Arriving in Arosa, a charming mountain town in the Swiss-German speaking part of Switzerland, the snowflakes welcome my arrival as well as a “Grutzi, Ms. Brown!” The concierge of the Valsana hotel decided to pick me up from the trainstation as “We haven’t seen snowfall like this since 2012”. Glad to see the concierge and his snow-ready vehicle, I hand my suitcase over and take careful steps towards the passenger side, my first since a long time in crispy white snow.
The Rhaetian Railway from St. Moritz has taken me to Arosa in a few hours, the exquisite scenery of serpentine-like roads, viaducts (196 to be exact) and tunnels passing through nature has made the railway one of the few to be given the UNESCO Heritage status and I have to admit, it is sure worth it. Besides, the Swiss trains work like their famous clockwork and thus the ride is a pleasure with skiers hopping on and off the train as we pass by winter sport towns.
Cul-de-sac of slopes
Upon arrival in Arosa, the snowfall has become dense, the darling houses are covered in thick blankets of snow and the streets are being snow-shuffled for easier access. Locals and tourists walk along chatting as if it is the best day ever, curled up in winter jackets and woolly hats. Arosa is set 1800m above sea level thus sunrays are almost a given in the Schanfigg valley, a cul-de-sac of mountain terrain, which creates an almost nil wind environment. A few years ago, the Schanfigg valley connected to the neighbouring valley and now offers over 225kilomters of long, sweeping turns, to steep descents. For those, who don’t ski or snowboard, snowshoeing and hiking are widely popular and all ski huts such as the Tschuggen Hutte or Alpenblick on the mountain are accessible by foot. Lunch on the slopes with the family, including the grandparents, can be managed.
A healthy homestead
Inside the Valsana Hotel and Apartments, the fireplace is lit and there is a buzz going around as it will be snowing all day, thus tomorrow the slopes will be filled with fresh snow – a delight for all winter sport enthusiasts alike. Tonight is set for mingling by the fire in the Living Room. Valsana offers a new concept of hotel being, where wellness is at the helm of the day. Healthy snacks, local drinks and fresh juices are on offer whilst the healthy bowl concept of blends and mixes of ingredients and flavours is introduced by the chef of the neighbouring restaurant area. The main restaurant, Twist, and its open plan dining is set up for meeting new people, yet cosy corners for more privacy are also available. And when the sun shines through the sliding doors to the open sun terrace, guests can enjoy the fresh alpine air.
As Valsana is an eco-friendly hotel – produce comes from nearby, toiletries are fixed in dispensers and materials are durable and as the first hotel in Switzerland, the hotel is completely run on an ice battery; a daring yet futuristic concept and somehow it fits the Valsana outlook on life, where everything seems to have had extra thought. Even the spa, where silence is a given, is an easy escape to your own thoughts. My room is a fine mix of country-style chic, natural materials and offers the most logic set up for modern-day travellers – easy plugins and even an Ipad bed is made up. The record player and selection of vinyl in each room offers an excellent distraction.
A little further up in town the Tschuggen Grand Hotel is situated literally at the bottom of the slopes thus easy ski in and ski out is available with the Tschuggen Express, a private railway for hotel guests taking you up the slopes. Named after the Romanisch name for mountain, the hotel offers full mountain views and a mountain oasis as a spa – Tschuggen Bergoase. Here, in the modern extension of the hotel guests get swooned into a serene water world of cold baths, hot pools, waterfalls, saunas and steam rooms (female only sections too) – your skin will be tingling as you hop from the relax room into the powdery snow outside or drift afloat in the outdoor pool and have your body softly massaged by tiny snowflakes falling gracefully from the sky.
The hotel offers an array of culinary delights from burgers and shaken salads (and a bowling alley for those who stay after 9pm) in the restaurant, ‘Basement’ to Michelin Star dining at La Vetta, where Executive Chef Uwe Seegert, Head Chef Leopold Ott and his team create an alpine fairy tale for the taste buds.
Walk the walk
For those who enjoy the outdoors, like myself, the hiking trails begin next to the hotel with the most famous, Arosa Squirell Trail, on your doorstep. Ask the concierge for a bag of peanuts before heading out and you’ll sure get some cute encounters.
The surrounding scenery is enlivening, where in winter all roofs are covered in crisp white snow and mountaintops peak out of the tree lines. In spring and summer, the meadows brim full of flowers and alpine herbs and I am sure the now frozen lakes will be crystal clear and offer a beautifully refreshing finale for a day around Arosa. I cannot wait for summer to come…but first winter and its frosty magic.
Appeared and translated to Arabic: MarieClaireArabia in February 2018
By Laura Brown for MarieClaire Arabia.
Images: Valsana, Tschuggen Group and writer’s own