St. Moritz is famous for many reasons. One is that its snow season is very long, running from November right through to the end of April. It's at a relatively high altitude, and so its lakes ice up quickly. The surface becomes a 20-centimetre thick ice-rink, covered in turn with fresh snow, making it ideal for snow polo and snow driving, as well as more conventional activities such as ice-surfing and skating. At this time of year (Easter), it's starting to thaw, so don't venture out. But there is much, much more, in St. Moritz, and the surrounding Engadin region. Well worth a visit, at Easter, and at any time of year.
St. Moritz has an airport for private jets, but you can also reach the location by train (the Bernina Express, the little red train that runs from Tirano in Italy, is a memorable trip), bus and car. If you are driving from Italy, you will probably take the Maloja pass, an amazingly scenic route that culminates in an ascent with 21 hairpin bends. (The road that the Ancient Romans built had just three!) At Maloja, the official language is Italian, but as you get closer to St. Moritz, Switzerland's complex linguistic structure becomes even more intricate, with Romansh – an ancient language with similarities to Latin, and Switzerland's fourth language – the official language in 11 villages.
Of course, lots of people speak English. They're used to receiving a lot of international tourists. This is partly because St. Moritz and environs has the incredible figure of 322 days of sunshine every year. When it's foggy or cloudy in the valleys, in St. Moritz you can enjoy the sun.
This makes snow and ice sports even more fun. Starting from the slowest option, walking. Where better than Muottas Muragl, which you reach from Punt Muragl with a rack-and-pinion railway. Muottas Muragl is a sort of Alpine balcony at 2,456 metres above sea level, with amazing views over St. Moritz and its frozen lakes. From here, the Philosopher's Trail, open in its snowy winter version up until 1 April, is prepared every day so that it is walkable in ordinary winter footwear. From here you can admire the incredible Alpine views, across the valleys and up to peaks such as Piz Bernina. The Easter weekend is your last chance: 1st April is the last day of operation for this winter season, and the trail will reopen on 8 June for the summer season when there will be Alpine flowers in the place of snow.
There are also walking routes that start from Zuoz and St. Moritz, and, higher up, in the ski-ing areas of Corviglia and Corvatsch, where, if you like wearing boots and crampons, you'll have a field day. More exhilarating pursuits include paragliding and hang-gliding: just contact the clubs who organize the tandem flights and they'll provide you with the information on weather conditions.
After a day of sports, there is nothing better than an afternoon at a spa. St. Moritz became famous for its therapeutic spas, which have been known for almost 3,500 years. Enjoy a fantastic spa and sauna landscape at Kempinski The Spa, part of the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains. Facilities include a herb sauna at 72°C and a Finnish sauna at 95-100°C, a bio sauna, rock sauna, steam bath and laconium. At Samedan, near St. Moritz, the Mineralbad Samedan is a fascinating vertically-arranged aqua itinerary that ends in a heated mineral pool in the open air, on the rooftop, with views to the village church tower and the mountains beyond.
To end, of course, dinner. Restaurants in the area are often rustic in appearance, with lots of timber, but the menus are superb, reaching great refinement, accompanied by excellent white and red wines. Swiss wines are good, but production is often of the 'heroic' variety with vines extending up steeply from the valley floor, and volumes limited. The Swiss drink all the good stuff themselves, which is why Swiss wines are not well known abroad. Don't miss the chance to savour it while you're there.
Photos courtesy of Engadin St. Moritz, swiss-image.ch