Heading into Zermatt is a bit like walking into a fairytale. (Or if you follow in Aesthetic Voyager’s boots, skiing into a fairytale – journeying across from Cervinia in Italy for a night is highly recommendable.) Much like the rest of Switzerland, the town is immaculate, the people as efficient and friendly as you could find anywhere. And they know style, cuisine and quality.
We have to be frank: Zermatt is not for those on a budget. It’s one of those place that you just have to bite the bullet and try not to think about the bank statement at the end of the month. But the reasons below are tribute what Zermatt has to offer. We really think you should go.
Where to stay
Five modern chalets and an old chalet dating back to the 1940s constitute CERVO is a small resort between the village and the edge of the forest, accessible by skiing directly up to the hotel door. With two restaurants, a large sun terrace and bar lounge with smoking lounge as well as an après-ski bar, awarded the best Swiss hotel, CERVO is also (and rightly) ranked 10th best hotel Europe-wide.
The most impressive aspect of a stay at CERVO is how the hotel retains a small, boutique, welcoming, almost homely feel, and yet since opening in late 2009, CERVO has expanded to offer a broader range of accommodation and foodie choices progressively year on year. Although influenced heavily by it’s Swiss alpine heritage, CERVO is cosmopolitan in a way that it doesn’t feel of a particular nationality, which is possibly why all feel so at home.
The service at CERVO is impeccable and discreet. Contrary to many a competitor boutique hotel, staff at CERVO are extremely friendly and yet perceptive. Little touches such as a basket of apples in the hall way (a note on it reminds you that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’), to the sumptuous and plentiful Molton Brown products in the bathrooms, and locally baked cookies ready for midnight snacks in your room.
The rooms are distributed between five bigger chalet buildings, accommodating a total of just 33 rooms. Each chalet shares a private wellness area that houses a delicious variety of saunas, steam rooms, a relaxation area, outdoor whirlpool and a stack of my favourite magazines to peruse.
What to do
Apart from the obvious and rather impressive skiing (Aesthetic Voyager credits the slopes as some of the best in the Alps for intermediate skiers, with an undeniable dash of panache), Zermatt offers a range of other activities, and if you are a resident in the CERVO you’d be hard pushed to find a reason to leave the resort. From the spa in each chalet, to a broad range of (current!) periodicals to cooking classes, the place certainly has a lot to offer int eh way of relaxation. CERVO can also organise, via tourist information, for a tour of the mountains by piste-basher at night, parasailing, heli and nordic skiing.
Zermatt is an excellent place to shop if you are in the market for diamonds or a watch. But for the rest of us mortals, it’s also a great place to pick up chocolate, meats and cheeses. For Sausages and air dried meat, CERVO founder Daniel F. Lauber recommends the butcher Bayard.
The CERVO is very relaxed in the summer (the skiing and après ski is missing) but is still a fantastic luxury lodge near by the forest overlooking Zermatt. It is an ideal hub to discover the mountains for hiking, biking and climbing. But it is also great for hub even for day trips further down the valley to visit some great wineries.
But it has to be said that skiing is still the main focus. Daniel names his favourite as the national from Blauherd to the town, noted for being steep and challenging.
Apres Ski at Ferdinand terrace is the place in Zermatt to finish your day on the slopes. conveniently it’s also your hotel. And it is quite literally on the slope – being the end of the Riedweg piste. It’s not just residents. The bar is the end of the line for everyone of drinking age on the Rothorn mountain come the close of the slopes. But the last thing that CERVO do is take the location for granted – all credit to them by making a great bar even better with the provision of a live band each afternoon on the terrace, and no end of deer skins to fend off the cold while skiers enjoy a well earned drink.
If you want to avoid the tourists enforce when you have your early evening drinks, locals recommend a tipple at Vernissage at the Back Stage Hotel, Cavern at The Omnia Hotel, Gee’s and finally The Pink at Hotel Post.
Where to eat
At risk of sounding like we never left the hotel, the more formal and fine dining CERVO restaurant and also Ferdinand, CERVO’s younger, cheese and meat focused casual dining are both amongst the top restaurant options in Zermatt.
But if you do have the energy left in your legs, for great mountain food Daniel recommends would visit Findlerhof Franz and Heidi or Chez Vrony both nestled away in the hamlet of Findeln above Zermatt.