For anyone seeking a remote, down-to-earth ski resort, Arosa is just the place.
Although it is one of Graubünden's most acclaimed resorts, it also has old world charm and an unhurried, village-like atmosphere.
The town is situated east of Chur in canton Graubünden and lies nestled at the end of a spectacular, sheer valley called the Schanfigg. In fact, much of its appeal is in its position at the end of a single, narrow road, surrounded by snowcapped mountains on all sides. "In Arosa, you feel like you've arrived," says Marianne Orlando of the local tourism office, "It's more than just a passing point, it's a destination". The resort is relatively small, quaint and offers idyllic views.
Arosa has over 70 kilometres of skiing for mixed abilities. There are three main mountains and the highest point is the Weisshorn at 2,653 metres above sea level. Beginners will find a good choice of runs and there are also more challenging slopes for intermediate and advanced skiers. A word of caution however: Arosa is best suited for moderately skilled skiers. Experts will have to make do with a few black runs and any off-piste skiing they can find. Because Arosa is so high (1,800 metres), there is always plenty of snow and the resort enjoys a lengthy ski season, which starts in December and only ends in April. There is a highly efficient system of 16 ski lifts, which offer access to Arosa's 55 slopes. The area also has good snowboarding facilities, including a freestyle "funpark". Basically, Arosa offers a traditional Alpine experience that isn't overly demanding and is suitable for anyone in search of a relaxing ski vacation.
Arosa, which started out in 1883 as a sanatorium for patients with lung problems, has since given way to winter sports enthusiasts. In addition to ski slopes, there are 28 kilometres of panoramic cross-country ski trails and 40 kilometres of well-groomed winter walking paths. Snowshoeing, ice skating, curling are also on-offer and Arosa has six toboggan runs. The more adventurous can try their hands at snow-biking. Hot air balloon rides and paragliding flights take guests up, up and away for a bird's-eye view of the peaks and valleys of the Graubünden region. There is dawn to dusk fun with rides up to the Weisshorn summit for a sunrise view over the mountains and torchlight skiing at twilight. Arosa's "moonlight excursion" is one of the highlights of the winter season. When there is a full moon, skiers can ride the lifts - for free - up to three mountaintop restaurants and then ski back down by moonlight. Horse-drawn carriage rides provide a romantic way to tour this fairytale resort. Arosa has also managed to retain its focus as a health resort with many hotels offering spa and massage services.
Just for kids
Arosa is very family-oriented and the resort offers several package deals for children. Families are pointed in the direction of any one of Arosa's "Lollipop Hotels", which offer special discounts, day-care and babysitting facilities and creative activities for children. There are also "Lollipop Restaurants" which are kid-friendly and provide special menus. Children under 16 receive a half-price discount on the ski lifts and kids under six ride for free. For little learners, there are two ski schools, the ABC Alpine Sport School and the Kinderclub Bobo, which offer comprehensive, all-day skiing and snowboarding instruction. The resort also features snow playgrounds and a cinema for children. One of the biggest family attractions is the Tschuggen sled run, a one-kilometre stretch offering plenty of spills and thrills for all ages.
The nightlife in Arosa is rather sedate, with local eateries and hotel bars providing quiet places to lose track of time and relax after a rigorous day on the slopes. For dancing fans, the place to go is the renowned Kitchen Club, although there is a variety of other, smaller discos, which stay open late. The overall atmosphere of the resort is family-oriented, unassuming and low-key so anyone looking for a lot of action might be better off visiting nearby Davos or St Moritz. At the beginning of December, the resort hosts a "Humour Festival," featuring performances from international comedians and comedy groups, and many are in English.