When many people hear the name Davos, the first thing they think of is the World Economic Forum, while Klosters evokes thoughts of Prince Charles and his annual ski trip. That’s all I knew before last week …
The full story is that Davos Klosters is a multi-faceted mountain resort (one of the oldest in Switzerland) in the heart of the Swiss Alps with 700+ km of hiking trails in the summer and 300+ km of ski slopes in the winter. We spent a weekend here this month got a first-hand look at all it has to offer for my Skiing in Europe with Kids’ series.
Top of the world at Parsenn
What I’ve tried hard to communicate in my series is the “why go” essence of all the top ski areas. If you’re going to fly to a new country to ski, an evaluation of the total ski experience (from the town to the slopes) is in order to ensure the time and expense required to get there is worthwhile.
Davos is the highest city in Europe. The operative word here is ‘city’ — Davos is a full-fledged city, not a quaint village hamlet. At first I was put off by this fact, but after settling into the city, I realized that the tradeoff is that an urban, sophisticated environment offers much more than just access to skiing (or hiking in summer months) than a typical ski village.
Davos features a huge array of restaurants, shops, and even a full casino for gambling. The combined region has 19,500 beds to offer guests; this means there is much more choice when it comes to finding suitable, affordable accommodations compared to other ski destinations.
Horse and buggy ride to fondue dinner in a mountain valley
Despite the urban center of Davos, vast wilderness is immediately accessible. We took a 45-minute horse and buggy ride from our hotel in Davos to a fondue dinner down a mountain valley to Restaurant Teufi. The ride in the open carriage under a starlight sky was incredible and as peaceful as if we were hours away from anything urban.
This experience was exceptional and as “Swiss feeling” as it gets — you’re not giving up rural Swiss winter experiences by staying in Davos.
Davos-Klosers is comprised of six different ski areas; each mountain has it’s own distinct personality and ski offering. It’s important to know that these mountains are not all interconnected where you can get from one to the other on skis.
The reality of the interconnected resorts for families, however, is that you really can’t take advantage of all the connected terrain anyway unless your kids are skiing with you.
If it takes two hours to “ski” to a new resort and your child is in ski school at your “home” destination, it’s a big risk to be two-hour of skiing away (may be more via car) if they needed to be picked up early for any reason. I can’t imagine many parents of young children being comfortable being that removed from their kids in a foreign country.
In Davos-Klosters, the different resorts are connected via bus. Most people just choose one mountain to ski in a day — so you can still get all the benefit of variety within a single holiday. The beauty is that, if needed, you can meet your kids within a short period of time.
Freeride loving skiers rave about Davos-Klosters. Information points are plentiful
In Davos-Klosters you are skiing mountains not runs. The open-space here is mind-boggling and the region is famous for on and off-piste skiing. Freeriding is very popular here with over 50 km of terrain. Given the huge amount of freeriding available here, not surprisingly, Davos is also home to a world-class avalanche training center.
At the same time, families are an important part of the ski experience at Davos-Klosters. Kids are everywhere and they offer several dedicated kids’ play zones that are perfect for young children.
All-family ‘how to carve’ lesson
We spent the day with a teacher from the Davos ski school, Markus, who has taught in this area for 19 years. Talk about someone how knows his stuff! We had a tremendous experience skiing with him, not to mention using a guide for the first day in a vast ski resort is a great way to take the struggle out of navigating where to go.
We were able to experience two of the ski resorts in our day of skiing and I covered highlights for the rest with the tourist board.
Perfect young kids ski terrain at Bolgen (bottom of Jakobshorn)
This is the family mountain with the biggest Kids Land play area catering to young children and first-time skiers.
Parseen is the largest of the ski areas with extensive terrain for all abilities. The other resorts are better with very young kids and first-time skiers, but we saw plenty of families skiing together.
Jakobshorn is the hip place to be with an extensive snow-park and infrastructure for snowboarding. It’s popular with teens and young adults. The bottom of this resort features a perfect kids’ area called Bolgen.
It was so well-set up for children that we were able to relax with a beer at the end of the day while our 9-year-old did a few more runs on this own using their well-supervised t-bar lift.
Skiing here is as wide open as it gets and the views are unbelievable. We skied here for the morning and loved it. There’s a Kids Land play area for little kids and the slopes are mostly blue and red; it’s the perfect place to ski with school-aged kids.
Rinerhorn has skiing for all abilities, free riding, and a huge toboggan run. On Wednesday nights, you can go night-sledding as a family.
Schatzalp is branded as the first “slowed down” ski area in Europe with gentle terrain and drag-lifts.
Children’s playroom (unsupervised) at Hotel Meierhof
We didn’t get the opportunity to explore Davos, but the tourist board set us up at the Hotel Meierhof in Davos and we loved it. It had the most comfortable bed I’ve slept on in weeks and features an excellent onsite restaurant. The ski bus literally stops outside the door. They have a kids’ menu and entertainment room, as well as an indoor pool and spa area.
Hotel Meierhof is CB Approved for sure … I’m going to add this hotel to our Switzerland hotel portfolio soon. Stay tuned.
Davos-Klosters is a 2-hour train ride from Zurich. Given the excellent local transportation set-up, there’s no need to rent a car to ski here.
I never like recommending things we haven’t experience but summer would also be fabulous in this region. Davos-Klosters runs a promotion where if you stay in a hotel or apartment, all the cable cars are free. This is a huge savings!
In addition to hiking, there is summer sledding, trotti bikes, a zip-line adventure course, and a public outdoor pool. The Davos lake has a beach and is popular for swimming. Check out their summer activities page for more information.
Editorial Note: Davos-Klosters hosted Ciao Bambino for accommodations and activities. They did not ask us to express any particular point of view. As usual, all opinions are our own.
Photos courtesy of Amie O’Shaughnessy with the exception of the Hotel Meierhof photo
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