The historic Hotel Walliserhof reopened in December 2016. // © 2017 Hotel Walliserhof
Feature image (above): Zermatt, Switzerland // © 2017 iStock
If Zermatt, Switzerland, wasn’t on your radar before, it surely is now after ranking as No. 4 on The New York Times’ list of 52 Places to Go in 2017.
Zermatt has been an international jet-set destination for skiers, foodies and outdoor enthusiasts for 200 years — ever since the Gornergrat train, which links the resort village to the Gornergrat summit, first started operating.
“Zermatt is what you expect from a typical alpine Swiss village,” said Eduardo Gaz, CEO of Ski USA. “Cars are forbidden. Architecture, gastronomy and, above all, skiing is world-class. Snow is guaranteed, as you get to ski even in the summer on the glacier. The views of the Matterhorn, immortalized on the Toblerone bar, are memorable. You can ski to Italy and back, and Zermatt has one of the best heli-skiing experiences in the Alps.”
Read on to find out what’s new in this alpine mecca.
WHAT TO DO
A new Gant-Blauherd chairlift has opened for this winter season. The new, high-performance chairlift runs from Gant to Blauherd and can carry up to 1,800 skiers each hour.
Also new this season, the previously three-day Peak Pass ticket is now available for as short as one day. The ticket grants access to all of the peaks surrounding Zermatt that are accessible via mountain lifts, along with train travel from Randa, Switzerland, to Zermatt. Mountain bike transport, admission to the glacier palace and use of local buses in Zermatt are also included.
Zermatt has also unveiled a one-day snow experience. The package includes a snow guide, equipment rental and a ski pass. The experience last 3.5 hours, with 2.5 hours of private instruction for beginners. The package runs through April 2017.
A new cable car line will soon link Trockener Steg, a hub for skiers and snowboarders, with the Matterhorn. The 3S gondola lift is slated to open for the 2018 to 2019 season.
COMING SUMMER 2017
The Zermatt Open-Air Theatre will make its debut this summer at some 8,500 feet above sea level. The first production to hit the stage will be “Romeo and Juliet at Gornergrat.” Performances will be held in July and August from Wednesday to Sunday.
The Riffelberg Express gondolas, which connect the Furi mountain station with the Riffelberg station, will run throughout the summer. Previously, they were only in operation in the winter.
Look out for the Peak2Peak ticket, which grants access to mountain stations above Zermatt, such as Matterhorn glacier paradise and Gornergrat. These altitudes practically promise snow year-round. The Peak2Peak pass is available from July 1 to Aug. 20.
Mountain bikers can make the most out of Zermatt this summer, as well, with the new Free2Ride ticket. These tickets make it possible to take mountain bikes on all of the mountain lifts for around $10 per person.
Hotel Silvana has opened a new wellness facility, the Silvana Mountain Spa. The completely redesigned area includes a sauna, a steam bath and a relaxation area. Guests seeking privacy can book the private spa, with a Zermatter hay sauna, an herbal steam shower, a Jacuzzi and a waterbed. Silvana Mountain Spa is also open to nonhotel guests.
The historic Hotel Walliserhof, in operation since 1896, reopened Dec. 1, 2016, with a fully refreshed look. A new restaurant, Theodors Stuba, serves traditional Swiss cuisine — think fondue and raclette — alongside a menu of high-end Swiss wines. A brand-new shop has also opened within the hotel selling homemade teas and coffee.
Riffelalp Resort, which sits on the edge of a roughly 7,290-foot-high plateau, reopened in December. The ski-in, ski-out resort features 65 redesigned rooms, five suites and two apartments.