Happiness for me is about wellbeing and the ability to reflect positively and to experience joy and awe. I have yet to find a better way to cultivate this than to spend time with my family in nature.
As I sit here and ponder what to write, I am immediately overcome with a flood of positive emotions about a weekend trip to Stoos/Morschach our family took last February.
Stoos is located in central Switzerland in canton Schwyz. It is quite close to Zurich and can be reached quickly by public transportation or car. The village area is, however, a car-free zone, so in order to reach the village and ski peaks (and hotels for that matter), you must either take a gondola to Stoos or a cogwheel train up to Morschach. From either destination, you can arrange to be transported to your accommodations by your hotel. The hotel where we stayed, the Seminar and Wellness Hotel in Stoos, is located just 100 meters from the gondola exit, so it was easy for us to transport our luggage, skis and snowboard to the reception area.
It might seem annoying at first to park your car in the valley (in the covered parking garage provided), especially if you aren’t used to getting around by public transportation. But we find it a thrilling process! We leave all the mundane, routine stress of city life behind when we lock our car and are transported via gondola to a magnificent world of pristine snow-covered peaks and the sound of trees rustling in the wind. Feelings of happiness and awe are immediate! I could stand for an hour in bliss! Once you are up in Stoos you can observe breathtaking views of the Mythen mountains or take a lift up to the sunny Fronalpstock and see the Vierwaldstättersee, or Lake Lucerne.
The area is not only beautiful; it is also a well-known winter sports area with much to offer. The two main ski areas are the Fronalpstock, which is a moderately difficult ski area, and the Klingenstock, which has both moderate and advanced trails for experienced skiers who want more of a challenge. There is also a fun park for snow boarders – our son enjoyed that area! – and a snow school and children’s ski program for young children. From the hotel, it is a short stroll to the picturesque alpine village of Stoos and the ski lifts, or, if you feel energetic you can rent snowshoes to explore the region. There are many well-marked paths in the vicinity for snowshoe tours and cross-country skiing.
We spent three nights in the Seminar/Wellness hotel in Stoos last February and will stay again in 2016 during March. We chose this hotel because it has everything we wanted, in addition to being located in the ski area: an indoor swimming pool, so I can swim laps every day; and a large, elegant, and versatile sauna/wellness area, which my son and husband use to unwind after skiing and snowboarding.
An added plus is the availability of various massage treatments. My youngest son tried out the Haki massage, which combines massage techniques with musically produced vibrations to relieve muscle tension. He loved it and wants to have the same experience this year. All therapies and treatments are certified and the therapists are very professional. The standard hotel rooms are spacious. It is also possible to rent a budget room, which is a bit smaller and, of course, cheaper, or an apartment. The hotel has a large, inviting lounge area and serves herb-infused waters throughout the day.
Food is always a topic of concern for our family: I am allergic to wheat and enjoy fish, my middle son is lactose intolerant yet loves meat, and my youngest son is a vegetarian. Last but not least, my husband likes to partake of local cuisine. The restaurant was happy to accommodate all of our culinary needs, and the meals were plentiful enough for our hungry son and refined enough for my husband and me. Breakfast is served as a buffet and there is menu table service with myriad options for dinner. Choices ranged from lamb cutlets or beef tenderloin, to pike-perch or salmon, to polenta or risotto; and all include a rich supply of fresh vegetables. There are also Swiss specialties to try.
There are other overnight stay facilities in the area, such as the Swiss Holiday Park (see link below), which provides fun-filled activities marketed to Swiss families. Our hotel had a more international appeal: it was occupied, at the time of our stay, by visitors from many different countries as well as Switzerland. Of course, English was spoken by everyone.
The entire area and this hotel run specials, so do check the websites below for information about discounts and local events.
By Dr. Teresa Bingham Mueller
Swiss Holiday Park: Morschach
The facilities at the Swiss Holiday Park in Morschach are available to guests staying there and also for day visitors. We went there so my son could do the group go-kart course, which runs for two hours on Mondays and Wednesdays during school holidays. He learnt some tips and tricks about using the go-kart then got a lot of time to do laps on the outdoor track. At the end, he received his lap times and got a participation certificate, plus he’d had a great time.
While my son was burning around the track, my daughter and I swam in the heated indoor and outdoor pools. There are a couple of big slides into the pool, an indoor and outdoor children’s play area, a vortex which is intermittently turned on in the outdoor pool, spa jets and a waterfall. It was a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. Other activities at the Swiss Holiday Park include bowling, badminton, minigolf, squash and pony riding. There’s also a spa area with the usual cosmetic and health treatments, massages and more.
According to their website, the distance to Morschach from Zurich is 45 minutes; from Basel and Bern it is 90 minutes, and the journey from Lucerne is 30 minutes. The drive from St Gallen should take an hour and 40 minutes.
It is recommended that go-kart course participants be aged eight or older with a minimum height of 130 cm. The course runs from 9.30-11.30 during school holidays. Bookings are taken the night before, or earlier, on 041/825-5450. Go-karting can also be done in eight-minute slots on diverse days. It is open April to October and closed over the colder months. Check the website for details.
By Andrea Snashall
Photo by Tanya Deans