By Shereen Shabnam
Switzerland is always a good idea as there are so many destinations within the country that have different attractions and vibes. One such place is Laax, a family-friendly haven dedicated to alpine adventures but offering more than just skiing. The area comprises the village of Laax, together with Salums, Cons, Laax Murschetg, and Laax Dorf.
Laax is part of the Weisse Arena Gruppe, which combines and markets the resorts of Flims, Laax and Falera under two brands. The winter programme is thus positioned under brand Laax, while the summer programme of Flims Laax Falera falls under brand Flims.
We enjoyed being there in the summer, as Flims Laax Falera becomes one large outdoor ‘playground’ for active guests.It offers a large network of hiking trails for walkers and has numerous wellness hotels. Falera, with its many patrician houses preserves the charm of a Graubünden mountain village, great for family holidays.
We especially enjoyed taking a Gondola to the summit of Crap Sogn Gionmountain 2252 meters above sea leveland toured the fascinating Galaaxy, which took us back to the past era of vinyl records, VCR videos and much more.
We then headed to the hiking trails, leading to beautiful lakes and enjoyed a culinary trail, which allowed us to sample some lovely local delicacies and organic, homegrown, innovative, gastronomic dishes.
We also spent a lovely afternoon visiting Lake Cauma, a breathtaking area where we walked through thick woods and relaxed by the exquisite turquoise lake, watching people swimming, chilling out, sunbathing and rowing. The Lake is surrounded by forests and contains a wooded island in the centre, where you can relax in complete tranquility.
Among the other beauty spots we came across here is Laaxersee or Lag Grond in the village of Laax Grisons, an excellent place for fishing in the summer.During one of our hikes, wealso managed to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking gorge, Ruinaulta, a canyon created by the Anterior Rhine between Ilanz/Glion and Reichenau and known as Switzerland’s `Grand Canyon’.
In the winter, visitors can enjoy 235 kilometres of snow-assured pistes across 100+ square kilometres around the ‘Crap Sogn Gion’ mountain. In fact, Laax attracts snowboarders and skiers from all over the world to its surrounding pistes and hosts important international snowboarding contests, such as the Burton European Open and the European Freeski Open LAAX.
Laax facilities include four snowparks, over 230km of pistes for all levels, as well as The Freestyle Academy, an indoor freestyle hall, which has trampolines, various skateboarding facilities, boulder area, airtrack, slackline and different sized kickers for skiers, bikers, snowboarders or skaters.
For bikers, Flims Laax Falera is a haven offering330 km of bike routes with marked trails and plenty of variety for every level, whether professional or beginner. An exciting way to explore the region is to book a bike guide and combine summer sports, such as hiking, downhill and mountain biking.
The villages in the area are great places to have coffee, chocolates and make use of the facilities, including supermarkets, post offices, bakeries and various shops. There are around 40 shops spread through the three base villages, the majority of which are in Flims selling holiday essentials, ski gear, and local souvenirs. There are also food speciality stores where you can buy Swiss cheese and chocolate.
Both Flims and Laax have witnessed a design explosion in recent years, with architects favouring contemporary cool. In spite of this, traditional styles are still very much in evidence. The oldest surviving building in Laax was built in 1580 and the first hotel in 1880. Of particular interest is RestaurantCavigilli, Flims’ oldest house, dating from 1453, which comprises a Gothic parlour and an elegant dining room.
In Laax, we stayed at the Signinahotel overlooking a beautiful mountain panorama and close to great restaurants and places with a variety of recreational activities. We spent our evenings sampling Italian delicacies in the Ristorante Camino and other gourmet restaurants in the neighboring Rocks Resort, which, in addition to great eateries, features shops, biking tracks, skate boarding and roller-skating arenas.
To get there, Laax is only 45 minutes away from Chur by bus and roughly two hours from Zurich by car. We took the Swiss Pass and travelled from Zurich to Chur by train and then on to Signinahotel in Laax by bus – a wonderfully scenic journey in itself.