Getaway: Nira Alpina
Holiday season is upon us. The more I get into my fitness, the more interested I become in getaway locations that allow me to be active while I’m there. So, when the opportunity came up for me to visit the Nira Alpina hotel in Surlej, just outside St. Moritz in Switzerland, I jumped at the chance to explore the area and fitness opportunities out there. You may think there’s no fun to be had at a ski resort in the summer – oh, guess again, my friends!
The Area and Hotel
Surlej is a small village about five kilometres from St. Moritz and offers some of the best skiing in the area in the winter months. I could run out of adjectives trying to describe how beautiful the area is but commented several times that it looks so perfect as to barely look real. Every view could be a postcard. The snow-capped mountains (yes, even in June), stunning green grass and incredible turquoise of the lakes, makes you just want to high five nature for doing such a great job.
The hotel sits at 1850 metres, so you’re right in the heart of the mountains and a quick cable car journey takes you to 3300 metres where the views will blow your mind. Nira Alpina has 70 rooms, all of which are mountain-facing, so no one misses out on the view. Floor-to-ceiling double doors that open onto your private balcony let you know you’re in the heart of nature from the second you wake up.
The interior design is sleek and minimal; wooden beams, stone and granite make it feel both rustic and plush. Earthy hues and rich fabrics are used throughout and just make you feel calm. You never feel as though you’re being slapped in the face with overly fussy design. It’s just seamless.
Sure, the summer months are most definitely quieter at a ski resort, (but if you ask me, that only makes it more appealing to visit), though that doesn’t mean you lack for things to do. Nira Alpina is perfectly situated for you to try out a number of activities. On my second day there, we hired mountain bikes from the bike shop conveniently located literally two minutes walk from the hotel and went for a ride around Lake Silvaplana. Trails through the woods are blissfully quiet and obviously you can pick some pretty challenging routes through the mountains if you so wish.
Kitesurfing, paddle-boarding, windsurfing and sailing are all massively popular due to the great position of the lakes, which provide the perfect wind conditions. During our bike ride, we saw tons of adrenalin-junkies out on the lake kitesurfing, which looked like mad fun (and also made for a really pretty visual as all the colourful kites danced around on the skyline).
On our third day, we set out early and got a cable car to 2300m where we started a three hour hike. You definitely feel the altitude, but the views will just blow your mind. We hiked down the mountain, stopping along the way for plenty of photo ops, obviously. Our guide took us on a trek called Via Gastronomica, which includes lunch and sweets along the way. Once we had descended to a nearby town, we stopped at a local restaurant for lunch, then at another restaurant further along for hot chocolates and cakes. Pretty perfect way to fuel up to make it back to base. I absolutely loved this hike and we were lucky to have had really great weather for it.
My GAD, did we eat on this trip! Nira Alpina has a great restaurant called ‘Stars’ where they encourage ‘sharing’ style dining. The chef prepared some of the hotel’s signature dishes for us which included sea bass baked in banana leaf, deep fried chicken wings with blue cheese sauce, lobster in wasabi and papaya and a baked yoghurt for dessert.
The area is also really well known for its cheese and we paid a visit to a local cheese maker to watch how its all done (a pretty fascinating process involving a lot of stirring, some heavy lifting and ample cellar storage).
And it’s Switzerland so you know, the chocolate is OFF THE CHAIN!
The hotel has a steam room, sauna and whirlpool to ease away the stresses of the day (though in fairness, you’d have your work cut out for you getting stressed here). The whirlpool sits next to a floor to ceiling window so you can look out over the mountains as you relax. There’s also a spa where I indulged in one of their ‘Alpine Journey’ massages which uses relaxing oils and a combination of sticks, hot stones and good ol’ hands to ease away any kinks in your muscles. Not to be hyperbolic, but this was genuinely one of the best massages I’ve ever had. They practically had to pry me off the table at the end.
You can also take a trip into St. Moritz. That’s a real education into how the other half live. It’s a small village with a population of 5000. You can walk around the whole village and yet there is every designer shop you can think of lining the streets. Bentleys and Jaguars cruise around and you see many-a-well dressed local. The village has a great history so it’s nice to walk around with a guide who can fill you in on it all.
Nira Alpina has a summer initiative called ‘BaseCamp’ where you can try your hand at all sorts of adrenaline pumping activities and enjoy the location during the quieter season. They also have ‘Yoga Deluxe’ packages in September and October. Also in October, they’re hosting their first ever Running Weekend where you can run with top athlete Anne-Marie Flamersfeld (who won all four events in the 4 Deserts Race last year – utter badass!), leading you through some spectacular routes in the area.
And of course, during the winter season, the area plays host to some of the best skiing you’ll find with 17 red runs and 12 kilometres of black piste.
For me, the three days I spent there was just the right combination of active and relaxing. I’d love to go back in the winter months and give skiing a go (can’t believe I still haven’t tried skiing!). It’s a great area, so picturesque you question if it’s even real. The hotel itself is fantastic and I can genuinely say has some of the nicest staff I’ve ever encountered. Everyone was smiling, friendly and would go above and beyond to ensure you had the best stay. They all seemed to love working there. I’ve really tried to think of a negative to balance out all this gushing – all I can come up with is that I got a sunburn, which is no one’s fault but mine and my clearly-not-strong-enough Factor 50.
So if you’re looking for a getaway where you can be active, Nira Alpina is most definitely worth checking out.
You can see more pics from my trip over on my Instagram.
You can also see this post over on my fitness site Spikes & Heels.