Matterhorn, Zermatt. Image courtesy of Dominique Schreckling
The world’s top 3 best ski resorts are St. Moritz and Zermatt, both in Switzerland, and the American resort, Aspen, in Colorado. These selections are the results of a comprehensive study conducted by the Swiss business magazine, Bilanz which have been recently revealed. The researchers used 10 criteria to evaluate the international winter sports destinations.
Zermatt’s Klein Matterhorn, the highest summit in Europe that is serviced by a cable car. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons by Cable1
Cartier Polo World Cup at St. Moritz. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons by Frédéric de Goldschmidt
The other top resorts ranking from number 4 to number 10 are:
- Lech / Zürs countries, Austria
- Whistler, Canada
- Gstaad in Switzerland
- Kitzbühel in Austria
- Megève in the French department of Haute-Savoie
- Vail, Colorado
- Courchevel in the French Alps.
The top 3, however, were not without some criticism as all 3 received 79 out of 100 possible points. It came out in the study that St. Moritz is not particularly family friendly and also received lower marks for the townscape. Considering that St. Moritz caters more to aristocrats, celebrities and jetsetters, this note on lack of family activities is not surprising. The townscape, I suppose, is a question of personal preference. There is no question that it is quite different than many other ski resorts.
Night view of St. Moritz. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons by Mad Geographer
In the eyes of the respondents, Zermatt lacked abundant cross-country ski facilities and not enough non-skiing activities. Cross-country skiing is, in fact, limited to 4.34 miles of trails because the valley is small and full of chalets and the slopes are some of the steepest in the Swiss Alps. Zermatt is well known for its challenging slopes and moguls at high elevations which enable serious athletes to ski year round.
Zermatt Ski trails: Image courtesy of ski-zermatt.com
As for non-skiing activities in Zermatt, just in winter alone, one can snowshoe, toboggan, ride in horse driven sleights (no cars in Zermatt), and ride the Gornergrot cogwheel train up a mountain for the best view of the Matterhorn and the highest mountain in the Swiss Alps, the Monte Rosa. One could also ice skate, ice climb, indoor rock climb, snow-bike, play squash or swim in a standard pool or relax in a salt water pool or one of 20 saunas. Zermatt has many alpine restaurants and bars as well as late night clubs – many casual and loads of fun. Zermatt even has an alpine museum dedicated to many who conquered or who didn’t conquer the Matterhorn, a climb which began in the 18th century. There are also many music festivals in Zermatt and the next big one is in the spring called Zermatt Unplugged to be held April 12-16, 2011.
Zermatt Unplugged Music Festiva,lMartin Jondo Zermatt Image courtesy of Dominique Schreckling.
Aspen, Colorado also one of the top 3 was criticized in the Bilanz study for having little Après Ski Culture. Home of the late singer John Denver and Oscar winning French actress Claudette Colbert, Aspen is popular with many of today’s celebrities because it is a laid back casual ski resort. But on the other hand, there are some lively Rocky Mountains bars and clubs that I didn’t have any problem enjoying when I was last there.
Aspen locals parked in front of Louis Vuitton. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons by Matthew Trump
Gstaad, Switzerland, one of the most exclusive ski resorts in the world, was ranked number 6 in the study. This is more of a place “to be and to be seen” with comfortable but less challenging ski slopes. However, it does not lack luxurious hotels, shopping, high-society nightlife and excellent cuisine. Current permanent residents of the celebrity haven are Julie Andrews and Elizabeth Taylor, French actress Jeanne Moreau and French rocker Johnny Halliday. Former residents included Steve Wynn, Roman Polanski, Roger Moore, Prince Rainier and the late Grace Kelly. Regular visitors included the late Michael Jackson, Prince Charles, the late Princess Diana, and Kofi Annan and the list goes on…
For more on Switzerland, follow me on Twitter.