Skiing in November, and not just on flat glacier highways? A ski area with a large selection of pistes and long runs, even at this time of year? There’s only one place like that in the Alps: Zermatt! This world-famous, yet timeless ski resort lies at the foot of the Matterhorn, the landmark of Switzerland. At the end of November, there are already almost 200 km of piste open! Zermatt is therefore the perfect resort for the German tour operator SnowTrex to start off winter 2018. Furthermore, during this time, the “WOW! Winter Opening Weeks” takes place, offering further numerous attractions! These are enough reasons for SnowTrex to set up an international competition together with ski-loving guests from Germany, Poland and England as well as with Zermatt and Switzerland Tourism. From over 1,300 participants, a total of 10 winners were able to travel to Zermatt with SWISS and SBB. The following is a report of the event:
Day 1: Arrival and first impressions
The arrival in Zermatt alone is a real highlight. After just 2 hours and 16 minutes’ travel time, the direct train from the Zurich airport reaches Visp im Wallis right on schedule. For German rail customers, it’s hard to imagine continuing on to Zermatt in the next train and actually leaving on time. The Matterhorn train makes its way out of the valley and along spectacular routes leading up to 1,600 m altitude. Thanks to its large windows, passengers can enjoy extraordinary views of the glacier of the approaching 4,000-er. Then, after riding along for about 40 minutes, it suddenly appears: the Matterhorn! This majestic mountain massif towers over the resort and impresses like no other mountain. Once in Zermatt, guests continue on foot through the lively, Christmas-themed “Bahnhofstraße” (“train station street”) with its numerous shops and large selection of watches. A free mulled wine here and there, fascinating views of the Matterhorn everywhere you go, and light snowfall: a truly unique atmosphere from the very start! While taking in the sights, the luggage is brought to the hotel by electric mini buses. Electric mobility has been firmly established for decades now in the car-free resort of Zermatt. Zermatt stands out with its variety of comfortable hotels, and our hotel in particular, the La Ginabelle, which is located right on the Matter Vispa River, leaves no wish unfulfilled. After a delicious and typically Swiss Apéro at the hotel bar, it’s back to the village to round off the evening with a delectable cheese fondue in the rustic Whymper-Stube restaurant, located in the middle of the resort.
Day 2: The first moments on the piste
Skiing – finally! It’s off to the Matterhorn Paradise ski area: just a quick stop at the hire shop beforehand for some skis, as the group can quite comfortably make their way from the resort up to the Trockener Steg at 3,000 m altitude via the Matterhornexpress gondola. The ski area is extremely high-lying, which is evident in the noticeably thinner air you feel as you make your way down the first few runs. The appropriate preparation is especially recommended here – but it goes even higher! With the newly-finished, highest tricable gondola in the world, you can reach the Matterhorn mountain station glacier paradise in just a few minutes, taking you up to 3,821 m altitude. Up there, it’s pretty chilly and breezy, and due to the fog, we could only imagine the great views of the Matterhorn. Despite low visibility, the pistes were quite navigable thanks to the outstanding preparation. After a seemingly endless ride along the finest powder snow found on piste 7, we reach the ski resort of Breuil Cervinia in Italy at an altitude of 2,050 m. Afterwards, it’s back up to 3,000 m for a short warm up in the cosy Rifugio Guide del Cervino on the Testa Grigia, and then more powdering until our thighs burn! After the first impressive day of skiing, we share our experiences together during après ski in the cosy “Snowboat Bar”. While some spend the final hours of the day in the beer museum, other spend their time in enjoying the extensive wellness assortment available at the hotel. Dinner is served at the “Grampi’s” pizzeria, a top location for Italian cuisine and a great atmosphere.
Day 3: Pure skiing fun
The weather report didn’t lie: when looking out from the hotel room, you can see the Matterhorn being lit up during the sunrise – a good reason to quickly get dressed and head up the mountain! With the second-highest lift in Europe, the Gornergratbahn lift, we head up into the sunny ski area of Zermatt around the Gornergrat and Rothorn. The lift makes its way impressively up the mountain, reaching 3,089 m altitude. Once at the top, perfectly-prepared, empty pistes await us with fluffy powder snow. Every now and then, we take a quick stop for a drink in the “Blue Lounge”, all the while enjoying spectacular views, of course. Afterwards, we continue up to the next 3,000-er, the Rothorn, with the gondola. When skiing in Zermatt, the highlights just keep coming and coming! The next activity on our list is lunch at the extremely cosy “Adler Hitta” hut in Findeln. The speciality of this unique location is grilled chicken. Afterwards, we make our way down the expansive pistes, where a standing cable car comfortably brings us from Sunegga down into the valley. Then it’s off for après ski at the “Papperla Pub”, where winter sports fans from all over the world gather to listen to live music. Zermatt is overall quite international, which supports this magical ski resort’s international reputation. For dinner, it’s off to the “Old Zermatt” restaurant for a proper, celebratory round of cheese fondue. Simply delicious! Once finished, the hardcore partiers of the group make their way to the clubs of Zermatt. Here, the “Unique Hotel Post” is quite popular, being a combination of bar, restaurant, club and finest live music.
Day 4: Time to say goodbye
Just in time for our departure, rain begins to fall, which made saying goodbye to this unique ski resort and starting off on our journey home a bit easier. As per usual in Switzerland, we leave Zermatt comfortably and on time by train via Visp and make our way through various tunnels towards the Zurich airport. Taking the time to pick up a last-minute souvenir, we then continue on with SWISS and head back to our homes in Warsaw, London, Hamburg and Dusseldorf with our individual impressions.
Zermatt is definitely worth a visit, especially during the WOW! Winter Opening Weeks! This resort is extremely gorgeous with a great atmosphere, a very friendly, international community, a diverse ski area, first-class nightlight, great food and naturally the finest powder snow around – and all that already in November!