Zermatt or Gstaad?
Is Zermatt the King of Swiss ski destinations? As with all rulers, there are challengers: this time it is the resort of Gstaad.
These two Swiss ski resorts are divided by the Rhone Valley and 60km of alpine peaks. They are also separated by a mountain of differences that makes Zermatt better than Gstaad.
1. The ski area
Let’s kick off the debate with some facts.
Skiers in Zermatt have access to over 360 km of piste in comparison with Gstaad’s 250 km and the vertical drop in Zermatt is 2279m compared with 1981m.
The highest skiable point in Gstaad is 3000m, which is almost 1000m lower than the highest point on Zermatt’s KleinMatterhorn glacier.
A large part of the ski area in Gstaad is below 1800m, which means snow can’t always be guaranteed. Unlike in Zermatt where nearly 90% of the skiing is above this height.
2. The Lift System
With the Gstaad ski being 30% smaller, it would be great if it was easy to navigate and fun to get around.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. Much of the 250 km is not linked by lifts and ski runs. From Gstaad, you can only ski around 50% of the area without getting a bus. And that includes the highest snow-sure ski area of Glacier 3000.
Once you have made your way to the ski area in Zermatt, you can ski seamlessly across all sectors and into Italy on some of the world’s newest infrastructure.
3. The Longest Run
Zermatt’s longest run starts at the top of the glacier and runs for 20km in the shadow of the Matterhorn all the way into the town.
Over in the Glacier 3000 area close to Gstaad, you can whizz down the 7km Olden run.
Advanced skiers may find it hard to be challenged in Gstaad with just 13% of black runs.
4. The Town
Gstaad is dominated by the Palace hotel which has provided rooms to the rich and famous over the years. The rest of the resort is made up traditional Swiss chalets centred around a pedestrianised main area.
Zermatt has a more eclectic feel to its streets with a variety of architecture, creating an exciting vibe. The joy of Zermatt is amplified by the lack of cars throughout the resort.
Name a non-ski activity, and it is likely that Zermatt caters for it. Regardless of what you’re looking for.
Gstaad doesn’t offer the wealth of off-piste fun that can be found in Zermatt beyond walks and dining experiences.
6. The Snow
Zermatt boasts an incredible snow record. Its average snowfall in December is almost the same as the total snowfall Gstaad received in the whole of the 2017/2018 winter season.
Zermatt is a significant investor which is why the whole ski area is covered by 1200 snow cannons, allowing additional snow to be created if necessary to keep the runs open all season.
Gstaad has half the amount of snowmaking equipment that Zermatt has, surprising considering its low-level slopes.
7. Getting to resort
Travellers flying into Geneva will have a shorter transfer if they are heading to Gstaad but will find more train options heading to Zermatt.
If you fly into Sion airport, you can travel by car to Gstaad in an hour and a half whereas a transfer to Zermatt is closer to sixty minutes. If you prefer a train transfer, then it is two hours to Zermatt which isn’t possible if you are heading to Gstaad.
Zermatt or Gstaad? Zermatt, of course!
To us, it is a simple calculation – Zermatt is a better choice for your Swiss ski trip. More skiing, more fun and a better time.
To find accommodation in Zermatt for this winter please give us a call to find out more about our range of serviced chalets and self-catering apartments.