Skiing and Snowboarding in Davos and Klosters, Switzerland
Davos and Klosters, Switzerland Ski Holidays
Davos and Klosters, Switzerland; despite being planted at one end of the Heidi Express, the grey urban sprawl of Europe's highest city, having an out-of-season population of over 13,000, doesn't call forth cozy memories of the Swiss miss. But for what Davos lacks in style of architecture, it makes up for in its facilities and stunning mountain scenes.
Set in a reasonably snow-sure bowl in the Graubunden region, the ski resort can offer everything from sanatoriums to the yearly World Economic Forum, Bavarian curling and more chocolate than you could probably fit in your mouth in a week. And encompassing the grey on all sides is the white - 320km of it spread across four ski areas, plus 75km of cross-country, great snowboarding facilities and some of the widest off-piste in the Alps. The only down side is getting between the separate ski areas, although the connecting buses and trains are "Swissly" efficient.
The ski resort in Klosters, a few hundred meters down the valley than Davos, is a far more sleepy place, despite its strong royal connections, and bears considerably more alpine charm than its neighbor up-the road and this is somewhat tempered by the constant hum of traffic on its way through the village.
Davos shares its mountain transport with Klosters, and Charles and his chums have over 50 lifts at their disposal, including a revamped funicular from Davos Dorf up to the primary ski area on Parsenn. This new train has cut down queueing time dramatically, which used to reach up to two hours during peak ski season.
Skiing and snowboarding beginners can find their feet on the mild nursery slopes at Bolgen or Bunda, then cross town and go up the mountain to the wide blue runs on Parsenn. This is the biggest of Davos's several ski mountains and is connected to the Klosters ski area of Gotschnagrat. It's also home to some really wide-range terrain and has access to fantastic off-piste. If the snow's good enough, skiing intermediates should set out on the epic 12km descents from the top all the way down to Klosters or Kublis, stopping at one of the cute cafes en route. At the bottom there's a slow train back to Davos (included in the lift pass).
Jakobshorn is the second biggest ski area on the other side of town, which is marketed as the snowboarders' mountain because of an abundance of chairlifts and an absence of nightmare flat sections, although this must not put skiers off. There are a number of wide open pistes, some fun mountain restaurants and it's a good alternative when the cloud sets in, as it's lower down than Parsenn. Jakobshorn is also the ideal on-piste spot for ski experts, with a few good black runs at Ischalp and underneath the top cable-car. The only drawback here is that queues can rapidly build up for the main cable-car. If it's busy, use the Fuxagufer chairlift to get up the mountain instead.
The two smaller ski areas of Pischa and Rinerhorn are somewhat of a trek from Davos, and both offer sunny cruise-control skiing. Pischa is also the access point to large areas of off-piste and you often have the mountain almost entirely to yourself, while Rinerhorn is home to what seems like the longest T-bar in the world - you have been warned.
Klosters' skiing comes in two parts. The main cable-car heads up to Gotschnagrat, from where a series of steep reds and blacks takes you back down through the trees to the resort, or a network of lifts link up with Davos's main Parsenn ski area. Across the valley, Klosters' own ski mountain is Madrisa, a family-friendly, sun-drenched area accessed by gondola from Klosters Dorf. The only down side for learners is that black is the only piste back to town, so a lot of people end up riding the gondola back down.
Gastronomes having a head for heights and a fat wallet must take the cable-car up to Bruhin's at Weissfluhgipfel for a gourmet splurge at 2,850m. For something a little more laid-back, the Hohenweg at the mid-station of the Parsennbahn, has a brilliant ski-in, ski-out terrace bar and also dishes out decent fondues in the restaurant. On Jakobshorn, swinging skiers and snowboarders should head for the Jatzhiitte, replete with hot tubs and fake palm trees, or Bolgen Plaza further down the mountain, where dancing in ski boots starts around mid-afternoon.
Davos has welcomed the boarding fraternity by having a terrain park on each of the four main ski areas, but Jakobshorn is the primary hangout with two half-pipes and plenty of challenging off-piste into the surrounding valleys. Klosters' Madrisa mountain has a snowboard park at the top of the gondola.
Off Slope Tour Destinations
This being Europe's highest town, off-slope facilities are a cut above the norm, with excellent shopping, a 24-hour internet cafe, three ice rinks, public pool, 70km of walks and a 3.5km toboggan run. Davos also has its own medicine museum, and wellness is the word in places like the Bristol Wellness, with everything from Shiatsu to brine baths. There are also sanatoriums should things take a turn for the worse.
If chocolate is your first love, then head for Schneider or Choccolino for acres of cacao creations. For more indulgence, wonderful, and rather pricey, fondue and trad Swiss fare can be found at Gentiana, a smart little chalet-style oasis in Davos Platz's urban jungle. Self-caterers could also go gourmet at Suttero, a divine deli stocked with awesome hams and cheeses. For an urban escape, an hour's horse carriage ride up the Dischma valley is Teufi, a cozy, traditional fondue restaurant. Enchanting under the full moon night, and beautiful at any given time. Back in town, Scala, right in the middle of Platz, dishes a range of good-value pizzas and pasta amid dodgy decor. Klosters' highlights include the Michelin-starred Walserhof, home to Beat Bolliger, the 2003 Gault Millau Cook of the Year, and Chesa Grischuna, while the handsome Wynegg is an English aristocrat hangout. For something a little less regal, Al Berto's serves up decent pizzas.
Drinking and Dining Areas
In Davos Platz, the Ex Bar and Chami Bar are the liveliest options. But if Hockey Club Davos, the Manchester United of the Swiss League, are playing at home, even these would be half empty; join the crowds at the ice stadium alternatively. Rote Lichtli is a fab little bar at the back of the car park by the Migros supermarket - open until the last person leaves. Montana is the chief hangout in Dorf with plenty of ski instructors around the bar, while Bar-Senn is a chilled but fun bar just to the right of the entrance to Parsennbahn. It's small and can get jammed, but it's a great place for post-piste drinks. In Klosters, Gastrochni is a yellow and white tent bar at the base of the slopes with live bands and a buzzing atmosphere at the end of the day. Later on, the Vereina and Wynegg hotel bars are both comfortable watering holes, while Casa Antica is a small, expensive but cool (for Klosters) disco that comes alive considerably during the weekend.
Adventure Hostel Klosters, centrally located in the attractive village of Klosters offer accommodation for all ages. The Hostel lies about 300m from the train station of Klosters-Platz.
Alpenhof is an ideal base for holiday activities: within close proximity of cross-country ski and hiking. Merely a 10-minute walk from the Jakobshorn cable car and the Davos Platz railway station, Alpenhof hotel is also located close to cross-country skiing tracks and hiking trails. The cozy and very quiet rooms featuring charming furniture made of Swiss stone pine of local origin offer wonderful mountain views and provide wired internet access. The entire hotel is a no-smoking zone.
Hotel Fluela, opposite Davos Dorf station, has been in the same family as far back as 1860, and after a refurb in 2002 now features some of the best facilities in town, including a fancy wellness centre. The hotel is right next to the main ski area and is nearest to the beginners' area at Bunda. The four-star Morosani Post Hotel, in Davos Platz, is another place run by one of Davos's old families. Along with a great atmosphere and fantastic food, it also has an indoor pool and perfectly situated for all the bars, clubs and restaurants in Davos Platz. For Davos's ever-growing boarding brotherhood, two of the best bets are Snowboarder's Palace, which offers inexpensive dormitory accommodation in the heart of Platz, and the Hotel Alte Post, a comfortable two-star handy for the boarder-friendly Jakobshorn mountain.
Down in Klosters, sleeping with royalty doesn't come cheap but there are a few attractive hotels, including the Relais & Chateaux member Chesa Grischuna and the handsome old Vereina, the pick of the bunch after a refit with a sensational pool and fitness area. Budgeteers are better off at the two-star Bundnerhof, the oldest place in town with basic rooms, faded decor and its very own bowling alley.
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