How to summer holiday up a Swiss mountain

While skiing enthusiasts are set to pack up their gear ahead of the big melt, the resort of Haute Nendaz in the heart of the Swiss Alps is revving up for the summer season. There’s outdoor activities set against an amazing Alpine backdrop, along with the chance to chill out completely thanks to a boutique chalet experience.

How to summer holiday up a Swiss mountain

“A lot of chalets charge a lot but give little,” says Lucy Ashley, director of Etoiles de Montagne, a six-bedroomed chalet that comes complete with designer décor, gourmet food and personalized service.

“Lots of hotels offer a similar experience but don’t quite match the same level of home comfort. If our guests need for anything, we take care of it quickly.”

There’s no compromise on style or facilities either. Each bedroom has a king-size bed that can be transformed to two singles with en suite bathroom. A cinema room with 600 films on demand is a draw for all the family along with free Wi-Fi, a lift and car-parking spaces as practical extras. Bookings are made easy online, via the website, and the transport from the nearest airport – Geneva – takes under two hours. 

Just a five-minute walk from the chalet is Haute Nendaz village which transforms from April to October to welcome walkers to over 95km of well-maintained paths. And since the resort has been awarded with a top family- friendly from the Swiss tourist board, many are even pushchair friendly.

Discover breath-taking views during walks through the alpine flora, which also provide any painter or photographer with the perfect subject. For the more adventurous, biking, hot air ballooning and paragliding are right on the doorstep. 

“We also have six golf courses within an hour from here that we are happy to take our guests to,” Ashley adds. “The Evian Masters is held at one of the clubs close by, which is a big draw for golfers who want to compete on a championship ready course.”

As well as the sights of Haute Nendaz, which forms part of the famous Four Valleys region, there’s the traditional Swiss sound. Every July the village hosts the International Alphorn Festival, welcoming folk musicians and their carved wooden instruments to take part in concerts and competition.

“It’s a great celebration of Swissness but not limited to Swiss people,” Ashley says. “And that reflects the area. It’s a growing resort with plenty of international visitors and seasonal workers but it retains its Swiss charm.”

It was part of the draw that moved Lucy from her native UK to set up the chalet with her Swiss partner and family. “We always wanted to move here – it’s all about the freedom and the relaxed way of life.”

And that’s exactly what they want to serve to their chalet guests. “We’ll guarantee to take the hassle out of the things that you would ordinarily do yourself, such as booking train tickets, finding information and or if someone is celebrating whilst on holiday we will even do the present buying for you.”

Another recipe for a successful holiday is not having to worry about the cooking. Also on the chalet’s menu is a personal chef who provides food with the finer touches including afternoon tea and three-course dinners.

The chalet’s huge kitchen is also prepared for the various cooking vacations on offer throughout the summer season. There are three courses currently available: Jams, Chutney and Biscuits, Cooking Basics and Cakes and Cake Decorating.

The staff at Etoiles de Montagne also want to share their hospitality philosophy, having devised a series of Chalet Host courses aimed at anyone planning and preparing to work a ski season. Indeed, there is plenty going on in and around this chalet and resort before the snow begins to fall again next winter. 

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Etoiles de Montagne


Summer travel idea: Off-the-beaten-track holidays in Switzerland

If you don't fancy the idea of crowded tourist spots this summer, this typically ‘active’ vacation deep in the Swiss countryside could be for you.

Summer travel idea: Off-the-beaten-track holidays in Switzerland
A different kind of Alpine holidays await you in Switzerland. Photo by AFP

Many Swiss residents are opting to stay in Switzerland this summer rather than risk international travel.

But if you're wondering what to do with your time off, we have a suggestion for a different type of break, that will also help out others.

Just imagine spending your summer holidays on an Alpine pasture, waking up each morning to the sound of cowbells coming from a nearby meadow.

The air is fresh and crisp, the grass is green, and the food is home-grown and wholesome.

If you are a citizen or legal resident of Switzerland from a EU / EFTA nation, this kind of holiday experience could be yours. But there’s a small catch: you should be ready to lend a hand to a needy mountain farmer.

Each summer, a social service organisation Caritas sends volunteers to help overworked Swiss farmers in mountainous rural regions perform various tasks.

READ MORE: Switzerland's ten most beautiful villages you have to visit 

In exchange, the family will provide you with room and board, but you must commit to stay with them for at least five days.

This YouTube video (in German, with French subtitles) explains how this works. 

On the Caritas site, you can see and choose the kind of tasks you want to perform – for instance, work in a barn or stable, out in the woods or pastures, or perhaps a bit of each.

Then you can select the canton and the linguistic region where you would like to go, as well as the farm itself.

Or, you can let the organisation send you where your help is most needed.