James McBride'sTravel Black Book

Winter wonderland in the Swiss alps

Hotelier James McBride (above) has been to St Moritz (left) with his son for four consecutive winters.
Hotelier James McBride has been to St Moritz (above) with his son for four consecutive winters.PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES
Hotelier James McBride (above) has been to St Moritz (left) with his son for four consecutive winters.
Hotelier James McBride (above) has been to St Moritz with his son for four consecutive winters.PHOTO: COURTESY OF JAMES MCBRIDE

St Moritz, a resort town in the Engadin valley in Switzerland, is a hit with families and the jet-setting crowd

Who: South African hotelier James W. McBride, 51, managing partner of Nihiwatu Resort in Sumba, Indonesia. The bachelor and Singapore permanent resident has a son, Sterling, 15, who lives in Washington D.C. in the United States.

Favourite destination: St Moritz, a resort town in the Engadin valley in Switzerland.

Why: I have been to St Moritz for four consecutive winters with my son and I enjoy the quality time we share while skiing. The Engadin valley sits 1,800m above sea level on the southern side of the Swiss Alps, which is called the "Roof of Europe".

St Moritz has a reputation as a jet-setting destination. However, families have been going there for ski holidays for decades. There are also little towns around the valley, such as Silvaplana, a 15-minute drive from St Moritz.

Favourite hotel: A must-stay is the Nira Alpina (niraalpina.com) in Silvaplana. It is a ski-in and ski-out resort that is connected to the Corvatsch Mountain cable car station via a private walkway. From there, you can reach the highest point in the ski domain - 3,300m - in 15 minutes.

It has a great family feel and is a nice, quiet place to return to after a day out in St Moritz. The hotel and room design are contemporary and comfortable and the staff are attentive.

Favourite restaurant: Restaurant Skihutte El Paradiso (www.el-paradiso.ch) serves the best Swiss and Western cuisine and it has great mountain views. I am partial to the grilled bratwurst with charcuterie and the cremeschnitte, a special custard cake dessert.

You can get to the restaurant only via the ski slopes or the winter hiking path as it is located on the mountain side. You can dine outside, even in winter. An average meal here costs about $140.

Favourite museum: The Segantini Museum (www.segantini-museum.ch/en.html) is dedicated to Giovanni Segantini, an important artist of Realistic Symbolism and reviver of Alpine painting at the end of the 19th century.

The museum was built in 1908, less than a decade after the artist's sudden death.

It houses the most comprehensive collection of Segantini's works in the world. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche loved the Engadin valley and used to visit the nearby town of Sils Maria for many years. The well-preserved house where he used to stay (now called the Nietzsche Haus) has become a museum (www.nietzschehaus.ch) where visitors can learn about his life and work.

Must-try food: In addition to the traditional raclette, a Swiss dish of melted cheese accompanied by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, vegetables and charcuterie, another must-try is the Steak Asado at La Baracca restaurant (Via San Gian, 7500 St Moritz; tel: +41 79-270-0775).

Its steaks are done to perfection and are served with a side of the most incredible mash potatoes.

La Baracca is also a stunning venue - the restaurant is housed in an old train car - with an atmosphere to match the quality of the food.

Best apres ski: Cafe Hanselmann (www.hanselmann.ch) is a good apres ski (after ski) spot. It has a nice selection of tarts, beautiful cakes and chocolates.

Best hidden find: When the ski slopes are open on Friday nights, there's no better place to have dinner than at Alpetta (www.alpetta.ch). The restaurant, a cosy hut in the middle of the Chastelets slope, is open for lunch on most days, but is open for dinner only on Fridays.

The restaurant has great food and an even better view. You ski in under the floodlights, have a great meal of regional specialities and grilled meats, before continuing down the slopes.

Worthy excursion: Tobogganing on steep slopes and curves through forests on Muottas Muragl (tinyurl.com/og9dupk) is a lot of fun.

Event to bookmark: Snow polo (www.snowpolo-stmoritz.com), where you play polo on horseback through the snow, is said to have started in St Moritz in 1985.

The annual event is held in January and, in February, you can see White Turf (tinyurl.com/o4jqzje), when professional jockeys race their horses at full speed across the frozen lake in St Moritz. There are also races of horse-drawn sleighs and skis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2015, with the headline 'Winter wonderland in the Swiss alps'. Print Edition | Subscribe