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Location: snowHeadLand
Resort: Laax

Country: Switzerland

Domain: Flims, Laax, Falera

Author: HairyBoy

Date: February Half-Term 2009

Our holiday: Family Holiday – My wife and I and our 13 year old boy and 8 year old girl. We are leisure skiers not racers enjoying mainly blues and gentler reds. We did this as an extra ski-holiday on a bit of a budget so we drove.

Website : www.laax.com www.signinahotel.com

Basics : Laax is around 1.5 hours from Zurich – we drove down after taking the overnight Ferry from Hull-Zeebrugge. Followed TomTom which took us down through Belgium, Luxembourg then into France past Strasbourg and on to Switzerland – Basel, Zurich and Chur before heading on to Laax (between Flims and Falera which share the ski-ing area) – 9 hours drive from Zeebrugge which was 10 hours total journey time including quick petrol and toilet stops. 10 hours again on the way back.

Lift system : Very well connected although there are a lot of gondola’s. We quite like using chairs and keeping our skis on but to be fair others may feel gondolas are better so I’d have to say the lift network was good. The main beginners area up near ‘Crap Son Gion’ uses mainly drag lifts but once up and ski-ing you will be mainly on gondolas and the odd chairlift. We were there in Feb half term and were really impressed with how generally quite a lot of the slopes were and how well the lift system coped at this busy time. The main red run down to Laax from mid afternoon was busy so we generally got the big gondola down from Crap Son Gion to avoid the throng.

The terrain : We really enjoyed the blue run 31 from the Vorab gondola station – a wide open motorway of a piste, great confidence builder for timid intermediates and good fun for more advanced intermediates when done quickly ! We also ski-ed across from Vorab on piste 30 to the Nagens/Plaun area above Flims which had some great confidence building blues and reds (piste 30 itself was a bit of a flat wind beaten affair but worth the effort to get to Plaun/Nagens runs. There are also several ‘Freeride’ runs which are basically unpisted reds which are fun for more advanced skiers enjoying moguls !
There is a large snowpark up at Crap Son Gion (best in Europe allegedly) so we did wonder how suited the resort would be for families. I didn’t notice the mix being any different really from other resorts we have stayed in.

The snow : It had apparently snowed on and off for 3 days before we arrived late on the Saturday so conditions were fantastic. Then we had a 30cm dump on Tuesday so Wednesday/Thursday was nothing short of sublime.

Off-piste : Don’t really ski off-piste however there seemed to be vast areas used by boarders and skiers alike.

The resort : The resort of Laax (Murschetsg) was a bit of a building site when we were there. There is a mix of the older style swiss buildings and now currently going up are several blocks of modern slate style square appartment buildings. These new buildings are branded as the Rocks Resort and are next to the main gondolas out of the village. Most of these new buildings were nearing completion – some had shops and bars already running in the ground floor with apartments being finished above. It would be interesting to go back and see the resort finished – the quality of the finish looked very good indeed. A cool and very convenient place to stay!

Food : The food on the mountain was excellent. The numerous mountain restaurants are categorised and marked on the pistemap as Easy (self service bright cafeterias), Cosy (generally more rustic décor with some table service) and Exquisite (didn’t use any of these as we were on a bit of a budget). All toilet facilities we used were of a very high standard and very clean.
On-mountain we could recommend the ‘Easy’ restaurant at Vorab (2 large Goulash soups with bread rolls, SpagBol and Fries for the kids and drinks for 50chf or around £30). We would also recommend the more rustic ‘Cosy’ restaurant at Curnius although we only had pastries and hot chocolates here but the other food all looked delicious. We had a really enjoyable lunch at the ‘Cosy’ Station Plaun restaurant which is a converted ex-chairlift station. Very industrial concrete interior softened with nice décor touches and a large open fire (stew with pasta for me and large ciabatta sandwiches for wife and both kids, 2 rounds of drinks all for around 80chf or around £50, although probably not ideal for younger children).
In-Resort we found the options in Laax much more limited with the restaurants being located in the 2-3 hotels there. This wasn’t a problem for us as were on a bit of a budget and were self catering so were happy to cook and eat in most evenings. We did visit the ‘Dolce Vita’ Italian restaurant in Flims which was excellent quality (120chf or around £75 for salad bar to start and 4 pasta mains and a round of drinks) – 5 minute drive from Laax. Would suggest booking as we went on a Wednesday evening and were lucky to get the last table (which we had to vacate by 8pm).
We had take-away burgers one evening from ‘Burgers’ in Laax. The burgers were absolutely gorgeous but we felt a little pricy at 80chf or around £50 for 4 large burgers with fries and 1 x 500ml diet coke to takeway.
Apres – lots of options at the lower mountain restaurants and bars. In resort the CrapBar at the foot of the slopes for lively apres. The more chilled ‘Piazza’ just round the corner suited our family better – kind of like a starbucks vibe but also serving bottled beer and wine by the glass (2 bottles of beer, 2 hot chocolates and a muffin to share for around 22chf or £14).

Accommodation : After a mix-up with our original apartment the local agent arranged for us to stay at the self-catering Casa Prima appts run by the Hotel Signina. Our apartment was very modern and spacious – big open plan kitchen (well equipped although no kettle!)/diner/lounge with 2 large bedrooms. These appts are very close to the lifts – around 150m walk and there is underground parking available for 15chf per evening. Casa Prima had a communal ski room in the basement which was more of a cupboard, not very secure as the room was not locked. Having said that we didn’t encounter any problems.

Costs: 5 Day Lift Pass for 2 adults, 1 teenager and 1 child was 880chf or around £550. We didn’t pay directly for the appt as we booked through an agent and were a substitute at late notice. I am not sure of the cost of the appts we stayed in as a result. The single ‘Volg’ supermarket was a reasonable size with good choice but was pricey (aren’t they always !) Worth taking essentials if self catering to reduce costs of shopping in resort.

Conclusion: Nice resort – would be good to go back when the ‘Rocks Resort’ building is finished. Plenty for all abilities to have fun and the on-mountain restaurants were fantastic – what more do you need. 10 hours driving from Zeebrugge makes this a great choice for driving.

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