It has been warm, warm, warm… all last week and this week too… such unseasonal weather. So i thought i do a throwback to our ski holiday up in Flims, Switzerland. We were there about 3.5 weeks ago. It was our second time away from home with our Schnauzer, Lexi and the first proper ski holiday for her.
We had a lovely time. We took Tobias’ best friend with us and the boys had fun. The hotel was great, and right by the tal-station, which is fab. We enjoyed lovely, sunny, cold, wintery days on the slopes. The husband and boys ski while i walked with Lexi.
Here are some lovely wintery pictures to remind you that, actually, it is still supposed to be winter (according to the calendar, that is). Enjoy!
That has been the question we have been asking for the last 3 months.
This winter, snow has been little and it doesn’t stick around for more than a day at our level (about 500m above sea level). And even in the ski resorts, snow seems to have become a bit of a rare sight.
Check out the photo below of the slopes in Engelberg just before the new year. The slopes, which were snow-covered, were icy and one of them was littered with pebbles, which all made the skiing no fun at all. We gave up after lunch and decided a walk in the little town was better and was rewarded with lovely local produce from the Kloster and that pretty view of the Kloster framed by the mountain behind it.
We waited a number of weeks and tried again in February, during the recent school Sports-holiday. We went to Lenk. We were worried on the way up to the ski place as it did look so green. That first day, we skied through wet, heavy snow, (which turned to rain towards the end of the day) but it was still better than it was in December.
Then overnight the snow arrived, in force! See that lovely snowy view which greeted us just outside our hotel room. It continued snowing through the day quite heavily, which made visibility quite poor, but it also meant skiing on fresh snow, which was quite good.
However, the poor visibility also meant we came across at least 3 accidents on the slopes, which required medical aid, including a heli-lift. i hope those injured are on their way to full recovery.
Then, of course, on the day we leave, we were greeted with perfect ski weather; blue skies, sunshine and slopes covered with freshly fallen snow overnight. Sigh!
But check out the difference between the snow cover in the resort area and the non-existent snow along the highway, on the way home.
Well, we hope that there is more snow now on the slopes, especially since the school is going for ski camp in 2 days!
This year for the 2 week Sports Holiday which all Swiss schools have (some have only 1 week) we decided not to do the week-long affair which we had been doing for the last 2 years. Husband decided that a week was too long to spend up in the mountains by ourselves (our friend who has been joining us for the last 2 years could not make it this year) so we split it up to 2 short trips.
Our first trip was to Saanenmöser in the resort of Gstaad. It is a really big ski area (you could ski all day on different routes and may only have to repeat the route home) although the village of Saanenmöser itself is quite small compared to the other villages around. But it has lots of blue slopes for which i am very happy. i’m not a good skier at all, sort of stuck between no longer a beginner but still too fearful of steep slopes to be confident on red slopes. In fact, i even found my “Happy” slope (phrase coined by my friend, whom we went skiing with in January). i recommend Route No. 29 if anyone is heading that way.
The plan was to time this trip with the company’s ski-day but they postpone the ski-day due to the poor weather but we were already booked into the hotel so we went but took our time getting there instead of rushing out first thing in the morning.
Getting there was a little adventure in itself. The roads leading into the valley were covered in snow and it was still snowing. We were driving along, quite slowly, and then suddenly we lost traction and skidded for a fair distance. Husband did a fantastic job of keeping us from crushing into the cliff on the right and falling into the river on the left. Thank God for his good driving skills!
Then we got to the train station where we were to park at the hotel’s private parking space and while trying to get into a parking spot, the front wheels got stuck in deep snow. We were going to wait for the hotel transfer person to come and help us but the hotel owner himself was in the parking area and he, along with another staff member, helped to push us out. He stayed to make sure that the hotel transfer was indeed coming down to pick us up and then he left. Nice guy.
We piled our stuff into the Land Rover and the very friendly lady (it’s a shame i never got her name) drove us the 2 km up to the hotel.
Now i have to tell you about the hotel we stayed at because it was the highlight for me, personally.
It is called the Saanenwald Lodge. Now think 1960s, think exclusive club, think 5-star service but minimalist, simple, relax. Are you getting the idea?
It is also a true ski-in/ski-out hotel. You can literally take your skis out of the ski-room and put them on outside the door and be off down the slopes! No trudging them up to a cable-car station and not dragging them back at the end of the day… i like 😉 Oh, by the way, i love that guests have personal storage area in the ski-room. You can have your own locker with your room-number to store all the shoes and helmets and a numbered slot for your skis/snowboard.
i’m glad they were able to accommodate us as there was very few rooms left when i was ringing around the hotels. i’m used to last-minute arrangements as husband’s work schedule doesn’t allow for much lead time. But sometimes this means settling for something less than ideal. However, this time i’m glad we were able to find somewhere really great.
The pictures will show more…
This is the view from our room (valley-side room)!
i love it. Who would not want to wake up to that view?
i must state here that the room isn’t big. The room is meant to comfortably sleep 2 and they put in an extra bed for Tobias which just fitted into the room. The interior was simply decorated and had great use of limited space. In the picture below are my favourite parts of the room; the lovely paper-cut framed picture, the wooden frame over the TV and the wooden wine crates used as shelves in the bathroom.
The next morning it was onto the slopes! The scenery on the slopes was amazing! i didn’t get very good shots cos i was concentrating on getting down the slopes (this was only the second ski of the season for me) but here are a couple of shots just to give you a rough idea how beautiful it can be.
After a long day of skiing, it was nice to come back to the calm, relax atmosphere of the hotel, with its very friendly staff and its hot-tub in the snow, jacuzzi and relax room. Of course, Tobias was much more interested in the Fast Room where he could race cars! He did enjoy the relax room on the second day when the music was back on. In fact, i have never seen him so relax and still, just laying on his towel, listening to the music. i completely forgot to ask the Chef de Reception for the playlist. He is the nicest head of reception i know and is always ready to provide the best service possible.
You can also enjoy downtime in a lovely big lounge area with a nice fireplace and cushy sofas or play some billiards, the kids can play some table-soccer or watch a DVD. There are also board games, card games and books available for your entertainment.
The restaurant has a limited menu but they do it really well. Sorry no food shots… i tried but the light was too low during dinner for my rather crappy point-and-shoot camera. If you stay here, you need to have scrambled eggs for breakfast – huge portion and amazing!
i love the architecture of the building, both inside and outside. Here are some pictures to give you an idea:
In and around the hotel are also great photographic shots and nice 60s-style graphics. But there is this one shot which i absolutely love! Here it is:
So as you can tell, we had fun. The skiing was good. Good snow, good weather. It was a little difficult for me, especially with powder snow which got pretty chopped up by mid-morning but that’s just because my skill level isn’t there… yet. i would most definitely come back and would recommend it to anyone who asks.
Oh, i forgot to mention the very exciting skidoo ride we had going down the mountain as the staff saw us off when we checked out. The lady (same one who drove us up) raced down the hill. Then stopped halfway and said to Tobias (in Swiss German): “Now you can tell all your friends you rode the snow-mobile down the hill at 60km/h!” hahhaaa 😉
Part 2 coming up…
PS: Trivia info – this hotel was previously a hostel-style place and we did stay here about 9 years ago before child. So it nice to see such a change in the place.