Winter Vals - a secret place in the Swiss Alps
Winter rest is the sun, mountains and skiing. So, we are going to Switzerland! Gored with the brilliance of Gstaad and St. Moritz, this time we decide to choose something more peaceful - and now we are driving by car between lakes and mountain peaks, following the prompts of the navigator. Our goal is the village of Vals.
The first thing that strikes the imagination is air. Rhinestone, spring water - such epithets come to my mind when, standing on the balcony in one T-shirt, I admire the alpine panorama at arm's length: Vals is a very tiny village. It became famous all over the world due to the mineral water “Walser”, which has been bottled here from a local source for more than one hundred and twenty years. And it is not surprising that, on arrival, we go to the thermal complex, the main attraction.
After a swim and a light lunch in the hotel bar, we go for a walk. It turned out that in Walsa, a tiny village, there is a wide variety of hiking routes. A pedestrian's paradise where neither motorists, nor skiers, nor cyclists interfere. Immediately from the door of the hotel you can climb a little uphill, and then go through the forest and go to the second tier, slowly descend along the village on a gentle slope, enjoying the view of the snow-covered valley. You can, on the contrary, go down and walk along the Walser River, listening to its swirling noise, admiring the typical Swiss landscape - designer chalets with cats on the fences and parked Porsche, sheep chewing hay at the feeders, wooden benches, carefully spaced at the same distance. Here we are in the center of the town - on a dais, a church, a cheese shop, a supermarket, a couple of restaurants - and again the road wags along the river to the ski station. From here you can climb to the top of Vals 3000 - the glacier, where they ride even in summer. Not a bit surprised by the lack of a queue in the high season, we remember the need to go on the way back to the ski school and register children for classes. I prefer cross-country skiing, and my tomorrow's route will also take place at a Vals pace along the river of the same name.
Thinking about tomorrow's sporting achievements, we slowly but surely find ourselves at the door of the Red restaurant, the main one in our hotel. They eat dinner in Wals early - at seven o'clock the guests, among whom there are quite a few young people, which is not typical for Swiss five-star resorts, are already sitting at immaculately served tables on scarlet velor armchairs and sofas. Immediately we meet our old acquaintances - the Italians Andrea and Mario, who received us royally in Sardinia in the hotels of Cala di Volpe and Romadzino. It turns out that the talented workers of the table shop were invited here to arrange service and atmosphere. Of course, everything was immaculate, Andrea surpassed himself, having prepared Diana steak on the stove right at our table. The children managed to be cooks in the kitchen and get branded cook caps as a reward.
One evening we also had dinner at the Michelin-starred Silver restaurant. No need to explain that the instruments and tableware were sterling silver. Young chef Sven Vassmer with his wife and part-time sommelier Amanda made this restaurant famous among gourmets in record time. The gastronomic guide Gault & Millau called Sven "the 2016 culinary discovery."
The chef uses local products - wild herbs, berries and mushrooms, and the river fish, which was part of our six-course set, was caught three hundred meters higher in the mountains on the same day. Of course, it was difficult for children to explain all the virtues of Sven and Amanda’s dishes - Da Pà’s pizzeria, where the Italians, Andrea’s wards, cooked the most authentic Italian pizza in a wood-burning oven, remained their favorite place. Pizza and pasta are worth Sophia Loren: in honor of her the main local masterpiece is named - pizza "Sophia" with burrata and Parma ham.
Peter Zumthor, himself a native of Switzerland, was not the only architect who had a hand in creating the hotel. Three more - the Japanese Tadao Ando and Kengo Kuma, as well as the American Tom Mayne - created not just a hotel, but an architectural Mecca. People come here not only for healing baths, skiing, hiking, and gastronomy, but also to live in an unusual designer space and experience new sensations. The Pritzker Prize-winning rooms Tadao Ando evoke the atmosphere of a Japanese tea ceremony, his fellow countryman Kengo Kuma used Japanese carpentry traditions, Tom Mayne decorated the rooms with the same Vals quartzite as Zumthor. The main surprise - transparent glass showers. The rooms, for which Peter Zumtor himself was responsible, are finished with a special stucco technique stucco lustro, used in Italy since the Renaissance. Those who are lucky enough to book one of the three penthouses Kengo Kuma, in addition to the breathtaking view of the Alps from the bed and the quartzite jacuzzi, also have a free helicopter transfer from Zurich Airport.
In fact, it is easy to get here from Zurich and by car - only two hundred kilometers, but at the same time the whole vacation did not leave me feeling that we were on the edge of the earth. The road along which we arrived passes through the whole town, through the bridge and the river Walser and ends right at the ski lift. Next - only the mountains. The place is quiet, and even at peak times there are no and there can be no queues at the elevator, as well as the public, hanging in sable fur coats on the floor waiting for a noisy party with celebrities. Perhaps that is why the day of rest here is five. Apparently, the same holistic approach that maestro Peter Zumtor calls for his architectural credo affects: the unity of the season, the reserved place, the clean lines of minimalist architecture and our desire to merge with nature.