The top of the pile for ski holidays for 2023-2024 is a privately bookable mountain, finds Justine Gosling
Picture the scene: you exit the boot room and head to the hotel’s exclusive ski lift, and minutes later, you’re alone on the wide, silent piste. There’s no queue for the chair lift. You fly down without seeing another skier, with a silly grin on your face, and every turn feels smooth and fast. Rinse and repeat all day long. At the Tschuggen Grand Hotel Arosa, Switzerland, this is no fantasy, but a reality at their exclusive annual private mountain weekend.
Each year, the day before the ski area opens to the public at the beginning of December, guests of the hotel who book the private mountain package have exclusive use of a large section of the resort. The package includes lift passes, ski rental, and a champagne greeting reception and apre ice skating party. It’s a fun and fabulous way to kick off the ski season, with everything organised for you. The snow was compact, but soon softened and was perfect for the first turns of the season. With less than eighty skiers on the mountain, the snow stayed soft but not choppy beneath our skis.
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In fact, there were more staff on the mountain than skiers, with hot toddies being handed out at the bottom of each lift, a DJ, and a team that kept stoking the fire pits and preparing a range of toasties for a between-runs warm snack. Four lifts were open for the private guests which we spent the weekend gliding down. You’re certainly going to have ski holidays with a higher variety of runs, but there are other benefits to skiing on a private mountain. Mostly, it’s just so rare to have so much space that you can take the time to look around and appreciate the views and feel a buzz at the smoothness of each turn, without having to focus on dodging all the other skiers around you.
After the first day, and as part of the package, we were shuttled to the town’s ice rink for a private party. Champagne, crepes and ice skating do go down well together, it turns out, and it felt magical to glide around the rink under the Christmas lights. That night we dined at the recently refurbished Grand restaurant which offers the ‘Moving Mountains Menu’ – a seven-course signature vegan offering which included Tomato ravioli in a light balsamic sauce and a side of Swiss chard, and perhaps the best Tiramisu I’ve ever tasted.
After the second day of skiing, this time with a few more folks out on the pistes (the cheek!) we headed to the spa. An aromatherapy massage soothed my aching legs and a dip in the ice plunge pool was invigorating. Food, throughout, was superb. In fact, I didn’t venture further than our little bubble of alpine happiness at the hotel for the whole weekend. Our first dinner was in the property’s basement restaurant, a perfectly cooked rib eye steak with traditional Swiss rosti – a fried grated potato pancake. Afterwards a friend of mine spotted the vintage bowling alley in the corner and as soon as dinner was finished I enjoyed a competitive game between guests.
We would always fuel up for the day of skiing ahead at the buffet and al a carte breakfast, which has a vegan and gluten free focus, but with all the usual options available. Ginger shot and sweet almond pancakes down, we were ready to put our boots on. The long weekend trip with all the convenience and luxury was the ideal way to ease into the ski season. Yes, early December is, well, early to go, but luckily the snow was great, and perhaps more importantly, it isn’t being mashed up by hundreds of other skiers and there’s almost zero risk of colliding.
I also realised my technique is better than I’ve given myself credit for. Ski holidays can often feel chaotic, but in this more relaxed environment, I loved every run, could practise my technique better and because of this, I can honestly say the weekend is up there as one of the best ski weekends I’ve had. The whole weekend was seamless with everything organised for us, as part of the package, and with everything included in the price it makes a weekend skiing a hassle-free pleasure. I’d like a mountain to myself for every ski trip now, please? Sigh.
Ski holidays: book your private mountain Swiss experience
Tschuggen Grand Hotel’s Private Mountain event takes place between 30 November and 3 December 2023. Included in the package are three overnight stays on a half-board basis, with exclusive private mountain access on one day, as well as ski passes and spa access. A basic double room for two starts from around £2,000. Go to https://tschuggencollection.ch/en/hotel/of fer/private-mountain to book or call +41 81 378 99 99. Swiss operate multiple flights per day to Zurich and Geneva