I have been twice to LAAX, in the Graubunden region of Switzerland, once in the snow in February and once at the beginning of July, which was out of season.
I travelled with my husband, Greg, who is a keen photographer.
Laax village is 1100m above sea level and is well served by the road and rail network. On the first occasion, we flew to Zurich with SwissAir, then caught the InterCity train to Chur , followed by the local bus to LAAX. On the second occasion, we took the car on the ferry and then drove to LAAX.
We stayed at the “Signina Hotal Resort and Spa”:http://www.signinahotel.com/en/ Signina Hotel Resort and Spa, which is one of the loveliest places I have ever stayed. We had a room with a balcony that looked straight up the mountain. It is part of the Rocks Resort and is conveniently located right next to the main ski lifts and the bus stop is right outside the door.
It snowed overnight on the first day in February and after that we had brilliant sunshine. It was interesting to see how fast the snow melted, once the sun came out. Although the temperatures were as low as -9C, it did not really feel particularly cold.
On the second occasion, Hotel Signina upgraded us to a suite, so we had a huge room, a lounge area and two balconies. We had taken our own kettle, plug adapter, favourite mugs and tea-bags and I am glad we did because the cups were rather tiny and there was only a coffee machine in the room. There is good quality, free wi-fi in the rooms and my husband even managed to watch an English football game on his Tablet device! I was not impressed!
Mobile phone signal was also pretty good on most parts of the mountains.
It was very busy in February because we were right in the middle of the main ski and snowboarding season. There are various eating establishments on the Rocks Resort. There is also a well-stocked mini supermarket, with a good selection of fine Swiss chocolate. Given how busy it was in February, the evenings were surprising quiet. For those seeking night life, the nearby village of Flims seems to be the place to go.
LAAX caters for people of all ages. It seems to be a popular playground for Swiss and German visitors, although we heard voices from all nationalities. English is widely spoken in the resort and most staff are multi-lingual. There was a refreshing absence of tourist-type souvenirs!
We are walkers, not skiers or snowboarders and we still had an awesome time. There were a lot of places where we could walk on the compacted snow and the paths were all well signposted, although we did manage to miss the bright pink posts a few times and ended up slipping and sliding down the edge of the ski slope. There are walks of varying lengths and difficulties and these are clearly indicated on the walks that are provided. In the Winter, the free map from the hotel was more than adequate. In the Summer, we found we needed more detailed maps, which we downloaded from the Swiss Hiking website.
The hotel provided us with a GasteCarte (Guest Card) which gave us free access to the local bus network between the three villages of LAAX, Flims and Falera.
In February we had a 3 day lift pass, which allowed us unlimited access to all the lifts and cable cars across the region. In July, we bought the passes on a day-to-day basis, depending on what lifts were open. Originally we bought single trip tickets, which worked out quite expensive. We then found that the hotel had a much cheaper option, which allowed us to ride up and down once on each lift that was open.
The highest points we went to were the peaks of Vorab at 2570m and Cassons at 2675m, both accessible by cable cars and well served with fine Kaffee and Kuchen in the mountain top restaurants. I wanted to go right to the top of the Vorab Glacier in February, but unfortunately this was only accessible by the ski lifts and we did not have skis!
We even managed to see a couple of Steinbock, which are goat-type creatures, with huge horns, that are native to the area.
When we went in early July, it was just out of season. The advantages of this were that there were very few other people so we had an even more personalised service and it was cheaper, however the disadvantages were that not everything was fully open and the weather was still very unpredictable. We had a fair bit of rain and the higher areas were not open, due to the danger of landslides.
The hotel has a beautiful spa and wellness area on the ground floor, with exquisite mountain views. This is free for guests in the hotel. The pool is equipped with hot water jets, which are designed to sooth almost every muscle in the body. After a long day of walking, having hot jets directed at my aching calves and thighs was most welcome.
There is a separate area for the saunas and steam rooms. These are adults-only and there is a “no swimsuit” policy. All towels and bath robes are provided.
The food was exquisite. One the first occasion, we only had breakfast included in the package and the second time we had dinner as well, which was a much better idea. There was a huge choice of food for breakfast and dinner, as well as snacks and cakes available during the day.
One night I had a parsnip soup, followed by a salmon pasta penne and white, Swiss chocolate mousse. The flavours were mouth-wateringly delicious.
All the food is locally sourced and cooked fresh in the hotel. Menus are multi-lingual and staff are quick to help with translations and recommendations.
We had a fantastic experience in the hotel. I loved the region, especially the Winter Season. I would happily go back again, however I would wait until August for a Summer visit because then the sun is shining, the walking trails are dry and everything is open and accessible.