Off the beaten track
It's all downhill at Andermatt
Situated in central Switzerland, just north of the St Gotthard Pass and 140 km from Zurich, the nearest international airport, is the ski resort of Andermatt.Andermatt is more than just another picturesque ski resort, says Ingrid Arnold. "The ski slopes at Andermatt are more suited to experienced skiers." In fact not only experienced skiers, but also snowboarders will find gems at the resort. "There are many off-piste routes, especially at Gemsstock, which has long been a 'secret' amongst snowboarders," says Arnold. "The ski area NŠtschen is a good choice for families or beginners." The Gemsstock features one of the very first Alpine runs, created especially for carvers. The Bernhard-Russi-Run -- a famous ski run down the glacier -- is named after the winner of the Olympic Gold Medal in Sapporo. And in case one is tired of hitting the slopes and jarring the bones, take a trip to the top of the 3000 meter high Gemsstock and experience what Arnold calls, "A spectacular panoramic view of more than 600 summits." You can also take a trip on the famous Glacier Express, which connects the train trails between St Moritz and Zermatt. There is also the Talmuseum, which is among the most beautiful patrician mansions of the Ursern valley, and was built in 1786. The inside of the building is fitted in a way characteristic of the area. Andermatt also features two snowshoeing trails and winter walks with guides on demand. Visitors can choose between a six-day package (from Sunday to Saturday) and a four-day package (from Sunday to Thursday). The prices depend on the category of the hotels. A six-day package ranges from $525 to $580 per person. The four-day-package ranges from $374 to $415 per person The ski package includes six or four nights in a double room with shower/bath, a six or four-day season-ticket (Monday to Saturday/Thursday) which includes Skipass Oberalp for an extra of $48, sledges at your disposal at the tourist office, free entry to the Talmuseum, one-day-sticker for cross country, and a welcome drink in the hotel. The best time to visit Andermatt is when the snow cannons open ski season in mid-November - the season continues till just after Easter. So if you're living in the land of sand and want to go with the snow, so to speak, the easiest way is to fly to Zurich (Emirates, KLM and SWISS all operate flights from the region to Zurich).