St Moritz is synonymous with Swiss sophistication and style. That’s the brochure introduction, but how is working a season at St Moritz?
As you might expect with such a high-end resort, working at St Moritz means canning hopes for saving money over the season. On the other hand, chic nightlife and shopping, nice intermediate terrain and rubbing shoulders with Europe’s rich may well appeal to some.
St Moritz is located in the Engadin Valley, in the eastern part of Switzerland.
The closest major airports are at Zurich (three hours’ drive), Milan in Italy (three hours’ drive) and Munich in Germany (four hours’ drive).
From Zurich, the best way is to take the Swiss Train Service SBB (www.sbb.ch/en) from the airport or centre to Chur.
From Chur, you then switch to the famous Rhaetian Railway, a famous train services which only operates in the eastern part of Switzerland (www.rhb.ch/en/home). The RR is a fairly spectacular ride as it passes through snow-capped peaks and incredibly high viaducts.
The RR train only runs in the east and connects to other Swiss train lines at Landquart, Disentis and Tirano. It also goes over to the other famous resort in the area, Davos.
The trip from Zurich to St Moritz by train takes around 3.5 hours and costs around 40CHF.
If you wish to take the bus, you can take the Post Bus (www.postauto.ch/en) which runs from Chur up to St Moritz and takes around two hours. The train is more scenic, however.
If you have the cash, you could fly directly to St Moritz’s own airport. Engadin Airport (www.engadin-airport.ch/) services flights from Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Milan and Munich.
By some measures, St Moritz is the most expensive resort in the world. There are five-star hotels, world-class restaurants and boutique shopping. Many guests come simply for an alpine holiday and do little skiing, instead spending their days shopping, getting spa treatments and enjoying fine dining.
The town is incredibly pretty with buildings dating back to the 1800s, and it was the host of the 1928 and 1948 Olympics. Such glitz and glamour means the vibe is a little toffy, and not necessary the best place for the ski bum seasonal worker.
St Moritz is made up of four ski areas – Corviglia (the largest), Corvatsch, Diavolezza and Zuoz. There are 350 km of pistes in total and 58 lifts in the ski area. There are also six other small little areas in the region, which tend to be uncrowded, even in peak season, and are nice if you wish to escape the bustle during the season.
Overall, St Moritz is not much of an expert rider’s resort, with much more difficult terrain to be found elsewhere in Switzerland.
Corviglia hosts World Cup Downhill skiing and has most choice for runs. There are quite a lot of groomed cruisers here, and most of the runs are on open alpine terrain. Up the back, there are a few rockier runs to choose from if you want to go off-piste, but it’s not really that challenging.
Corvatsch has the best snow as it reaches the highest elevation (3,303m). The top to bottom at Corvatsch is a bit of a leg-burner and is a great run for the scenery. The glacier at Corvatsch ensures that the snow is still reasonable in April. This area is the best for off-piste in the St Moritz area, although it is still nothing fantastic.
Zuoz is a small area, best suited for beginners and families.
Diavolezza is another small area, but it includes a glacier at 3,066m with a couple of nice leg-burning runs down. There is a bit of off-piste here around Val Arlas, for which you should get a guide your first time around at least.
As its name suggests, the 'Mellow Snowpark' is pretty mellow, with just a few easy beginner lines and features.
If you are from the European Union or a European Free Trade Association country, you are able to work in Switzerland without needing a work permit.
Job resources for Switzerland include:
If you are not from the European Union, unfortunately, there are no working holiday visas. A cash job is often the only option for entry-level type jobs. Each season there are a number of foreign workers who simply arrive at Swiss ski resorts and search for a cash job in a restaurant, bar or shop.
Another good option is to work for a tour company which offers full-service package holidays. Many of these are British run, and many will require you to be a British citizen.
Tour companies that operate in St Moritz include:
In terms of a sponsored working visa from the resorts, workers from all other states are granted working rights in limited numbers only, and only if they are seen to be ‘well-qualified’. This could include ski and snowboard instructors, however. You would generally contact the school directly about getting work.
Ski and snowboard schools in St Moritz include:
Dorf is the ritziest part of St Moritz, with most of the upper-end hotels and the best nightlife and restaurants. This is a very expensive area for accommodation. Celerina is around 3km from Dorf with its own train station and has a distinct Italian flavour. It is also quite expensive.
A cheaper area is further around the lake, near St Moritz-Bad, around 2km away, which is much quieter and less ritzy.
All these areas are linked directly to Corviglia ski area and it's pretty easy to get to the slopes from wherever you are staying.
Because accommodation is so expensive, staff accommodation is often provided with your job. You could find a two-bedroom apartment for around CHF 600 per week. You might find options at www.en.e-domizil.ch/holiday-houses
Pontresina is around 8.5km away (15 minute drive) and has its own small lifts.
The après at St Moritz is pretty quiet, and you will find much better at Zermatt or Verbier. The scene is much more focused on elegant bars than it is on raucous parties. The most well-known of the après bars is Hanselmann's, though the vibe is quite subdued.
Dining and restaurants tend to be quite expensive. Bobby's Pub is popular among Brits, with pool, darts and plenty of beers on tap.
In terms of clubs, Hemingway's Club always attracts a big crowd, and goes through the night until around 6am. At Badrutt's Palace you will find King’s Club, the most famous and upmarket club in St Moritz, where you will find world-renowned DJs and an extremely well-dressed crowd for a ski resort!