St Moritz might be famous for its glitz and glamour – and it does offer plenty of that – but the Swiss resort also has a lot more for curious winter sports enthusiasts, from snowkiting and bobsleigh runs to night skiing and partying on the slopes.
Wacky St Moritz
Where else in the world can you race a horse on a frozen lake, play cricket on ice, or ride down a natural-ice bobsleigh run? Winter tourism was invented here 150 years ago so it’s no wonder you can find a string of unusual winter sports in St Moritz. With four mountain peaks, 350km (217 miles) of pistes and 200km (124 miles) of cross-country ski trails, it’s safe to say the St Moritz Engadin ski region has plenty of space to keep you entertained. And what’s more, the season here lasts from mid-October to mid-May.
If you haven’t tried snowkiting before, St Moritz is the place to give it a go – it was pretty much invented here on Lake Silvaplana. Snowkiting is a cool mash-up between snowboarding and kitesurfing. Attached via harness to a large power kite, the wind pulls you along on your skis or snowboard, giving you the sensation of weightless skiing – a fun and thrilling feeling. It doesn’t take much wind for a kite to seriously pull you along (and up!) so if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll need a few lessons without the skis first. Local snowkiting school Swiss Kitesurf (Sportzentrum Mulets, Silvaplana; tel: 081 828 9767) offers single and multi-day courses for all levels from CHF120 (£85) for a three-hour course.
If that’s not adrenaline-pumping enough, thrillseekers can ride down the only natural-ice bobsleigh run in the world at speeds of up to 135kph (84mph). A bob guest ride at the Olympia Bob Run (Plazza Gunter Sachs, St Moritz-Celerina; tel: 081 830 0200) costs CHF250 (£178) including helmet hire, a certificate and a drink.
For those who’d rather play it safe, great sports to watch on the ice include horse races, cricket and skijoring races (when skiers are pulled by horses across the frozen lake) in February, and cross-country skiing races in March.
Partying in St Moritz
If you love your skiing/snowboarding and fancy partying on the slopes afterwards, head to the Corvatsch ski area on Fridays for the weekly ‘Snow Night’ – the longest floodlit night run in Switzerland (Fridays 7pm-2am), with food, drinks, live acts and DJs. Night buses run from the bottom station in every direction every hour until 2.30am.
St Moritz has of course plenty of bars and clubs too, including some of the most infamously exclusive and expensive nightspots in skiing. The Cascade bar (Via Somplaz 6; tel: 081 833 3344) is perfect for an aperitif or après-ski cocktails in stylish surrounds, while Vivai (Via Traunter Plazzas 6; tel: 081 836 9723) is a swank club with international DJs in the heart of St Moritz. For champagne-fuelled parties and celeb-spotting, head to King’s Club in Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (Via Serlas 27; tel: 081 837 1000), one of the most famous and exclusive party spots in town.
Affordable luxury in St Moritz
Hotels: St Moritz is part of the Engadin ski region, which includes 13 resorts and plenty of affordable accommodation options if you do your research and book early. Conveniently located in a village next to St Moritz, Hotel Misani (Via Maistra, Celerina; tel: 081 839 8989) is a comfortable, modern hotel with three restaurants serving delicious French, Italian and Spanish food.
Transport: From this year (until 20 May 2013 this season), 100 hotels in and around St Moritz are offering the ‘hotel ski pass included’ deal – if you stay more than two nights, you can buy a lift pass for just CHF25 (£18) per person per day and it includes free travel on public transport in the Upper Engadin.
Winter sports: If snowkiting lessons and bobsleigh runs are a tad pricey, you can try tobogganing instead. It’s as fun and thrilling and it only costs CHF15 (£11) to hire a sledge for the day. The 4.2km-long (2 miles) toboggan run from Muottas Muragl starts at 2,456m (8,058ft). With 20 corners and some pretty steep straights, it’s the fastest of the region’s toboggan runs. And if you already have a ski pass, you can use the funicular to go up and do the run as many times as you want. Another affordable sport is cross-country skiing. Group classes start from CHF50 (£36) per person for two hours. It’s quite tiring but you get to really appreciate the unspoilt surroundings and clean air – and it’s a great workout too!
What to take? Stylish sunglasses – St Moritz is blessed with 322 days of sunshine a year (a Swiss record!)
What to bring home? Swiss chocolates – buy a selection from Läderach (Via Serlas 26), one of the best chocolatiers in Switzerland.
What to eat? Veal stew, fondue, Italian-inspired pasta dishes and cured meats.
Celeb-spotting tips? If you can afford it, fly business with SWISS – you’re bound to spot some celebs on the plane. Once in St Moritz, dress elegant and head to one of the resort’s 5-star hotels for people-watching and drinks at the bar.
NEED TO KNOW
Fly: Fly with SWISS to Zurich Airport, then transfer by train to St Moritz. The train journey takes about 3 hours 20 minutes but the scenery is breathtaking.
Get around: Local buses, trains and ski lifts are covered by the Engadin pass. Horse-drawn sleighs can also be hired as ‘taxis’.
More info: Check out our St Moritz ski guide and visit www.engadin.stmoritz.ch for more tips and information.