Night Skiing Shines Bright On The Slopes Of St Moritz
Jenny Stallard takes to a floodlit slope in the Swiss Alps.
10 February 2019
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.
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.
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 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.
It feels like the piste belongs to you when you have an outdoor butler (Jenny Stallard/PA)
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 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 are designed by Carlo Rampazzi (Carlton Hotel St Moritz/Tschuggen Hotel Group/PA)