Ed Mannix is a lucky man. He, and his wife Suzanne, get to call Zermatt home. Ed also gets to share his love of the iconic Swiss resort through his company, Matterhorn Chalets, a chalet, hotel and apartment lodging business that serves up an array of accommodation options.
THIS is his guide to his favourite mountain town and ski resort.
The resort’s sophisticated, cosmopolitan atmosphere and exceptional year-round facilities make it ideal. It has the BEST views anywhere in the Alps with a unique setting dominated by the Matterhorn, and the ski, mountaineering and hiking possibilities are second to none.
Even though we are practically in Italy, the home of espresso, I have a penchant for Swiss coffee. While nearly every restaurant in Zermatt has its own specialty coffee involving a dangerous cocktail of local schnapps and whipped cream, my favorite is at the Gandegghütte where Richi and his charming wife, Yvette, serve great Swiss coffee in a proper mug.
More usually, my daily breakfast consists of a bowl of muesli with bananas at home, but if I have an early meeting in town, the very best place for breakfast is the Fuchs bakery next to the Gornergrat railway on Getwingstrasse.
Special occasion dinner spot
Zermatt is famous for its choice in dining, ranging from MacDonald’s to Michelin stars. If you really want to impress, the ‘fine-dining experience’ at the Hotel Omnia stands out, not just because of the excellent menu and wine list but also the setting – akin to a James Bond set.
Best place for sunrise and sunset
Zermatt has so many vantage points with outstanding vistas but you can witness a memorable dawn from the Schönbielhütte, a refuge tucked away behind the Matterhorn, high up in the Zmutt valley.
There’s a great easterly view towards the Rimpfischorn and Strahlhorn 4000m peaks as the sun comes up behind them.
On the other hand, the evening view from the top of Gornergrat towards the Matterhorn is breathtaking, as the sun disappears behind it.
Best place for a selfie
My favorite is at the top of the Breithorn at 4164m, but the most popular spot in Zermatt is on the bridge below the church in the center of the village: from here you have the classic picture postcard view of the Matterhorn.
Favorite ski run
One of the particular features of the Zermatt ski area is its itineraries or ‘off-piste pistes’ which are not groomed and whose condition varies between severely bumpy and dreamy powder. My favorite is the Moos itinerary from Furi down to Winkelmatten. It is not at all steep, but more of natural ski-cross run where you just ride the bends all the way home.
Best place to keep the kids entertained
Zermatt prides itself on it family-friendly credentials and has a host of facilities for junior skiers, including the Wolli park on Sunnegga. Last winter the facility that seemed the most popular with our younger guests was the Winkelmatten children’s playground which includes a sheep barn where the animals live during the winter months and where the lambs are born.
Where to take visitors to wow them
There is so much about Zermatt that impresses visitors, not least of all the 38 peaks over 4000 meters that surround the village. One of the best vantage points to fully appreciate the drama of the vistas is the top of Gornergrat at 3100m.
Accessed by a rack and pinion railway that opened in 1898, this high altitude complex includes a 4 star hotel, two restaurants, a shopping mall, an observatory and a church as well as a railway station from where you could in theory start a train journey to almost anywhere in Europe and beyond.
Favorite local character
As in most mountain communities, Zermatt has its share of notable locals but one of my favorites has four legs!
Molly Murphy is a Spanish water dog owned by Dave Murphy and his partner, Tanja Siemerink, who manage Alphitta restaurant at Riffelalp. Dave is also a talented musician and fronts a popular band that plays on the terrace at lunchtime as well as at various evening venues around the resort.
What can you get in Zermatt that you can’t get anywhere else in the world?
To coincide with this year’s celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, a new brewery and bottling plant was established in the village of Zermatt itself.
The Zermatt Matterhorn Braueri’s first beer is a bottled 5% lager which is produced using local winter barley and spring water and is marketed under the name of ‘Matterhorn’. Needless to say, stocks of the first brew flew off the shelves in the local bars and shops.
If you had to buy one thing in Zermatt to take away with you, what would it be?
Despite it being one of Switzerland’s most clichéd souvenirs, the ubiquitous Victorinox Swiss army knife is unbelievably useful. I’ve kept one in my pocket for more than 20 now and don’t know what I’d do without it.
Although these folding multi-tools are available all over Switzerland, it’s only in a specialized outlet that you’ll find the complete range and in Zermatt, the Auftenblatten kitchen shop on the Bahnhofstrasse is such an outlet. A true Aladdin’s cave, full of culinary gadgets and accessories, they stock all the popular versions as well as a full range of the more esoteric models.