Report: Ski trip Pontresina March 2007

Apr 15th, 2007, 01:45 AM
  #1  
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Report: Ski trip Pontresina March 2007

Hi fellow Fodorites!

So I am going to apologise upfront for this trip report. For once it is quite short and not very detailed - what can one say about skiing? - and it is a bit late.

Let's start with the hotel. Engadinerhof in Pontresina, officially a two star. It's one of those turn-of-the-century hotels that have plenty of room and seatings for guests to socialize, get together and talk. It has a huge lobby with a bar, two salons and a small library (well stocked with German, French, English books). While all of the public areas are already renovated, only about half of the rooms are redone. I had a room that was not yet renovated - but it was large, had a decent size bathroom, new and comfortable bed, cable-TV, telephone and a gorgeous view of the mountains. And it was spotless clean - that's what matters for me.

The food was very good - I missed the croissants for breakfast, but that's all to complain about. Otherwise the breakfast buffet was as expected - typical Swiss with a large variety of jam, yoghurt, müesli, fruits, cheese, salami, ham, bacon and eggs, boiled eggs, four sort of juice, tea and coffee, several sorts of bread and rolls.

Four-course dinner was included in my booked arrangement (half-board). First came a soup (always delicious), then I chose from the salad buffet (large variety, very good). Main course followed and had to be chosen the day before - either meat or fish/pasta. During the week I had e.g. pork schnitzel, grilled pieces of several sorts of meat, venison, fish twice (one was lotte de mer - absolutely delicious). Dessert was the last course, always yummy (and rich . Among the desserts was crepe suzette, ice cream with strawberries, don't recall what else. But what I do remember very well is the huge buffet on Thursday night. Out of this world! We had specialties from the region and neighbouring Italy. Graubündner barley soup first. Then appetizers - tomato/mozzarella, melone and prosciutto di parma, sorts of paté ... I skipped the salad buffet for obvious reasons Main courses were venison again, lamb rack, a large variety of vegetables, and so on. The highlight and my favourite was the dessert buffet, though. My goodness! Creme caramel, panna cotta, tiramisu, small biscuits with strawberries, ice cream ... I definitely had too much.

I had excellent, mostly Swiss, wine with my meals. White from Lac Leman (St. Saphorin and Aigle), red from Ticino (a Merlot) and Valais (a cuvee of Gamay and Pinot Noir). The service was perfect. Cell phones were not allowed in the non-smoking dining room, which added to the classy ambience. Definitely not a two-star ambience, rather expected in a four star hotel!

Free internet access was provided near the reception desk in a small former telephone booth. Relatively inconvenient and I only spent a few minutes every day in there to check my emails.

What blew me away was the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff. You rarely find that anymore. They were *eager* to help. They had always the time to chat a bit and joke with the guest and make them feel at home.

The hotel provided a pass for public transportation (bus and train) in the Upper Engadine, that means from Maloja to Cinuos-chel (past Zuoz) to Alp Grüm (beyond Bernina Pass). You can imagine I took the trains and buses as often as possible!

There was not much snow on the ground and the south facing mountain slopes didn't look too good either, which was not a surprise after that lousy winter in late March. The snow in the skiing areas was perfect, though. Powder! The best snow was to find at Diavolezza/Lagalb at the Bernina Pass and at Piz Corvatsch above Silvaplana. Corviglia above St. Moritz has a lot of south orientated slopes where the snow turned to slush soon after noon. I skied four out of six days - each day sunny with only a few clouds and no wind. Since my intention was to spend this trip on a slower pace as usual I didn't get on the slopes earlier than 11.30 am, exactly the right time to purchase half-day tickets which were considerably cheaper than full day passes. As mentioned above, public transportation was included and bus and train took me quickly to the skiing areas. A definite highlight of the trip was the guided tour from Diavolezza down to Pers glacier and further along Morteratsch glacier to the inn Morteratsch where you can hop on the train back. You need to be an intermediate skier for that if conditions are perfect (they were). And be prepared that crossing the glacier means sweat - it's a flat part, even a bit uphill at the end. But then it's pure delight to ski down to Morteratsch after enjoying a drink at a small sort of bar out in the middle of nowhere beside the glacier.

Beside the skiing I used the trains and buses to visit some places I had been to before and to explore some new ones. One day I rode the train across the Bernina Pass to Alp Grüm to enjoy the views from there and have a hot chocolate on the terrace of their restaurant before hopping on the next train back a half hour later. I changed trains in Pontresina and went to Zuoz, probably the most charming villages in the Upper Engadine. Had a small meal at Restaurant Klarer right on the charming market square and then explored a bit. I got the keys to two churches from the tourist information. The main church impressed with the coloured stained glass windows, but the smaller and older one was just stunning: absolutely beautiful and well preserved medieval frescos inside! That made my day

One other day I paid a visit to La Punt - Chamues-ch. It's almost totally untouched by tourism, notthing spectacular about it, but it does have some very nice typical Engadine style houses, two churches well worth a visit and some restaurants. It was just fun to wander around and not to stress out about anything. Oh, and on the way back I stopped in Samedan, the small town that is the main place for the locals (as St. Moritz is for the tourists) - this one's really charming. Had been there before (even stayed there) and it was nice to be back. And the bakery just a minute from the railway station provides a nut cake that is among the best in the Engadine

It felt weird to start Saturday morning (31 March) in Pontresina after a night with 2 inches new snow and arriving at home where the temps were about 50 F in the afternoon, the magnolias in bloom and people wearing shorts and t-shirts. It's even warmer now - spring took over big time and it's definitely feeling unreal to type a skiing trip report.

If you want you can have a look at some pictures too. As usual it's a mix of scenery and architecture/buildings/art (frescos). I reduced their size (slow internet connection) so they don't come out as brilliant as on paper (or my own screen for that matter). Anyway, hope you enjoy them. Here is the link:

http://photos.yahoo.com/ge_eagle2002

Hope it works.

Ingo
Ingo is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 01:53 AM
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What a lovely report, Ingo. It brings back so many fond memories. In a previous life we went summer skiing on Piz Corvatsch, in the middle of July. Those were the days ...
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 03:36 AM
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Yahoo!! Ingo, what a treat for waiting imaginations.

You're such a good writer that, even without the great detail of your earlier reports, I can still see you schussing the slopes and gobbling nut cake!

I'm going to wait for this afternoon to see your photos -- I'll have more time and may have a glass of wine while viewing.

Thanks!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Apr 15th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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Sounds wonderful! It was a well deserved and long coming break, Ingo. Hey! I know a place where you can ski your heart out. Two feet of snow in the last week.
Grassshopper is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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dgd
 
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Thanks for the trip report,
Ingo! I just posted some questions about this very area (didn't see your report yet) and this helps to answer them. And I have another question after reading your report--what would you think about staying in La Punt in terms of restaurants, access to winter activities, etc. (I've found apartments available there, too)? Thank you!
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Apr 15th, 2007, 08:14 AM
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Thanks for the flowers

Myriam - with the global warming the summer skiing in July is probably going to be gone soon in other regions of the Alps as well.

S - too much praise! Gobbling the nut cake, eh? Huh, I know one who does the same with creme brulee ... (I am mean, I know!)

Grass(s)hopper - thanks. You know, some day I will ski there ;-)

dgd - I'll reply to your other post, also about La Punt.

Anyone tried to access the pictures? I received one email saying 'no access'.

Ingo
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Apr 15th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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Ingo, I couldn't access the photos. But I thought I was just a boob because the page was all in German. Thought I'd wait for my german girl to come around. Or for you to post on VT.
Grassshopper is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 08:36 AM
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I'll send you an email. Don't want to make you sit impatiently in front of the computer until you German girl comes home. And forget VT! I won't post there.
Ingo is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 08:41 AM
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Hi guys,

Gobble gobble, YES. I only wish I could be gobbling the great goodies of Dresden & Switzerland now.

Hey, I'm also having trouble accessing the photos -- please send me an invitation, please please please!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Apr 15th, 2007, 08:54 AM
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Both of you please look in your inboxes ;-)

Hope you enjoy.
Ingo is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 08:54 AM
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Can't view the photos either. It says there aren't any available.
"Es sind keine Fotos verfügbar - ge_eagle2002 hat seine Fotos nicht freigegeben"

Do we need a password?
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 08:59 AM
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Thank you! There it was in my inbox.

And now I'm officially jealous -- incredible photos, incredible snow, lovely hotel. Really incredible snow! And such lovely views! You have such a great eye for composition & perspective.

At least this time you didn't torture us with photos of the nut cake!

Ok, I'll try not to be jealous -- I'll probably do better at it in 108 days . . .

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Apr 15th, 2007, 09:02 AM
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But he did torture us with photos of Zuoz and the Posthotel. Such wonderful memories!
Grassshopper is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 09:05 AM
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Thanks again S! You're too nice as usual. Smoothing ;-) Yeah, I am sure you'll take better photos. And I do hope you post them!

Myrian, I'm sorry. I had a look at the album again. I was sure I had made it accessible for anyone. But it showed status 'private' again. And when I tried to change the status I received 'server error'. So you'll have to use this link:

http://de.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ge_...NxPmGBBaR90M47

Sorry it's so long. Hope it works now!
Ingo is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 09:07 AM
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G - couldn't leave that out, lol! I pondered the idea of having a meal there, but the restaurant was closed.
Ingo is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 09:14 AM
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Yes, the link works! Thanks a lot.
Beautiful photos!
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 09:34 AM
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Oooh! I love Europe ski trip reports. Thanks for posting! I'm swamped right now (redoing the closets at our house), but this response will serve to "bookmark" this report and then I can peruse it when I have more time.
Mariarosa is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 05:16 PM
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Hi Ingo!

Thanks for the nice report and the great photos. I am another one of the crew who enjoyed seeing the Post Hotel and shots of Zuoz.....what great memories!

The Engadinerhof in Pontresina looks very nice as well.
Judi is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 10:24 PM
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Hi Ingo,

Nice to hear the staff was friendly. Since the past few years, jobs have been hard to find. The result is that hotels and restaurants have been able to hire better employees who are willing to work and be friendly to the guests. It's about time.
kleeblatt is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 01:20 AM
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JN
 
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Terrific photos. Thanks for sharing.
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