rinks and a magnitude of restaurants, bars, tearooms and patisseries. Take the cable car up to Klein Matterhorn or enjoy freshly prepared crepes on the resort’s main street – Bahnhofstrasse. Mont Cervin Palace, widely acknowledged as one of Zermatt's finest hotels sits in the centre of the village, whilst further out Riffelalp Resort 2222M has a Europe's highest altitude Spa facility, making it the perfect place to unwind at the end of a day's skiing or hiking
A traditional spa town dating back to the Middle Ages, today Saint Moritz is an old-school ski resort, with arguably the best conditions and most eligible credentials amongst its counterparts, anywhere in Europe. On a par with glitzy Saint Tropez - it shares a year-round supply of glamorous inhabitants with its sunny counterpart – it has twice hosted the Winter Olympics and is home to the famous Cresta Run. No other ski resort in the world has such a profusion of hotels or designer boutiques and fine dining opportunities in abundance. All the top hotels have good restaurants and in the evening the resort offers a good selection of bars and discos for 'après ski'. Badrutts Palace Hotel has been a favourite of celebrities and royalty alike since its opening in 1896 and features no less than seven mouthwatering restaurants to choose from, including Nobu@Badrutt’s Palace. For those with only snow on the mind and children in hand, our featured hotels have dedicated children's clubs offering a variety of organised activities for little ones; at the Kulm Hotel, children of all ages are warmly welcomed and there is a varied programme of activities for children aged 3 years-old and above to enjoy whilst the Nira Alpina Children’s Club is open year round and staffed by a fully qualified child-minder, offering children a relaxing retreat from the more obvious attractions of the slopes.
Surrounded by a veritable kaleidoscope of Alpine scenery – from pastures to eternal glaciers and impressive views from the top of Mont-Fort, including Mont Blanc to the west and the Matterhorn to the east – Verbier is a stunning alpine resort at the heart of the Four Valleys region which joins Verbier, Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon to form one of Europe's premier ski destinations. A favourite amongst the Royals, the village itself is fashionable yet informal, sprawling with shops, restaurants, bars and hotels, and oozing with opulence. Most of the shops and hotels are set around the Place Centrale which at the close of play buzzes with après-ski activity. Sir Richard Branson's winter hideaway, The Lodge at Verbier is located on a quiet road just 250m from the Medran lift; if you’re planning on staying here make use of The Lodge’s own ice rink where children can skate or adults can enjoy a spot of curling.
With more than 300km of ski runs to enjoy, Zermatt is perfect for intermediates and advanced skiers who like plenty of mileage, or for non-skiers who enjoy lunch! Accessing the pistes is relatively simple, with a ski system which runs from 8am every day and finishing as late as 5pm during seasonal months; the snow is impressive - the climate is relatively dry, the slopes are high and snow-making is extensive. The traditional Swiss Snow sports School and dynamic rival Stoked, The Ski School provides superb instruction, including sections for children. Stoked, also runs a dedicated snowboarding school. For younger visitors, there's a non-skiing kindergarten in the village. Heli-skiing, dog-sledding, helicopter rides, ice-climbing, sleigh rides and snow-shoeing are just a few other activities on offer.
With an excellent snow record and a comprehensive choice of winter sports St. Moritz is a skiers’ paradise. It is the ideal choice for intermediates, cross-country skiers, non-skiers and ski-to-lunch devotees. Most accessible is Corviglia which can be reached directly from the resort via a railway lift from Dorf. From here, you'll find Salastrains for the easy runs and a red run from Marguns to Celerina. St. Moritz has over 350 kilometres of pistes so finding the right one for your level shouldn't be difficult. There are three ski schools - Swiss Snowsports School (accepts children aged four and over), Snowboard School St Moritz and the Wave Snowboard School, plus five guiding companies. Other activities on offer include superb cross-country opportunities, hang-gliding, heli-skiing, bobsleighing, horse-racing, polo playing, ski-jumping and the thrills of the Cresta Run.
Verbier is particularly well-known for its superb off-piste thrills and long, bumpy runs, which enthrall even the most hardened of skiers. Beginners will have a good time, too, with many central nursery slopes and stunning surrounding scenery to admire whilst you're getting back on your feet. Scenic skiing doesn't get much better than this and with such pristine slopes, Verbier can't help but impress.
Andermatt is the latest addition to our luxury ski portfolio in Switzerland and offers incredibly snow-sure ski conditions throughout the winter season (from November to April), due to its climate and altitude. This up-and-coming resort is in the midst of a regeneration, bringing facilities and leisure options right up-to-date, perfectly complementing the allure of The Chedi Andermatt , a fabulously chic addition to the resort, which is sure to attract discerning clientele. In addition to the usual skiing and snowboarding options, it is possible to cross-country ski, winter hike, sledge and snowshoe in the area, with an excellent range of terrain to suit all activities and abilities. The nearby Gemsstock Mountain is renowned worldwide for its amazing off-piste opportunities and boasts an average snow depth of an immpressive three metres at its summit, while Natschen-Oberalp-Sedrun takes care of families and intermediate and beginner-level skiers. Private and group tuition is readily available and there is even a programme of instruction and childcare on offer at this bijou resort's certified ski and snowboard school.
Take your ski boot bag, packed with a complete ski outfit, on board as carry-on luggage, that way if your other luggage doesn't arrive when you do, you'll have what you need to ski.
Save a few pennies by buying a multi-day ski pass, rather than a daily lift ticket.
Do try Rosti (grated and fried potatoes) with an egg or cheese for breakfast; it’s a good source of fuel for the slopes and will help to keep out the Alpine cold. Alternatively, enjoy cheese fondue, another traditional (and tasty) Swiss dish.
The winter season in the Alpine resorts starts in mid-December, moving into full swing around Christmas and ending when the snows begin to melt around mid-April. Between the summer and winter seasons, Alpine resorts all but close down - except where year-round glacier skiing is on offer.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Switzerland.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.