Some people just like it hot, and I am definitely one of them. Anything below 30 degrees is not hot for me and put me somewhere below 25 degrees and I will most likely put on a jersey. I think the thing I complain most about is being cold.
So it came to my own surprise that after four months in Southeast Asia I found myself back home in Germany in November and agreed on a press trip to Switzerland. Mind you, the Overlook Lodge by Cervo Zermatt had promised snow and lots of melted cheese – reason enough to take out my one and only cashmere jersey and bundle up.
After one trip to the Arctic last year I realized that as long as the air is crisp and the snow is plenty even I, beach bum and sun lover, don’t mind a white weekend here and there. My trip started well enough because true to any Swiss cliche Swiss Air served really nice cheese and chocolate on their flight to Zurich. From there it was a two-hour train ride to Visp and another hour by car before we got greeted with a schnapps to warm up. A welcome very much to my liking! Zermatt lies at the bottom of the Matterhorn, the famed European mountain that you may recognize from Evian bottles. With only 5,000 inhabitants it might come across as a sleepy town – if it wasn’t also a premier ski destination. Snow fans from all over the world come here all year round as you can ski on the glacier of the Matterhorn even in summer. While it has all the charms of a typical skiing village it lacks the pretentiousness of places like St. Moritz. Here you won’t find Louis Vuitton & Co. but rather cute little shops, and an everybody-knows-everybody atmosphere. Especially nice is that cars are not permitted in Zermatt so you either get around by bike or by electric car/taxi. We were staying at the brand new Overlook Lodge, a self-catering lodge with the most stunning views over the Matterhorn, fireplaces and different apartment configurations to suit different budgets and group sizes. As with most places, there is also plenty of space for your ski equipment and heavy boots. The big sister of Overlook, the Cervo Lodge, is just a short hike up the hill and this is where you can have a great meal, a spa treatment or get a valuable lesson in après-ski.

For our first dinner, we got deep-fried cheese balls (which would have been enough to make me happy), plenty of wine, and a neverending feast of yummy dishes. Whatever else you eat there, you must order the truffle parmesan fries! After a good nights sleep – there are Hästens beds in all rooms at Overlook and no noise pollution whatsoever – it was time for my first skiing lesson thanks to the Schweizer Skischule Zermatt. To be honest, I was terrified. And yes, I can appreciate the irony that I don’t mind sharks or being 100 feet underwater but am scared of a little hill with a bit of snow. Quite frankly even the Wolli slope (named after Wolli, a little sheep, the mascot for kids skiing in Zermatt) seemed rather steep once I was on it. But I just remembered my scuba lessons – just breathe! – and tried my best. While we were quickly making our way through what seemed a snow blizzard to me, I actually started to enjoy myself. Let’s just say that I probably won’t star in a Fire & Ice movie anytime soon but it was great to try something new (in lieu of an ocean to dive in!). Upon coming back down lunch was waiting for us and I continued my mission to eat as much cheese as humanly possible. Needless to say, that called for a nap afterward. Perfectly executed in front of a roaring fire. The snow blizzard had chased away our mountain views but even a ‘winter is coming’ atmosphere can be quite cozy when you are warm inside. In the evening we were invited to a Japanese Ski Movie night, one of many events that Cervo likes to put on to bring guests and locals together over their love of skiing, and of course food. While the meal was delicious we were making sad faces – usually, Ferdinand restaurant is known for its fondue but tonight we were being served sushi. Owner Daniel doesn’t like sad faces and so we were sent home with a few bottles of local schnapps for a nightcap and the promise of fondue for breakfast. Fondue is a serious affair in Switzerland and to me is the perfect breakfast alternative to my usual eggs benedict or muesli. See, Germans like bread and cheese for breakfast and that is basically what fondue is. The fact that the cheese is melted and bubbling only makes it better! Each fondue comes with its own set of rules and for cheese fondue, that means if you lose your bread piece in the pot you will need to take a sip of schnapps. Or so the Swiss say. As it was only 10 am we changed the rules to white wine. Seeing the cheese disappear with lightspeed was quite sad; who knew that fondue works so well for breakfast?! Luckily our waitress told us not leave the burnt cheese bits on the bottom – the best part of any fondue according to her. After breakfast, I almost literally rolled myself down the hill and was now greeted with sunshine and the most unbelievable views of the Matterhorn. There was no ocean in sight and I was freezing but still – I was happy to be there. It was a good reminder that even as a seasoned traveler you still need to get out of your comfort zone once a while. And if you do you may just be gifted with unlimited cheese for a weekend.

Practical Tips for your Zermatt Trip:

  • It is quite easy to reach Zermatt by train. There are train connections from Zurich airport via Visp. Especially the last stretch is incredibly beautiful and the train even comes with panorama windows so you won’t miss out on the view.
  • The Overlook Lodge by Cervo Zermatt offers 5 apartments in various sizes, depending on your group or family size. While Zermatt is not a cheap destination, the apartments offer a great budget alternative to regular hotels starting at CHF 160 for the cozy studio.
  • Certain amenities like mid-week cleaning, concierge service and app, Nespresso coffee maker, free wifi and pick up from the train station are included. Everything else can be booked as needed. That can be picnic basket with breakfast waiting for you in the morning, a fancy meal at the Cervo Lodge or a private chef coming to your apartment.
  • You will get an access card to the lift that takes you down to the ski lift as well as the spa and sauna area.
  • There are plenty of ski rental places around town. We got our gear from Flexrent and the service was incredibly friendly and helpful (and no, they don’t ask your weight to make you feel guilty for all the cheese you eat, they really need to know to fit your ski correctly!).
  • Zermatt Bergbahnen offer various tickets for the different slopes in the area. You can even get a ticket that charges you by the times you actually use the lift and the slopes per day. Ideal for fans of extended après-ski!

Thank you, Overlook Lodge and Design Hotels, for the invitation and for turning this mermaid into an almost-snow bunny!

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!