Zermatt is the essence of Switzerland in one tiny village. Located in the canton of Valais at the foot of the Matterhorn in one of the most scenically spectacular regions of the country, Zermatt has been a favourite summer destination for European, American, and Japanese travellers for decades and is now being discovered by travellers from other parts of the Asia-Pacific region who are coming to this little piece of Alpine heaven throughout the year. Australians are an increasingly familiar presence on the slopes surrounding the town, eagerly taking advantage of ideal ski and snowboard conditions in a place where there is snow twelve months a year. Don't be surprised to find some Australians among the ski instructors; we know a great place to hang our parkas for a while when we see one.
Not that you need to be a skier or snowbunny to enjoy Zermatt. There is a buzzing nightlife scene here thanks to the relatively youthful clientele frequenting the town during the peak winter months. Restaurants, bars, and clubs are found all over town, ranging from sophisticated lounges to dance clubs for those who still have some energy after a day out on in the snow.
Even for travellers accustomed to beautiful mountain scenery, Zermatt impresses its visitors with its setting in a deep valley in the far south of Switzerland. There are both cable car and rail transport options for reaching the higher elevations above the village. The Gornergrat rail line provides transport in rail cars up to the Gornergrat, a peak 3089 metres above sea level. Reaching higher still is the Matterhorn-Express cable car network, which rises all the way to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise stop at 3883 metres above sea level. At the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, there is a small exhibit of ice carvings inside the glacier itself where a large cavern has been hollowed out.
Zermatt's easygoing nature is perfectly personified in the hotelier Karin Kunz of Mont Cervin Palace, a member of the prestigious Swiss Deluxe Hotels. Mont Cervin Palace an array of rooms and suites of various sizes along with several restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Capri Italian restaurant, counted as one of the best Italian restaurants in Switzerland. Mont Cervin Palace is actually a small complex of four distinct buildings offering accommodation, from family-sized options in the Residences to exclusive chalet-style suites in the Petit Cervin. The restaurants are among the best in town, but the management realises that people like to dine around, so they created a DineAround program that includes restaurants all over Zermatt, not just those within the hotel itself. Mont Cervin Palace is a part of the Seiler hotel group, which may be unknown to those who are unfamiliar with Zermatt.
Despite its isolated location, rail travel to and from Zermatt is just as easy as it would be to any major city in Switzerland thanks to the excellent network of Swiss Federal Railways. Trains departing from Geneva Airport hourly and go directly to Visp, from where there are connecting trains to Zermatt through the scenic Matter Valley, culminating in arrival at the foot of the Matterhorn, the mountain that made Zermatt famous. The whole trip from airport to Zermatt takes less than four hours, enjoyed in the comfort of Swiss trains, which operate with the highest standards in the world of rail travel.