Monday, March 10, 2014

WEEKEND BREAK AT ST. MORITZ

Our entertaining guest blogger and weekend hopper Sonja Catani has just been at St Moritz, which she knows rather well. Here she takes us beyond the usual skiing to other forms of elated downward motion, and some insider tips about truffles among other St Moritz delights...

St Moritz beyond shopping and skiing

St. Moritz – the legendary ski resort that makes you think about glitzy hotels, private jets, women in fur coats swishing down sunny slopes, only to stop for a glass of champagne in a fancy ski hut, before heading out on town for some shopping. All of this is true. In St. Moritz you can buy diamonds the size of ski helmets and if you are to exchange your trendy Fendi fur hat for a helmet, then you buy it at Prada flagship store just a few bends up from Badrutt’s Palace.

BUT, St. Moritz is also so much more than that. 

More to St Moritz ....

We just spent a long weekend there, my husband a skier since 60 years, my child a beginner who likes blue slopes and myself a snowboarder who’s not as cocky in the slopes as I used to be. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as great this year as previous years when we’ve visited, so we got the chance to try some other activities than skiing – not shopping though, I’ll leave that blog post for someone with a better fashion taste than our family (my husband skis in läderhosen and I look like a pink fashion victim from 2005).

Rosy and happy

Sledge running for joy

Perfect weather. And if not...

A great thing to do if the weather it’s cloudy and difficult to find slopes with visibility is to go sledge running. This is great fun for the whole family and suitable for all ages. In St. Moritz Dorf, take the train to Preda. Train leaves every hour two minutes past. You buy ticket and sledge voucher at the train station. At Preda Station, which is basically only a platform in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the mountains, you get your sledge from a small hut and the 6 kilometer long sledge trail begins right there. 

For the first 500 meters or so, it’s very flat so you get the chance to practice turns. This will be of no help whatsoever, because as soon as the trail becomes more steep you forget all about technique and just let everything go. Or not. You might do as I do, place your feet on the ground in a desperate attempt to break the speed.

Crazy speed in sledge riding at Bergün

The scenery is fantastic, you go under, over and besides the rail way tracks that run in circles in this UNESCO-world heritage area with twists and turns and plenty of Kodak-moments (or are they called Instagram-moments now a days?). When you reach the end and the outskirts of a very picturesque village Bergün you can take a sit lift up another mountain for a much steeper and bumpier second run.  

This run is not for those with a bad back. Trust me on this. But child and pensioner in my family loved it. I screamed for fear and agony, they screamed with laughter. After this you can leave the sledge in Bergün and take the train back to St Moritz. Or you can bring your sledge on the train, step of in Preda and do the whole thing over and over again until you are sure you’ve got enough adrenalin kicks.

Sledge running in St. Moritz doesn’t stop there. Oh no, there’s much worse to come. You can drive a few kilometers from St. Moritz towards Pontrezina, on your left hand side you will see a high mountain top with a hotel Muottas Muragl perched right up at the top. Don’t get scared even if it looks like the hotel might slide down the mountain top any second, it seems quite stable once your up there. You buy ticket and get a sledge by the mountain train station next to the car park. Trains leave twice an hour and it takes about 15 minutes to get up to the top. You can have snacks and hot chocolate in the café or enjoy a better lunch in the restaurant. After this you can embark on a suicide sledge mission. 

This trail is much, much steeper than the two previously mentioned and some don’t even dare to go the whole mile. Not that I’m saying that I’ve struggled up-hills after deciding to break the sledge-run, but one could probably do it. If one would do it, I would recommend to do so after first few curves, because it’s a very steep climb…. You can always take the mountain train down, even if it’s embarrassing. Not saying that I’ve done so…
 
Going up to go down

X-country perfection

Apart from sledge-running, St. Moritz is perfect for cross-country skiing. The lakes around Silvaplana are beautiful and flat. You can rent proper gear in the ski-shop in Silvaplana, they have everything ranging from wide and short mountain skis to super professional Vasaloppet-freestyle skating skis. Or if you are like me, the beginner’s skis suitable for us who aren’t that good at cross-country but still find it calming and contemplative.

Surfing?


Other things to do aside from hitting the slopes and shops are horse cart riding to hillside restaurants at Val Fex (get on from Pontrezina or Sils), kite surfing on the lake on a snow board. 


Strolling snowy streets

For the more adventurous kite-surfing off cliffs and of course just strolling around St Moritz or any of the villages around. There’s plenty to see and the clientele is stylish, well behaved and social. You’ll always find someone to talk to.

The normal way of going down

For good weather skiing I would recommend the following:

Corviglia 2486 meters (connects to many systems) for shorter slopes, or let’s say shorter lifts and more transits, but with more people watching and fancy ski huts. Take cabin lift from St. Moritz Bad or mountain train from St. Moritz Dorf

Corvastch 3303 meters, for those who want the long, long slopes without interruption. Take cabin lift in Surlej next to Nira Alpina Hotel.

Furtschellas 2800 meters, for those with kids who want long blue/red slopes, you can go all the way up comfortably by cabin- and sit-lift and get an easy nice ride down. Take cabin lift in Segl Maria/Sils.


Lunch on the slopes

In Corviglia, go to Salastrain a hotel and restaurant up in the slopes with great terrace.  For gourmet lunch go to Mathis at the top terminal and try the truffle pizza.

In Corvatsch, go to the Nira Alpina Hotel next to the Cabin lift.

In Furtschellas, go to the insider place Kuhstalle, very picturesque and great after ski as well.


Excellent Italian wines everywhere

Dinner and drinks

Go to Chesa Veglia in St Moritz Dorf a historical farmhouse owned by Badrutt’s Palace. Fantastic gourmet food and a great polo-bar

Further in Badrutt’s Palace the main hotel you have the private bar Privé and of course the epic Palace hotel bar and cigar room (send kids to the kids club or let them wander the hotel – bar is not really suitable for them, if you’re not there for afternoon tea)

Another private club is Dracula, founded by Gunther Sachs now run by Rolf Sachs.

Truffle fondue at Paradiso in St. Moritz Dorf is a must according to world-travel connoisseur Mia. I haven’t been there but I’m sure to trust her advise.

Truffle


In St. Moritz Bad you can go clubbing at quirky Baracca – they don’t take credit cards – cash only!

For dinner in Surlej, go to Alpina Rosa, fantastic truffle menu and after nine in the evening the Italian fashion mob arrives. Don’t go if you’re allergic to dogs as hotel-dog loves all the guests and roams around in the bar.

For best Italian food and away from the “hang-around people” go to the local secret restaurant Murütsch in Sils. The Enoteca and Osteria are connected to a small hotel Margna, hard to find but so worth it once you’re there. Ask Mario Azzato to choose the best Italian wines for you from their extensive wine cellar.

Hotels

See Select Collection’s previous blog posts by Neil Bedford on Nira Alpina and Badrutt’s Palace here 
And check out all the hotels here 




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