When organising this years annual ‘lads’ ski trip (average age over 50!) we had a split in the camp. Not everyone has as much disposable income as the next person so when Zermatt in Switzerland was mooted as our next destination a couple in our group decided it wasn’t for them.
Luckily we had a tenacious character in our ranks who wasn’t taking no for an answer so after sourcing more economic accommodation along with a little arm twisting we all finally got together and embarked on our week in the Swiss Alps.
I’d heard a lot about Zermatt from friends so was keen to experience it for myself: This world famous alpine village 1.6 km above sea level that banned motor cars as long ago as anyone can remember using only electric 6-seater buggies to ferry the hordes around in a quiet, eco-friendly way.
Interestingly the similarities between Zermatt and Ibiza are there for all to see. Small, famous, world leaders in their respective fields and ‘expensive’. Not forgetting that both have a geological talisman in the Matterhorn and Es Vedra respectively.
It wasn’t hard to see why Zermatt is up there with the very best of them. From the moment you arrive at the station on the perfectly timed trains to the second you leave you are treated with respect and care by all you come across, never once feeling like a commodity or someone there purely to fill the pockets of local families.
But the biggest surprise was the cost. It soon became apparent that this wasn’t a place paved with gold, reserved only for multi-millionaires but somewhere that you could get a reasonably priced meal and have a cold beer in a world class bar or restaurant for surprisingly little. Don’t get me wrong we aren’t talking Benidorm prices but after all the hype it was nowhere near as expensive as anticipated.
When I mentioned this to our young, intelligent, multi-lingual and slightly geeky hotel owner he gave me a knowing smile and then the penny dropped. Just like our own small island, the ‘extortionate’ prices is a well sold myth that keeps the 2 places at the top end of world destinations and on everyone’s lips.
A private in-joke that keeps away those fusspots over focused on money rather than having a good time. Just like Ibiza it’s possible to enjoy all that Zermatt has to offer but not have to apply for a 2nd mortgage.
Like any world destination there are top end places you can spend a fortune at and champagne in the top bars isn’t cheap and there’s a smattering of world famous celebs dipping in and out all the time but it’s still possible to be a part of it all, experience breathtaking nature, feel special and have an experience second to none. This easily applies to both Ibiza and Zermatt.
There are some places in the world that you have to go and see for yourself and not get too bogged down that you might spend an extra few euros over the course of a weekend but the payback is enormous.
Those who take the leap of faith are rarely disappointed (just ask our two friends) so if Ibiza is on your to-do list this year then it’s probably time you came and experienced it for yourself rather than listen to those sheep who just follow the herd. You know the ones who come to the white isle, go to beach clubs by day and super clubs by night and then like to tell anyone who’s listening how expensive the island has become but if you want to party like a rock star then be prepared to pick up the bill.
The reality is a little different but the price myth of both Ibiza and Zermatt is a finely told tale that ensures both get a reputation to keep them at the very top but it’s a myth none the less.
As I discovered over the course of an incredible week in one of the worlds most beautiful countries the leap of faith is richly rewarded and the skiing wasn’t bad either.