Posts Tagged ‘Valais’

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Bettmeralp, Switzerland

February 25, 2009

 

It feels like a secret. Guests arrive by cable car (no cars here mate), pull their cases to Heidi chalets on wooden Davos sledges (the ones pictured in traditional Christmas-card scenes) and hike to fetch the breakfast bread along a snow-filled street so silent one could hear an icicle drop.

 

The place is made for kids aged under 13 or over 35: Everyone bar absolute beginners ski off the slope into their chalet. Food shopping is a laugh: strap the bottles of local Valais fendant and grocery bags onto the rent-for-the-week sledge (apply the same method for baby cots and tots) or ski it home. And après ski is hot roasted chestnuts and glühwein at the only bar where the al fresco barman doubles as a big cuddly bunny rabbit on skis called Snowli by day. Spot him on a Friday giving out medals in the snow garden.

 

Bettmeralp is not so much a secret as an exclusive club where every chalet is filled year after year by the same loyal clientele – which makes snagging a place to stay a real challenge. I found ‘our’ chalet (such is the nature of the Alpine village, it feels like ‘ours’) last minute by chance two years ago. This year, like last year, within days of coming off the mountain I’ve been bombarding the charmingly Italian owner of Chalet Tannenduft (it means ‘pine scent’ aka it’s on the edge of pine woods) with over-zealous enthusiastic emails pleading my case for a week in 2010.

 

Gaia won’t let me know until late autumn, even November. But that lush skiing literally alongside the Aletsch glacier, at 23km the Alp’s largest glacier despite being on the shrink and as such a Unesco world heritage site, is well worth the childish suspense.