Family vacation in the Swiss Alps

Enjoying a full week together with some of my closest family members
Sunday, February 5, 2017 to Saturday, February 11, 2017

Switzerlandinfo-icon is famous for its mountains and a strong tradition of family vacation in the Swiss Alps. When I was a child, nearly every family spent at least one week together in the mountains. Only with globalization and cheaper flights, this is about to change. More people are living in urban cities and think about remote destinations instead of expensive holidays in the cold snow. Back then things were different. Even as a baby, I was pulled on a sledge through the dashing snow. As soon as I could stand upright, I was put on ski and pushed down a hill. No wonder, did I develop an intensive passion for riding down steep snowy mountains on a board. Today, my family is an exception and I am very happy to still spend a full week together every year!

Driving on a curvy road up into the mountains

Despite some people’s impression, not all part of Switzerland is within the mountains. My home town Basel is probably the furthest away from any serious ski resort and no snow-white caps in sight. All major resorts are a drive of three to four hours away, comparable to San Francisco and the Sierra mountain range. This year, I drove the stretch and also picked up my sister and her boyfriend at the Zurich airport, coming directly from a trip to down under. Together we passed by Chur, the self-proclaimed capital of the Alps. From there, a steep and curvy road leads up to Arosa. A decade ago, the road was narrow and encompassed a staggering 365 curves, many of them hairpin sharp! Since then, the road was widened and new tunnels, as well as bridges, have dramatically reduced the danger. If you're looking for next driving adventure, then you should probably drive to Italyinfo-icon which is a neighbor of Switzerland. Click here to check more about this crazy adventure!

Staying in our favorite Hotel in the Arosa ski resort

It is always a pleasure, finally arriving in Arosa after the strenuous drive up. You know you have reached your destination when the road is flattening out and the white town is unfolding in front of you. The first impression is always magical, as the open lake allows a picturesque view of many traditional cottages, a green forest and the beginning of the ski lifts. Since a decade, our dad has chosen an amazing hotel in the forest for our family vacations. The hotel is perfectly located above the gondola and easily reachable by the slopes. It is hidden inside the forest and offers an extraordinary service. As a family, we gather twice a day in the dining hall, once for the fantastic breakfast buffet and also in the evening for a five-dish haute-cuisine dinner. Before dinner, most of us enjoy the internal spa area but I am the only one heating up in the Finnish sauna in order to cool down in the cold snow. Between dinner and a good night sleep, we sit together in the lobby, slurping drinks and indulge in our life’s stories.

Riding the snowboard on fresh powder snow

The real highlights, however, are the snow covered mountains and slopes. Like many other Swiss ski resorts, Arosa is having multiple gondolas and modern ski lifts that bring many visitors to the peak. From there you can choose a variety of well-prepared slopes of different difficulties. Arosa is offering a good balance between easy and medium slopes but only a few difficult ones. It is great for beginners and aspiring talents, yet not for seekers of an advanced thrill. On the other hand, it is perfect for freeriding on fresh powder snow off the prepared slopes. As it is relatively avalanche secure, they even encourage its guests to freeride. This season, we encountered quite some bad weather, bringing a bit of fresh snow. Luckily, the nasty clouds dissolved in favor of the sun around mid week. This allowed me and my sister for a few amazing rides through the deep fresh snow.

Having a break in a mountain peak restaurant

Once I am standing on my snowboard, I hardly need a break. The rest of my family always stops at one of the many restaurants to rest and regain energy. To my surprise, they can even eat a real lunch between those two huge meals in the hotel. Traditional Swiss food can be quite heavy, with a lot of potatoes, cheese or even a hot chocolate with whipped cream. Usually, I am doing one or two more rides before joining them for a quick break. The ambiance in those traditional mountainous restaurants is always very special and appealing. All the rooms are decorated with old skis, deer horns, and other items. But the most intriguing aspect is the stunning view. Since most of the huts are on a mountain peak, they offer an extraordinary panoramic view. It is always worth having a quick stop and suck in the scenery.

Exploring the newly connected Lenzerheide

Since a few years, the two large ski resorts of Arosa and Lenzerheide were connected through a new gondola. This is a true masterpiece of architecture, as the gondola spans over a valley without a single mast. During my family vacation, nobody wanted to cross this valley and explore the newly acquired slopes. So, I had to take the plunge myself and go alone to the Lenzerheide. For a few hours, I explored the slopes and ski lifts on the other side. For me as an explorer, it was totally worth it and I enjoyed all the rides. Especially, the Rothorn peak above Lenzerheide is stunning, offering an even greater view than the Weisshorn peak in Arosa. A special goodie was the slope down this peak through a unique covered gallery. Overall, Arosa-Lenzerheide is a great ski resort, offering diverse terrain and a great infrastructure.

I am happy to have such a great family and I love going on family vacation with them.

My waypoints on this journey

Chur - last pitstop in the old city before reaching my preferred ski resort in the swiss alps
last pitstop in the old city before reaching my preferred ski resort in the swiss alps
Arosa Ski Resort - since decades my family's favourite ski resort in the swiss mountains
since decades my family's favourite ski resort in the swiss mountains
Brüggerhorn - riding down on fresh powder snow with the last sunshine of the day in Arosa
riding down on fresh powder snow with the last sunshine of the day in Arosa
Sattelhütte - enjoying traditional swiss food on a lunch break in a mountain top cottage
enjoying traditional swiss food on a lunch break in a mountain top cottage
Bananas Snowboard Center - since years a reliable provider for snowboards, services and equipment
since years a reliable provider for snowboards, services and equipment
Weisshorn - amazing panoramic views from the highest mountain peak in the Arosa ski resort
amazing panoramic views from the highest mountain peak in the Arosa ski resort
Plattenhorn - notoriously generous and well prepared ski slopes of the Arosa ski resort
notoriously generous and well prepared ski slopes of the Arosa ski resort
Horse Sleigh Rides - riding with my family on a cuddly sleigh through the white winter wonderland
riding with my family on a cuddly sleigh through the white winter wonderland
Carmenna Hütte - having a short lunch break at one of the most famous mountain restaurants
having a short lunch break at one of the most famous mountain restaurants
Hörnlihütte - drinking a hot chocolate and enjoying the view from the mountain peak restaurant
drinking a hot chocolate and enjoying the view from the mountain peak restaurant
Hörnli - last mountain peak at the end of the Arosa ski resort - or the gate to Lenzerheide
last mountain peak at the end of the Arosa ski resort - or the gate to Lenzerheide
Waldhotel Arosa - one of the most prestigious and best located hotels in the ski resort of Arosa
one of the most prestigious and best located hotels in the ski resort of Arosa
Road to Arosa - on once 365 curves from the mountain city Chur to the Arosa ski resort
on once 365 curves from the mountain city Chur to the Arosa ski resort
Landquart Fashion Outlet - modern shopping mall in the shape of a traditional Swiss mountain village
modern shopping mall in the shape of a traditional Swiss mountain village
Tschuggen Hütte - great place for sun bathing or tasting traditional Swiss mountain delicacies
great place for sun bathing or tasting traditional Swiss mountain delicacies
Weisshorn Gipfel - eating with a stunning 360° panorama on the highest mountain peak in Arosa
eating with a stunning 360° panorama on the highest mountain peak in Arosa
Lenzerheide - finally exploring the other ski resort that is connected to Arosa since 2014
finally exploring the other ski resort that is connected to Arosa since 2014
Urdenfürggli - connecting Arosa and Lenzerheide, two major Swiss ski resorts, with a gondola
connecting Arosa and Lenzerheide, two major Swiss ski resorts, with a gondola
Rothorn - stunning 360° panorama from the highest accessible mountain from Lenzerheide
stunning 360° panorama from the highest accessible mountain from Lenzerheide
Scharmoin - right in between the city of Lenzerheide and the Rothorn mountain peak
right in between the city of Lenzerheide and the Rothorn mountain peak