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Zermatt - Worth the fuss & Cost?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I guess Megeve is the French Version and Lech Austria's
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franga wrote:


We find that the Zurich trains are much nicer than the Geneva ones - 2 levels, more modern etc.



We have posh trains here too... except they don't go to Zermatt, they only go part of the way and then you have to change. From ZRH trains are mostly Intercity types, which are mostly two level (not all) and have better facilities, such as a restaurant with proper chairs (albeit microwaved food). From GVA, the direct train to Visp is an Interregio, which is pretty basic (but clean and you almost always get a seat). The upside of the GVA trains is that they generally have fewer changes, i.e. one change via Visp, whereas from ZRH, you usually have to change also at Zurich or Bern.

I wouldn't let the choice of train sway you. I would base the airport choice on the time of the flight and availability of connection and the flight price. You can check the connections on cff.ch

Is Zermatt a very special ski resort? Yes definitely, arguably one of the top 5 in the world, albeit slightly less so in Dec and Jan when it's dark and shaded, which is a by-product of being surrounded by such wonderful scenery.
Is Zermatt worth the hassle? Eh? You have to fly, then get two trains, via one of the most civilised transport systems in the world and which will whisk you past beautiful lakes and mountains. The trains will connect perfectly within minutes of each other. Then you have to either walk a few 100m or get a taxi the last couple of km if your accommodation is further. For less hassle, you can park right outside the fridge at Hemel or sit on the couch and watch Ski Sunday.
Is Zermatt worth paying for? Depends how much money you have and how you like to spend it. Only you can answer this.
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Two Hendrick's and tonic, CHF 70. (£56 at time of buying)
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Late season is generally better - some bits don't open until late January and a couple of the pistes on the glacier get extended later in the season to be much more interesting. Worth getting accommodation close to the sunnega lift as this can make mountain access much easier
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Frank Spencer wrote:
Two Hendrick's and tonic, CHF 70. (£56 at time of buying)


Much as I dislike to defend Switzerland's prices, of which I'm a daily victim, if you don't like to pay through the nose, don't drink Hendricks (or Grey Goose), neither of which are particularly superior to other gins (or vodkas). Gin is a very simple drink. Vodka even simpler. It's not Chateau Margaux. There's no limit to availability for gin and vodka, only marketing and gullibility (all my opinion of course).
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Zermatt is the definition of an Alpine ski resort. Go.
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Not too shabby in Summer either...
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=1600790&sid=7e850fbb1405d521f195d0229bfc78c9
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hd wrote:
Zermatt is the definition of an Alpine ski resort. Go.


i'am sold. i will!!

You have all come up with some great comments & suggestions. I'am not 100% clear on the train details though. I can get cheap easyjet flights from Luton to Zurich & I also need to get a Swiss Transfer Ticket for the train which runs from Zurich airport. But not sure which Zermatt station i need to get off or what the changes are. On the Swiss Transfer Ticket web site - the drop down menu for Zermatt gives you several choices.

Update on trains:- On having a closer look on the timetable. I believe from Zurich airport I need to get off at Zermatt Bahnhof station for Zermatt via a change at Visp. Does that sound right?
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Hopefully your budget can cope with Zurmatt, although I prefer Cervinia with Val Tournench thrown in, plus easy to get up into Zurmatt, wind allowing...
I found it a pain getting up onto the slopes in Zurmatt, using gondola's / venicular railways, where as in Cervinia it was just a short walk. It was made more painful as we had to drive there - just open your wallet & pour the money out !!.

Cortina is fabulous, not massive but stunning, tree line stuff, Olympic run etc. can be done with Sella Ronda / hidden valley / Marmalada / Civetta, all on Dolomiti pass. Just popped in there on 13th BB, now they are doing a lot of development, loads of new concrete buildings going up, so not sure how long it will keep it's oldy worldly attraction. Locals weren;t too keen. Lady on flight, who had been there that same week loved it.
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In reply to the train question, as I said earlier you might be better getting the ticket from the Switzerland Travel Centre, and I'm not sure which website you are using but you don't need to specify a destination, the ticket is valid for one month, one trip to a destination and one trip back to the airport.
In Zurich airport, follow signs for the bahnhof and look for trains to Brig, they go hourly usually. Get off at Visp and transfer to the train to Zermatt. It's a small station and very well signposted. Then it's just over an hour into Zermatt where (depending where you end up staying) your hotel will pick you up, you can walk, or get a taxi.
There is a large Migros supermarket in Zurich airport on the level above the station if you have time/need stuff for the train. They don't sell alcohol but there are other shops that do.
Hope that helps
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Swiss Transfer Ticket - I found it very useful

http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/holidays--short-breaks-in-switzerland/swisstravelsystem.html
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
As an allround resort experience, Zermatt is one of the "big 5" in the world. It is a must-do.

For skiing, Zermatt is a top-10er. But not as good as the elite stations, like Cham and Verbier.

Don't bother with Cervinia. Worse views and less buzz.
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@Whitegold, slight topic hack but what are the 'big 5'?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Chamonix.
Verbier.
Zermatt.
St Anton.
Aspen.

Whistler, Val d'Isere, Courchevel 1850, Jackson Hole and St Moritz are the "next 5".
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@Whitegold, excellent thank you, tick list created! Smile
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Poster: A snowHead
We've skied Zermatt once. Loved it for all the reasons already mentioned. Will definitely return again sometime. Lovely resort. We loved the run down from the Klein Matterhorn Swiss side over the border into Valtournenche on the Italian side. Stunning place. Something skiers must do at least once Very Happy
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Following elephant, leopard, rhino, lion and buffalo I would add Vail/Beaver Creek to the list... wink

Only St Moritz left on the list for me (plus the leopard...) Is the skiing world class at St M? I think it is in the other places on the list but I've not heard a lot about it, other than its glitzy reputation.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I went for the first time in late December. Lucky we picked there as it is the only place with decent snow. It is very different than any other resort ive been to. It will certianly be a huge change from Tignes. There wasnt much apres or drinking culture in general i thought. Maybe it was just that it was early in the season. The skiing is great and vast. The snow is likely to be good with it being so high.
It is expensive very expensive. I think i paid £250 for a 3 day pass that covered all areas. Cocktails were £20. There isnt a great lift service in my opinion. Its all gondolas and i imagine in peak times guessing would be a nightmare.
Im glad I went yes. Would I go back? Probably not.
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mk28 wrote:
I went for the first time in late December. Lucky we picked there as it is the only place with decent snow. It is very different than any other resort ive been to. It will certianly be a huge change from Tignes. There wasnt much apres or drinking culture in general i thought. Maybe it was just that it was early in the season. The skiing is great and vast. The snow is likely to be good with it being so high.
It is expensive very expensive. I think i paid £250 for a 3 day pass that covered all areas. Cocktails were £20. There isnt a great lift service in my opinion. Its all gondolas and i imagine in peak times guessing would be a nightmare.
Im glad I went yes. Would I go back? Probably not.


Not had queuing problems in Zermatt even at Xmas/NYE/Easter except occasionally for the Klein Matterhorn cablecar. Usually just walk on to most lifts. Sunnega train/First stage of the KM system can have a bit of a wait at times I guess although haven't really had one!
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Our trip this April to Tignes will be our first ski trip for six years. We have a had a visit to the MK snozone around Christmas to find our ski legs & we were fine. My wife is a junior intermediate - ok on blues & has been on one red. Would Zermatt be ok for blues & gentle reds for my wife? I guess we shall also find out in April how she takes to skiing again & hopefully she will get on some reds before the end of the week.
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If you can get some private lessons for you both while you are out there. I'm sure someone on here could recommend and instructor in Tignes for you.
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pieman666 wrote:
If you can get some private lessons for you both while you are out there. I'm sure someone on here could recommend and instructor in Tignes for you.


Yeah was thinking of getting some lessons in for my wife while in Tignes to build her confidence. I'a, ok, I'll hurtle down most things but with no finesse - maybe i do need some lessons lol
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Lessons are always good, or coaching as I prefer Smile I didn't have any lessons for 30 years and regret not starting sooner, I certainly get a lot more out of my skiing now than I did before I had lessons.
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Andrew911 wrote:
Our trip this April to Tignes will be our first ski trip for six years. We have a had a visit to the MK snozone around Christmas to find our ski legs & we were fine. My wife is a junior intermediate - ok on blues & has been on one red. Would Zermatt be ok for blues & gentle reds for my wife? I guess we shall also find out in April how she takes to skiing again & hopefully she will get on some reds before the end of the week.


Zermatt is full of old people and families tottering about on blues and reds. It will be all good.
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snoozeboy wrote:


Eh? You have to fly, then get two trains, via one of the most civilised transport systems in the world and which will whisk you past beautiful lakes and mountains. The trains will connect perfectly within minutes of each other.


Mmm last time I went the train was delayed, we missed the connection and served two hours late, having had to stand on a freezing platform in Brig.
That said ,I've been five times over the years and agree it's a fabulous place to ski and holiday.
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For the easier skiing I would probably head straight over to the Cervina/ Val tourneche side.
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Andrew911 wrote:
Our trip this April to Tignes will be our first ski trip for six years. We have a had a visit to the MK snozone around Christmas to find our ski legs & we were fine. My wife is a junior intermediate - ok on blues & has been on one red. Would Zermatt be ok for blues & gentle reds for my wife? I guess we shall also find out in April how she takes to skiing again & hopefully she will get on some reds before the end of the week.


While I love Zermatt and Cervinia and spend a lot of time out there, it is not the most obvious place to take someone who mainly wants blues. On the Swiss side there are only really two blue sections: Gornegrat/Gigthittli down to Riffelberg; and Blauherd down to Sunnegga (and even that has a chicken run to take you round the steep part). Some of the reds are not tremendously difficult but they are very definitely reds and not just tricky blues. I think you need to be OK on reds to enjoy Zermatt. Cervinia is easier - but if you are on the Swiss side getting over there is a little tricky for someone who is not comfortable on reds.
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[quote="JohnMo"]
Andrew911 wrote:


While I love Zermatt and Cervinia and spend a lot of time out there, it is not the most obvious place to take someone who mainly wants blues. On the Swiss side there are only really two blue sections: Gornegrat/Gigthittli down to Riffelberg; and Blauherd down to Sunnegga (and even that has a chicken run to take you round the steep part). Some of the reds are not tremendously difficult but they are very definitely reds and not just tricky blues. I think you need to be OK on reds to enjoy Zermatt. Cervinia is easier - but if you are on the Swiss side getting over there is a little tricky for someone who is not comfortable on reds.


Thanks. I thought that might be the case tbh. We have both been to Val d'Isere & would say their blues/reds are challenging. I think Tignes this year will be good for my wife as there are quite a few blues & plenty of reds when she feels confident. I'll see how she gets on in Tignes & make a call on whether she would get enough out of Zermatt. But then again it would be good for her to progress onto reds comfortable so she can get the most out of any skiing resort.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Zermatt obviously has a lot of fans. I guess it depends on what you are looking for.

I can see that it is amazing if your priorities are factors like mountain scenery, pretty village, fine dining, world class hotels, and, for expert skiers, the skiing.

But it is crazy expensive and (as a skier who is happiest on reds, on piste) I found the skiing a little disappointing. I'm not saying the skiing is poor, but I didn't find it as amazing as its reputation led me to expect. Perhaps I have been unlucky, but I've always found that (excluding Klein Matterhorn) the surface of many of the runs is scraped back to a rock hard base (not quite ice, but close). This based on three different years, one staying there a week and two day trips from Cervinia. If I was a better skier, perhaps I'd feel different.

Personally, I prefer Cervinia, due to being more affordable, having pistes that suit me better, and a shorter transfer (from Milan/Turin).
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Andrew911 wrote:


Thanks. I thought that might be the case tbh. We have both been to Val d'Isere & would say their blues/reds are challenging. I think Tignes this year will be good for my wife as there are quite a few blues & plenty of reds when she feels confident. I'll see how she gets on in Tignes & make a call on whether she would get enough out of Zermatt. But then again it would be good for her to progress onto reds comfortable so she can get the most out of any skiing resort.


In contrast to my previous posts(!) if this is the case I would probably choose Cervinia. Lots of nice blues and easier reds there and depending on how she is doing always the possibility to go to Zermatt (and/or you could go) but if she doesn't want to, you aren't paying Zermatt prices and missing out on those runs. You can "test drive" Zermatt and if you like it, always the chance for another trip.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Wed 22-02-17 21:01; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
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You cant have Zermatt and cheap in the same sentence, it always has been exclusive and always will be.
I took my misses there for her 50th birthday, we tried to do it in style, but we were still the paupers.
We flew EasyJet to Geneva from that other exclusive airport "Luton"
Believe it or not we packed a picnic hamper and took the train 1st Class.
My dear wife was very nervous about being the only people in the carriage and having a bottle of wine open with the goodies.
But the ticket inspector showed that he approved of our picnic as the train glided past the vineyards on the north side Lac Leman.
So she relaxed and got in the spirit of it all.

Stayed in a hotel just a few steps from the station "Hotel Sailor" I think, with a great view of Mt. Toblerone.

It had to be done.
Its a few years ago now, and we could not really afford to do it any more, but the memories are vivid and brilliant still.
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@DrLawn, Nice story - that's the way to do it. snowHead
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Sorry to bump this thread, but had to come back and post my experiences as I was looking forward to my trip to Zermatt reading all the praise on this thread but came back earlier this week after 6 days in Zermatt, is it just me that thinks it is totally overrated?!

ok the weather wasn't the best last week with the connection over to Cervina closed everyday. I didn't feel like any of the runs in Zermatt were amazing, the scenery was nice with the imposing Matterhorn and the village was great compared to the places I have visited in France. The lift system we found annoying plenty of queues and slow to get up the mountain, especially the Matterhorn "Express" gondola. Also didn't think the ski areas were that well connected and found some of the slopes seemed to create bottlenecks with tighter pathway slopes where a lot of skiers struggled and blocked the routes. It is not somewhere I would recommend for an inexperienced skier.

Finally in my opinion the 4 hour transfer by train is just that bit to long of a journey.
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TommyJ wrote:
If your flying into Switzerland then using the train you can get your luggage checked right through to your destination station. So you get off the plane, straight through immigration and get straight on the next train with hand luggage only. Your bags arrive a few hours after you at the station. In reverse if your flying with Swiss (and some other scheduled airlines I think) you check your bags in at the station and pick them up in arrivals in the uk. Very efficient and makes the transfer so much smoother.
The trains from Zurich to Visp have a buffet but not the Geneva Visp trains.


Be careful of this advice. Yes this will work for Zermatt, but not for all resorts in Switzerland. In face the service is quite different from what it used to be and is much more restricted in terms of both airlines and resorts. Not sure if you are aware of the changes or how it works for other resorts, it is a facility we have used extensively for years but there is not an option any more from say Sass Fee. Please check sbb.ch for the latest details rather than rely on potentially out of date advice.
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5pike wrote:
Sorry to bump this thread, but had to come back and post my experiences as I was looking forward to my trip to Zermatt reading all the praise on this thread but came back earlier this week after 6 days in Zermatt, is it just me that thinks it is totally overrated?!

ok the weather wasn't the best last week with the connection over to Cervina closed everyday. I didn't feel like any of the runs in Zermatt were amazing, the scenery was nice with the imposing Matterhorn and the village was great compared to the places I have visited in France. The lift system we found annoying plenty of queues and slow to get up the mountain, especially the Matterhorn "Express" gondola. Also didn't think the ski areas were that well connected and found some of the slopes seemed to create bottlenecks with tighter pathway slopes where a lot of skiers struggled and blocked the routes. It is not somewhere I would recommend for an inexperienced skier.

Finally in my opinion the 4 hour transfer by train is just that bit to long of a journey.


Leaving tomorrow and thoroughly enjoying it, the none piste activities more than make up for the skiing. Off piste skiing is good, some great runs, not so busy at the moment but it depends what you want. The lack of uk louts and the town atmosphere, for us, more than compensate. For skiing alone go to Val D and put up with the idiots.
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I love Zermatt - it's not my favourite ski area (I'm a boarder and the EK edges it for me) but we always tend to have our boys' long weekends there every March. 10 days to go for the 2017 instalment.

The scenery is amazing, the food (Chez Vrony, lamb at the Schafferstube, Zum See and the Etoile over in Italy) and service first class and the town is very attractive with an enviable setting. It doesn't feel fake at all. It also feels much more civilised than many of the other world-class resorts.

Plus what's not to like about the train from Zurich (we prefer Zurich as trains much nicer than the ones from GVA) - sit back, crack open a bottle of red and, sit back and relax ...
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Whitegold wrote:
Chamonix.
Verbier.
Zermatt.
St Anton.
Aspen.

Whistler, Val d'Isere, Courchevel 1850, Jackson Hole and St Moritz are the "next 5".


what??????????

Whistler is way way above Aspen. Aspen is glitzy but nothing near Whistler for skiing.
Cham ?????? Why??not the best for piste, off piste, ambience or anything really.

Espace Killy is a skiers paradise and beats anything in Austria or Switzerland.

Verbier has one of the most exaggerated piste milages in the world.
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Quote:

Espace Killy is a skiers paradise and beats anything in Austria or Switzerland.


Agreed.
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DrLawn wrote:
You cant have Zermatt and cheap in the same sentence, it always has been exclusive and always will be.


In 2005 I had 5 days in Zermatt over Xmas in the HI hostel. I was living in a van elsewhere, but parked the van for 5 days in the covered car park in Tasch. I did have the first night in the covered car park, so that first thing in the morning I could get up to the hostel, check in, and take my skis and boots and go skiing for the first day.

It was not cheap then, even when the exchange rate was closer to 2 chf to £1. However, over Xmas, it was very cheap in the hostel relatively!

For me the most expensive part was the lift pass. Lucklily the weather was great for 5 days, and the snow was excellent.

It was way cheaper than a week I spent in Val d'Isere over new year in a chalet. (even before beer money)

Before that I have skied for one day in Zermatt, after spending some time in Verbier car park behind the Sports centre. All it cost was petrol, parking, lift pass, and return train fare to Tasch. Admittedly, that is more expensive than most areas.

I have skied from a van in Solden, St Anton, St Moritz, Zermatt, Verbier, Tignes, Val d'Isere, Brides les Bains, Serre Chevalier, and many more. I would put Zermatt high on that list, but would prefer Verbier if I was in the locality.




Blush
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Zermatt is so special, I have been 3 times and even though the last time I broke my shoulder (5 weeks ago and not Zermatt's fault Happy) I would go back again tomorrow.

I love the charm of the transfer in, the variety of terrain, going up the mountain on the Gornergrat train, getting a cable car up to 3800m, the ambience, the fact that we ski to Italy for lunch, yes it is bonkers expensive but worth every penny.

We have stayed in a chalet, the Alpenhof and the Park Beau, all great.

Even though I could not ski for a lot of the week I was there due to my accident I still walked the mountain trails with my shoulder strapped and the views and the vista are breathtaking.

So go go go Very Happy
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