As first research trips go...

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Want to bet?

In the summer of 1864 Johannes Badrutt, owner of the Kulm in St Moritz, Switzerland, grew disappointed his hotel was full only for the spring and summer months. He decided to challenge five of his guests to a bet. The guests were well connected English gentlemen whom Badrutt promised free lodging if, after a winter's stay they did not want to return for next year's snowfall. If, on the other hand their stay was a success, the Englishmen promised to return home with rave reviews of their experiences amongst their acquaintances. Almost overnight, wintering in St Moritz at Badrutt's Kulm hotel became the rage. Needless to say this led to daring new developments in the winter sports world. In the 1870's, some Englishmen adapted a sled for daring dashes down the twisting narrow streets of St. Moritz, and so began the early Skeleton individual sleds, and Bobsled. Careering through the town's streets at break neck speed became increasingly popular but - perhaps unsurprisingly - pedestrian collisions also started to mount. Therefore Badrutt stepped in and created the first purpose-built half-pipe track, the track which later became the model for the Cresta Run skeleton racing track, built in 1884.

My trip…

As first research trips go a weekend in St Moritz is not bad going… I took the train from Zurich - the scenery was awesome and well worth the extra hour if you've got the time. As we wound our way up, the snow got thicker and a giant full moon appeared between the mountains. I arrived at the Giardino Mountain on its opening night and it was already buzzing. The Giardino is a modern 5 star boutique hotel in Champfer, a little village just five minutes from the main town. The rooms are extremely comfortable, combining traditional white linen and pine flooring with fun modern furniture. Supper in the hotel's smart gourmet restaurant was superb and I hit the hay with a full belly and a smile on my face. The following day we had time to see several hotels (The Kulm, The Carlton and The Kempinski) before hitting the Corviglia slopes for an hour or two. It was officially the first day of the season and it was lovely to do a couple of runs. For lunch we stopped at Reto Mathis's Terrazza restaurant for the most sensational food I have ever tasted (a massive statement perhaps, but no exaggeration I promise).

A phenomenal lunch…

The Terrazza itself lacks the atmosphere of traditional alpine restaurants but it would be churlish to forgo lunch here based solely on this. The 'Carrousel' starter included smoked salmon, foie gras and foie gras terrine. This was followed by melt-in-your-mouthvenison teamed with the most delicious truffle scented polenta. And then pudding… a chocolate lover's dream… chocolate fondant, raspberries, vanilla ice cream and white chocolate shavings - it doesn't get much better.

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The places to be…

That evening we headed to 'Barraca' for supper. This was the alpine vibe I'd been craving - wooden, warm, and the smell of beef with red wine sauce was fantastic (the taste was better). For atmosphere this was by far and away the BEST place I was to go to in St Moritz. Before supper I had stopped at Badrutt's Palace hotel for a tour and a drink. The hotel was elegant, comfortable, and without question the most happening place in town. The hallway leading from the main lobby past the various downstairs bars and restaurants is even known as the 'catwalk of St Moritz.' It was at Badrutt's that I think I started to 'get' St Moritz and all it involves; the glamour, the bling, the sports, the history. This is a place so steeped in tradition that women still aren't allowed to ride the Cresta (rumour has it that the women were getting too good so the men claimed there was a risk breast cancer and banned lady participants. For their own good, naturally) and where 'formal dress' is required for dinner with the alternative of eating in your room. But it is also a place where people take a helicopter to lunch, where 'bikram yoga' is offered in nearly every hotel's fitness centre, and even where you can watch polo on the frozen lake from your hotel's balcony whilst enjoying WiFi on your iPad. In short it has got a lot to offer, you just have to go for it.