Rocksresort, Laxx, Switzerland
Laax is actually more of a snowboarding destination than a skiing one. It has the biggest half pipe in Europe and hosts major competitions. At the Laax base station is the Rocksresort – all very new, very trendy and terribly cool. Designed along the lines of an American ski resort, with refreshingly no attempt at a faux alpine village look, there are cube-shaped apartment blocks hewn out of granite and wood. The buildings are laid out in a town square format with hip restaurants, bars and coffee shops. That said, it’s very family-friendly – no snowboarder seemed at all put out by young children taking over various tables to accommodate some very loud games of Uno.
Our apartment was situated at the back of the square and caused much excitement on our arrival. After a bit of hard-core negotiating about who was going to sleep where, the goodie bags were ripped open and the TV put on. That was when Max discovered his favourite programme was on TV – and in English! I realise this may sound like some parents’ bête noir – to go on holiday and discover you have access to UK TV channels – but when you expose children to a new environment, I think it helps to be able to decompress in front of a cast of familiar characters after a day on the slopes.
The apartment worked well for us all. It was nice being able to make a hot chocolate at just the right temperature with a bit of water in it and no cream, to whip up a spag bol with not too much garlic and definitely no mushrooms, to claim a section of the fridge for your own food – be it jellybabies or locally produced cheese.
And what about the skiing? It’s gentle around Laax, and the neighbouring resort of Flims so an intermediate skier’s dream. There are lots of lovely red and blue runs mixed with some not too demanding black ones. After a long gondola lift up to the mid mountain, you find yourself amongst a web of lifts and rides – all of them feeling like they lead back to the midstation known as Crap Sogn Gion (“crap” being the German word for rock – and yes, that joke ran and ran). Perhaps one of my best moment’s skiing was down an easy blue run travelling through a wonderful alpine forest. It was late afternoon, the cloud had lifted, there was glorious sunshine and no one else on the slope apart from Sophia and I.
Sophia and Tom’s highlight was an evening spent at the Freestyle Academy, an indoor training hall with trampolines, ramps, indoor slopes and a huge foam pit for safe, soft landings. They could practise their jumps, twirls and flips and watch some seriously talented teenagers strut their stuff.
There was a different restaurant to choose every night in the rocksresort, but Max was too wiped most evenings to make it to seven o’clock, so he tended to have supper back at the apartment and we got a babysitter. He did make a guest appearance at our pizza night at the Signinahotel though. It was a success: rarely have I seen one so small consume a margherita pizza quite so large.
The holiday was a resounding success: all five of us can ski now. Some better than others, some with the promise of much more, and some with the realisation that their seasons at being the fastest down the slopes are numbered. What I also realised is that it won’t be too long before Tom and Sophia will want friends to come along – a configuration I have no doubt that Powder Byrne will cope with admirably. Catering for families at all levels and capabilities is clearly what they’re good at.
Prices start from £9,040 for a family of five, for February half term in a two-bedroom standard self-catering apartment in Rocksresort, including flights, transfers and premium Powder Byrne service. Visit www.powderbyrne.com for details