Fine chocolate, cheese, and spectacularly good local wine, plus some of the best watches that money can buy – Switzerland is synonymous with many things, not least its striking natural scenery, which it has been blessed with in abundance. Its hospitality standards are legendary, too. Take your pick from grand dame lakeside hotels or modern wellness resorts in the mountains, making the compact country a magical destination at any time of year, but perhaps just slightly more so during winter.
Whether looking to ski, spa or après with a spot of people watching on the side, Switzerland’s Graubünden region is dotted with standout destinations for a winter break – from the freestyle capital of Europe Flims Laax and famed thermal waters of wellness resort Bad Ragaz to the tony resort town of St. Moritz.
For the adventure seeker: LAAX
Relatively unknown outside local and European markets, LAAX is one of Switzerland’s most extensive ski areas boasting 224km of primarily intermediate-level pistes across three connected village centres: Laax, Flims and Falera.
Home to the world’s largest halfpipe, five snow parks, and superb freeride terrain, it’s considered one of Europe’s friendliest snowboarding spots. Located 90 minutes from Zurich, it’s popular on weekends but weekday lift lines are virtually non-existent. Don’t let the local name for ‘peak’ fool you: Crap Bar is a top après-ski spot, while Crap Sogn Gion is home to a cinema, restaurants, and a trendy co-working space. Skiing and snowboarding not your thing? There are over 160 combined kilometres of cross-country ski and winter hiking trails to explore.
Stay: From the contemporary guest accommodations to its conveniently walkable cable car adjacent location, the chalet-style Signinahotel has stylish and comfortable stays in Laax covered. All rooms enjoy gorgeous north and south views, but suites come with extras like a welcome bottle of Prosecco and Nespresso coffee machines. Soothe sore muscles in the wellness area (there’s a sauna, heated pool, and massages can be booked in advance) or make reservations at signature restaurant, Camino.
Ski: Early snowboard pioneers of the mid-1980s made their first hard-booted turns in (as was then) Flims Lax, so the resort has a deep-rooted connection to the sport. Beginners can master the basics on gentle slopes at Falera, but intermediate to advanced level skiers and freestylers will find the wealth of off-piste terrain, including the Vorab Glacier summit (perfect for panoramic views and great end of day runs) or bowl beneath La Siala, infinitely attractive.
For the spa lover: Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
A fabled spa and health resort destination framed by the Alps and Rhine river, wellness seekers have been drawn to the story-book town of Bad Ragaz since Benedictine monks discovered the nearby Tamina Gorge hot spring in 1242.
A short car ride from the slopes of St. Moritz, here it’s all about enjoying rest, relaxation and spa rituals at first-class hotels, soaking in the magnesium-rich waters and making reservations for a Michelin-starred meal at Memories or ‘health food-focused’ Verve by Sven. In the nearby Pizol ski region, there are trails for Nordic skiers and snow-shoers.
Stay: Modern hotel lovers will enjoy the exquisite Spa Suites, which are finished in a tasteful palette of creams and neutrals, each featuring marble bathrooms, some with a sauna, freestanding whirlpool bath and steam shower. The 150-year-old Grand Hotel Quellenhof fits the bill nicely for old-school glamour meets contemporary style. Sumptuously finished suites come decked out with gorgeous design elements and many enjoy mountain views.
Spa: An architectural masterpiece, public sauna and bathhouse Tamina Therme, is worth a trip to Bad Ragaz alone. Purchase a day ticket and make a beeline for the Thermal Water World – it’s where the sauna and indoor pools are all located and a beautiful space that’s bathed with natural light. Next, head to the outside section and stretch out on an underwater massaging recliner. Facials, massages, and Haki treatments can also be booked for a separate charge.
For the jet set: St. Moritz
Glamorous and winter-sports obsessed, St. Moritz has long been considered one of the world’s glitziest ski resorts. It’s also played host to two Winter Olympics, including the second-ever games in 1928. Visitors can peek at the historic Olympic Park, now a private home, by booking a day at the open-air ice-skating rink at the nearby Kulm Country Club while the St. Moritz Racing club is holding several of its fast-paced White Turf horse racing days throughout February.
On the mountain, skiers and snowboarders are rewarded with 155km of perfectly groomed slopes at St Moritz’s Corviglia ski area – take a few runs then sit in the sun with a glass of glühwein at Alpina Hütte.
Stay: St. Moritz has plenty of charming hotels offering ski packages and easy slope-side access; however, the simple yet stylish Hotel Laudinella and centrally located Art Boutique Hotel are two top picks thanks to their close proximity to the boutiques, bars and restaurants in downtown St. Moritz. The Monopol, a two-minute walk from the Chantarella funicular and access to the Corviglia summit and ski area, is perfect for those who love getting first tracks.
Aprés: After shopping the big-name designer boutiques on Via Serlas, head to storied Country Club Bar at the Kulm Hotel for a unique pop-up cocktail experience. The classic après-ski venue is collaborating with ‘the coolest aperitivo spot on the Amalfi Coast’, Franco’s Bar, presenting signature cocktails and snacks through February 20th.
Zurich is the nearest airport to LAAX and Bad Ragaz. Those traveling to St. Moritz can fly into Lugano or arrive via the Glacier Express, which runs along a UNESCO World Heritage railway line.
Fully vaccinated travellers are eligible to enter Switzerland. However, those who are not vaccinated require a negative PCR (not older than 72 hours) or a lateral flow test (not older than 24 hours) on boarding. More details are available via the Swiss Federal Office of Health.