I attended in December 2012 annual trade ILTM show in Cannes.  While extremely dynamic and productive, it is high

Fresco

Living in Florida, I was missing winter and to spend few days in hideaway in Swiss Alps looked quite appealing so, here I was, all prepared with winter clothes – scarves, boots, fur coat – flying to Zurich on December 7. I was on my way to Paradies Hotel in Ftan, which turned really into winter Paradise – a spectacular retreat at 1650 meters altitude in winter wonderland. I needed to check it out if I should discover this and recommend for my Swiss bound clients.energy show so after this I wanted to rest for few days before flying back to USA. The opportunity arose when a representative of Paradies Hotel asked me if I wish to visit them in Swiss Alps – to see their property and also attending special annual music and art event – awards to local artists.

 

 

Location and How to get there.

Hotel Paradies, Relais and Chateaux, a small hideaway in Swiss Mountains – it is located in Engadine Valley, on outskirts of small village Ftan. In Engadine, the most known is St. Moritz, and I’ve sent clients there, but I was curious to discover less known and less glamorous destination…

There are two ways to get to Paradies – by train or by private car.

For discerning clients, we can provide transfer from Munich airport. We have a special lounge there – like a hotel. Clients are met,

Paradies welcome cookies

escorted to the lounge, rest, have meals and we get them a limo to drive to Paradies. (Or to any other place in Germany/Austria/Switzerland).

Or, we can provide a car driver from any hotel in Munich, it takes about 3 hours to get to Paradies.

Public transportation is less expensive option – if you do not have too much luggage and this is what I opted for. There are trains from Zurich train station, going during the day, connecting to Landquart (8 minutes change), and from Landquart to Scuol- Tarasp.  Total trip takes 3 hours.

So I took train from airport to train station, changed to train to Landquart and Arrived Scuol-Tarasp at 16:16. The scenery was beautiful but it started snowing.

The driver from hotel came to pick me up. We drove about 15 min by mountain road and it was snowing. I for sure did not want to drive myself. There was an accident on the road and policeman told us wait until it clears.

About 10 min later, we arrived to hotel and I was met by hotel’s receptionist, Sarah. She showed me into my room and asked if I would be interested to join special art and music event dinner. Of course I accepted! The owners of hotel and their guests arrived, musicians, artists, hotel’s PR representatives so it was a perfect setup for meeting everybody!

I got a suite #43 which had a living room, bedroom, plenty of closets and 2 balconies from each room facing mountains. Sarah showed me room briefly and left me alone. The rooms had beautiful furniture and floors from natural wood, very nice to walk barefoot. Living room also had nice rug. Welcome cookies plate, wine and mineral water were waiting for me. ving room table had cookies and mineral water.

snow

There also were whole hazelnuts in shells arranged artfully on the base, each hazelnut in its hole. Fine attention to details! Since the owners are art lovers, there are many painting by local artists , and my rooms also had nice ones.

The windows on balconies had automatic shades which by pushing buttons, go up and down. I always have issues with room technology but this one was easy to figure out. Lights also were very comfortable, and bright but some of them are possible to dim down if needed. The living room has nice desk with working space.

Toiletries provided by some Italian company La Cosmetica and smelled heavenly.

I realized that I did not bring electricity adapter for Switzerland but reception provided me one. I had 2 tvs – one larger LCD in the living room and smaller older model in the bedroom.

I came down for cocktails and meet the owners of the hotel, management team and the guests. The athmosphere was convivial. I was at somewhat disadvantage because most people spoke German but the manager of hotel, Meike took me under her wing. I was introduced to the guests. Drinks were served. The owners, Rahe family are from Germany and contribute a lot to the arts and music in Germany and Switzerland. Each year the artists compete for their prize. In addition,  Mr. & Mrs Ruhe support many young talented musicians and on this weekend in addition to art, musicians came from Germany to perform. Many of them were Eastern Europeans and I’ve heard them speaking Russian.

I tried at cocktail some drink with Brazilian Liquor which reminded me Peruvian Pisco Sour. It was delicious and not too much alcohol, as I requested. Appetizers were delicious as well.

At the dinner, this night everybody was seated at table family style and there were speeches and toasts. Each dish which was served, was explained with Meike translating to me toasts, speeches and de

scription of each course.

About food: Since hotel is the member of prestigious Relais and Chateaux membership, they are required to have a fine restaurant. The restaurant, under the leadership of chef at Paradies, Martin Goschel, is awarded 1Michelin star and 17 points at Gault Millau.  He also supervises casual restaurant, Stuba Paradis for Swiss home cooking.  All emphasis is on local organic food. The chef adjusts to special diets like gluten-free. When I was at ILTM at appointment with a manager of Staad and I told her next day I am going to Paradies, she told me that she had visited this hotel few times and the chef is excellent. She gave me a business card to pass to chef from her with her regards. I was looking forward eating there.

classical music dinner

Now, seated at the table, I got to talk to some young musicians from former Soviet Union since I was sitting next to them. After pronouncing last toast, the owner asked each person to say Toast on each person’s native language. SO I found out that besides hotel and art representatives and owners, the population at the table was quite diverse – they said in Kurdish, Romanian, German, Russian and some languages I failed to recognize.

First dinner was delicious, accompanied by excellent Swiss Wine.

foodie

Appetizer was vegetable pate wrapped in carot shavings like sushi, on the bed of fresh greens. Next came a vegetable soup with mushroom foam in a glass, followed by shrimp . Main course was Veal chop in chanterelles sauce and spaetzle. Desert was a delicious light chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet. For Swiss food, it was very light and healthy.

After dinner the owner invited everybody to the bar by fireplace for beverages but I was ready for bed. I checked my messages – internet is free and a good connection.

In my suite, turndown service provided more cookies and on the balcony, there was lit a candle in a glass case. The bathrooms, robes and towels were very comfortable. I took advantage of a hot water bottle, went to bed and enjoyed scenery of lights in the village afar.

Next morning, I came down for breakfast.

Meike explained me previous evening about their breakfast. They use where possible locally grown products. She told me to try local buffalo and cow milk. So I tried it and it was creamy and delicious. Reminded me milk I had in my childhood. Not low fat! And not pasteurized. Of course for guest who needs pasteurized milk, it was available. I can tell you that I survived nonpasterized milk J.
They had different yogurts and local muesli and Paradies made muesli. Both were delicious. I love Swiss breads and these were no exception. Dense, wholegrain, krispy on outside and soft inside. There was plum cake which I was heads up last evening to try, it was delicious. The cured meats and local cheeses and pates were available buffet style and eggs the waiters took order to cook them. I enjoyed view from breakfast room.foodie1

Sarah suggested I will try their spa and after breakfast I took a walk to Ftan village. It took 20 minutes to walk there, and weather was cold, sunny I enjoyed a walk. The village was quiet. The views of the mountain were beautiful. I came back. At hotel, everybody was prepared for reception at town hall with local politicians. I’ve heard beautiful music from the library – musicians rehearsal.  I was invited to go to town hall for reception and then it was a house party at Paradies.d specifically  dutch tub – the hot tub outside in the terrace. It takes few hours to prepare it so I set up time for 2pm.

After invigorating walk to the village and back, I came back and had lunch at Stuva – casual swiss restaurant where I enjoyed traditional swiss dish, rosti with vegeatables. It was delicious but too large for me alone to finish. The musicians also had lunch, I sat alone and enjoyed anonymity to listen other people’s conversations, understanding their language.. J

Then it was time for me to go to hot tub. I went to the spa and tried sauna, steam bath, and indoor hot tub. Like most European spas, it was coed and people are

not obligated to wear swimming suits. If you resent nudity, this spa might not be for you. The attendant told me that hot tub outside is ready and went there for an hour. It was refreshing experience. The hot tub butler warmed up water and waiting for me to get in and left me in privacy for next hour. I enjoyed winter weather and beautiful views.

Afterwards I came back to the room and took a nap. I was so tired that I overslept time when everybody went for concert receiption to town hall. So I lingered in bed until dinner.

Dinner was a house party when everybody came back. I had nice conversations with sales people of Paradies, discussing their hotel, food, wine, Switzerland, Europe in general and we had great time. The drinks were served and the Michelin star chef served his delicious creations beautifully presented cocktail self-served style.  Then there was separate desert table with after dinner drinks and after dinner, there was special performance by musicians. I left around midnight but I heard party was going on later.

Next morning I had yet another delicious breakfast and I decided to check out Scuol. I was told the ski lift was open this week due to good snow. The hotel’s driver took me to the station where I bought gondola ticket and checked out ski slope for my clients. I did not ski, just took pictures and walked few trails. It was busy with locals and tourists. I decided to check out local cafeteria and  had soup, potatoes and some sausages for about $30 (according to my credit card bill). The cafeteria was nosiy and very busy with lines, but I wanted to see how everything works, and what food people take. Many kids ate hamburgers. I think American food is popular. But they are not overweight… Also I did not see kids playing video games and texting, they just sat and ate with their parents. Parents probably did not allow at the meal. You can also sit outside using sheepskin warm rugs/blankets. But hardly nobody was eating outside.

After lunch I called hotel and they sent driver for me, I came back and had yeat another nap. I started liking this life. I can imagine trails and activities around people can do in the summer. While I like winter, I more like summer hiking.

Sarah asked what would I like to do for dinner. My choices were either join musicians for raclette or have a private dinner. I decided to have dinner in quiet athmosphere. They put a table for me in the living room near bar by fireplaces and I enjoyed chefs dinner from the menu. I chose light meals – consommé and fish. The desert was nice something like fried cake but I could not finish it. I went to bed satisfied with another nice day.

Next morning, after breakfast, same driver took me to train station . It was snowing heavily, I was apprehensive how they drive on these roads but obviously it is a way of life there. He got me to train station and I was on my way to Zurich. It was the most enjoyable part of my last business trip – the relaxing stay in Swiss mountains in winter. I am sure I will come again.