Winter activity in Switzerland is not onlyabout skiing. Yes, of course you canski, but there's so much more. We justhappened to hit St. Moritz (www.stmoritz.ch) in time for the yearly polo match on thefrozen lake. Town center was a sea of exotic fur coats,and down on the ice the glitterati were posing for pictureswith their favorite riders.
In 1864, Johannes Badrutt decided to keep his hotelopen during the snow season. Badrutt's decision sealedthe fate of St. Moritz. Today, the well-heeled of theworld flock here to play in winter. Interestingly, for manyvisitors, skiing is secondary to other activities. "To me,skiing is also about the foodâ€¦about having a really nicelunch," Claudio Duschletta explains, as he finishes offhis appetizer of foie gras, paté, smoked salmon, and lobsterâ€”La Marmite's (081-833-63-55) signature appetizer.
There is a McDonald's 2 floors above the on-sloperestaurant, but most skiers over age 20 prefer to dawdlein La Marmite, sipping glasses of $25 vodka that comesfrom a 2-foot-tall bottle with a curled cobra inside.Duschletta eventually explains to us how the 3 mountainsof St. Moritz merge into Switzerland's largest skiareaâ€”not counting the places that drop into other countries.The description leaves little room for comparison.
They don't talk acres in St. Moritz as they do backhome. Instead, Duschletta offers Swiss stats: 57 lifts, 220miles of groomed runs, and 88 separately named trails.While St. Moritz seems to be the size of Vail, there is no"out of bounds" terrain. Virtually all groomed runs inEurope are mild. If you want a challenge, you go "offpiste," which can cover anything from ducking into a bitof powder alongside the run to leaping off a cliff.
Swiss Slopes and Shops
Serious American skiers will especially enjoy St.Moritz. The main, most popular hill in St. Moritz isCorviglia. This hill faces south, gets plenty of sun, and iswhere most skiers spend their morning. If it's emptyruns, untouched powder, and tougher terrain you'relooking for, head to Furtschellas. When you're done skiing,cross over to Corvatsch and lunch at the 75-year-oldconverted farmhouse, Alpetta.
Inevitably, at some point during your trip you'll stopskiing and head into town, where you'll find narrow,winding cobblestone streets and toney shops. "We liketo say that on Rodeo Drive they have the same shops ashere," one local remarked, as we wandered past Versace,Cartier, and Louis Vuitton. For more information, contactSwitzerland Tourism at 877-794-8037, or visitwww.MySwitzerland.com.