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5 reasons I'm so excited about Marriott's new hotel in Zermatt

Jan. 25, 2021
6 min read
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If you asked me to rank my 10 favorite places in the world, Zermatt would definitely make the cut — it might even land a spot in the Top 5.

An alpine town in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, Zermatt is a rare gem among tourist hot spots, offering high-end resort amenities without compromising its local, historic charm. In many ways, I hope to never see that change.

There is one small area where the town could benefit from a modest adjustment, though — Zermatt remains largely inaccessible to travelers hoping to redeem hotel points to book a stay, which is why I was especially excited to learn about Marriott's plan to open a hotel.

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(Rendering courtesy of AW²)

Expected to welcome guests beginning in 2026, The Ritz-Carlton Zermatt will offer just 69 rooms and will be the brand's first ski resort in Europe. The hotel will offer two restaurants, two bars, an outdoor terrace and a private dining room, along with a gym, spa, pools and easy access to the slopes.

The hotel is designed to “offer a refined take on the classic mountain chalet,” so it should blend in nicely with the town's largely traditional alpine architecture, as you can see in the rendering above.

Having a great redemption option is just one of the reasons I'm especially excited about this Zermatt addition, though. There's great skiing, of course, but Zermatt offers so much more than some quality time on the slopes. Read on for a closer look.

You can save a ton of cash

During peak weeks, lodging can be incredibly expensive — a very basic room at the three-star lodge I usually book can cost as much as $300 per night, and even a nonrefundable shared room in the town's youth hostel can run you more than 50 bucks. A base room at a five-star hotel can cost far more, with nightly rates approaching $1,000 on peak dates.

I'd expect The Ritz-Carlton to command a similar premium, but it should also be available for award nights via Marriott's Bonvoy program. I wouldn't be surprised to see the hotel fall into Marriott's top Category 8 tier, currently requiring between 70,000 and 100,000 points per night, depending on the day. Still, you're likely to come out far ahead with a redemption, especially if you're visiting on the most popular dates.

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Bonvoy offers the fifth night free

Marriott currently offers the fifth night free on award stays of five nights or more, and given Zermatt's distance from Geneva and Zurich, it's perfectly suited to longer stays. Making your way there from the airport can take four hours or more — it's a beautiful ride on two different trains, and the hours onboard really fly by, especially if you're looking out the window, or decide to nap after a redeye.

Still, popping by for a night or two isn't especially practical, and with so much to see and do on and off the slopes, I wouldn't hesitate to spend five nights in Zermatt, or perhaps even more.

You can visit year-round

If you visit during the summer, don't miss the Shepherd's Festival for a chance to see Zermatt's black-nosed sheep. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Zermatt is one of the few resorts in the world that offers skiing in the summer. Thanks to its glacier, just under the Matterhorn, you'll find snow — and functioning lifts — near the summit in the middle of July. It's a fantastic destination in the winter, of course, but I've really enjoyed coming in the summer, as well.

If you're considering a summer trip, I recommend timing your visit to coincide with the town's annual Shepherd's Festival, where you'll get to meet some of Zermatt's famous black-nose sheep — this year, it's scheduled for Sept. 12, but it's a bit too soon to plan a trip for 2026.

It's a step back in time

Zermatt is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle back home. The town is quaint and incredibly picturesque, with photo-ops at nearly every turn, and it's entirely walkable, and a lot of fun to explore on foot at any time of the year.

Best of all, Zermatt doesn't allow vehicles with combustion engines, so you don't have to worry about encountering big trucks or exhaust, and the snow stays (mostly) white. There are small electric vehicles here and there, including taxis and hotel cars, plus large electric buses hauling skiers around, but the car and truck restrictions really do make a huge difference.

Visit two countries during one stay

Visitors with a sense of adventure can ski from Zermatt in Switzerland to Cervinia in Italy, including a delicious Italian feast for lunch. While you'll pass through a border crossing of sorts, often covered in snow, there isn't much indication you've crossed over until you make it down to the charming Italian village.

For now, this particular perk is only an option in winter, since you'll need to ski on both sides of the mountain, but a cable car linking the two resorts is expected to open long before The Ritz-Carlton, so this should be a year-round option by then.

Bottom line

The lobby at Tradition Julen Hotel in Zermatt. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Five years is a long time to wait for a new hotel, and opening dates do tend to slip — while I'm optimistic that we'll be able to redeem Bonvoy points for a Zermatt adventure come 2026, I wouldn't be surprised to see the date get pushed back a bit, especially considering the hotel's remote location, and frequent heavy snow.

Still, I'm thrilled that Marriott will eventually offer a hotel in Zermatt, and has partnered with Mario Julen, a Zermatt native and local developer, to bring the project to life. I'm sure I'll continue to return to some of my family-owned favorites over the years, but you can't beat having a great redemption option available, especially if you're hoping to visit on the most popular dates.

Featured image by Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees