My window is open, birds are whistling in the meadows, the ice is creaking and shifting on the roof and the Swiss alps, pure and unassailable, cradle us in their forested embrace. It’s enough to make me want to plait my hair on both sides and wear an apron with a love heart on it.
Everyone else is out on the slopes –an escapee from the London finance world, a ruddy and handsome dairy farmer, a luxury branding expert in a $22 all-white ski suit from the Hong Kong markets, and my bearlike other half dressed alarmingly in a tight merino cardi which he unzips down to the waist, Borat-style, to take advantage of the spring sunshine, completely oblivious to the effect it has on others. He’s like that on the dance floor too. Ah well, at least he clears a space.
I’m at home, confidence crushed after taking my son for his first ski lesson, in which I had to ride the magic carpet with him. This travellator brings beginners to the top of a slope, and by “top” I mean about 20 metres away up a very slight incline. Anyway, my skis took off and after an agony of teetering, left me behind in a crumpled heap. Now, German is a harsh and gutteral language at the best of times, but to have “Raus! Raus dem weg!!” barked at me shrilly by a line of three year olds in pink puffer suits was beyond indignity. Eventually I had to roll away in shame.
Our home for the week is the picturesque Chalet Bear, just moments from the centre of tiny chocolate-box Klosters. Its tasteful English owner has renovated it to perfection (fine linens, oriental rugs, huge slate baths and just enough bear kitsch to be sweet rather than twee) and it stands on a small rise, all dark logs with red shutters and a traditional life-sized carved bear to welcome you home amongst fairy lanterns.
Not that there’s much call to go out. The Chalet is supremely appointed with several comfortable sitting areas to enjoy the late afternoon sun streaming in or a crackling fire with a campari and fresh blood orange juice. Afternoon tea is made fresh every day to replenish the skiers – warm buttery shortbread, a lemon syrup cake, or a hazelnut and white chocolate cake……..It’s worth expending the energy just to refuel – and to check out the amazing selection of crockery it comes served on.
For serious recalorising there’s a traditional fondue stubli just moments down the hill, complete with gingham curtains and timber panelling, and we enjoyed a companionable night there spearing chunks of chewy bread and swirling them into a molten mess of gruyere and kirsch, waiting for the traditional crust of toasted cheese to form on the bottom of the pot. I resisted a great opportunity to shout “fork off!” when I was nearly stabbed after someone tried a little too energetically to lift it off.
For nights in, an experienced chef has made us a lobster tartare, a wild mushroom and asparagus salad with poached egg, lemon tart with lemon parfait, an orange sabayon over fresh berries – it’s not too difficult to make the call to stay home despite the lure of the bowling alley and piano bar at the Chesa Grischuna down the road.
The chalet also has a great selection of books to take out onto one of its two sunny terraces, invitingly furnished with wicker chairs draped with sheepskins. There is a great selection of DVDs too for the cosy cinema room which also doubles as a massage salon for aching thighs and rediscovered glutes.
There’s plenty to do for the non skiers too – toboggan runs, horse drawn sleigh rides to nearby Hohwald for apfelstrudel, lovely alpine walks, and a skating rink for Friday night skating or ice hockey matches.
But the best thing about Chalet Bear is its staff – this season, Stephanie and Nico have welcomed us, so discreet, friendly and helpful that I simultaneously want to adopt them, marry them, employ them and be their best friends.
So thumbs up for Klosters – yodel-ay-he-hoo!