News from the snow
Zermatt is one of those rare ski resorts that has it all and, as such, is the favoured destination of many skiers from around the world. To begin with there's the huge ski area, with the world's second biggest lift-served vertical drop and skiing 365 days a year with a 1000 metre (9280 feet) vertical on its glacier even in the summer months. Then there's the village itself, peaceful thanks to the absence of the combustion engine (only small electric vehicles quietly hum around the streets along side horse drawn carriages), and picturesque with traditional buildings and many visitors arriving by the spectacular mountain railway. Thirdly there is the international resort quality and variety of accommodations, restaurants, après ski, off-slope facilities and shopping. Fourth there's the sunny location, sheltered from the wind and finally there is the spectacular backdrop to it all - the 4000m full face of the Matterhorn, one of 38 mountain peaks surrounding the village.
Regarded by most as Switzerland's top ski resort and by many as the world's best. Picturesque, car free with spectacular views of the Matterhorn. Large glacier for Summer skiing, lift links to Breuil Cervinia and Valtournenche in Italy, world's second biggest lift-served vertical drop.
Although the resort has a deserved reputation, like Chamonix , as a serious mountain sports mecca, the choice is so vast that there is plenty on offer for skiers and snowboarders from beginner level up. The gentlest slopes are found on the Gornegrat 's slopes, whilst intermediates and experts will find something to entertain them on Sunnegga, especially the long Triftji black run for the latter. Key routes back down to Zermatt have snow making and the high altitude means snow down to resort level is the norm.
A haven for wintersports connoiseurs, almost 50 different special ski programs are on offer on fixed dates (contact the Tourist Board for more information). These include skiing with language courses, skiing with classical music and gastronomic specialities, skiing with indoor golf or even with dance classes. For full-time skiers there are special courses in powder as well as hard packed snow and the option of taking the 'Haute Route' ski mountaineering and back country ski routes with guides to other classic resorts such as Chamonix and Saas Fee. Heliskiing is also very popular around the resort with a huge range of options for serious skiers with guides.
There are three children's kindergartens in Zermatt. Seiler's Children-Paradise at the Hotel Nicoletta accepts children aged from 2 to 8 years from 9 am to 5pm (half-days possible), Monday to Friday and is closed at weekends.
The Kinderclub Pumuckel at the Hotel La Ginabelle accepts children from two-and-a-half to age 6 years. A ski instructor offers lessons to children and lunch is included in the price. Children from age 4 up are accepted in the ski kindergarten at the ski school which operates in the afternoons and from 6 they can ski all day with the Swiss Ski School, with lunch included in the price.
Zermatt has one of the most generous free lift ticket schemes for children, with children skiing free until they are 9 years old. From age 9 to 16 they pay 50% of the adult ticket price. The Children's Paradise is open from 9am to 5pm and takes kids from 3 months old upwards.
Valais specialities include, raclette, fondue, mature cheeses, sausages, dried meats and rye breads. Local wines include Fendant and sparkling Arvine as well as the Goron and Gamay reds.
Straight after the lifts close Hennu Stall on the lower part of the Furi descent (Schwarzee - Klein Matterhorn ski area) is usually lively. There's a big bar and terrace, sometimes live music and gluhwein, beer and shots a plenty. It can also be reached on foot from the village. The Olympia Stubl on the route down from Sunegga has live bands every day and a good terrace.
The Papperla pub in the village can be reached by ski if the snow is good enough. It has a lively atmosphere, DJs and a huge drinks selection.
The Hotel Post with its various bars, discos and dance club is most popular spot in town and an institution in its own right. Known as the 'Postli' to the locals, there's Papa Caesar's wine, whisky and cocktails bar, the Brown Cow snack bar and pub, The Pink live music bar, the Broken Bar (disco) and the Village Dance Club - so this one place has more nightlife that the total combined in many other ski resorts!
Other options are the Pollux discothèque which has two bars and is open to 4am and the Grampis Pub on three floors.
The Vernissage Bar and cinema was built and decorated by Heinz Julen, Zermatt's most famous artist and includes a lounge bar on the upper floor and a cinema on the lower where parties and concerts take place.
Folklore and live music are performed at Dancing Simi. There's also a cinema in Zermatt along with more than 40 public bars and nine night spots for dancing through to 3.30am closing.
Created facilities include The Gravity Park on the glacier (one of the very few in the world normally open every day of the year) which has an incredible 200m superpipe, large and small kickers, big rails, a wall ride, curved twin rails, kicked box, double kicked rainbow and s rail, c rail and straight rails.
Zermatt's three snowboarding schools are one of the easiest ways to get to know the best parts of the mountain for Boarders.