The resort of Laax dispels the chocolate box image of the Swiss, says Kevin Wolff.
Think of Swiss hotels and the first image that springs to mind is probably one of formal efficiency where both the staff and clientele are expected to behave impeccably. Traditionally, Switzerland is not the sort of country where you would expect to find a hotel that offers bunkrooms to suites with Sony Playstations and plasma screens, a 24-hour bar plus dedicated computer games console area.
Without a doubt, the Riders Palace in Laax breaks every mould in the book but if you’re thinking that the Swiss have tried to design the Hotel around chocolate-box cuteness then think again. The exterior may be clad in wood and glass to satisfy the environmentalists but there’s absolutely nothing kirsch about the interior. Local architect Rene Meirhofer was allowed to let his imagination run free and conjured up a fusion of functional, clean-lines and bold colours that has catapulted the hotel directly in the prestigious Design Hotels consortium, and is featured in Herbert Ypma’s book Hip Hotels: Ski.
The marketing literature cites that the Riders Palace is for sports people wanting to get the most out every day. With that, needless to say that the Riders Palace has its own nightclub.You don’t even need to walk out the hotel to get to it.
Any tea-dances I hear you cry? Not on your Nelly, they bring in Europe’s top DJs throughout the winter and each weekend you can find guest DJs playing in the Palace club situated in the basement , you’ll also find a diversity of acts gracing the stage from Busta Rhymes to Björn Again and the occasional reggae weekend.
Laax, shares the Alpenarena with its near neighbour Flims. The boarding here is totally under-rated with a massive 220km of playground to choose from particularly pandering to the needs of boarders with a three half-pipes and terrain park.
Add this to the outstanding amount of freeriding on offer in the Alpenarena and it’s not surprising that boarders make up for almost half the visitors.
The Riders Palace is not the quintessential Switzerland but on the other hand it doesn’t share the kind of cost you would normally associated with Swiss hotels. Unfortunately it’s not the place you can drop the kids off on Friday night and pick them up again on Monday morning. Under 18s need not apply due to licensing laws – after all, this is still Switzerland