Written on: 05/01/2013 by carolbisset (1 review written)
Our group of 8 adults and an infant comprised 5 skiers (intermediate and advanced) and 3 boarders. Zermatt’s wide cruising runs on the glacier and narrower runs through the trees suited the skiers very well but there were quite a lot of linking paths that were unpleasant for the boarders. The scenery was lovely and snow conditions excellent. The runs aren’t very challenging unless you opt to go off piste. The runs labelled as blacks were more akin to reds in France. There is a fun park on the glacier with jumps, banked curves and a half pipe. Weather conditions during our stay were variable. We had blue skies and no wind on the first and last days but in between there was a lot of cloud, high winds and snow showers. There had been a heavy snowfall just before we arrived and the first day saw the upper pistes closed for avalanche blasting. During the course of the day, we saw several small avalanches on the other side of the valley. The link to Cervinia was closed on every day except the last so anyone hoping to make good use of their international pass would have been disappointed.
Zermatt is a lovely resort but was not the ideal place to go with a young baby. To ensure everyone in our group got to ski for at least part of every day, we took turns babysitting. A resort where you can ski back to the centre for lunch, hand over the baby then get straight back onto the lifts would have been easier. With only 3 uplift points in Zermatt, none of them ski-in ski-out, the mid day hand over was time consuming and awkward and restricted how far afield those involved in child care could go.
The chalet was beautiful. It was completed during the 2011/12 season so this year was its first full year in operation. It is modern, spacious, beautifully clean and well equipped. The view from the balcony is stunning. It is located up the hillside above the Sunnega lift, accessed by a steep, narrow path with steps that made it very difficult to negotiate with a pushchair. Despite my asking about pushchair access, this hadn’t been highlighted before we booked, and did make getting out and about with the baby more difficult than we’d have hoped. It was possible to ski back to the chalet at the end of the day but not to ski out again in the morning.
Inside the chalet there is a very helpful binder with information about how the chalet is operated and about the resort. It would be greatly improved by also having operating instructions for things like the central heating, lighting and surround sound systems. The Chalet had state of the art systems but no one knew how to use them. The Chalet Hosts were as much in the dark as we were. We couldn’t turn the temperature down so had doors and windows open all the time to cool off. There were lots of spotlights but they all seemed to be on dimmer switches and although we could get them to brighten for short periods, they soon dimmed again which made it difficult to read in the evenings. Another strange feature was the lack of plugs in the basins. There was a dome over the drain hole to stop toothbrushes falling in but no means of holding water in the basin. Not handy if you want to wash anything out at the end of the day.
The food in Chalet Lara was the best I’ve ever had on a chalet holiday. The 2 Chalet Hosts, Harry and Rob worked hard to ensure everything was tasty, well presented and on schedule. Inevitably, there were one or two glitches during the week when things didn’t work out exactly as hoped but it wasn’t due to any lack of effort on the part of the Hosts. Both were new in the role and will become more proficient with time. Portion sizes were sometimes a bit small but there always seemed to be a lot of food left over, which disappeared with the chalet boys at the end of each evening, so we solved the problem by asking for seconds.
The Wellness Centre in the chalet block had a hot tub, sauna, steam room and relaxation room. This was one of the features that attracted us to the chalet. I had envisaged whoever was babysitting being able to while away the time soaking in the hot tub. Sadly, the centre was locked up through the day and only open to guests in the evening. While this was perfectly acceptable for those who had been skiing all day, it really wasn’t very useful to us and a source of disappointment.
The trip out to Zermatt went very smoothly. There was a coach waiting for us at the airport on arrival which took us to Tasch where we got the train into Zermatt. A taxi took us to the bottom of the path up to the chalet. Harry and Rob met us when we got out of the taxi and helped us take our bags up to the chalet.
The return arrangements were less satisfactory and left a poor final impression. On the way out, there had been one coach per flight. On the way back, in order to maximise the use of seats on the coaches, multiple flights were lumped together, timed to depart to suit the earliest of the flights. Some of our party was flying out at 10.30 am, others at 11.45 am yet we had to be out of the chalet at 3.45am as we were on a bus with those getting the early flight to Gatwick. This gave the impression of penny pinching and meant it was a very much longer day for us than was necessary. They day wasn’t improved any by discovering that the train to Tasch was full of people going home after a late night session in the bars and clubs. When we got to Geneva, those on the 11.45am flight were told they couldn’t check in for a further 2 hours as the earlier flights had not yet left. There was a 6 am coach – why could they not have gone on that instead? We did ask at the time but were told they couldn’t. On the plus side, the Chalet Hosts were there to see us off and had made up sandwiches for us to take with us on the trip; those were very welcome especially as there was no food provided on the flight.
We had a really good holiday. The areas where we weren’t completely happy mostly related to the arrangements for the baby. The rest were just little niggles. For a group of adults or a family with older children, Chalet Lara would be ideal. Zermatt is a great resort for a group of skiers of mixed ability but is perhaps less suited to intermediate level boarders. Lift passes are expensive but children ski free up to the age of 9, so it is good value for families. My thanks to our Chalet Hosts Harry and Rob, to the Ski Total Rep Felicity, who went out of her way to help us on several occasions, and to Sarah at Interactive Resorts for their help in making our holiday so successful.