The snow fell in droves and instead of feeling like a bright, cheery Easter weekend; it felt more like Valentine’s Day in February. Despite our disappointment (we desperately wanted sunny skies, which would afford hiking opportunities) the children were stoked to be among the snow in Saas Fee. Fresh powder for walking, falling, playing and eating over those two very cold days in the Alps made them silly with delight and their joy was contagious.
We sought refuge in a children’s hotel (Panorama Kid’s Hotel Alphubel), longing for uninterrupted conversations, peace at meal times and simply some togetherness. We walked into the hotel only to be greeted with the solitude we were looking for. The hotel had organized a nature walk for the children and then off to the children’s area to dye Easter Eggs and partake in a movie that afternoon. What a fabulous idea we thought and never ran so fast to our room to gear them up for that snowy adventure walk. Snow clothes on, our little babes were bundled tight and we were off to explore the town and drink a coffee in silence. With smiles on everyone’s face, we were immediately taken by the concept of a kid’s hotel – total genius.
But for everything we did love, there unfortunately, was a list of a few things that for a kid’s hotel, we would have done differently. Now, before I go any further, we aren’t hotel snobs, we don’t frequent five-star digs, we love berghaus’ where bathrooms are located down the hall and cold water is the norm, but as frequent travelers, we do have opinions and we thought we would share them with our readers.
The hotel was immaculately clean, despite its age. The hotel staff was amazingly friendly and extremely helpful. The activities for the children were brilliant and I think our kids enjoyed their time in the play area, on the nature walk and having the opportunity to meet new friends. The idea of having a place where children can be safely looked after while parents hike, ski, eat, or relax was a wonderful break for a couple whose closest relatives live thousands of miles away.
The Could Be Better…
For those looking for modern accommodations, the hotel was very dated. There was nothing fancy or romantic about the hotel, but again, the accommodation were clean and perfectly adequate. The sauna was a nice added feature, but its location made it less than favorable for a relaxing sweat.
There were a few quirks along the way that made us contemplate whether or not we would return. Despite the 18 inches of fresh powder that fell during our first night, there were no sleds to borrow at the hotel (I guess the season was over and all the sleds had been tucked away and far out of reach). That came with great disappointment to our children who longed to go sledding. We too, were discouraged, as what better way to spend the day than to sled in the Alps? We would have brought our own, but the website made it clear that sleds were available at the hotel. Bummer. The children did find a playground in town, which they loved.
Meal times…hmm…maybe there was something lost in translation, but dinner posed a slight problem for our family of four. We elected not to have our children dine with the day care as we thought it would be nice to have a family dinner.
The dinner, despite the presentation, was not exactly a child – friendly meal. Our kids don’t need to dine exclusively on nuggets and fries, but the adult meal was by no means appealing to our five and two – year- old. Two starters, dinner and dessert took far too long for our antsy children and the food, well, didn’t charm them at all. Clear broth soup with egg and chilled cucumber soup wasn’t what they had hoped for. Needless to say, the meal wasn’t the relaxing dining experience we had hoped for.
The next night, because the hotel wasn’t fully occupied, dinner was to take place at 7:30 at the sister hotel in the village. For our little ones, that was a very late dinner in a far off destination, despite the ride the hotel was willing to provide. As slightly seasoned parents, we knew this would be a recipe for utter disaster (tired children, late night meal, etc.), which would ultimately result in a family on the verge of breakdown; so, we elected to forgo the dinner and picnicked in our room, allowing the children to hit the sack at 7:00. The hotel was kind enough to credit our account 50chf for not dinning with them the previous evening. Fair enough, as we had deemed our pre-paid meal a loss.
Were the above issues big deals? No, not really, essentially they were hiccups along the way, but in our opinion, they made the child-friendly atmosphere a bit less friendly. Maybe we would have a different opinion of the hotel if we had visited in better weather, it is hard to tell.
We haven’t written off “child-friendly” hotels just yet though. We will be trying out another location in Liechtenstein in June, so check back for our review and final attempt at some much needed couple time.