Let’s face it, who wants to get up for yoga, before breakfast, on the first day of a break. Not me that’s for sure, but my buddies ‘bullied’ me, and I didn’t want to back out.
Before I knew it my alarm beeped me from my comfy bed… I considered all kinds of U-turns, before getting my act together and creeping along the beautifully carpeted hallway to join my friends in the exercise room.
My last yoga class was a few years ago, but our patient teacher soon had me and the other novices moving and stretching alongside those who made every movement look fluid and easy.
I’d misjudged how good this could be – it was a lovely relaxing way to ease into the day, and for my first glimpse of the sunny, surrounding mountains as the class faced a glass wall, which let you cast your gaze out over the high, snowy, Engadine Alpine vistas.
Grand Hotel Kronenhof
For those who want to indulge in a luxury ski break it doesn’t come better than the five-star Grand Hotel Kronenhof.
It breathes elegance like a fine perfume, with every comfort closer than you thought. A member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels, the property has 112 rooms and suites. It’s family friendly, with a strong focus on wellness. This includes infinity and spa pools, a flotation room with underwater music, saltwater grotto, saunas, steam rooms and more.
Much of the décor is Neo Baroque, which lulls you to slow down and appreciate its mighty fine settings.
Founded in 1848 the hotel underwent several renovations, surviving two World Wars before being eventually being sold to Greek shipbuilding family, the Niarchos.
The property puts Pontresina on a par with St Moritz, so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise to learn the luxury Kulm Hotel is its famous sister.
However, the Kronenhof’s top, friendly service, and attention to detail ensure it’s no Cinderella – it could host – and be the star of an incredible ball!
There’s much to discover about this beautiful building, from its stately facade
to the recently renovated rooms by French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon.
My favourite was found when wandering away from the fine facades. The Kronenhof is home to Switzerland’s oldest bowling alley, where you can still enjoy a game.
There’s also more native Engadine décor, in the shape of Gredig Stübli, a welcoming, wood-panelled parlour.
We ate our first dinner in the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, Kronenstübli, which is close by.
This Swiss pine parlour packs a flavour punch, serving Italian-Mediterranean and French food, which treats the taste buds, served with sublimely well-chosen wines.
On our second night, we dined in the hotel’s Grand Restaurant, which lived up to its name and made me feel I’d walked into a better dressed set of Downton Abbey.
There’s a more formal dress code than Kronenstübli, which serves Swiss culinary specialities and international treats.
And don’t miss the Kronenhof Bar – it’s home to the area’s largest gin collection!
I’ve now told you about our fine-dining evenings ahead of my first day in resort, so let’s get back to post-yoga breakfast, a hearty feast, enjoyed under frescoed ceilings, and then the day’s second challenge – cross-country skiing.
Pontresina is ‘cloud nine’ for anyone who enjoys cross-country, with 220 kilometers of trails that take you around frozen lakes, through pretty tree-lined valleys and give you ample time to take in the tranquillity.
Our group was taking its first turn on the ‘skinny skis’, but before long was swishing along with the rest of the enthusiasts, thanks to good tips from our instructor, Marvin Müller. There’s also the Engadine Ski Marathon Route for those who want to race (perhaps later)!
Our active morning was followed by lunch at the hotel’s Le Pavilion Restaurant, which looks out over Roseg Glacier, and the hotel’s ice rink.
Then it was off to the spa for a five-senses massage, which aims to stimulate five senses. You pick aromatherapy oil, which will target certain organs and body parts.
It was certainly relaxing and set me up well for downhill skiing at Corvatsch the day after.
For an intermediate skier some of Corvatsch is a big challenge, as you swoop down the 5.5 mile descent from the eastern Alps highest summit station (3,303m) to St Moritz.
And big challenges sometimes start with big cable cars – we took the 125 person aerial tramway, gliding up into the clouds and coming out seven minutes later into sunshine at the panoramic top.
I love this 120 kilometres ski area, as its 23 runs show the Engadine at its best, with beautiful snow-capped peaks, great snow – and a grand atmosphere.
The red and blue slopes on Furtschellas take you away from the busier slopes to enjoy some great cruising. Adrenaline junkies should try the Fun Ride in the Corvatsch Park, for some thrill-seeking freestyle.
Pontresina also has its own small, family ski resort – Languard – right in the heart of the village, where children up to 15 ski for free!
Great for beginners, there’s a ski and snowboard school, magic carpet, kids village and drag lift to help those taking their first turns in the snow.
You can also enjoy ice-climbing, ski touring, snowshoeing, tobogganing, and horse-drawn sleigh rides…or sink into relaxation and let the beauty of the place be enough.
St Moritz’s posh playground is abuzz with furs, finery and fashion-conscious folk,…but for me, the peace to be found in Pontresina makes it a perfect place for a break.
Briony rented her cross country skis from Schweizer Langlauf- und Bikezentrum Pontresina”
Read more from Briony Key’s Alpine adventures here.