There are ski towns—and then there is St. Moritz, the birthplace of winter tourism, the spot where the ski vacation was invented. Bobsledding was created here. The town has on-snow polo season, followed by the "White Turf," a month of wintry horse racing. St. Moritz has held the Winter Olympics twice, and looks to bid for 2026. In 2017, it will host the World Alpine Championships—for the fifth time.
But St. Moritz has been a winter haven for "only" a century and a half. For two millennia before that it was already a spa and summer vacation hotspot. Then, in 1864, the town's most famous hotelier and host, Johannes Badrutt, introduced winter tourism by staying open past the fall. His spirit lives on today in one of the world's grandest resorts, Badrutt's Palace, still in the family, five generations after the original owner.
The palatial building lives up to its name, occupying nearly five acres of prime real estate, immediately between ski slopes and lake in the pedestrianized old town. Every luxury boutique, watch and chocolate shop of note in town is either in the hotel or within a couple of blocks. Every guest arriving at the train station is met by a Badrutt's Rolls Royce.
Badrutt is seemingly frozen in time with uniformed captains, nearly three staff members per guest, live pianist and harpist, afternoon tea, extensive tableside preparations like Steak Diane and Crêpes Suzettes in the main dining room, and smoking rooms. But the resort has quietly kept pace with modern luxury. Wide swaths of rooms are completely renovated annually, many with full outdoor balconies with seating and stellar Alpine views. Every room is uniquely adorned with original art, mini-bars are complimentary and so is a spectacular breakfast spread. But the biggest addition was a huge underground spa and health center, a three-year project that added an enormous indoor and outdoor pool, hot tubs, state of the art treatment rooms, a yoga studio and a variety of saunas, steam rooms, an ice room and experiential showers. The hotel operates a full-service kids club, and offers ice skating, curling, in-house ski rental and a ski school office in winter. In summer there is tennis and Badrutt's runs its own sailing school.
Two blocks away, it owns Chesa Veglia, a 1658 farmhouse that is the oldest building in St. Moritz. It has been carefully converted into three hotel restaurants, showcasing Italian, grill and Swiss alpine cuisines, along with two bars. The Palace itself has the formal main dining room, plus in winter a seasonal outpost of famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa's Matsuhisa, and the King's Club, one of Europe's oldest and still chicest nightclubs.
For cigar lovers, the hotel has an opulent and cigar-friendly lounge, set within the hotel's Renaissance Bar, featuring a wide selection of handmade smokes, plus additional humidors with an even broader list—all of which will keep you warm on a winter's night.