Winter tourism began in St.Moritz 150 years ago when Johannes Badrutts “dared” his summer clientele to spend the winter in the Engadin, he invited them to stay at his hotel to experience it themselves; if they were not satisfied, he would also pay their travel expenses. They became the first winter tourists of the Alps and discovered a new world: winter holidays in the snow, and winter tourism as we now know it was born in the Alps.
In 1928 the Winter Olympics came to ST Moritz, and the world was introduced to the Engadin Valley as a winter sports paradise. And with that reputation, came that of one of the Alps’ most posh, luxurious, and over-the-top playgrounds of royalty and spotlight-seekers. With the highest-density of 5-star hotels in the Swiss Alps, and the clientele to support them, that reputation has only grown, but the mountains have stayed the same. The legendary hospitality, opulent boutiques, and fur-clad visitors are still here, but the skiing, biking, and hiking are some of the best to be found anywhere in the Alps.
Spread between 8 different resorts, it’s easy to find anything from perfect powder to uncut corduroy, all day long, if you know where to go. From the steeps of Corvatsch or Diavolezza to the World-Cup pistes in Celerina, there is something for everyone. Drop off the back of Lagalb for a long descent into Italy from the Bernina Pass, and take a train back home. Or explore some of Switzerland’s secret untapped heliskiing terrain with a mountain guide. And don’t forget Switzerland’s best Nordic (cross-country) ski trail network, home of the Engadin ski marathon. Long, sun-soaked lunches on any of the Engadin’s world-class mountain restaurant terraces complete the ideal ski day.
Summer is just as wonderful in the region, with all of the Nordic ski trails doubling as a bike and hiking trail system, with more ambitious riders and hikers finding every level of trail to satisfy their dreams – with ski lifts, trains and buses to deliver them wherever they want to go, the valley is a massive playground for outdoor pursuits.
Arriving in St Moritz is an experience in itself aboard the Rhaetian Railway via the Bernina or Albula Pass. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status as one of the most spectacular narrow- gauge railways in the world, providing access to high-Alpine regions. The railway is masterpiece of technically innovative engineering when it was built in the beginning of the 20th century and still is today.