Reena Patel Visits Switzerland’s Nira Alpina in the Sunshine
St. Moritz is most likely to strike you as a swish Swiss resort that’s famous for its winter snow and sport. We’ve discovered that there’s so much more in store during the summer season.
Story has it that this Alpine destination was originally a summer respite but to attract some winter appeal during the quieter colder months, skiing was zealously sold to thrill-seeking visitors. So, it wasn’t very long before the seasonal tourism tables were turned and in 1864, it became the birthplace of winter tourism that we all know it so well for.
We flew in to the Zurich to hop on the Rhaetian Railway – a breathtakingly scenic route that stretches for miles through the valleys, so much so that it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This lush landscape lured us in to enjoy the Engadin valley in all its flourish and bloom; the fresh, crisp mountain air filled up our London city lungs as we disembarked from the train, green meadows glimmered with wildflowers and aqua-marine glacial lakes glistened in the startling bright Alpine sunshine.
We soon arrived at Nira Alpina – a new luxury lodge by Nira Hotels & Resorts that perches on a hilltop and faces out on to Lake Silvaplana and the quaint small village of Surlej. With cabin-like wood panelled features and unique design pieces throughout, the end result is a cosy, inviting property with rooms that are quite simply the epitome of luxury living. We stayed in a junior suite with a stupendous view of the mountains, village and lakes, a walk-in wardrobe and oh-so soft and fluffy Ploh dressing gowns to cocoon yourself in when unwinding from an adventurous day trip out.
After a well-presented continental breakfast, we took a panoramic cycling trail around the unspoilt nature-trail – past lakes (where you can sail, fly kites (it’s nice and windy for it) and go fishing) and into the heart of the forest to Lej Marsch. Once here, we set up a barbecue with sizzling local produce of juicy prime cuts of meat and mouthwateringly fresh salad sides delivered by the hotel. Guests at Nira Alpina can explore the great beauty of the local landscape with lunch prepared by Nira Alpina, or uncooked ingredients vacuum packed for you to set up your very own barbecue and lap up some more of the mountain sunshine.
A short car drive from Nira Alpina takes you down to Lake St. Moritz where you can sail and soak up a striking view of some more of the vast, untouched expanse. You will also find yourself near the heart of St. Moritz where it’s the place to see and be seen. Brimming with upmarket fashion boutiques, Swiss chocolate shops (check out Laderach and try the sweet treat slabs) and cafes to sip on Aperol spritzers and sample other regional treats, you could easily spend an afternoon simply people watching.
Back at the hotel itself, we indulged in a deeply relaxing massage (highly recommend) and took a soak in the heated pool before sipping on some more thirst quenching signature spritzers – this time, freshly made on site by taking raw ingredients and expertly blending them into delicious purees to create juicy flavours of peach and melon and raspberry and red chilli.
At the restaurant, called Stars, we sat down to a menu of Asian inspired fusion food to include starters of tandoori-style jingha prawns on skewers and a sweet, chilli and sour crunchy lotus root salad. Our mains consisted of delicately baked sea bass wrapped in a banana leaf and lamb chops with vegetables, followed by desserts of mini ice-cream and sorbet cones, as well as toast-your-own pink marshmallows with melted dipping chocolate.
When you fancy a light lunch, or are feeling peckish from your great outdoor adventure, Nira Alpina also has its own bakery, with cupcakes, traditional breads and cakes all baked fresh daily on site. There’s also a rooftop bar – one of the coolest places to hang out when the sun goes down, with it’s very own resident DJ and a cosy roaring fire to stay toasty.
If visiting during winter, the bonus is that Nira Alpina is connected to the Corvatsch cable car station via a private walkway and has its very own ski-in, ski-out facility. All year round, the cable car access effortlessly takes you up and down the mountains and it’s just a short walking distance away.
With Nira Alpina the decision is not whether to go but when to go – in the summer or during winter?
Rates at Nira Alpina start at 315 CHF (approx £207) for a double room and 545 CHF (approx. £359) for a Junior Suite. These rates are per room per night and include breakfast, WiFi, and complimentary access to the Nira spa. For more information on Switzerland visit www.MySwitzerland.com or call 00800 100 200 30 or e-mail [email protected] SWISS offers up to 19 daily flights from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester to Zurich. Fares start from £147* return, including all airport taxes, one piece hold luggage and free ski carriage. For reservations call 0845 6010956 or visit: www.swiss.com. The Swiss Travel System provides a range of travel passes and tickets. The Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between the airport/Swiss border and your destination. Prices are £96 in second class and £153 in first class. www.swisstravelsystem.co.uk.