Building on last year’s ski trip (main focus: get Gus skiing!) this year we tacked on a couple of days immediately after a quiet London New Year to visit the alpine resort of Flims in Switzerland with ski specialists Powder Byrne…
With a presence in a selection of Alpine resorts (Lech, Zurs & Arosa amongst others), Powder Byrne invited us to stay at one of their newest partner hotels in Flims, Switzerland – the just opened The Hide Hotel, built into a new shopping and restaurant complex right next to the Flims ski base where you’ll find the ski hire, ski lifts and ski school.
Travelling with a ski company offering an in-resort concierge and adult & children’s ski programmes was a brand new experience for us. In the past, we’ve organised all the different components ourselves; hotel, ski hire, passes, lessons and so on and just bumbled through til we make it to the top of the slopes… ! But as all skiers will know, although always worth it, it can be quite a faff getting it altogether sometimes.
[Disclosure: Powder Byrne provided us with Yeti Club & In-Resort Service; B&B room from The Hide Hotel; and ski passes from LAAX. All other costs, incl. ski hire, private ski lesson & flights, covered by ourselves. All opinions & photography in this post are my own!]
As we left London (we booked reasonably priced flights direct to Zurich with Swissair; surprisingly short flight with an in-flight cheese baguette – eat before the flight or bring your own snacks if you need something more substantial! Also if you prefer, Powder Byrne can arrange your flights…) I realised I had already made a huge gear error – I had forgotten to make sure Gus was wearing his ski coat! And his lighter weight winter coat would not be warm and big enough for skiing, let alone have all the little pockets you need for ski passes, etc!
On arrival in Zurich, I immediately made a slightly panicky call to the contact provided on the app (yes, super organised I had downloaded it!) for our Resort Manager Laura – I wanted to make sure we could buy a coat that same day as Gus’s ski school started at 8.30am the following morning!
En route in the Powder Byrne transfer – a nice and roomy people carrier for the two-hour drive – I quickly got through and Laura, super calm, placated my worries, telling me what time the ski shop closed and that she would take us straight there on arrival. I have to admit, having that sorted was a relief! It was good to be able to sit back and enjoy the scenic drive (you pass the stunning Lakes Zurich and Walensee en route) and not have ‘the coat issue’ niggling away at me!
The Hide Hotel
We arrived at the just opened The Hide Hotel just after 5pm – every aspect of the interiors aesthetically pleasing, the greens and purples of the decor created a really cosy vibe. There to meet us, Laura walked us straight to the adjacent ski-base for the skiwear and hire – I couldn’t quite believe how crazy close we were! From floor two of the hotel you can just step out, walk past the hotel’s ski locker room, new cafe Ella and you are there!
In under 20 minutes we had a new jacket for Gus, our ski hire equipment all sorted and ski passes in an envelope! All set (I couldn’t believe how painless this was!) we were able to pop out for a quick meal and bed down for the night – it’s worth noting that already at nearly 1000m high, the Flims air is quite thin and you can feel a bit headachey to begin with if you don’t drink enough water!
(A huge thankyou to the LAAX resort for providing us with passes; LAAX is made up of the three ski areas Flims, Laax and Falera with 70% of slopes between 2000-3000m and 28 lift systems – heaven for those who like to ski a different run each day! In 2010, LAAX introduced their GreenStyle project which focusses on protecting the environment and sustainably using their natural resources.)
The Yeti Club
Next morning after breakfast (already 85% dressed in our ski gear!) – The Hide Hotel does a quite fantastic spread btw! – we met Laura in the lobby who was brilliant at helping us get all our gear (and an over-excited Gus!) to the ski-lift area.
Dropping Gus off for his Yeti Club (for 4-9 year olds) ski day was great – the Yeti Assistants organised him with a red helmet and vest and everyone was just so brilliantly kid-friendly. I immediately relaxed – with a six-year-old you never quite know how they’re going to take to things but I felt everyone we met would be able to handle all the different moods, good and bad!
Next we met lovely ski manager Michael who organises the guided groups (open to all Powder Byrne guests & level appropriate), knows the mountain like the back of his hand and always has a good lunch spot organised.
As I didn’t want to hold anyone up with my incessant photo taking, we agreed to meet for lunch in tipi restaurant La Vacca (a meat restaurant, but you can get a good salad if you are non-meat eating like me!). We also had a good lunch at the Nagens ski station – a huge canteen with loads of food options (hallo huge plate of spaghetti!) and seating inside and out.
Having left Gus in good hands, Myles and I hit the red runs and rejoiced in the gorgeous sunny weather.
The Yeti Race Day
After lunch, we joined the Yeti Club for their race day! All the kids and parents gathered on Nagens slope for cake and Glühwein (Swiss mulled wine!) and each level got the chance to ski down the slope (with or without instructor as needed!). Gus, initially unsure (and still finding his ski legs!) had a change of heart & decided to take part and did a great job – he even came second with a silver medal! Never seen him so happy!
A big shout out to Yeti instructor Matt who really took Gus under his wing and was amazing with him. We also received a lesson logbook, detailing what Gus had achieved during the day; the ratio of Yeti supervisors seemed really high and there was always someone with Gus either teaching or having fun with him!
Knowing your kids are in good hands is so important and if they are happy it means you can go off and have a great day yourself! A full Yeti day for the kids on top of the ski instruction includes lunch, pick ups/drop offs at your hotel and they can be looked after right up to and for an evening meal too.
Time For a Helmet!
One thing that was quite apparent was that everyone was wearing a ski helmet and by the end of the day I had received a few concerned DMs on Instagram! I felt kinda silly. Obviously having learned to ski age seven, and skied as a teenager and in my twenties, these were times when nobody wore helmets.
And even skiing in Austria last year it wasn’t quite as apparent – although of course Gus had worn a helmet then too. But this time it seemed a real faux-pas, so the following morning I got hold of one from ski hire. It does feel different, but after a while you don’t notice it. And the next day, as we were skiing in quite heavy snow and low visibility conditions I was really glad I had it!
Perfectly Happy! Hot Chocolate Back At The Hotel
Full of the joys – there’s nothing quite like the post-skiing adrenaline feels! – we headed back to our room for some chill time and hot chocolates. We brought these up to the room from the ground floor bar – they were delicious and I had that perfect happiness moment while sipping and staring out our beautiful terraced window. I always get this quite heady happiness feeling when skiing – and those moments stay with me for years after!
GALAAXY Ski Station
Saturday the snow really came down! Some of the lifts were closed, but after dropping Gus off with his one-on-one Yeti ski instructor Neil at 9.30, Myles and I headed up to the quite astonishing GALAAXY ski station on the Crap Sogn Gion mountain. Fifty years old, the station was given a complete overhaul in 2017, inside and out; the exterior re-clad in a digital camouflage pattern and the interior transformed into an urban-style space.
It’s the kind of place you have to go to really get! And in the white out snow was even more arresting and atmospheric. Like a mind-blowing Bond movie location from the outside, the inside, fitted out with a 60s inspired diner cafe, hostel and all the most retro things you could imagine – wall lined with vinyl and video, old cameras, TVs and video equipment.
It was also where I had that morning’s latte and freshly baked croissant! It. Was. Delicious. And kinda deeply cool too. From what I understand, should you wish, take you laptop up there and work the day away!
I skied with my new Olympus x Stylonylon camera bag cross-body every day! Super light and no bother at all, a Pen E-PL9 with 17mm f1.8 lens and an extra 45mm f1.8 lens, plus lip balm & emergency tangerine packed away inside! Ps. Use STYLO20 at checkout for 20% off the bag!
End Of Day & One Happy Kid!
Skiing back down in the snowfall was a bit more trying than the previous day and it was evident in the lack of queues at the lifts. Trust us to forge ahead when most people were quite sensibly enjoying some cosy après-ski time! But as we were due to pick up Gus for lunch we thought we’d call it a day. By early afternoon, the mountain was practically empty!
We found Gus happier that I’ve ever seen him with Powder Byrne resort manager Ollie and instructor Neil. Having found his ski-legs, progressed out of the kids nursery area and spent his morning up and down the first chair-lift slope seven times, he was absolutely beaming! As were we! Honestly, like I said, the skiing feel-good factor, and being able to share that with others, especially your six year old, is quite spectacular! More hot chocolates all round! Instructor Neil told us one more week of lessons and Gus would be ready to parallel ski! So yes, watch this space, ahem…
A Lazy Sunday Morning…
Later that day, at our catchup with Laura – who then kindly ferried us to & from a nearby hotel for pizza – we heard the heavy snowfall had lengthened transfers back to the airport, so we adjusted our departure time the next day to make sure we had loads of time just in case.
Sad to return our skis (we’d been keeping them in The Hide’s locker room & while the Powder Byrne team were more than happy to do this for us, we were so close it just took two ticks!), I was also looking forward to a lazy Sunday lie and slow breakfast the next day. Predictably passed the morning quite admirably – suitcase packing ski stuff always takes forever! But we had so much time on our way to the airport, I persuaded our super sweet Powder Byrne driver Matt to detour us along the stunning blue Lake Zurich for some quick snaps.
To sum up, I absolutely loved this trip (and so did Gus!) and I have to admit going with a ski company like Powder Byrne which is so set up to deal with kids was quite an eye opener! Skiing is not only expensive but all the bits that need organising can be stressful. If you’re with kids and looking for a super smooth, stress-free experience and have the extra money for this then I would highly recommend this way of doing it. Things like having an extra pair of hands to carry boots, hold a little wayward hand, ski school, evenings meals & lifts all built in seriously makes a big difference!
You can find out more on Powder Byrne www.powderbyrne.com
This coat, last year from Gap could not have been more cosy! Hat from Cos, boots by Ganni.