When I was told my first House Of Coco trip would be to the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Switzerland up in the Engadine Valley my heart literally skipped a beat, I had wanted to tick this off the list for a long time and a 5 star luxurious hotel in Pontresina was certainly the way to do it in style. HOWEVER when I read the brief “Alpine Adventure” slight anxiety crept in. I mean I am always up for a challenge but the fact that I don’t own a pair of walking shoes, haven’t stepped on a mountain bike (since I was 12) and that two hot yoga classes a week is about as adventurous as I get these days you can probably imagine…yikes…can I do this??? Well, well, well…let me introduce myself…a reformed adventure adrenaline junkie. Now let me guide you (and hopefully inspire you anti-sport enthusiasts) through the magic of summer in the Swiss Alps with an abundance of natural highs & views that will take your breath away.
After landing at Zurich airport with just over a 3 hour train journey to the hotel I took this as a perfect opportunity to sit back and take in the pristine unspoilt natural landscapes of mountains, pine trees and lakes- this picture perfect paradise is nothing short of idyllic. Even the air is different! I was told an interesting fact, before antibiotics existed people would visit here to strengthen their immune system as health professionals believed that clean, cold mountain air was the best treatment. That was a bonus for me as I was struck with cold & flu symptoms just a few days before the trip (always perfect timing).
Collected from the train station by a complimentary shuttle transfer and a very pleasant driver we made our way to the Grand Hotel Kronenhof. I was overly excited to embark on this once in a lifetime adventure but apprehensive all the same when I flicked through the itinerary and realised in the next 24 hours I would be climbing up a Glacier using nothing but an ice pick and a rope (deep breaths). Pulling up to the hotel I was swept off my feet by the beautiful architecture of the building, the reception and lobby is grandly decorated with a great big splash of elegance. Chandeliers and traditional décor were actually put in place to make royalty feel at home when they came to stay….well I certainly felt like a princess! Welcoming guests since 1848, located in the Engadin Village of Pontresina- heart of the Swiss Alps the Kronenhof is the sister hotel of the Kulm in St.Moritz which is only around 6km away. We had the chance to dine at the Kulm restaurant over the course of the weekend where I indulged in my first ever cheese fondue- when in Switz of course! Both of these hotels are equally stunning , very palace-esque with nice big windows which of course were made to enjoy the incredible views but then they are also very original too. The guests at either hotel are invited to use the spa facilities at both the Kronenhof and the Kulm, which leaves you with an array of dining options so basically you are never stuck for options.
Itinerary…check, hiking boots… check, sunscreen… check. The weekend activities were about to commence and what would normally be spread out over a week (in my opinion with preferably a day in the spa between) we fit into one weekend; it was time to act like a girl boss (to conquer my fear of heights) and “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Adventure number 1-Ice climbing up the glacier, this for me was probably the most challenging (due to my fear of heights & the first time in a pair of hiking boots) but that also made it the most rewarding after succeeding in my second climb attempt to make it to the very top, yes I was shaking like a leaf on the way back down, but I am putting that down to the adrenaline rush and nothing else (power of the mind)!
Adventure number 2 – 3.30am wakeup call to catch the first gondola to watch the sunrise at 3’057 feet high, it was definitely worth it although when my alarm went off I was ready to pull a sickie, the view from the top was truly remarkable and I felt quite emotional (although that could have been down to lack of sleep and high altitude) no really…on a serious note it was one of them euphoric moments where you have to pinch yourself to check it’s not all a dream. The Piz Nair sunrise experience is only on 3 times a year in the summer as normally the mountain lifts are not open this early, the tickets cost 95 Swiss Franc (about 73 British pounds) and this includes a day pass for the mountain railways, mountain bike transport, a breakfast buffet at the top and a once in a lifetime view that will stay in your heart forever.
Adventure number 3 – What goes up must come down! Mountain bikes back to the bottom of Piz Nair, with my less than beginner experience I was thankful to find out we wasn’t expected to start from the very top (phew) plus it had begun to rain which wasn’t really appropriate weather conditions. We peddled down from just under half way, breathing in the crisp air and trying to take in as much as the Swiss scenery as possible whilst trying to concentrate so I didn’t fall off course. After getting into the momentum and a bit of riding confidence I really enjoyed it, again the landscape and views you need to witness for yourself, nature at its finest.
And breathe. After a whirlwind of adventure, adrenaline rushes and giggles it was time for a quick wind down and treatment at the Spa with an AktiVital massage. The Kronenhof pool was named by TripAdvisor as one of the ten most beautiful indoor pools in the world, I could have probably guessed that when I walked in and was left breathless and speechless by the view. To call this luxurious, beautiful and heavenly would be an understatement.
On to the final evenings activities (wishing we had longer). I have not even taken you through the array of dining options because quite frankly I don’t have enough words, from the gourmet restaurant Kronenstubli, to the Pavillion and everything in between the food was 5 star. We enjoyed our last dinner in the Kronenhof’s Grand restaurant before heading out to the Festival Da Jazz where ‘Earth Wind and Fire experience’ were playing live at the Dracula open air club in St.Moritz. Dancing the night away, and reflecting back on an unforgettable weekend, I knew that Switzerland had taken a piece of my heart. You must put this on your “where to go next” list, I PROMISE you will thank me for it!
Obviously it would be rude to just end this Alpine Adventure trip without a bit more physical activity thrown in before we headed home, especially as it was Swiss international day. So paddle boarding around Lake St.Moritz overlooking the alpine valley was just the icing on the cake.
The only thing I would change about this trip would be my cold and annoying chesty cough (which seemed to come out in force when I tried to sleep), but then again made me realise that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, in sickness and in health. It may have only been a short time but my weekend in Switzerland was an eye opener and pretty life changing, the team was utterly bonkers in the best possible way and I will be forever grateful for this amazing experience in the alpines representing #TeamCoco