Night Skiing Shines Bright On The Slopes Of St Moritz | ewmoda
 

Night Skiing Shines Bright On The Slopes Of St Moritz

Jenny Stallard takes to a floodlit slope in the Swiss Alps.

Posted on

10 February 2019

Contributed by

Press Association

The Slopes Of St Moritz

All Credits: PA

As the gondola – a large cable car – slips out of its bay and begins to head up the hill towards the beginning of the ski run, I am silent and in awe. Usually, I would be in awe of the view, but right now, it’s hard to see much at all. The moon is almost full, high in the sky, but the mountains around me are covered in a blanket of shadows.

It feels almost like trespassing to be heading up to a ski run at 7.30pm. By now, usually, the slopes are empty save for the piste-basher machines flattening the snow ready for the next morning. But this run, in Corvatsch, St Moritz, has already been groomed, and on a Friday night, it re-opens to the public until a very chilly 1.40am.

The Slopes Of St Moritz

Jenny hits the floodlit slopes of St Moritz (Jenny Stallard/PA)

At the top of the slope, my group and I disembark the gondola, and the snow crunches beneath our feet, already hardening with the evening chill. And into the night rings a loud cry – part animal, part yodel. It’s not a mountain wolf but Othmar, the outdoor butler from my base, the Carlton hotel back in St Moritz town. Our guide for the evening, Othmar has his own battle cry, a sound a bit like ‘Mamma-UH!’ We rally to the cry together, and head out onto the slope.

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After arriving at the resort the night before, I’d already spent the morning on sunny pistes, finding my feet again after a year of not skiing. This evening, as the group and I headed across the valley, the floodlit slope came into view, glowing like a stream of lava down the hillside – inviting and mysterious, forbidden and enticing.

The Slopes Of St Moritz

The 4.2km floodlit slope was a physical and mental challenge (Jenny Stallard/PA)

At the top, I’m not scared, but there is trepidation. Will this be different to daytime skiing? I’ve skied at night before, but back in the days when I was a seasonaire waitress, where we would ski a cat track (a fairly flat run) back in the dark after our day-off.

This is in a different league, of course. For 27CHF (around £20), you board the gondola, and then you can cruise the 4.2km-long piste at leisure. The floodlights are spaced out, so patches of light and dark guide the way. It’s a mixture of blue and red gradient, I’d say, some challenging steepness, and wide enough for our group of five to stick together.

Luckily, it’s quiet in general, so we’re able to stop and take it all in.

The Slopes Of St Moritz

It feels like the piste belongs to you when you have an outdoor butler (Jenny Stallard/PA)

Halfway down the floodlit slope, skiers can stop for a drink or dinner at two small restaurants – many do this and end up skiing home late, and tired, which we’re warned against.

For us, it’s back to the warmth of the Carlton, a far cry from the exposed night time slope. Interiors from designer Carlo Rampazzi are bold and opulent, and following a refurbishment, the 60 suites (no bog-standard rooms here) now face south with a view of Lake St Moritz below.

Rumours suggest the property, which opened its doors in 1913, was originally planned as a summer residence for Russia’s last Tzar. But take legends with a pinch of salt and instead put your faith in the hotel’s dedication to luxury and guest satisfaction. Drivers will take you wherever you like in town (for me, it was to the local supermarket to buy some Swiss wine we tried in the restaurant), while the turn-down service comes complete with a lip balm one night, an eye cream the next, and towels are fluffier than a cartoon snowball.

The lake, frozen solid outside my window, is covered in large white tents for the St Moritz gourmet festival. In winter, the lake also plays host to ‘white turf’ horse racing and polo. I can barely believe it when I’m told. But then, that’s St Moritz all over. It’s a place that does things differently, and always has done.

As the birthplace of alpine tourism, St Moritz was founded in 1864, and is truly unique in what it can offer visitors. In fact, the uniqueness begins before you even get to the resort.

Rather than the usual transfer bus heading down the motorway, the approach to St Moritz is (unless you have a private plane or car transfer, of course) on the Bernina Express, a small red train which winds its way from Zurich to Chur and on to the final stop, St Moritz.

Part of the line is a Unesco World Heritage Site, passing through the trees and tunnels and over viaducts to the resort. Our little red carriages stand out in the white of the snowy backdrop, like a toy train.

Being on it feels exclusive and is the perfect beginning to a stay in St Moritz. The windows open so you can lean out and get a huge breath of mountain air – and a good photo or video, of course.

Back at the hotel after my foray into night skiing, I indulge my senses in dinner at the hotel’s Romanoff restaurant. It’s one of two – the other is the Da Vittorio, Michelin starred and also awarded 18 Gault Millau points, an unprecedented rating from a French restaurant guide. Romanoff has an also impressive 14.

The food at both is divine: I feast on pigeon, beef, risotto and mouth-watering pasta. In Da Vittorio, we have an amazing ‘fake chestnut’ – which looks just like the real thing but is really a ball of melt-in-the-mouth venison mousse – as well as a single gnocco with truffle, followed by panettone.

Another key element to St Moritz’s charm, is there’s plenty to do here that doesn’t involve a chair lift, skis and some bravery.

The Carlton hotel

The Carlton hotel has indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pools (Carlton Hotel St Moritz/Tschuggen Hotel Group/PA)

At the Carlton, the spa – which takes up most of the ground floor – is the ideal way to while away an afternoon (or two). Hydrotherapy pools (one outside) offer muscles a calming massage, while steam rooms and saunas help relax tired bones.

I indulge in a treatment, a ‘Fully Individual’ 50-minute full-body massage (180CHF/£138) which is tailored to my needs (that’ll be plenty of calf and shoulder massage, then!), as well as including some reflexology, which is a magical touch.

Later the next day, a horse and carriage ride with Othmar takes us around the lake, while sipping warm gluhwein from a flask. As the hooves make a gentle clip-clop on the snowy paths and bells jingle on the horses’ harnesses, I feel – not for the first time – like I’m in a movie.

Suites at the Carlton St Moritz

Suites at the Carlton St Moritz are designed by Carlo Rampazzi (Carlton Hotel St Moritz/Tschuggen Hotel Group/PA)

The hotel, with its imposing position over the town, is James Bond-esque. The rooms, coloured in greens, pinks, reds and yellows to mirror the colours of the mountain in summertime, have rich furnishings, such as a chaise long and a bath which could be mistaken for a second swimming pool it’s so spacious.

As the sun sets on my final day here, I feel like I’ve spent a week or more in St Moritz, not just three nights. I’ve been challenged – both physically and mentally – by my experience of the night skiing, but I’ve also had the opportunity to relax. Body and mind are both better for coming – and the grand finale is another ride on that red train back to reality.

How To Get There

Night skiing costs 27CHF/£20/AED 95 per adult or 16CHF/£12/AED 57 per child (up to 12 years). Visit corvatsch.ch. Lift passes start from 45CHF/£34.50/AED 166.49 (available through the hotel).

The Swiss Travel pass offers unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network, and costs from £171/AED 813 in second class. Visit swisstravelsystem.co.uk.