Yes, it was a hassle, yes, it was nerve-wracking and yes, it was expensive. But what an experience it was.
We chose Toggenburg, a gorgeous, smaller, resort which I fell in love with when we first arrived in Switzerland. It is a little more expensive than the other larger resorts and only runs ski school in the week, not at the weekends.
We stayed at Robert’s house in Unterwasser. Robert is a member of the Airb&b family. It is the future of holidays – where you stay in the house of the host while they move out or even live alongside them. The hotel industry is getting very nervous as Airbnb is a big threat, accommodating people at a much cheaper rate, projecting them into the heart of foreign cities and their cultures in a way that most hotels can’t, and providing a unique travel experience. We have stayed in a flat at the centre of the action in Manhatten, New York, resided in the most beautiful square tucked away deep in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona and surveyed the landscape of Nice from a rooftop terrace.
But of course, Airbnb rentals are not always perfect. Robert’s place was beautifully designed but the second bedroom was down two flights of stairs (with the landlord living in between - not practical for us, with the girls being so young) I spent most nights tucked up on the sofa outside my daughter’s room while Graham enjoyed the king size bed to himself. This should have been specified on the website, instead of the blanket phrase that this is a ‘family friendly’ rental – something which will be reflected in our feedback on the Airbnb website.
However, its location to the ski school in Wildhaus was very convenient. A mere five minute drive away, or a 4 minute bus ride on the no 790.
I cannot improve on my friend Emily Player’s description of a first ski-ing experience, which she also enjoyed the same week as us, so here it is:
Ski Tours Day One: Beginner level anxiety ascending a mountain in the snow, crying optional. Day Two: Locate ski rental and commence simmering resentment as you realise you are basically paying to wear the most uncomfortable shoes ever invented. Stagger across resort like some sort of toddler Robocop, with heavy stick things and even heavier planks of wood continually banging against your helmet with every step. Drag/encourage two smaller versions of yourself to the Telecabina until you are all wondering WHY, WHY, WHY anyone in their right mind wants to do this. Day Three: Reluctantly admit it is quite fun sliding down a mountain with the caveat that for every 10 minutes of fun there is about 45 minutes of hanging about (usually dangling in the air) Watch your children master linked turns and beam with pride. Day Four: Get out on the slopes as early as you can, ski, ski, ski and immediately start planning when you can return.
In addition, Wildhaus ski school was excellent, with very friendly staff. As there were no beginners groups taking place, I was provided with my own personal tutor (at a cost of 150sfr per morning, as opposed to a 110sfr group rate) Lukas was instantly likeable, with a warm smile and suitably rugged Alpine appearance, dressed in the funky bright red ski-suit and accessories which highlighted all instructors on the slopes of Wildhaus. And as I speedily picked up the basics over three mornings, I fell in love. With Lukas, with my skis, with the mountains, with the snow, with the various ski lifts, with my fellow skiers. I was totally and completely hooked. And so was my 8-year-old daughter. And now we are indeed already planning our return…