The ski season is fast approaching and with the first restriction-free winter in three years it is forecast that we will see a renaissance of the ski holiday with a predicted ‘record-breaking season of sales’. From St Moritz and Gstaad in Switzerland to the Sierra Nevada in Spain, BIRD has rounded up our three alpine retreats perfect for skiers looking to make the most of the snow.
Le Grand Bellevue, Gstaad
Perfectly positioned in the heart of quaint Gstaad and amidst the snow-covered Swiss Alps, colourful 57-key hotel, Le Grand Bellevue offers skiers of all abilities a chance to get slope side this winter season. Whether you are more comfortable on gentle nearby pistes, able to tackle a blue and red with ease or wanting to test your limits through fresh powders in nearby Zermatt, Le Grand Bellevue and its surrounding slopes is a skier’s paradise.
Gstaad is home to some of the most snow-sure slopes in Europe and with the mountain cableways a mere 20 minutes from the hotel by foot or a short, chauffeured ski bus, guests can select from five ski areas offering something for all levels. The largest ski area, Rinderberg, holds a selection of wooded terrain whereas Eggli offers sprawling, open slopes in the form of Glacier 3000. For the more experienced skiers Zermatt, known for its phenomenal snow record and piste terrain, presents an experience like no other. Le Grand Bellevue offers you the chance to board a helicopter early in the morning to be dropped off at a mountain landing site amidst Zermatt’s lofty Alpine peaks at sunrise. At above 3,400m – the highest winter sports area in the Alps – you can make fresh lines in the pristine slopes before the lifts have even opened.
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, St Moritz
For over 150 years, St. Moritz has been recognised as the playground of the international elite. Famed as the birthplace of alpine sports and winter tourism, St Moritz is renowned across the globe as one of the best places to ski in The Alps. Similar to the city in which it can be found, and ever since its origination in December 1864, Badrutt’s Palace, has been synonymous with the sports and style of the region and is the ideal destination for those wanting to hit the slopes in style this winter.
On arrival at Badrutt’s Palace you can head to the hotel’s very own ski rental shop before being chauffeured to the bottom of St. Moritz’s closest mountain, Corviglia. One of the best winter sports regions in the world, it is no surprise that Corviglia has already hosted two Winter Olympic Games and five Alpine Ski World Championships. Altogether, the region boasts an incredible 87 pistes that all conform to World Cup quality standards. You can carve down the slopes with one of Badrutt’s Palace’s own ski guides or instructors or take on the challenge alone. Not forgetting that the Upper Engadin Valley is a true paradise for cross-country skiers; with unbeatable 230km of running trails, diverse landscape and guaranteed snow, St Moritz is a hard-to-match skiers paradise.
For those seeking a break from the norm, Badrutt’s Palace offers you the chance to try your hand at some of the more niche winter sports. In the same spirit of derring-do, guests of Badrutt’s Palace can attempt the Cresta Run, a natural ice skeleton racing toboggan track, where some bobsleighers still dress in tweed and hurl themselves down an icy track at 70mph. Alternatively, Badrutt’s Palace offers an experience to try “winter’s wildest sport”, Skijorning, where skiers and snowboarders are pulled by a horse, a must-try for adrenaline-seekers, there are very few places this sport can be tested (perhaps for good reason!).
El Lodge, Sierra Nevada
Located within the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain, Europe’s southernmost ski resort,El Lodge is an enchanting Alpine boutique retreat celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. With just 21 rooms, from 1 December 2022, the hotel will reopen its doors to offer an intimate, cosy hideaway for those wanting to hit the slopes without the crowds. Ski-in-ski-out facilities mean skiiers of all levels can explore the region’s 106km of pistes, while the most advanced skiiers can take on the challenge of Sierra Nevada’s downhill world cup run. If you are in search of a slower pace you can indulge in El Lodge’s unique wellness experiences, including restorative mountain-top yoga and meditation, stargazing from the hotel’s sumptuous outdoor hot tub and innovative sleep-inducing rituals at the spa. Working hand-in-hand with knowledgeable local experts, El Lodge are also able to organise everything from private lessons with some of the resort’s best skiiers, to hot air balloon rides and private feasting journeys around the surrounding villages with resident local Granada expert, Luisa Corral.