From a snow and ski to warmer climes; Ian Mason picks out four top choices for a winter holiday option
1. Snow Break
Winter in Europe right now means snow, and plenty of it, So where to go? “The ski season has started particularly early this year and Switzerland is proving to be one of our most popular destinations over the festive season and into February and March,” says Jeremy Sutton, managing director of Dubai-based luxury travel specialist Travel Attaché.
“Resorts such as Gstaad, Zermatt and Verbier continue to attract visitors from the UAE as much for their pristine pistes, scenic settings and lively après-ski scenes as for their excellent levels of service.”
Gstaad is the playground of the rich and famous in the Swiss Alps, a renowned region of chic for royalty and celebs, offering 220 kms of ski slopes, 53 mountain railways and four ski areas. Most ski areas stay open until March, with some extending through to April and May.
A new 450m long Snow Park Gstaad on Mountain Hornberg, Saanenmöser opened in late December offering more areas for both beginner and experienced skiers. Also new for the 2012/2013 season is a 3.2km marked hiking trail on Gstaad's signature mountain, Mt. Eggli.
The Gstaad holiday area comprises ten chalet villages, some of which date back to the 14th Century. One of the hottest new properties, is The Alpina Gstaad which epitomises the glamour and luxury on offer in this traffic-free tourist centre.
Nik Leuenberger, general manager of The Alpina Gstaad, explained that much passion had gone into the construction of an extraordinary hotel.
“We are extremely proud to have created a modern, elegant, authentic and comfortable Swiss alpine hotel which promises to be the new luxurious destination for visitors to the Saanenland region for many years to come.”
How to sell
The Gstaad holiday region in the West of Switzerland is the only glacier ski area in the Bernese Oberland, with its typical Alpine landscape and attractive side valleys.
The ten chalet villages are located from 1,000 to 1,400 metres above sea level, an altitude which is beneficial for well-being.
The Gstaad holiday region is easily accessible by train with direct links via the European high-speed rail network. Gstaad can be reached in about two hours 50 minutes by car from Zurich-Kloten Airport; two hours from Geneva-Cointrin Airport and about one hour 20 minutes from Bern-Belp Airport, the nearest airport.
What To Do:
In winter, snow and ice activities dominate, of course, including skiing, snowboarding, sledding, heli-skiing, ice skating, curling, cross-country skiing and husky tours. Other activities, often available year-round, include carriage rides, paragliding, ballooning, hiking, biking, museums, art galleries and traditional crafts.
German and French. However, English and many other languages are widely-spoken.
For more info:
Where to stay
The Alpina Gstaad
The Alpina Gstaad is a contemporary interpretation of traditional Swiss architecture incorporating authentic Alpine-style craftsmanship and local materials. The $337 million development includes 56 spacious rooms and suites, private apartments and two chalets, surrounded by luscious gardens.
Key hotel features include the first European outpost of the renowned Japanese Restaurant MEGU, and an expansive Six Senses Spa which includes a 25-metre lap pool, outdoor swimming pool and rejuvenation programme.