News from the snow
A classic high-altitude resort of the type that only exists in Switzerland, Arosa is famous for its views over the local peaks and its well laid out lift system. The local ski club was founded in 1903, making it one of the world's oldest, and the ski school began in 1933. Developing from a destination for health giving holidays in the last century in to one of the pioneering winter sports meccas before the era of modern skiing, Arosa has managed to turn itself in to a winter sports destination with the facilities modern tourists want, but at the same time continued to capitalise on the stunning natural beauty that surrounds it, an ever more valuable asset. From a practical point of view Arosa also scores highly thanks to its altitude - one of the highest traditional villages in Europe. The village's location at the end of the steep Schanfigg Valley gives it another strength in the modern era - no through traffic. However, as with other classic Swiss resorts such as St Moritz, Crans Montana or Engelberg, Arosa cannot really be described as a picturesque alpine village, with almost fifty hotels, including two five star establishments, each with over 200 beds, one a ten storey high rectangular concrete building - this is not a village of quaint little wooden chalets. That being said, Arosa is a rather scattered affair and Inner Arosa, a little way above the main resort, is the more picturesque, with the main base by the Obersee rather less scenic. The resort was turned from a remote village to an international destination resort by a Dr Otto Herwig-Hold, who thought it the ideal location for his tuberculosis sanatorium back in the 1880s. Since then kings and queens, along with celebrities such as Sophia Loren and Thomas Mann, have made up the guest list. Early winter sports fans had a basic bobsleigh run and hickory wood skis to enjoy the snow. Today it attracts a wide range of clients from the rich-without-glitz brigade who have money but don't want to flaunt it, to lively young 'boarders.
A classic high-altitude resort of the type that only exists in Switzerland. It is famous for its views over the local peaks and its well laid out lift system. The local ski club was founded in 1903 and the ski school in 1933.
The slopes here are wide and usually benefit from Arosa's 8 - 12 hours of sunshine daily, being south facing. A second route into the skiing is by chair (to Tschuggen again) or drag lift up to Carmenna beneath the Weisshorn peak, from Inner Arosa. From the edge of that village the Hornli gondola accesses one other extreme of the terrain and more northerly facing slopes. Beginners have plenty of easy blue trails served by short beginner drags up at Tschuggen. After these have been mastered there are runs back down to the resort through the trees. The chair from Tschuggen up to the Brüggerhorn accesses a long easy trail, 5km (3 miles) in length back down to the village.
Intermediates will enjoy the long fast reds from the top of the Hörnli gondola or the Weisshorn cable car back down to the resort. For experts the upper section of the Weisshorn has the most challenging skiing. Guides can take you off piste, including on a route over to Lenzerheide.
Flexible lift pass includes the option of returning a day pass at lunchtime to receive a refund for the unused hours, an afternoon only pass, or a ski pass just for the gentle Tschuggen sector - ideal for families or beginners.
Arosa has 25km (15 miles) of prepared cross-country ski trails on Maran, Prätschalp / Ochsenalp, in the Isel and on the Obersee.
The five star Grand Hotel Tschuggen has a kindergarten for kids three and up on Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 6pm, again free to guests. All these hotels have their own swimming pools.
Hotels and restaurants have a local 'lollipop' scheme, offering packages for young families. These include free lodging for children aged under 7 sharing a parent's room and discounts of up to 80% for children aged up to 12, and then half price to age 16.
The tourist office organise family events and there's a snow playground for kids. Children aged three and up can join the Ski Kindergarten run by the ski school, it operates for two hours mornings and two hours more in the afternoons, with lunch and lunchtime supervision available for those six and older.
Children enrolled in ski school may use the free baby lift. Children aged under 6 are free on the lifts whilst those up to age 16 receive a generous fifty per-cent discount.
There's a good variety of cuisine on offer from the fifty or so establishments you can choose from. The four star Hotel Cristallo in the centre of Arosa runs a popular à la carte French restaurant, whilst the five star Grand Hotel Tschuggen has Italian and Mediterranean themed restaurants as well as a Swiss cuisine specialist. Asian and Mexican are amongst the other choices, along with the dozens of traditional Alpine eateries.
If you do stay up all night make sure you take the early morning cable car ascent of the Weisshorn to catch the spectacular sunrise.
The fun park, dubbed the Snow Drop, is located on the Tschuggen and features jumps as well as the pipe. The fact that 10 of the 16 lifts are chairs or gondolas is also good news for 'boarders, indeed the few drags are generally too short to bother with or duplicates of chair routes.