On Top of the World in St. Moritz, Switzerland
May 15, 2017
The Engadin is located in the Graubünden canton in the heart of the Swiss alps. Within that heart is the gem St. Moritz and the gorgeous neighboring villages that surround it. This region is everything you could ever imagine the alpine countryside to be. Gigantic snowy peaks collide with bluebird skies. Impeccably fashionable, chic skiers share slopes with the most rugged athletes. Here you will find everything. The scene is both luxurious and very friendly. No matter which village you choose to visit, there is always someone to share a bottle of bubbly and melty fondue with.
This is a land of personalities that love to embrace the magic of life. The quaint villages are connected by a singular road, which makes it very easy to get around by bus, car or bicycle. If you visit, do try to see as many Engadin villages as you can. They each offer their own unique charms.
Switzerland has been on my travel bucket list ever since I was a small child. I’ve always been obsessed with the mountains and the alpine culture (my passion for the high alpine lifestyle drove me to live in Telluride, CO.) I first visited this country, my first ever trip en Suisse four years ago. St. Moritz and the Engadin valley were the very the beginning of a story that will continue to grow. This marked my third trip there in this short period of time. It’s a special place that gets even more wonderful every time I visit.
There are more four and five star grand hotels in this region then I have ever seen before. Five star status goes beyond the hotels, it’s in the people, food, spas and cultural attributes as well. The attention to detail, super friendly vibe and overall love of the great outdoors makes this place unforgettable. Both visitors and locals make the smart choice to relish in this panoramic place. I bet if you visit, you will also want to return again and again.
You witness this elegance at so many fine properties. This trip I was welcomed at the Hotel Waldhaus in the small neighboring village of Sils Maria. The hotel has lovely contrasts between modern and historic aesthetics. Their new wellness center is a must! The perfect place to sooth tired, worked muscles.
February was a very exciting time for St. Moritz, they were gearing up to host the FIS World Cup Championships. The mountain & center of town were bustling with the building of structures dedicated to the event. The entire village was so excited to have this privilege to host the most talented skiers in the world. I was in Austria by the time festivities started, but watched with great anticipation as my favorite skiers competed. I made so many friends while in St. Moritz, they gave me the play by play details on all the fun.
Swiss Travel Pass
Getting around Switzerland is very simple thanks to the Swiss Travel Pass. I fly into Zurich (most beautiful airport) clear customs, and the take my comfy seat in the first class rail cabin. Within minutes of the train leaving the station I’m offered coffee and snacks to make the trip even more enjoyable. I pinch myself as I gaze out huge panoramic windows at the majestic alpine views. City yields to farm country, yields to majestic alpine pastures and soaring mountains. The rail system is always on time, in pure Swiss style.
Ski Time in the Engadin
The skiing here is suitable for all levels, there is something for the beginner, intermediate, advanced and heaps of backcountry terrain for the more extreme. Sunny days and blue skies are the norm. This is the valley of the sun, the mountains are that much more fun to ski because this abundance of light. The main ski areas in St. Moritz are Corviglia and Corvatsch.
Not only can you can you test your alpine and nordic ski skills on the slopes, but you can also sign up to do Yoga on Snow “The first yoga piste in the world.” I went out with the most personable guide Sabrina Nussbaum from the Survetta Swiss Ski School. She’s a yoga pro and ski champ! I had never done anything like this, certainly a different experience to practice yoga when you are wearing skis! St. Moritz is not shy to introduce us to the great outdoors in creative ways.
Another special winter offering happens after the sun goes down. Over on Corvatsch mountain I partook in Corvatsch Snow Night. There aren’t many mountains that offer night time skiing, but on Friday nights you can ski on Switzerland’s longest floodlight slope, 4.2 km. You can party at Alpetta and Hossa Bar after.
It’s super fun to head out with a guide to learn how the ski areas connect to one another. This is something special that happens in European ski resorts. It’s a really cool experience to travel from village to village on skis. In the Engadin they call this tour the aptly named Ski Safari This doesn’t happen in the USA. Do it if you are there!
The on mountain dining is something you must experience! There are many restaurants, my favorite are the locally owned, converted chalets and farmhouses. A few of my favorites in the area are Alpetta (Corvatsch) El Paradiso and Bergrestaurant Chamanna (Corviglia) It’s just as fun to cozy up indoors on snowy days as it is to soak in the sun on the outdoor decks on bluebird days. These restaurants have delicious menus & extensive wine lists and cocktails.
I can never resist a plate of raclette & glass of local white wine…
The Aprés scene is alive and well, there are many options for that. Each village has a hot party spot that isn’t hard to find. All you need to do is follow the cobblestones to the sound of thumping music. Within minutes you will find revelers with spirits galore! St. Moritz is quieter than some, but the possibilities are all within reach.
Most hotels offer aprés offerings as well, in their great rooms. These are peaceful places to enjoy a hot toddy, café au lait, tarts and to take in the alpine views. There is often a quartet or some sort of live classical music playing as you enjoy the afternoon.
Snow Polo on Ice
One of St. Moritz’s main attractions in the winter are super luxe horse events. There are two that you should try to attend if in the area. I was in town for the Snow Polo World Cup, there is also the famous White Turf Races. Event days are filled with fine champagne & all kinds of celebrations. Events take place on the frozen lake of St. Moritz.
Prior to the matches, thankfully with a press pass I was able to hop on one of these stunning horses! Here I’m pictured with team Royal Salute’s polo ambassador, Malcom Borwick. He is also known as the Polo Evangelist, one of the UK’s finest polo players. He trains Princes William and Harry for their polo matches.
I had fun learning the basics of the sport, and even testing my grip on a polo mallet. Furry boots made all the difference in my game…
We spent time in the VIP tent in between matches. The food and bubbles were a flowing!
As anticipated, the events were chic, friendly and very energized. It was fun to meet the Sennerai Pontresina a few summers ago & to see him again at polo! I visited this cheese maker’s alp hut for a very special alpine brunch, my first taste and unforgettable experience with the amazing cheeses in the area.
As you can see…a bite of each was essential. There were so many varieties on display to enjoy.
One of the event Champagne sponsors is Perrier-Jouet, waterfalls were being poured & we were all loving the mouthwatering bottle popping celebrations.
The food in the Engadin is a lively mix of cultures; you can find plenty of traditional high alpine food as well as Thai, Italian, French, German and pretty much anything you can dream up. It’s so international here, many countries are represented. The locals and visitors love this mix of cultures. Living in a ski town, I know how important and fun it is to embrace the global food offerings. It makes everything so much more exciting.
The Engadin tart is my absolute favorite treat. The recipes vary slightly from chef to chef. But no matter which you bite into, I bet you will become obsessed with this pastry too. I’m currently working on perfecting this tart at home. Stay tuned for more on that….
Going out in the evening is always a special event. A reason to dress up & celebrate the local cuisine and wine. The winter evenings are cold and it’s lovely to head indoors to a cozy, warm and inviting restaurant. I spent the most delicious evening at Restaurant Talvo by Dalsass located in neighboring village Champfér. Martin Dalsass, the executive chef believes in returning to nature. He cooks with the freshest of ingredients, preserving the simplicity and high quality of ingredients in the Mediterranean style. Dalsass is a huge fan of olive oils and uses the finest he can find in all his recipes.
As soon as you walk into Talvo, you smell the beautiful Swiss Pine that surrounds you in the decor. You are treated like royalty, in true Swiss elegance.
Talvo is special, in that you feel like you are deep within the country ~ but at the same time in a chic metropolitan restaurant. It straddles so many time periods. All with style and grace. We ordered off the a la carte menu, and the chef sent out special offerings for us to indulge in.
The freshness of the flavors here is like none other. I still dream about my entree course, the Cavatelli with Mussels and Small Squids. OMG, what I would do for this as I sit here writing about this great culinary adventure. Here are the menus for you to get acquainted more with the restaurant. Book ahead if you go during the peak winter months. Talvo is the haute spot for those in the know.
The desserts were gorgeous, as you can see we sampled quite a few.
St. Moritz’s history is fascinating, I learned a lot about it on a day tour with a local village guide. We toured the city on foot and I even got to enjoy a behind the scenes peek at the chocolate and Engadin tart making at the Hotel Hauser cafe.
St. Moritz is known for it’s plentiful mineral baths and spas. There are so many wellness centers to take care you. Each of the grand hotels has ones you should take advantage of if booking a stay. Day passes are available at many spas as well.
In the village, there is a mix of modern and historical architecture. With plenty of monuments, churches, hotels and other sites to see. The Leaning Tower of St. Moritz is eye catching. Built in 1570, this tower, with a 5.5 degree tilt…is more precarious than the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
While touring St. Moritz on foot you will no doubt stop at the many boutiques and cafes along the way. The luxury shopping here is epic! Especially along the Via Serlas. So many international luxury favorites can be found along this boulevard. I’ve collected many favorites here through the years.
To book your stay & to learn more about St. Moritz and the Engadin please visit these very helpful websites: