Words by: Jojo CookThigh-high powder, a cool crowd of Germans, Swiss, Brits and Swedes and a grooving bar set the scene at the grand opening of the new Ski Lodge in Engelberg this weekend.
This new 34 bed, boutique-style hotel is the dream of a group of five passionate Swedish skiers who have pooled their finances, hearts and souls into creating the ultimate wintersports hangout in the off-piste paradise of Engelberg in Switzerland – just an hour’s train ride from Zurich.
Nuzzled down a snowy-lane, a short 500-metre hop from the main ski lift, the lodge has everything a skier or snowboarder could wish for including ultra-cool deco, lounge style bar, hot tub, sauna and free wifi. Forget stuffy Swiss chalets with dead chamois hanging on the walls; stepping into Ski Lodge is like walking into a photo shoot from Wallpaper* magazine, and the crowd who frequent it are even cooler: a cosmopolitan blend of Europeans, who can be found from après onwards hanging in the chaise lounges, talking up their days riding.
The backdrop to the bar is a giant panoramic canvas taken by Swedish photographer Oskar Enander. Twice winner of Powder magazine’s Photographer of the Year award, his stunning images adorn all the hotel walls alongside vintage ski memorabilia and fat Völkl twintips.
Bedrooms are cute and cozy, with private bathrooms, balconies and nice little touches like a bottle of local welcome wine and Toblerone chocolates on your pillow. But after a hard day exploring the terrain, which is steep, deep (and currently overflowing with light powder) the best place to be is dashing between the outdoor hot tub and the wood-burning sauna, which comes complete with a beer fridge and amazing views of the valley.
Engelberg (meaning Angel Mountain) is situated at an altitude of 1000 metres, with its highest riding on the glacier at 3020 metres. As its north facing, it picks up weather fronts from the north and south, making it one of the best bets for great snow in the Alps. No wonder its always been a bit of a well kept secret, the locals and visiting Swedes are trying to keep the exhilarating, and easily accessible, off piste to themselves! Long backcountry runs such as Galtiberg (2000 vertical metres) and the Laub (1300 vertical metres) don’t even involve a hike to access.
It’s no surprise that a bevy of Swedish pro riders base themselves at the lodge, including Peak Performance team member Stina Jacobsson, who is out there for the season to work on the first all-girl ski film and documentary called ‘Catch us if you can’, which also stars Jennifer Farde, Janetee Hargin, Sara Orrensjö and Rachel Burke. The filmer is Marcus Hansen, who famously filmed the movie Freeradicals, Scandinavia’s best ski movie.
The opening of Ski Lodge Engelberg, means that the secret of Angel Mountain is now officially out…