I just got back from two weeks in Zermatt. By all accounts Zermatt is having a banner year, with snow levels higher than usual, which has to be kept in mind. I can imagine that on a normal year, a lot of what I was skiing would have been treacherous because of the rocky nature of the off piste areas. The barely snow covered rocks are a hazard that need to be kept in mind.
For the past few years I've gone to Ischgl, which I thought was astounding; it seemed like several Vails could fit into Ischgl. If Ischgl was astounding compared to Rocky mountain resorts, Zermatt is astounding compared to Ischgl. (This account is being written by someone who considers most lift accessed off-piste to be part of the resort. Meaning a couple Ischgls could fit into Zermatt; more pronounced with a guide).
At the end of two weeks I was still seeing off piste lines and areas that I wanted to tackle, but two weeks isn't enough time. I skied the Hohtalli tram more than any other lift, having spent a couple days on it alone. The Hohtalli tram itself services over 3,000 feet of vertical. Beyond the impressive vertical, the ridge, (or ridges) it services is immense. The Stockhorn tow line back to the base of the Hohtalli tram is a great run. In my opinion it's the best part of the resort because of its vertical and lack of sun exposure. The Hornli tow line is also great, but its a long tow. I can imagine that if I had been skiing with someone who has been skiing Zermatt for years, knowing it like a guide, an enormous amount of off piste that I didn't even touch would be available. This makes Zermatt even more appealing for a return trip, but again, the abnormal snow year makes it a little tough to judge.
The vast scale of the views are a must see if you enjoy nature's power. Think Grand Canyon.
The village itself is charming. If you are of the opinion that too much regulation is a bad thing, Zermatt makes a powerful counter argument. The care and attention to detail is palpable. I left with the impression that if you can make a business work in Zermatt, New York is a cake walk. (If you can make it in Zermatt, you can make it anywhere).
Zermatt was quite different from Ischgl in a few other respects. Whereas in Ischgl the lift lines could be a passive-aggressive free for all, in Zermatt they were civil and organized, without lift-line attendants. In Ischgl the après ski was raucous and something to behold even if you weren't participating. In Zermatt the après ski scene is subdued. Think St. Patty's day vs. Christmas brunch. The lift-line crowds in Zermatt were noticeably smaller in Zermatt, and from what I understand, I was there during the two most popular weeks. The crowd difference was also noticeable on the pistes; that is to say the crowds were not bad, and they were not that bad in Ischgl.
I didn't make it to Italy - I missed out on 2.5 days because Swiss Air lost my bags, but from what I heard I didn't miss much.