SNOW Magazine Winter 2023

Page 1

Haute Cuisine in AUSTRIA'S ALPS Heliskiing TURKEY Pop Art SKI FASHION Mikaela David YARROW SHIFFRIN+ WINTER 23/24 FIFTEEN DOLLARS THE WORLD’S FINEST SKI HOTELS AWARDS History’s Most Successful Skier & Legendary Photographer
welcome to the world of goldbergh

Combining the freeskier’s playful spirit with the mountain guide’s uncompromising attitude for gear. Skiwear designed in Åre, Sweden. Explore our collection at Miller Sports.

Sara Rönngren Freeskier, Designer & Founder Jimmy Odén, IFMGA Mountain Guide & Founder
WORLD-CLASS GOLF REAL ESTATE COMMUNITY RESORT AMENITIES CABOTREVELSTOKE.COM Artist rendering. See for restrictions. Allow us to roll the white carpet. Set to open 2026, Cabot Revelstoke is an all-season resort offering luxury residences, a clubhouse featuring spa, fitness, culinary and social amenities —all within steps of world-class golf at Cabot Pacific and world-class skiing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.


“Exceptional” 90 Points Tequila & Spirits Magazine Tasting Awards 2023


From a $500 billion dollar ski resort in the desert and recordsetting real estate in Canada, to what we are reading this winter, and more.


The Barbie Craze is here to stay this winter. Get pink both on and off the slopes.


Latest tech to keep you warm on the mountain.


Celebrating 100 years of fast and fearless women.


Why Audi’s new concept car is a dream ride for skiers.


Vermont’s Au Comptoir gives us a taste of the Alps.


Heliskiing in Turkey’s Pontic Alps offers a chance for powder with an exotic twist.


SNOW editors rank and reveal the nominees for the most sparkling spots to stay this season.


Join the party with our Snow Society Trip to Courchevel, France.


Julia Mancuso on the best kind of speed.

WINTER23/24 56 48 116 88 52 44
40 42


Sales Director

Barbara Sanders (970) 948-1840

Sales Manager

Debbie Topp (905) 770-5959

YOUR MOUNTAIN RETREAT AWAITS. Escape to the mountains this winter. Stein Eriksen Residences o ers a stunning blend of nature, amenities, dining, accommodations, and recreation. Located at the famed Deer Valley Resort, this contemporary ski-in/out resort includes modern condominiums surrounded by luxury private home rentals, sensational onsite dining, luxurious spa services, ski valet, ski locker area, an onsite ski shop, and state-of-the-art pool and fitness areas. Call our esteemed concierge team to plan your luxury mountain escape. (855) 428-1515 | Perfect, Legendary Experiences. For those who seek the best, there’s only Stein. Park City, Utah


Welcome to SNOW’s Winter 23 edition. We are deeply honored to have Mikaela Shriffrin both gracing our cover and inside what we hope you’ll agree is our best issue yet. These stunning images were shot on location in Norway by world-renowned photographer David Yarrow.

This entire project is a dream come true. I’ve long been a fan of David Yarrow’s work. I especially love what he has done recently in ski towns across the world. This spring, we met briefly at Aspen’s Casterline Goodman Gallery where his work is showcased and I asked him if he ever collaborated. He asked what I had in mind. I took a deep breath and thought, This is my chance, I have to send it. I told him I was thinking about Norway. “I work closely with the Fineart Gallery in Oslo, you’ve got my attention,” he said. Then I told him that Mikaela and Aleksander would be in Norway in June. To which he replied, “I’m in, let’s see if they are game.” Within the week, there was a vision and a location and both Mikaela Shiffrin and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde had said yes.

It was such an honor to be a part of this production. David’s team and True North are world class and it was fun to have Supermodel Brooks Nader on hand as well. Mikaela and Aleksander are skiing royalty – yet at the same time, they are warm, genuine and down to earth. I also want to thank my Norwegian brands Amundsen Sports and We Norwegians for their extraordinary support on this project.

SNOW writers are the envy of all. They travel the globe staying in some of the most fabulous hotels on the planet. This issue, we launch SNOW’s Finest Ski Hotels of the World Awards in a special section. This winter, put at least two of these magnificent places on your list.

Andrew Findlay and Kari Medig had the great fortune to travel to Austria to check out the food scene in both the Montafon Valley and Lech-Zürs-Zug. The Rote Wand in Zug is quickly becoming a culinary Mecca. The dining experience in Austria is intimate and inclusive. The word you often hear is Gemütlichkeit, used to convey a welcoming and warm experience. From the minute you walk in the door of Rote Wand this permeates every detail – from the design, to the service, to the hausgemacht-everything that you so deserve after conquering the slopes in the birthplace of modern skiing.

At the end of the ski season, I lost my dad. He was the

person who introduced me to the mountains and gave me my love for skiing. From the age of five, we traveled to Mammoth Mountain for five days every month of the season. I lived for those days. I skied regularly there with Beverly McCoy who was the best ski instructor in the world and we are still friends to this day. As my Snow Society Members know, skiing with the best in the world is truly life changing. I am so grateful that I was introduced to a sport and a lifestyle that has made my life so rich. I will make some turns for you this winter, dad.

Let it SNOW! Barb



Where will you be skiing this year?

I will be skiing in St Moritz and Aspen this Christmas. We recognise what a privilege this is—me in particular as I enjoy resorts with a bohemian history and a reputation for hosting visitors that enjoy the nights as much as the days. In both places, there is no pressure to do anything other than celebrate life. They are acclaimed resorts because there is such breadth to what you can do in 24 hours and not all of it is entirely healthy.

I've spent many great ski days in the Alps, but very little of it in France's corner of the magnificent range. This winter I'd love to remedy this and enjoy some long powder descents en français

I want to load my family into a van, learn to drive on the left side of the road, and explore some of the lesserknown ski hills in the Japanese Alps. I’d also like to ski Lochernalp in the beautiful Lötschental Valley of Switzerland during Mardi Gras when the curious Tschäggätta (devil) tradition comes alive.



“I am Eloise. I am six. I live at the Plaza hotel.”

She was off to a good start in life, that fanciful and carefree character created by Kay Thompson in her classic 1950s Eloise books for children. As was I, fascinated from an early age by the glamor and mystery associated with hotel life.

Steak frites delivered to the door. Housekeeping at the push of button. Perpetual people watching and great handfuls of exotic potions and lotions whispering, Take me home!

In a hotel, anything can happen. You might find yourself hurtling down the members-only Cresta toboggan run, invited by your hosts at The Kulm in St Moritz. Next, discover a new favorite cocktail, such as the Pisco Peach at La Perla. And repair to a fragrant hay bed after having your way with the cheese cart at La Bouitte. Whatever the heart desires, a proper hotel will make it so. As that infamous inn-dweller Dorothy Parker, resident wit of The Algonquin on West 44th Street, observed: “My hotel room is just big enough to lay my hat and a few friends."

This is precisely why we are so thrilled to bring you SNOW Magazine’s inaugural World’s Finest Ski Hotels Awards. Every one of these gorgeous inns represent the haute-est of the haute – some glittering classics, others lesser-known gems, all deserving of the attentions of discerning, affluent wintersports lovers like us. As one of our dedicated staffers declared: “I must go to all of these hotels. Now.”

As must you, dear reader. From the rustic three-cheese fondue recipe to the caviar-infused facial to the ski room champagne bar, they have been tester-tested and skiedin, skied-out for the qualities we value in our ski hotels. Superlative service (at every turn), authentic welcome (in myriad languages), and tiptop grades in the beauty, charm, and elegance competitions. Every whim, satiated. All cravings, crushed. Your fabulous ski trip, secured.

Because there are near limitless options – and a lot of deep crevasses to navigate – we’ve done the legwork, good and bad. For the record, we’ll run a mile from any mention of “food and beverage options”, from plastic cutlery or an unwashed bedspread. And please, deliver us from those shouty, laminated cards that promote pay TV, local pizza delivery,

and world peace through the hanging of one’s own towels. At SNOW, highest standards are the order of the day.

We wish you happy reading, happier skiing, and a delicious slice of the suite life you deserve.




Do oil and snow really mix?

Trojena –  not just another condom company, but a mindbendingly futuristic ski resort being built in the heart of Saudi Arabia. Just three years from projected completion, by 2026 we may be alighting from state-of-the-art ski lifts and tootling round 22 miles of slopes at the respectably alpine altitude of 8,500 feet, high in the Sarawat Mountains.

Headed up by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,  the ski area is part of a $500 billion mega-development from NEOM, which hit the headlines with its plans for a 100-mile

long horizontal  skyscraper known as The Line. Despite its location only 30 miles from the Red Sea, this region is the recipient of occasional below-freezing level temperatures. The visionaries of the Gulf anticipate a three-month ski season and a sultan’s ransom in property add-ons: 42,000 square metres of shopping and restaurants, more than 3,500 hotel rooms and serviced apartments, a 3,000-seat mountainside amphitheater, and so much more. Think Lawrence of Arabia crossed with The Jetsons Go to Vail. —Leslie Woit

Hermès opens door to beauty

Unlike so many purveyors of luxury products, Hermès is rightly revered for employing generations of skilled craftspeople – currently, nearly 7,000 based in dozens of ateliers across France. These master artisans are responsible for such delights as The Kelly handbag, each one of them requiring up to 20 hours to complete. Et voilà, a beautiful new Hermès shop has opened in Aspen, delivering all their smooth, silky and, in some cases, shiny things to our skiing doorstep. The store itself is work of art. Among original works from the Émile Hermès collection, there are several floors dotted with silk collections, fashion accessories, perfumes and beauty, leather goods, shoes, equestrian collections.—LW


Whistler chalet sells for record $40 million


you get when you marry a sparkling new Whistler mega-mansion on 7.2 acres to a panoramic 10-acre parcel of land next door? Only the highest priced realestate deal in the history of the resort: a total purchase price of over $40 million, including tax. The architectural supermodel was designed by the internationally-acclaimed firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, built to high spec in the tony Stonebridge neighborhood. See it to believe it but here’s a primer: a blue glass arrival court, a Golden Spiral landscaping feature, a curving cable-hung staircase that doubles as an art installation, a hodgepodge of cantilevered decks, a grotto spa, and an 82foot swimming pool that’s both cut into and cantilevered out from the cliff edge.

Real estate in Whistler continues to attract international buyers, as it is exempt from the Canadian federal foreign buyer ban as well as the provincial speculation and vacancy tax, alongside a softening Canadian dollar. Plus, the place is downright gorgeous. “If you look anywhere in the world, whether it be an urban setting, a beach resort, or a mountain ski resort, it all starts with the dirt,” said realtor John Ryan.—LW


Think first, edge harder

There’s a whiff of Formula 1 about Switzerland’s new Black Wall piste, one of the steepest groomed runs in the world and the only one involving a roughly $3 million dollar price tag to make it so. Located at Glacier 3000, Gstaad’s glittering, snow-sure area is partly owned by Bernie Ecclestone, billionaire boss of the fastest car races on the planet. Clearly, Bernie is a sportsman not averse to a decent danger-zone opportunity. The new Black Wall challenge is for experty-experts only. Angled at 46 degrees at its very first pitch, it also comes with a no-turning back commitment. To reach the run at all, skiers must approach through the freshly dug 870-foot Rocher Jaune Tunnel – a oneminute snowplough down an indoor ski-carpet track followed by a ginger exit through a hole in the Black Wall. Change your mind and it’s a long walk of shame back up through the tunnel. A masterful feat of engineering, tunneling Switzerland’s longest ski tunnel took only six months, a monumental job only the Swiss could manage.—LW


Aspen Style The Alps 1900 To Heaven's Heights

Alpine living in high style by a woman who should know, Aerin Lauder guides us through a celebration of the glamor, the evolution, and the enduring romantic wilderness of our beloved mountain town. A beauty-charged volume of everything we love about Aspen, from the sophisticated interiors to the great outdoors.

A bedside treasure perfect for dipping into again and again, here’s an eclectic collection of ski stories from more than 60 authors – from Leni Riefenstahl to Ian Fleming and Bill Bryson. Spanning 1,000 years, it romps from skiing as transport, to hunting and exploring, and ultimately as the pleasure pursuit we know and love. Proceeds from the book go to Snow Camp, a charity that gives innercity children the opportunity to experience the mountains.

Pioneering ladies in long dresses gaze upon fearsome glaciers and one long ski pole did all the steering you needed. Revisit the days when alpinists were considered loonies and skiers were a curiosity in this gorgeous 600page visual feast. Charm, history, and trail blazing in the first printing of 10,000 numbered copies.

Flagship Store 675 Main Street Park City, Utah 435.649.9528 Visit Us Online



Ski Girl

Dolled Up for Down Hill!


Chocolate makes winter cozier. Handcrafted
and Confections
Award Winning Chocolate

1. Gobi Heated Vest: Three heat settings to keep toasty and the battery lasts for up to 10 hours for die-hard skiers.

2. Surefoot Winterheat Ski Boot Heaters: Attach these heaters to any kind of ski boot/liner and adjust the heat settings with your phone.

3. Hestra Heated Gloves: Heating elements on the back of each finger to heat the whole hand.

4. Lenz Heated Socks: Heating wires are sewn into the toe box and heat your toes from above and below.

5. Rossignol Hero Heated Ski Boot Bag: Keeps your boots warm so they are easy to put on in the cold. It keeps your helmet and gloves warm and dry too.

6. Surefoot Custom Heated Ski Boot Liners: Custom liners come heater integrated, with the heating element preinstalled. It sits on top of the toe box which 90% of people agree is warmer than the traditional method of having the heating element underneath the toes.

1 2 3 4 5 6

First Ladies of Skiing

The race is about to begin. A zigzag of gangly bamboo gates dots the slope, high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley where Switzerland’s snow-draped peaks touch a cerulean sky. At the top, the starter waves a large linen flag, ready to signal a skier on course. Side-stepping briskly up the hill, two dozen intrepid women are layered in sensible woolen skirts, well-worn plus fours, and wide-brimmed hats – keen to push, pole, skate, and tuck their ways to alpine glory. Spirits high and hair akimbo, they’re making good time – and they’re also making history.

Look closely, ladies and gents. Though it seems like 1923, this festive commemorative slalom actually took place January 23, 2023 – precisely 100 years to the day since the founding of the first women’s alpine ski club in the world. Back then, Lenin was in office and Yankee Stadium was about to host its first ballgame when a tiny band of the leading female ski racers of the day gathered in Mürren to form The Ladies’ Ski Club. Intended to encourage ladies to participate in skiing at the highest level, they were the sporting pioneers who helped make our lives what they are today.

Adventurous, aristocratic, and proudly British, The Ladies’ Ski Club was the original alpine disruptor, rocking the boat of a very male-dominated sport with a decidedly can-do attitude.

In an early edition of its membership yearbook, The Ladies’ Ski Club Bulletin, skiing was deemed “…no harder than other forms of sport at which women excel, such as hunting four or five days a week, salmon-fishing, following beagles or playing in tennis tournaments.”

Then – as now – Mürren had no cars and guests arrived, sometimes for the whole winter season, via a tiny cog train. Tobogganing was a popular means of transport, as was walking. Under panorama of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau,

We walk a mile – straight up – in the boots of the fearless women who paved the way for equal opportunity in the mountains.

a typical ski day involved slogging uphill for up to five hours across ungroomed mountain faces, then hurtling down unprepared slopes in leather boots strapped to edgeless, long wooden planks – abandoning control in favor of the frisson of speed and the salty lure of danger. And jolly well loving it.

Who were these plucky trendsetters? Among the first was founder Lady Mabel Lunn, wife of skiing pioneer Sir Arnold Lunn. (The previous winter in Mürren, he’d organised the world’s first modern slalom, judged on speed, and, despite the prowess of his wife and her cohorts, women were barred from joining his other venture, The Alpine Ski Club, founded in 1908.) The Club’s first president, Lady Denman, was an active suffragette and would become Director of the Women’s Land Army during World War II. At least one member flew Spitfires, another captained the British Olympic ski team. Lady Raeburn helped to popularize The Arlberg Crouch (as promoted by Austrian ski-teaching guru Hannes Schneider). The lack of ladies’ races in 1929 didn’t faze Audrey Sale Barker and Doreen Elliott who rocked up at an international event in Poland, placing in the top 15 of 60.

“Our members have been trailblazers, outstanding community leaders, stubborn defenders of freedom, rights of women, and equality before all that became fashionable,” said current President Ingrid Christophersen. No shy thing herself, the former British alpine ski team member, coach, and FIS Technical Delegate was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to skiing. As imposing as she is stylish, her brilliant vintage costume for race day was a castoff from a Glyndebourne production of Eugene Onegin

By 1928, the sport of ski-running was gaining traction and the club had attracted more than 50 members. A century on, around 300 members include all skill levels and a diversity of backgrounds – from regular soccer (football) moms to Sophie, Countess of Wessex. All are passionate about skiing – and they love a good party, too.

At a merry après-race reception in Mürren’s Palace Hotel (erected in 1874, it was also the location of the inaugural meeting a century before) the Mauler champagne flowed

rivers and the sparkling chat doubtless carried high as the Eiger summit. Revellers came from all corners of the alpine world, including representatives of Norway’s Ladies’ Skade Ski Club, the world’s first women’s cross-country ski club, established in 1889.

“Our club founders were also pioneers in skiing,” explained Elin Agdestein, former Norwegian Member of Parliament. “These ladies fought for the vote in 1913, and the building of a new nation. Skiing was a big part of the fight and of our national identity.”

The progress continues apace. Unthinkable only a few years ago, women’s Olympic disciplines now include ski jumping and biathlon, for example. The LSC continues its work in funding female snow-sports athletes, including Olympians.

“We are celebrating not just 100 years of ladies skiing around the Alps, having fun, looking beautiful,” continued President Christophersen. Over the din of conversation and many a celebratory cork pop, she painted a future for women’s skiing as exciting as its storied past: “We are documenting a social revolution. That is what skiing was about during the last 100 years and that is where the LSC will be heading the next 100 years.” Cheers to that.

“Abandoning control in favor of the salty lure of danger and jolly well loving it.”


A new high-tech prototype car combines signature Audi elegance with serious off-road capabilities.

Norwegian speed king Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wasn’t the only one turning heads at the 2023 Aspen Ski World Cup. The new Audi activesphere concept vehicle—a robust off-roader meets beautiful coupe prototype—made its U.S. debut at the event.

Audi introduced its electric “sphere” concept in 2021 with the skysphere roadster, followed by the grandsphere sedan, and then the urbansphere. An eco-friendly car for the outdoor enthusiast was a natural progression. Skier alert: its funky rear turns into a huge illuminated open cargo bed to stash skis or bikes at the touch of a button.

At first glance, it may look like a luxuryclass four-door sport car, but this vehicle cleverly combines elegance with the practicality of an SUV and true off-road capabilities . The car has 22-inch wheels and

impressive ground clearance, no local emissions, a range of more than 379 miles, and speedy charging times thanks to 800volt technology. It combines the sustainability, dynamics, and long-distance capability of firstin-class electric vehicles.

“We are experiencing a paradigm shift, especially in the interior of our future Audi models,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi.

“The interior becomes a place where the passengers feel at home and can connect to the world outside at the same time. The most important technical innovation in the Audi activesphere is our adaptation of augmented reality for mobility.”

For passengers, its augmented reality combines the physical and virtual worlds (mixed reality) by displaying digital content in the field of vision in real time.


For the driver, there’s superhero vision with control surfaces and displays otherwise invisible to the unaided eye. High-tech AR headsets provide a view of the real environment and the route, while simultaneously displaying 3D content, including driving status and navigation. The driver’s hand can intuitively follow the user’s gaze to control car functions, while the virtual display in the headset reacts to changes in real time like a conventional instrument.

Naturally, there’s self-drive capability, and navigation routes or vehicle maintenance can be prepared from your living-room laptop. Passengers can even take the headset from the car into the great outdoors to help navigate the perfect mountain bike route or to find the ideal descent when skiing downhill. The future of sustainable luxury vehicles is coming to a mountain near you soon.

“High-tech AR headsets provide a view of the real environment and the route, while simultaneously displaying 3D content.”
Luxury Ski Getaway Awaits in Snowmass Experience Elevated Living at Electric Pass Lodge Inquire about our curated concierge services to enhance your experience. Escape to Electric Pass Lodge, where ski-in/ski-out luxury meets panoramic mountain views. This 3-bedroom modern haven boasts comfort and style, with floor-to-ceiling windows capturing the beauty of nature. 100% powered by renewable energy. Scan to tour your mountain escape.

Au Comptoir Au Comptoir

A New England après stop with the feel and the taste of the Alps

Vermont is arguably America’s beer mecca. But I’d happily swap an après-ski IPA—even the state’s legendary Heady Topper—for a craft cocktail at Au Comptoir. Tucked down an alley in the Norman Rockwellworthy village of Woodstock, an intimate new cocktail lounge eschews New England kitsch in favor of European alpine glitz. Cozy up to the marble bar to sip an exceptional Manhattan made with locally distilled bourbon and rye. Served in Luigi Bornioli glassware from Italy, it comes garnished with

Luxardo cherries, and is best enjoyed with caviar, crème fraiche, and a few revered Bonilla a la Vista potato chips. Fresh from the slopes of nearby Killington Ski Resort and the Saskadena Six Ski Area (formerly known as Suicide 6), a mix of spiffed-up locals and skiers fills the Parisian-style café chairs to nibble on delectable cheeses and charcuterie. Owner Zoe Zilian, the consummate hostess, hops table-to-table to greet them all.

When she arrives back to the bar, she compliments my




Aspen Bozeman

Carmel by the Sea Chicago Denver Dallas

Jackson Lake Tahoe New York Park City Vail

Credit: Rowland+Broughton Architecture and Urban Design; James Florio Photography

order. Manhattans are her favorite drink, she confides. To accompany, she’d searched tirelessly for the perfect chip to scoop caviar and ultimately discovered a Spanish brand that only uses cuttings from the center of the potato. Originally from Camden, Maine, Zilian has been wanderlust-struck since first skiing as a child in Europe with her family. She travels regularly to Europe and modeled Au Comptoir (French for at the bar) after some of her favorite cafes and bars, sourcing décor from flea markets and antiques shops.

The bar is Zilian’s second act. For more than a decade, she ran cult Woodstock ceramics studio, Farmhouse Pottery, but as the business grew her passion faded. In 2020, she sold her share and set her sights on re-imagining the former auto shop of Laurence S. Rockefeller into her dream drinking den. A year renovating the 1915 building brought it back to life with vintage veneer brick flooring and reclaimed Vermont barnwood. Dutch doors spill out onto a patio with firepits, and taxidermy and Old-World oil paintings hang from the walls of the 30-seat bar area.

Au Comptoir transports us straight to a buzzy après bar in Cortina or Zermatt with a mellow jazz soundtrack and cocktails crafted from fresh ingredients. The team makes juices daily, boils down syrups, and even makes orgeat and orange bitters in-house. A half-dozen signature cocktails are complemented by seasonal recipes, like a smoked old fashioned, and mocktails such as the Sapling, made with Vermont apple cider, house-made cinnamon syrup, and fresh lemon. There’s also a selection of organic and biodynamic wines.

Zilian loves eating at bars and while there is no kitchen, she’s curated a menu of small bites that could easily add up to

a meal. Marcona almonds and buttery Castelvetrano olives arrive in Farmhouse Pottery ramekins, and pickled mussels and mackerel filets from Island Creek are served Spanishstyle, straight from the tin. One of few spots open until 10 p.m. in Woodstock, Au Comptoir offers a nightcap menu of amaros and ports that Zilian suggests pairing with a Tavernier chocolate bar. And yes, if you want your Heady Topper, you can get that here, too.

A creative global design house with curated products which enhance your identity

and all the Trimmings

In search of your next heli-adventure? Look to Turkey’s Pontic Alps, where eastern exotica meet Swiss professionalism.


It was nearing the end of our March ski week at Turkey HeliSki—60 miles from the Georgian border and not far from where the Russian military was scrambling to find pieces of the U.S. reaper drone brought down in the Black Sea a few days earlier—when rumors began to circulate. Vacuumpacked contraband had arrived in a guest’s bag. Amid the din of the muezzin’s evening call to prayer from a nearby minaret, hushed talk of more than five kilos being smuggled into the hotel was the topic of the moment. We knew something was up when whiffs from the kitchen at our HQ, Haşimoğlu Hotel, began to reach our noses. All week, the dinner buffet had been tantalizing

us far beyond any pedestrian expectations of doner kebabs and baklava. Instead, our plates were teased with delicious local specialties like Akçaabat meatballs, eggplant saksuka, gözleme pastries, Hamsili (anchovy) pilav and many more memorable dishes. Tonight’s après-ski aroma, however, wasn’t so much unique as out of place.

Confirmation finally arrived when Tobias and Lorenz, our Swiss pilots, announced to the small crowd excitedly: “We’ve had a secret delivery. Tonight is raclette night!”

In addition to pilots, Switzerland-based Turkey HeliSki has for the last 10 winters been bringing its mountain guides, office personnel and raclette-cheese melters to the impressive Kaçkar Massif in the Pontic Alps not far from the Georgian border. Although the aircraft and mechanics come from Austria, their continued partnership with Air Zermatt has given them invaluable experience in mountain flying as well as in servicing and maintenance in foreign countries. A few hundred powder-pilgrims come each winter from across Europe and, increasingly, from North America. The snow, lots and lots and lots of it, comes from the Black Sea to the north.

“A few hundred powder-pilgrims come each winter from across Europe and, increasingly, from North America. The snow, lots and lots and lots of it, comes from the Black Sea to the north.”
Sumela Monastery - 4th Century A.D.


Whistler, Canada serves as a year-round mountain destination with unmatched alpine terrain, championship golfing, endless biking & hiking trails, world class dining, fresh water lakes and amenities to satisfy any discerning need – and all just 1.5 hours from Vancouver. A diverse range of real estate options include luxury ski-access chalets, lakefront residences, mountainside townhomes and Four Seasons Resort hotel suites, all offering exceptional value supported by a strong USD. Real estate in Whistler offers a safe, robust investment year-round.


With a tenure of more than 2,000 square miles (that’s well more than a million acres) Turkey heliskiers share their domain with no one else. The highest peaks reach almost 13,000 feet and are home to more than 400 named runs with typical skiable verticals of 1,800-3,600 feet. Two A-Star helicopters lift off each morning a few yards from the breakfast table, one reserved for a private group of four skiers and mountain guide, and another shared by up to 16 guests.

My wife Ray and I shared ski days and dinners with our new Bulgarian friends Stoyan and Hristo whose English was better than most North Americans’, and their conversation and humor, memorable. Having heliskied in Alaska and British Columbia multiple times, they were finally trying Turkey. Like many of the typical dads and ski buddies you’d find in a helicopter or snowcat in the U.S. or Canada, discerning businessman Hristo had an INSEAD MBA while lawyer Stoyan’s Instagram videos from other feather-in-a-cap ski destinations around the world were intermingled with shots of him bouncing on trampolines with his kids. During our week, the four of us shared the helicopter with two other groups of

four from France and Switzerland.

In one of many small-world moments, it turned out lovely Laura, our smiley and patient mountain guide, was born and raised under the shadow of the Eiger in Grindelwald, Switzerland. Less than two weeks earlier, I had been ski touring in her backyard and when I showed her some photos she quickly blurted out “Oh! You were skiing with Sigi, she’s one of my best friends!” Sigi was equally surprised when Laura and I texted her a few selfies from our lunch stop in a collection of farmer’s alpine chalets and hay-drying huts otherwise used only in the summer. Turkey, yes. But somehow still very Swiss.

With precisely the right kind of mountain ranges, volcanoes and climate for winter sports, Turkey has a long wintery history of alpine skiing and today has more than 40 ski areas and resorts in different mountain regions. Five years earlier, we'd skied the massive inactive volcano Erciyes near fabled tourist mecca Cappadocia in the south and were so impressed by its newly built infrastructure, high-speed lifts, luxe accomms and ski touring, we’d always wanted to return.

As we all know, a skier’s ultimate high-speed lift is a

“Turkey, yes. But somehow still very Swiss.”

helicopter so on this trip we spent most of our days yo-yoing fast laps above the tree line. Regular snowfall here comes with storms that typically start off more maritime moist before finishing dry and continental: a great combo for stability. Like most heliski hotspots, the cake is topped frequently by the Black Sea’s moisture and this consistency is one of the many draws to Turkey Heliski.

Mountain guide and Turkey Heliski’s senior partner Thierry Gasser pointed out one of many peculiarities of the Kaçkar Mountains that make them “cut for heliskiing.” Said Gasser, “It’s possible to ski everywhere in each valley with varied terrain, and flight times between any two runs or between the lodge and the terrain is very quick.”

Like all great heli-skiing operations, most run names have a story. “Just after Corfu” for instance received its fitting name when once, during the transfer of helis from Europe to Turkey, the flight crew and aircraft were forced to spend two days stuck on the Greek island of Corfu waiting out a massive storm. The previously unnamed slope where the first tracks were waistdeep was quickly anointed in honor of the Ionian layover.

A female theme runs throughout one valley with “Pretty Woman,” “Easy Woman,” and so on. The original was inspired

by one lucky client on a first descent who was so impressed by the silence named it “No Woman, No Cry.”

“Cosmic Debris” seemed appropriate for the enormous rock blocks mid-slope that we skied around, and “Face à la Mer” – facing the sea – for its spectacular views of the Black Sea and the Caucasus’ 4,000 and 5,000 meter peaks in the distance.

Of course, not every skier can time his or her visit perfectly. Many trips over the decades I’ve heard the apologetic “It’s not normally like this!” weather speech. Our late March visit began with spring corn and sunshine before an unusually early warm front entered the scene dramatically, complete with Saharan sand that painted the western faces orange and spoilt our dreams of bottomless Anatolian powder.

But almost a week later the photos and messages began arriving in my inbox. While we had since moved across the country to scramble about the ruins of Ephesus, visiting the Virgin Mary’s house near Izmir and getting scrubbed down in a 500-year-old hammam on our Turkey Adventure Part II, the Black Sea gods had already wiped last week’s slate clean with 70 centimeters begging to be carved up by the lucky few. The tiny mountain village of Ayder was again the lift off to a great eastern powder playground.


The World's Finest SKI HOTELS

Our most memorable ski trips are not measured by powder depth or vertical feet alone. The choice of mountain home-from-home can make or break the deal. Where best to spend these precious alpine days?

SNOW’s premier edition of The World’s Finest Ski Hotels celebrates the haute-est of the haute – some classics, others soon to be, expertly curated and enthusiastically sampled by our international editorial team. Stay tuned for the next issue where we showcase the gold-medal winner in each select category of The World’s Finest Ski Hotels.

Mesdames, Messieurs, your rooms are ready.


Fairmont Chateau Whistler


The Chateau Whistler occupies coveted real estate indeed. A few steps from the Blackcomb gondola, the connection to North America’s largest ski resort couldn’t be easier. Under one majestic copper roof, the more than 500 spacious rooms and suites were entirely renovated in the last year. There’s plenty of spa-ing – barrel saunas, a full wellness centre, and a steamy outdoor pool with a view. For an atmospheric dinner, twirl a fondue fork in The Chalet’s fairy-tale alpine setting, complete with crackling fireplace and mobile schnapps wagon, then sink into a sofa in the Mallard Lounge, abuzz with live entertainment and grown-up cocktails. Guided excursions include winter hikes, ski tours, polar-bear lake dips, snowshoeing, and daily yoga. For the hotel-in-a-hotel treatment, the Fairmont Gold Floor offers private check-in and access to the Gold Lounge – an idyllic spot to open a book from the quiet library, enjoy a glass of wine from the curated cellar, or sip a cappuccino on the balcony as early-morning skiers whoosh past.

DEER VALLEY, UTAH Stein Eriksen Lodge


A hotel designed for discerning skiers – built by one of its soigné icons. By the 1950s, Stein Eriksen’s chiseled features and penchant for dinner jackets on the slopes were a byword for alpine style. In 1981, the Olympic gold medalist imprinted his flair on the new Deer Valley resort as director of skiing and host of the Euro-inspired, slopeside Stein Eriksen Lodge. Eriksen’s elegance endures in the plush atmosphere, attentive service, and fine cuisine of this Utah institution. Fireplace-equipped bedrooms and sprawling suites are complemented by two heated swimming pools and a lavish award-winning spa. From casual café to fine cuisine, the multi-million-dollar wine cellar boosts the pleasure when, by a crackling fire, we raise a glass to absent friends and their contribution to alpine life. Skål to Stein’s trademark aerial flip.

Kristiania Lech


Like a house party among friends who love the good life and skiing in equal measure, the Vorarlberg’s Kristiania is a masterpiece. Originally designed as a private house by 1952 Oslo Winter Olympic gold medalist Othmar Schneider, his daughter, the elegant Gertrud Schneider, makes each stay at the antique- and art-filled chalet feel like one of the season’s sought-after invitations: “We are a family affair. My father’s vision was a private chalet full of personality, a private club with a sense of place.” Reflecting the family’s passion for travel and skiing each suite is unique, from Chinoiserie to African safari to the 19th century Grand Tour, each is accented with an eclectic art collection curated by Gertrud herself. Sophisticated cuisine and wines are served under candlelight in The Restaurant, fragrant fondues in the Fireplace Room, and mandatory digestifs in the sultry Red Bar. Special features begin (but don’t end) with regular salon art talks, the bijou spa, and the in-chalet reading, sleep and dog butlers. The Kristiania’s dress code is “sporty elegant” and the atmosphere one of magical good cheer.


Kulm Hotel


If there’s anything as entertaining as the well-groomed pistes of St Moritz, it’s the people they attract. Cue the Kulm: a grand old dame of the Engadine pampering sybaritic skiers for more than 165 years, with a legitimate claim as the birthplace of wintersports. There’s an opulent spa, elegant rooms by French hotel designer PierreYves Rochon, and no fewer than seven restaurants – from white-coated waitering in the Grand Restaurant and champagne-all-day in the trompe l’oeil Lobby, to superb mixology at contemporary-chic Kulm Country Club and

post-Cresta Run hijinks downstairs at Sonny’s Bar. Be sure to take a twirl on the outdoor ice rink with its Norman Foster designed pavilion or opt for a bone-snapping frisson on the Cresta toboggan run. (In the absence of holding one’s own membership, being a guest of the Kulm comes with privileges. Long helmed by Family Niarchos of Greekshipping fame, the largest private property owners in St Moritz are also proprietors of the Corvatsch, Corviglia and Diavolezza-Lagalb ski areas.) Kulm service is grand cru and its atmosphere aglow in 24kt gold.

Aman Le Mélézin


Much is written and read about the joys of spa-ing. Voilà , a destination hotel deserved of each fawning footnote. The splendidly zen Aman Le Mélézin is an island of understated, sparkling five-star service, with a super-spacious wellness offering that elevates one-on-one attention to Met-aria levels. Five treatment rooms are spread across two floors where wishes are fulfilled in privileged privacy, be it in the Thai massage room, the stone hammam and scrub room, or the beautiful wood-panelled yoga studio. Here, treating mind, body, and spirit (ask them about how ancient healing modalities combine with the best of modern science) is a rewarding pursuit. Plus, there’s the well-staffed, French-pastry-stocked ski room, a raft of vintage Champagne for après and, just beyond the lobby’s signature bonsai tree, we find Nama, a stellar Japanese restaurant serving washoku, a UNESCO-recognised heritage cuisine. The secret to washoku lies in simplicity, a principle that extends throughout the hotel’s four slopeside storeys and 31 airy rooms and suites, clearing the mind for proper exploration of the Three Valleys’ nearly 400 miles of pistes.


Hotel Bellevue des Alpes


Dinner jackets to the fore. Not that this snowbound inn is stuffy – anything but – rather that it is the most beautifully preserved fin de siècle mountain hotel in the Alps. The only way to arrive is via toy-like cog train up to Kleine Scheidegg, hopping off just before it ascends to the Jungfraujoch, highest railway hub in Europe. Enter a world built in 1840 and meticulously renovated since, rich with sparkling family silver, proper cocktail hour, and old-fashioned full-board ski party atmosphere – rather like the Victorians on Tour or James Bond on another highalpine caper. There are reading, pool and bridge rooms, a linen-draped restaurant, and bedrooms featuring clawfoot baths, no televisions, and timeless views. Perched at the foot of the imposing Mönch, Jungfrau, and Eiger, the Bellevue’s parquet floors crackle with the ghosts of alpinists long lost. (Carefully monitored through balcony binoculars, a cannon was blasted each time a climber summitted the fearsome Eiger.) The skiing down to Grindelwald and over to Wengen is rolling and spirited and, in the heightened thin air, you can cut the time-warp elegance with a fish knife.

La Bouitte

Poke us with a fourchetteàescargot for saying, but La Bouitte is the finest ski-in restaurant in France. This revered foodie mecca, in recent years augmented with rustic-chic bedrooms and bijou spa, rests in pine-clad St Marcel, a tiny hamlet within the massive Trois Vallées. Chef René Meilleur opened in 1976, the self-taught chef’s first restaurant in his birth village. Almost 40 years on, he and his son have earned the highest award possible, three Michelin stars. “Nothing has changed since the third star,” says son Maxime with a grin, wielding a plate of saffron cream-filled beignets (to call them donuts would be like calling Catherine Deneuve cute). “We work hard and we deserve it.” As do we, after a morning on the slopes our lunch of escalope of duck foie gras, fresh corn galette, honey from St Marcel, reduced old-fashioned vinegar (the only dish that has accompanied the whole history of La Bouitte) is the reward of kings. Afterwards, a retreat to the wood-clad spa, cozy wine bar, and one of 15 cocoon-y bedrooms, is a mesmeric medley of sensations. Access this paradise on ski, by car, or from the handy helipad just steps away.




Life is in the details at this five-star-palace hotel, from gold flakes floating in the consommé to the heady attentions of a personal scent sommelier. Built by Bernard Arnault, the world’s richest man and platinum-plated head of the luxury goods world, this slope-side inn is the embodiment of la crème de la crème. After a morning en glisse, it’s time for luncheon beneath iconic snowy prints by Walter Niedermayr in rich red-lined Le Triptyque brasserie. Next up, pampering ground zero. A hedonistic sauna, hammam, swimming pool, whirlpool and outdoor Russian banya readies the mood. Hours of pleasure fly by (spare a moment for the Guerlain scent library and its hand-painted gold perfume bottle created for Napoleon’s wedding to Eugenie) and all too soon, we emerge feeling, looking, living more beautiful – bien preparé for dinner at Michelin-starred 1947, named for the rarest vintage of Cheval Blanc and home to some 500 bottles of the same. The all-white room seats just 22 in space-age sleekness – think Jetsons airport lounge circa 2063, complete with sexy fur-ribbed waitresses in white go-go boots. If this is the future, count us in.

Almhof Schneider

A 16th century church, babbling brook and traditional snow-capped chalets: Lech has charm by the stein full, attracting a well-dressed Teutonic set who take their après drinks under heated umbrellas and dinners bathed in pine-lined candlelight. The stylishly understated, familyrun, five-star Almhof Schneider (Princess Diana approved) is a haven for mountain-loving types whose forebears have been skiing here since The Kaiser ruled (no, not the Franz Klammer one). Sprawling yet considerately designed, the near-century-old Almhof retains a rarified Gasthof vibe – 53 rooms and suites are tailored with fur throws, antler paraphernalia, rich wools, and crisp linens. Perfectionism is a distinguishing feature here – we tip our toques to the low-lit, breathtakingly beautiful Herbarium Restaurant, the decadent billiard room, private cinema, sprawling spa, and unabashedly immodest 25,000-bottle wine cellar. Toss in a serious art collection, and Almhof Schneider is a piste-side address to covet.



The Chedi



A sultry shrine to alpine decadence, The Chedi supplies a luxurious yin to Andermatt’s uber-trad yang. The destination spa hotel, complete with 208 fireplaces, a 16-foot-high cheese humidor, and Michelin-star Japanese restaurant, is a haven of Eastern-tinged pleasures. A showcase 35m glass-covered pool is kept a refreshing 26C while the contrasting air is languidly warm, better to enjoy surrounding day beds served by waiters delivering Champagne and cold towels. Wait there’s more to spa: James Bond meets Asian chic with sexy pools lit by candlelight, and a bevy of eucalyptus, bio and Finnish saunas, scented salt steam bath, hammam, ice fountain and flower bath. Raise a glass of something luscious in The Wine & Cigar Library, or The Lobby, or perhaps in The Courtyard, at The Bar or enveloped in the Oriental flair of the Living Room. Western and Asian cuisine of the highest orders are on the menus in The Restaurant and The Japanese. Don’t forget the skiing – Andermatt is now linked with nearby Sedrun, further modernising this high snowy wedge of the Swiss Alps.

The Blake

Keen to learn something on your next ski trip? Take a minor in Southwestern American art with a major in mountain sports during a stay at Taos’ artsy ski-in ski-out boutique hotel. The Blake is LEED-certified and hip, with 80 rooms and suites over five floors, including several posh, airy apartments and a funky open-kitchen restaurant. The real attraction is courtesy of the private art collection of owner Louis Bacon, hedge funder-philanthropist-skier. A veritable talisman hangs above the reception desk – a breathtaking mountain dreamscape of reds and ochres painted by the doyenne of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains herself, Georgia O'Keeffe. That’s just the

beginning. The O’Keeffe (whose drawings figure elsewhere throughout) is flanked by Walter Ufer’s The Watcher, then there’s an embarrassment of images from iconic Edward Curtis, renowned photographer of early 20th century Native American life, some previously undeveloped. Karsh lines the walls of the spa, life-size blackand-white Dick Durrance ski photos command the landings, and 10th Mountain Division artifacts abound. Don’t miss the one truly priceless artifact – ski hat of Taos’ founder Ernie Blake, aka “The Janitor”. The dollar value of The Blake’s collection is unknown, but its cultural merit is as colossal as Taos’ contribution to skiing in America.


Refuge de Montenvers



The Alps’ most spectacular peaks are closer than ever. A lovingly chic restoration of the century-old, high-mountain refuge makes this a romantically rustic destination. Perched at the toe of the Mer de Glace and the fabled Vallée Blanche off-piste route, it has 18 simple rooms, suites, and jazzed-up dormitories decorated with funky Wozdat graffiti and vintage industrial lighting, sleek ‘n’ small bathrooms, and retro fabrics – all complemented by the weathered patina of its original 1880s wood-and-granite bones. A crackling fire warms our apéro hour, when planchettes of charcuterie and carafes of Apremont come out in force. For dinner, perhaps a tartiflette, diot polenta or a fondue by the fire or in the adjacent dining room. The refuge is located at the end of the Vallée Blanche’s skiable 17km route (the final stage is a climb of 420 metal stairs followed by a lift) or aboard the tiny red cog train that snakes to and from Chamonix several times a day on a 30-minute scenery smashbox.

Badrutt’s Palace Hotel


A full-length sable descends from a Rolls-Royce, a liveried chauffeur at the ready – snow and glamour, together forever in the fairy-tale world of Badrutt’s Palace. A Rafael here, a silver duck press there: in former times, guests stayed so long they arrived with their furniture, much of which now decorates hotel corridors and salons. Today, Le Grand Hall is known as the catwalk of St Moritz. Over 500 staff tend 155 rooms, corner suites and turret apartments, whose residents — from Hitchcock and Hepburn, to oil barons and oligarchs – gaze from balconied suites over frozen Lac St Moritz and snow-capped Engadine peaks. Daytime, the bubbling pools and soothing treatments are a draw for ladies of leisure, prelude to a bit of bauble shopping on the Via Serlas at the likes of Graff, Bulgari, and Cartier. Dining is a main event, running the gamut from Italian to Peruvian-Japanese to belle-époque splendour. Mario’s Bar makes a plush, pocket-size den to kick off an evening’s adventure, and the remodeled King’s Social House serves cocktails and champers to a moneyed clientele that stays late to dine and dance. Steeped in old-world excess, the Palace’s green-tipped towers are the vault of a century of skiing secrets, and there’s always room for more.


Naturhotel Forsthofgut


A few of our favorite things? Ski-from-the-door ease, a shamelessly louche spa, sophisticated cocktails: the Forsthofgut is aglow with the patina of alpine tradition. Its origins date to 1617, yet the Family Schmuck is deftly steering this stylish inn towards a glittering eco-considerate 21st century. Recent expansions create a stylish multi-level world of wellness, where a colossal adults-only spa includes a panoramic open-air pool, umpteen saunas, roof-top whirlpool, treatment rooms, decadent relaxation zones, gym, yoga rooms, and and and. Children even have their own pools and supervised kids club, free of charge. The stylish Botanist Bar – in the mode of a Viennese apothecary, Herr Doktor knows best – attracts a smart, relaxed clientele. Flexible menus feature organic, vegan, 50km localist ingredients, and mountain-cuisine. On the doorstep, nearly 300 miles of top-class pistes form Austria’s second largest linked ski area. But don’t underestimate the challenge of leaving the hotel: included are yoga classes, sauna treatments, power-walking outings and, also complimentary, a knockout afternoon tea served in its plush salon.


Just as it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, any time is a good time to be at Hotel La Perla. Both sophisticated and fancifully eccentric, Dolomite-ringed La Perla is the connective tissue that elevates Italian village life to the sublime. Smiling dirndl- and hosen-decked staff, 54 pine-scented bedrooms (and three new penthouse suites), gorgeous South Tirolean linens and fabrics, and low-ceilinged candle-warmed 18th century Stuben – it all adds up to a sense of place. “We love our traditions, culture, and language. It’s not just Italian, it’s a mixture of identities including Austrian and Ladin,” explains spirited Michel Costa of his multi-gen, family-run La Perla. “Here, the food must be perfect, the martinis must be perfect.” It is, and they are, in three organic, locavore restaurants of stratospherically superb quality and one Michelin star for emphasis. (No Coke, Fiji water or the like means more room for the 30,000 bottle wine cellar.) A sultry lounge bar serves up house-aged Negronis, perfect martinis, and live music. Next door, they even pump out Austrian-style après at L’Murin Hut for all our go-go-girl needs. La Perla is a once-upon-a-time world that draws us back again and again.


Caldera House


Steps from the iconic tram serving America’s favorite big-mountain descents, yet far from the duct-taped melée, Caldera House’s suites make for a relaxing sanctuary with benefits. Entirely private, each two- and four-bedroom suite is fitted with a spanky chef’s kitchen (stocked on request), elegant dining room, deep tubs, secluded patio with fire pit, even a cinema room. All that, plus easy access to first and last tracks. This modern retreat gives Jackson Hole’s towering alpine proportions a run for their money – the larger suites sprawl across an eye-popping 5,000 square feet, warmed by an updated take on cabin Americana punctuated with Ansel Adams prints, colorful local art, and wood-burning fireplaces. Go west, in gorgeous Grand Teton style.

Hotel Jerome


For decades, The Jerome boasted the only public bathroom in town. Conveniences have evolved since opening its fancy-pants doors in 1889 – but The Jerome remains the beating heart of Aspen, within walking distance of fabled Ajax Mountain (now with complimentary ski shuttles to all four mountains). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the silverrush institution cultivates a Wild West vibe with all the advantages of the modern era. Elegant cashmere curtains, burnished-leather bed frames, and leather writing tables appoint 99 rooms and suites. Contemporary artwork hangs alongside Aspen Historical Society repros. A hallowed hang out of Hunter S. Thompson, its J-Bar is a legendary watering hole that continues to attract dehydrated ski bums and socialites alike.

Le Strato


For a proper dose of French ski royalty, Courchevel’s Le Strato comes with the right pedigree. Established by Madame Jeanine and Monsieur Laurent BoixVives, former CEO of the Rossignol empire, this pisteside palace is named for the most successful ski the company produced. Chic, contemporary, alive with light and a heady touch of Versailles: splashes of violet and silver dance throughout the 25 rooms and suites, even the vast heated pool is surrounded with floor-

to-ceiling windows and colorful artworks, elegantly lit by a statement Murano-glass chandelier suspended above the water. The finest of French Mediterranean cooking is served in the Michelin-star Baumanière 1850, live music fills the Strato bar. But why wait to start the celebrations? Slide straight from the Cospillot slope into the Ski Room by Bernard Orcel, complete with full bar where a glass of aprèsski champagne has our name on it.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise


They’re not building ’em like this anymore, certainly not in Banff National Park, Canada’s first and most famous park. Perched at the edge of Lake Louise and the foot of glittering Victoria Glacier, this brawny blend of old-world elegance and stunning natural beauty is unique in North America – the Chateau’s 500-plus bedrooms and quiver of restaurants and shops conspire to make yours a one-stop stay. (Do spare time for some rewarding runs at Lake Louise Ski Resort only 10 minutes away, a jaunt made easy by the hotel’s complimentary shuttle.) Indeed, many holiday moments here are satisfyingly simple. Romance is built into a menu of magical activities that include snowshoeing and skating, yoga, spa and – a bit of a colonial-Canadian classic, afternoon tea in the Fairview Bar & Restaurant. Opting for a room or suite on the Fairmont Gold floor means private check-in, dedicated concierge, and intimate lounges for a cosseting hotel-within-a-hotel feel. A fitting approach for a grand escape to the Chateau.


Cervo Mountain Resort



The weather-worn 16th century barns that speckle the village of Zermatt are nearly as famous as its signature mountain. But 21st century innovation is alive and grooving at Cervo Mountain Resort, a globally influenced villagewithin-a-village. First opened in 2009 and since renovated in 2020, it attracts a hip, international crowd to its alpine-glam hospitality. DJs spin on the sundeck at après ski and the ashram-inspired spa reflects a life’s worth of travels by the owner to far-flung locales including Japan, Bhutan, and Peru. Locavore restaurants serve a healthy measure of vegetarian dishes, and meat and dairy products originate exclusively from Switzerland. Naturally, some knockout Matterhorn views grace the 54 rooms, suites, and lodges – each its own stylish sanctuary decorated with calming, neutral-toned finishings and variously inspired by a nomad, alpinist, or huntsmen vibe. A variety of technologies, including an advanced solar energy system, are geared toward the resort’s goal of sustainable self-sufficiency. Cervo makes a luxurious base for exploring the mystical mountains of Zermatt, or simply setting up camp.













Necklace THE WOODS


Skisuit RH+


Sunglasses RANDOLPH Shoes BOS & CO


Baselayer KJUS


Pant KJUS Shoes BOS & CO




Shoes MONO



Baselayer HEAD







Baselayer DESCENTE







Shoes BOS & CO






Baselayer SPORTALM



Sunglasses RANDOLPH



Necklace THE WOODS




Necklace THE WOODS

Goggles YNIQ

Shoes BOS & CO

Even for those who don’t follow ski racing – a wintry world of high-tech science and hell-raising bravado – the “Shiffrin Sensation” will be a familiar one. Celebrity status, a rare occurrence for a non-Austrian skier, has been achieved. In the past year alone, Colorado’s Mikaela Shiffrin was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, won Best Female Athlete at the ESPYs, and made countless appearances on breakfast TV panels and late-night

talk show sofas. She has also been awarded, over the seasons, a museum’s worth of trophies and what amounts to a small herd of reindeer, happily homed in Finnish Lapland.


In the spring of 2023, the burgeoning Mikaela went into full bloom, entering the history books as the greatest skier of all time, with an 87th World Cup win – the most top-podiums of


Exp loring


EIn a world-exclusive with renowned photographer David Yarrow, we take a personal journey with extraordinary Mikaela Shiffrin – The Racer, the Explorer, the Woman

any ski racer, anywhere, anyhow. It’s a glittering achievement that crowns a galaxy of others – double-Olympic champion, seven-time World Champion, and that awkward but bang-on superlative, the winningest skier of all time. That recordbreaking slalom came two days before her 28th birthday, with a lashing of geographical karma to boot: she managed to burn past Ingemar Stenmark's record of 86 World Cup wins in his very own Scando backyard of Are, Sweden. Head-shakingly talented, disciplined as hell, and evidently in her prime,

Mikaela Shiffrin is having a golden moment.

But it’s not all merry-making and maquillage. First off, there’s the schedule. Punishing by any measure: six months of racing, October through March, in more than a dozen countries. Nine downhills, eight super-Gs, 10 giant slaloms, and 11 slaloms – a total 38 in all. On top of that Shiffrin is brand ambassador at Atomic, Adidas, Visa, and more. For the 21st century professional athlete, ski racing is so much more than getting into the gate and going like a proverbial bat.


She is, in effect, a one-woman global enterprise. There are the mountains of equipment. The long, tiring journeys by car, bus and plane. Testing waxes, developing skis, countless hours training body and mind, inventing the ways and means to go straighter and faster than anyone and everybody – and, critically, circumventing all the hazards that entails. As the great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen famously said, “Adventure is just bad planning”.

Shortly after her monumental 2023 season ended in Andorra (another GS, another win) and days after the current winter began with early April training in Austria and 4am wakeup calls, Mikaela flew to Norway, the home of boyfriend and fellow champion ski racer Aleksander Aamodt Kilde. One more stop for a peripatetic champion.

“You travel far and wide, often for long periods of time, for a particular purpose,” explained Mikaela. “And in the midst of seeking that thing, you find yourself simultaneously experiencing other things you could have never imagined.”

“I am,” she acknowledges, “some form of a modern-day explorer.”

She’s in good company. Consider the possible role models for such an occupation. There’s Columbus, or Marco Polo, Amundsen. And, of course, that famously heroic mapper of

the Antarctic, Sir Ernest Shackleton. With many a snowy night under his cavalry-twill belt, he believed any proper explorer should possess four cardinal qualities: optimism, persistence, idealism, and courage.

With the same thoughtful, analytical approach she takes with her skiing, Mikaela considered how well she passes the Shackleton test.

“Optimism doesn’t completely negate the moments of realism, or maybe even negativity. It just means that overall, you must continue with the sense that you can always figure it out, and that there will always be something unimaginably beautiful just around the corner.”

“Persistence is simple: you must never give up. Plans change and people change. Your end goal may change. But you never give up.”

“Idealism is interesting to me. It may be the one thing that I don’t really relate to because I just don’t really have an ideal vision of anything anymore. Every time I imagine anything in my life or future, I always imagine it with some kind of understanding that it might be completely different and completely unideal, and I have to adapt to that as well.”

And lastly, Courage.

“I love that he didn’t say confidence… I think a lot of people confuse confidence with courage. Courage is one of the most

“Falling three times at the Olympics is not the hardest thing… It doesn’t even make the podium.”

important things in my life. It’s simply the willingness to try and keep plugging away despite the chance that you may fail miserably and that may be incredibly painful. It doesn’t mean you are fearless, it means you continue despite your fears.”

Mikaela’s well-documented courageousness is measured not only in 100ths of seconds. Nor is it an attribute restricted to Downhill courses where speeds exceed 70mph, and her much-analyzed turns create forces of up to 3.5 Gs against her five-foot seven-inch frame. It also takes a certain type of mental muscularity – maybe optimism? – to put your thoughts, your emotions, your self, out there in the public domain. Vide, her slick and successful fly-on-the-wall YouTube Channel shadowing the highs and lows, the tears and belly laughs, of her round-the-world voyage.

With seven episodes in the bag (and more to come), “Moving Right Along” starts by addressing the rock bottom that was her Beijing where, to the surprise of the Olympic watching world, no medals would grace the Shiffrin neck, despite being odds-on favorite to sweep most, if not all, of them.

“Here’s the truth about my biggest and most public fail –falling three times at the Olympics is NOT the worst or hardest thing that I have experienced in my life, it doesn’t even make the podium.”

In February 2020, her season was interrupted by a daughter’s worst horror. Her beloved father, Jeff Shiffrin, had died suddenly at the age of 65. Afterward, she felt it seemed silly to struggle with pre-race jitters. Putting it bluntly, “I don’t really care much anymore.”

“I think realizing that ski racing actually isn’t the “be all,

end all” is fairly liberating. It’s something that is very important to me, but I don’t have to put all of the pressure in the world on myself every single race.”

“I can try to enjoy the small moments, take the sport as seriously as I ever did but maybe not take myself so seriously,” she explained of her attitude shift, one that in the end did her results no harm. “It’s basically just realizing that nothing is quite as monumental as you might think it is and when I remember that, it helps me with the performance-anxiety feeling.”

Lookclosely at the hauntingly beautiful faces that populate the stunning photos by David Yarrow. You don’t have to search long to alight on the luminous eyes of her 30-yearold Norwegian partner Aleksander Aamodt Kilde. With two Olympic medals, 39 World Cup podiums, and packing a goldplated sense of humor (he’s resigned to being the plus-one when Mikaela’s around), the couple make a formidable team. Inevitably, when two stars such as these collide, a great deal of energy – and interest – erupts. Conducting a relationship amid the pressure of the White Circus can’t be all edelweiss and fresh powder.

“I feel his support and also guidance help me, whether he’s right there with me or on another continent. That’s probably the most incredible thing, that we can somehow feel close to each other and connected even when we are far away.”

“I think it takes a lot of flexibility and honestly simply love. We don’t get to see each other all the time, so when we can be together we really try to take advantage of that time,” she said.


But having eyes for each other doesn’t mean taking eyes off the ball.

“When we are training in the same places we have a great balance of spending time together, doing the job we each have to do as individuals, and also being able to do the job together and help each other in any way we can.”


Mikaela’s training schedule is meticulously drafted and redrafted, together with the rest of her team, to maximize preparation and recovery. “I very rarely race when I feel like I don’t have the tools I need to compete well. If I feel like I’m going into a race series and I’m “not ready” physically for it, then we all figure out together what we need to do in order to be more ready.”

This could mean taking a rest day, finding a different venue for training, pivoting to conditions more suited for the coming event, or changing the training from speed to tech, or vice versa.

“I definitely have some kind of biological athleticism from my parents, especially from my mom. Both my parents were incredible athletes across many different sports – skiing, tennis, Nordic skiing, running, windsurfing, and so many other things – my mom still is. But, in my mind, what was far more important than any role genetics played was their ability to nurture my brother and myself in our sports and passions and help teach and coach us, and at times learn with us,” she explains.

“I learned the importance of work ethic from my parents first,” Mikaela reveals. “And that’s been one of the greatest gifts they’ve given me in life.”

Whatever the origin, her impressive diagnostic skills also set Mikaela apart, one of many puzzle pieces in the astonishing Shiffrin success story.

“I have a pretty strong governor wired into my brain. I remember every time I ever went wrong in skiing, I remember all the injuries and I always analyze what might have led to them. For instance, if a particular crash could have had to do with fatigue or distraction, I always adjust in the future to limit those things.”

“And if push comes to shove and I really don’t feel comfortable, I will take my foot off the gas a bit,” she admits. “But I don’t go past 100 percent in order to win a race. I probably don’t even go past 95 percent.

So much for giving the ole 110 percent. But why would you risk it all, when your 95 per cent is all it takes?

“It’s important to know that anything in life worth doing is going to require some sacrifice. You may not be able to go to the parties your friends go to. You may have to skip gatherings because you need to train or workout or just go to bed at a reasonable time.”

“Sacrifice is part of it,” says the winningest skier of all time. “But I’ve never felt that it wasn’t worth it.”

“I don’t go past 100 percent in order to win a race. I probably don’t even go past 95 percent.”

Behind the Lens

In conversation with David Yarrow, legendary British contemporary photographer and ski-loving bon vivant

Cindy Crawford, John McEnroe, Jack Nicklaus…You’re renowned for setting your subjects in creative settings reflective of their characters and experiences. Why did you choose to set Mikaela in Norway with a polar explorer’s vibe?

Well, it was simply pragmatic because she dates the famous Norwegian skier Aleksander Kilde and they often spend the summer training together in Norway. We have strong ties in Norway and it’s so close to my home in the UK. As soon as we had their commitment, I then had to think of a theme and this struck me as both fun and apposite given Norway’s heritage in exploration. We also have a gallery in Oslo and I took counsel from them as to what would elicit excitement from the local community. We don’t want to take pictures that bore people or are a little bland.

“I can only show, not tell” is your adage. What do your images show us about Mikaela?

I think they show that she can be human and playful. I like to demystify people and try not to be too earnest in my shoots. I just want to be authentic and original. I know that she can handle the cold and is tough, but she is also striking and graceful. Historically, femininity and fortitude have not been thrown together by artists, but that has rightly changed. Women are just as tough as men – if not tougher – and that does not impinge on their sexuality. In fact, it amplifies it.


You’ve said you are an emotional person, quick to cry at football matches. Did your time with Mikaela and Aleksander produce any high-emotion moments for you?

I guess I was just so pleased to see the warmth between both Mikaela and Aleksander and the local Norwegians. That made me happy to know that they are good and kind people, irrespective of their fame.

Do you see Mikaela as a symbol of the American dream?

Yes, she is an inspiration to millions of young American skiers. She has achieved her success through a relentless pursuit of excellence. Ultimately her dream has been fulfilled by a commitment to work ethic and that is also the story of the American dream: work hard and everything is possible. I sense with Mikaela that she has very much kept her character and that fame has not affected her in that way.

Is her pursuit of speed and technique as noble an achievement as exploration and discovery?

That’s tricky. Not everyone has the resource to be an explorer in the modern era, whereas Mikaela lives in a world where she competes against everyone. To be the best is a huge achievement. But I think the explorers of 100 years ago were single minded to an extreme. They made sacrifices that even Mikaela would not make and I think that is to her credit. She seems very balanced



The once-forbidding business of skiing is today draped in luxury. Pulitzer Prize winner David Shribman honors the audacity of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the man who made first tracks.

In the exploration logbooks, in the tales of the polar regions, in the archives of the audacious, names stand out: Cook. Peary. Shackleton. Scott. Franklin. But one stands alone, above the shivering crowd, at the front of the prow of the men who nudged their ships to the far frontiers of bravery.


Perhaps the shiniest figure in the golden age of polar exploration, he was a skier, and even in that pursuit he sought out the terrain that was the most remote, the destinations the most demanding. He was a fearless seeker of challenge, a rugged roamer, wanderer, and trekker.

Born in frigid Norway in 1872 and reaching his demise—the death of the disappeared—in the dark waters of the Barents Sea 55 years later, Roald Amundsen was the personification of a long-ago ethos, replicated today only in guided tours and in inaccessible, unattainable reveries: Go farther, endure more, seek the faraway corners of the earth.

With a substantial inheritance that he plowed not into self-

indulgence but into selfless exploration, Amundsen warmly embraced the cold air on both poles. As an obsessive pioneer and obsessive planner, he reached the North Pole and was first to the South Pole, all the while reaching new realms of human endurance.

The 1911 expedition to the South Pole represents the best of Amundsen. Weathered and wise, after an unsuccessful effort to reach the North Pole, he and the four Norwegian companions who comprised his team soldiered on in the last pursuit of earth’s unreachable terrain.

At first the Antarctic was a theory, with Greek philosophers—their instincts running to balance and their hypotheses anticipating the Newtonian notion of equals and opposites—conjuring a South Pole to offset the North Pole. These polar postulations hardened after Aristotle demonstrated that the earth was a sphere. At the end of the 18th century, Captain Cook’s second circumnavigation of the globe ventured south of the Antarctic Circle on a ship named,


appropriately, Resolution. Once Peary achieved the great goal that Amundsen sought with resolution of his own—the North Pole, reached in 1909—attention inevitably turned to the other end of the world.

Scott was determined to be the first to reach the South Pole, and the smart money considered him good bet to do so. But when his crew stopped at Melbourne, Australia, he received a telegram: “Beg leave to inform you proceeding Antarctica, Amundsen.”

As the Amundsen party—equipped with sled dogs, not the ponies in the Scott retinue—neared its goal, it experienced unusually fine weather, marred only by slight snow showers from the southeast. Amundsen compared the approach to the Pole to “the eve of some great festival,” adding, “One could feel that a great event was at hand.” It was.

“We must, at all costs, get there first,” he said. “Everything must be staked on that.” Amundsen’s party won the race, and the acclaim, only after great exertion in varying conditions— cold, wet snows and then unusual austral temperatures that reached as high as minus 16 Celsius.

In their pursuit, members of his team were forced to kill off some of their 52 sled dogs to provide meat to feed the surviving dogs. Finally, they arrived at their goal—neither

the Promised Land nor land of promise—with three of their original four sledges and 17 dogs. Oscar Wisting, one of Amundsen’s most trusted companions, recalled how “together we planted Norway’s flag at the South Pole, where no human being had yet set foot.” It was three o’clock in the afternoon, the sun was shining and a photograph shows four men standing with the flag extended by the wind at nearly 90 degrees.

The goal was reached, the journey ended. I cannot say… that the object of my life was attained, that would be romancing rather too bare-facedly. I had better be honest and admit straight out that I have never known any man to be placed in such a diametrically opposition position to the goal of his desires as I was at that moment. The regions around the North Pole—well, yes, the North Pole itself—had attracted me from childhood, and here I was at the South Pole. Can anything more tipsy-turkey be imagined?

There was more to do, more to endure, miles to go before Amundsen would sleep in icy waters. His goal: reach the North Pole by air.

“Amundsen’s early success as an explorer was based primarily upon his mastery and adaptation of two historical traditions from different cultures—the Inuit use of dogs


and light sleds, and the Scandinavian use of boots bound to wooden planks to travel over snow,” Brown wrote in his Amundsen biography, “But he was not nostalgic when he knew their time was over. He quickly perceived the advantages of air travel in exploring the frozen zones.”

So, from dogsleds to a dirigible he moved and, in 1926, on the airship Norge he passed over the North Pole. One of the passengers aboard was Italian aeronautical engineer Umberto Nobile who later, in 1928, crashed on the Arctic ice.

Soon after, Amundsen set out to rescue him. His dirigible, apparently, crashed. Soon thereafter, Bryden Sparkes, writing in Popular Science Monthly, captures the essence of the explorer.

“Amundsen! The very name carries the song of the Arctic winds; the musketry of the white places on the earth. Of all men, he alone had stood at both frozen tips of our spinning world. From boyhood, his life was dedicated to the lonely polar trails, and when, a weathered old man, he roared away into the white silence, on a winged quest of rescue, it was his beloved land of snow that claimed him at last.”

Amundsen’s body never was found.

“To sit without doing anything would never occur to me.”

ATaleof ATaleof

TwoValleys TwoValleys

From the avant-garde food scene in Lech to the homespun traditions of Montafon Valley, skiing in Austria delivers culinary contrasts that schmeckt gut.

ANDREW FINDLAY | Photography by KARI MEDIG A skier on a powder high at Zürs am Alberg, Austria.

Ahush falls over the room. A dozen guests seated family-style around a large wooden table stare down at the appetizer placed before them: boiled lamb tongue, adorned with a conspicuous sprig of parsley.

Any culinary squeamishness was checked at the door long ago. It’s Chef’s Table night at Friends and Fools, the Rote Wand Gourmet Hotel’s curiously named special event kitchen and dining room. The chefs are putting on a show and it’s a gourmand’s dream come true.

The Rote Wand, near the Zugerbergbahn Talstation, has been in the Walch family since the 1950s when the parents of hotelier Joschi Walch renovated an old Zug farmhouse into a traditional Austrian mountain hotel, a short drive up-valley from Lech. When Joschi took over in 1986 he and wife Natasha reimagined the property. She leaned into her eye for design and gave it an aesthetically modern flair with touches of solid steel, custom light fixtures, minimalist furniture alongside curated art, photography, and sculptures. Joschi leaned into his love of food. Walch’s goal was to position Rote Wand as a destination for foodies keen on celebrating Austrian mountain cuisine featuring local cheese, wines, breads, seasonal fruits and vegetables—for the sort of guest who would appreciate

a place that churns butter, bakes bread and ferments yogurt in-house. Joschi also wanted to offer menus amplified by an international appetite for experimentation. Friends and Fools is the latest expression of this expansive culinary vision.

“Our goal is to bring people from around the world, sit around a table together to eat and talk about food,” he says, explaining the simple concept behind Friends and Fools.

Outside, melting snow dripping from the gutters taps out a metronomic rhythm. Spring has arrived early to the Austrian Alps, presenting a perfect opportunity to let taste buds guide a journey.

Around here, vernacular and traditions can vary from one valley to the next. So does food. On this warm sunny week in March, we decide to explore a culinary yin and yang, from the bustle and buzz of Lech’s avant-garde food scene to the quiet, reliable traditions of the Montafon Valley. With less than 20 miles and a few mountain ridges separating them, these two valleys are worlds apart.

So far at Friends and Fools, it’s been an odyssey. It started with a Rote Wand spritz of red sweet vermouth, elderflower syrup, soda, and lemonade. Over the course of two hours and several glasses of Blaufränkisch, a red wine varietal from the Burgenland region of eastern Austria, we watched chef Tobias

lefttoright 1. Sonnenbahn lift at Silvretta Montafon. 2. Picnic on a snowshoe hike in Kristberg, Montafon with Stefanie Peiker of Gemsli Guides. 3. Chef Jamie Unshelm of Rote Wand's Culinary Lab plates a dish at the Friends & Fools Dinner, an interactive culinary experience where guests learn the intricacies of haute cuisine. 4. Ski school instructor Helmut “Heli” Brunner at Gargellen, Montafon.

Schöpf bone and portion an entire lamb into cuts of rump, back, filet, rack and flank. Following that was a crash course on food fermentation, with a sampling of sumptuously fermented potatoes and pumpkin seed miso. The lamb tongue appetizer is course number five – five more to go.

Lech am Alberg’s food and après cred is as well established as its reputation for expansive ski terrain. In that sense the Rote Wand is right at home.

Tracks from the powder frenzy of the season’s biggest snowstorm 10 days ago are now frozen into north-facing offpiste lines of Lech Zürs. Warm weather followed quickly on the heel of the storm. Now wherever the solar is strong, it’s corn snow and spring skiing conditions and the masses are swooshing their way down to Zürs for lunch.

Lech’s culinary chops are both steeped in family recipes handed down through generations of farming and infused with the innovative spirit of chefs from the big city. Innovators like Vienna’s Paul Ivić whose TIAN am Berg pop-up restaurant at Hotel Edelweiss in Zürs brings a vegan twist to local food offerings. Similarly, Zayad Shah has lent his own cheeky twist to the area’s après culture.

Late in the day, we slide to a stop at the five-star Strolz ski rental shop, then stomp along a slushy sidewalk to the

Kyrgyzstani yurt that sticks out in downtown Lech like a piercing on a tanned navel. I slip through the tent flap and find Shah stoking the woodstove in advance of the happy-hour crowd. We’re early.

“Village officials were a bit suspicious when I came to them with an unconventional concept,” Shah says with a laugh, as he mixes up a Negroni, one of his go-to cocktails. “But I thought it was time for some fresh bar concepts.”

Locals and visitors agreed. For the past five years Shah’s cozy yurt has been a must for locals and visitors looking to sip a cocktail next to a crackling woodstove before removing their ski boots for the day.

A woman in a fur collar peeks through the tent door, does a quick scan, then vanishes. Apparently, it’s not her thing. Experimentation and tradition sometimes strike a tenuous balance.

When it comes Austrian cuisine, it doesn’t get more traditional than spätzle. Skiing in Austria without noshing on a heaping plate of it would be like visiting Argentina and declining a filet mignon or juicy torpedo of beef—a form of culinary sacrilege. Spätzle, a handmade noodle, is Austrian soul food.

A half-hour ski tour from the Sonnenkopf top station and


we’re posing for photos next to the giant cross tethered to the summit of Muttjöchle, along with a hale Austrian senior out for a solo walk on her skis. Muttjöchle is a popular pilgrimage for locals, an easily attained summit with panoramic views. And so is Panoramagasthof Kristberg, our lunchtime destination and a short traverse from the top of the Kristbergbahn Silbertal. The descent from Muttjöchle involves skirting a wild deer preserve in a subalpine forest that smells citrusy in the warmth of spring. Austrians love deer—both hunting and eating them. Sit in any traditional mountain restaurant and you’ll be surrounded by dozens of stag trophies, mounted on the walls and staring glassy-eyed as you carve self-consciously into a slice of venison.

Twenty minutes later and we’re at restaurant elevation. Snow has all but vanished so we clomp the last few hundred feet along a farm road flanked by steep green pastures. Pairs of skis are leaned randomly against the lift shack at the base of the local ski hill, as though people simply dropped their kit and walked away when the T-bar stopped turning for the season. A few patches of snow linger stubbornly on otherwise green pistes now being grazed happily by a few dairy cows. A silver-bearded dude straddles an e-mountain bike, puffing on a celebratory cigarette next to a sunny patio filled with families and friends enjoying a long Saturday afternoon repast.

In the kitchen chef Martin Schneider is busy whipping up

“Before we find a stool at the bar, he’s already poured a round of schnapps, housedistilled from the root of gentian flowers that blossom during summer among the surrounding mountains.”


1. Zayad Shah in his apres-ski bar Yurt Lech in central Lech, Austria.

2. Hubert Neher pours mountain gentian schnapps at the historic Kessl-Hütte, Gargellen ski area, Montafon.

this page clockwise

1. The Zugerbergbahn over the village of Zug, Arlberg, Austria.

2. Enjoying traditional Austrian dessert "kaiserschmarrn" prepared by Chef Martin Schneider from Panoramagasthof Kristberg, Montafon.

3. Lounge area of Rote Wand Gourmet Hotel in Zug, Lech, Austria.

mountains of spätzle. “This is the difference between high society and normal people,” Schneider says with a snicker, when I tell him where we lunched yesterday.

Traveling is always a study in contrasts and so it is in the Austrian Alps. The previous afternoon we sought refuge on the see-and-be-seen patio of Schlegelkopf next to a sunworshipping supermodel delicately dining on Hakuba-inspired sushi and sippy bubbly.

A day later, we’re sharing a long wooden table with three robust farm girls gripping frothy pints of Austrian Märzen, looking like they could wrestle a steer to the ground. It’s irrefutable confirmation that we have indeed left behind the high society of Lech Zürs and entered down-to-earth, nothingto-prove Montafon.

Chef Schneider’s delicious version of spätzle, Montafoner Käsespätzle, comes with roasted onions, salad and a special local touch, Sura Kees, or sour cheese. unique to the Montafon region. Locals are so proud of their sour cheese that the tourism board funded the cookbook Zu Tisch im Montafu, dedicated entirely to recipes showcasing Sura Kees. One of Schneider’s is included, pancakes with blueberries and sour cheese. Thomas Hildebrand also has a recipe in the book. This Montafon chef and culinary instructor recently opened a food event and

clockwiselefttoright 1. Mystical view over Lech Zürs am Arlberg. 2. Montafon snowshoe and hiking guide Stefanie Peiker of Gemsli Guides. 3. Keesknöpfli with Sura Kees being made by chef Martin Schneider from Panoramagasthof Kristberg. 4. Server at Schlegelkopf Restaurant Bar on the slopes in Lech am Arlberg.

guesthouse with his wife.

We meet the couple the following evening at the meticulously renovated farmhouse situated on a pastoral property a few minutes downstream from Gallenkirk. Evening shade draws across the valley, leaving only the very mountaintops gilded in amber. The thrum of a lowing cow hangs above the gentle rush of the Ill River.

“For a long time, Sura Kees was considered cheese for the poor people but now it’s getting popular. It seems Austrians are going back to their roots,” Hildebrand says, adding that there are more than a dozen dairy farms producing this Montafon specialty.

After another heaping plate of Hildebrand’s version of spätzle, we are face-to-face with a hefty portion of another

“Spätzle, a handmade noodle, is Austrian soul food.”


classic, Kaiserschmarrn, the Emperor’s preferred dessert. These sweet fluffy pancakes are served with caramelized, rum-soaked raisins, and sprinkled with icing sugar to elevate the decadence to another rich and heavy level. It’s a meal unto itself. One wonders if such calorie-rich Austrian mountain dishes helped fuel the likes of Hermann Maier and this country’s many dominant ski racers over the years.

There’s no racing around at Gargellen ski resort the next morning. The clock has yet to strike noon, and already the sun is intense. Our guide Sandy Salmen, a smooth-turning and fast-talking ski instructor, is arcing lazily down the hill with his gloves tucked into the chest strap of his backpack. It’s the kind of weather that seems to propel a day on the slopes rapidly towards activities of the après variety.

First stop is a mid-morning coffee at Obwald Hütte, Gargellen’s original on-piste restaurant and bar. Here, we learn about the late Sepp Braunger, a legendary Gargellen pioneer who did it all, including heading up the ski school, mountain rescue and avalanche control teams. Legend has it that he hiked up the mountainside with bags of concrete during the construction of this eatery years ago.

A few laps on the softening snow later, and we’re sliding to a stop next to Kessl Hütte, where Gargellen ski instructors go to unwind after long days teaching people how to go left and right.

Hubert Neher, bartender-proprietor, seems to have a cool-uncle relationship Salmen. The camaraderie is

1. A model meat display at the Restaurant Wunderkammer at the Hotel Almhof Schneider, Lech. 2. Chef Martin Schneider from Panoramagasthof Kristberg, Montafon. 3. A display of local cheeses at chef Thomas Hilbrand's "Muntafuner Keesknöpfli" cooking course.

noticeable as soon as we walk through the thick, wellweathered wooden door. Before we find a stool at the bar, he’s already poured a round of schnapps, house-distilled from the root of gentian flowers that blossom during summer among the surrounding mountains.

“It’s like a big family here. We all help and know each other,” Salmen says, before four shots of this mountain spirit are downed and another round appears automatically.

In many ways Montafon and Lech Zürs are like two disparate versions of the Austrian Alps, distant cousins who get awkward when forced to sit around the same table. Yet family matters in both.

Back at the Rote Wand Gourmet Hotel, Joschi Walch takes advantage of some rare quiet time to catch up on paperwork in his office cluttered with glossy books about food. This hotel started as a family hotel and remains so. Joschi and wife Natasha’s son and daughter both work on the food side of things, the next generation of Walches that will leave their mark on the culinary landscape of Lech Zürs. Joschi is a big man with an easy smile and a warm demeanor. When not putting in long days at the Rote Wand, he also travels with his tastebuds.

“I met a group of 15 foodies at an event in Paris. Eight of them had been to the Rote Wand,” he says unable suppress a little pride that the cuisine of a boutique family hotel in Zug has attracted a global following.

It’s another way of saying, mission accomplished.

clockwise 1. Chef Josef-Martin Walch, son of Natascha and Joschi of the Rote Wand Gourmet Hotel, and curator of the Friends & Fools dinner. 2. Montafoner Käsespätzle prepared by chef Martin Schneider from Panoramagasthof Kristberg. 3. Hut-keeper Hubert Neher cleans up at the historic Kessl-Hütte at Gargellen, Montafon.


How does it feel to ski fast, Olympic gold-medal fast? Retired ski racer Julia Mancuso shares her passion for speed.

Close your eyes and imagine. You’re on top of a mountain. It’s one minute before kicking out of the start gate – your one chance to navigate icy slopes, through a mysterious maze of gates that will determine your fate. Victory or defeat. Suddenly, the world seems eerily silent, and you tune into the beats and sensations of your own body. Heart is pounding, legs are heavy from the weight of your skis, feet aching from the tightness of buckles fastened to their max. You take a few more deep breaths, visualize the course once more, and pull your goggles over your eyes to adjust to the light. The beeps begin and the tension in your body begins its release. There is no more thinking, only action.

This is warrior mode. The wind hits your face as you get

up to speed in a flash. Your eyes are searching with razor sharp focus for tiny reminders of where to turn and when to glide. The only thing you are conscious of is keeping your outside ski underneath you so you can handle the bumps and you use your body as a giant shock absorber. Nothing clouds your vision, and time stands still.

The faster you go, the slower it feels. You throw your skis sideways in a giant spray and come back to your body, your mind, to reality. Lungs burn, legs ache. You turn back to see your time, but the outcome doesn't matter. It was always about the thrill. The mountain is our blank canvas. Here is the place to let go of negative thoughts and of weighty emotions. On skis, the movement and the presence are absolute. This is where we paint the best version of ourselves.



Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.