So often people ask : do you prefer to go to the beach or head to the mountains for your summer holidays? There’s no need to make a choice if you stay at the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (www.kulm.com), as Switzerland’s Engadine valley has a network of freshwater lakes nestled amid majestic mountain peaks. And each lake has its own character – and purpose – so that visitors can experience all the perks of a coastal holiday while also having an array of Alpine activities, such as hiking and e-biking, on their door step.
Lake Silvaplana, for example, is the home of the colourful kite- and wind-surfers, who make the most of the reliable Maloja wind that springs up in the valley with the precision of a Swiss watch just before noon to dart across the water.
Silvaplana is the real deal. It was here that Andrea Kuhn, runner-up world paragliding champion in 1987, became the first kite surfer in the world; he took off from the Corvatsch Glacier high above the Engadine valley and, after a spectacular flight, touched down on the lake before gracefully gliding across it as a kite-surfer. The Swiss Kitesurf school was the first of its kind to open in Switzerland (and one of the first in the world) when it launched in 1990 and, within walking distance, Windsurfing Silvaplana, offers similar services and amenities to wind-surfers, including private and group lessons.
Lake St. Moritz, which is overlooked by the Kulm Hotel, is where many choose to learn how to sail at the St. Moritz Sailing Club. With steady winds, a first-class infrastructure and facilities, as well as the magnificent setting, this is an ideal place to acquire an inland/sheltered waters sailing certificate in a week. Courses are available for children, as well as adults.
Those who prefer to take life at a slower pace can always hire a stand-up paddleboard on Lake St. Moritz (or Lake Silvaplana in the morning before the Maloja picks up), while those in search of a natural swimming pool will want to head to Lej da Staz or Lej Marsch, two of the smallest Engadine lakes and therefore the warmest. Both lakes are idyllically situated in the midst of the great outdoors, giving visitors a chance to really get away from it all and connect with nature. Lej Marsch even has a sandy beach – at 1812 metres above sea level!
Back at the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz after a long day of outdoor activities, the in-house spa provides multiple opportunities to continue with water therapy, whether it’s a swim in the indoor lap pool, a session in the heated outdoor pool with its various water jets while being mesmerised by the stunning view of the valley or a hydro-massage or herbal bath in one of the treatment rooms.
In the 19th century, St. Moritz was a very popular summer holiday destination, to which loyal customers retreated year after year “to take the waters” of the valley’s healing springs that date back almost 3,500 years. Today, the stunning natural landscape, with its glaciers, creeks, rivers, lakes and snow-capped peaks, plus the modern spa facilities offered by the hotel, make it the perfect place to enjoy the best of both worlds – the mountains and the water.
Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (www.kulm.com) was the first hotel to be built in St. Moritz. The Kulm Hotel opened its doors in 1856 and immediately became popular for summer spa and painting holidays, particularly among the British who comprised around 75% of the hotel guests. The then owner of the Kulm Hotel, Johannes Badrutt, initiated winter holidays to St. Moritz from 1864 and, as a result, the hotel, resort and Switzerland itself celebrated 150 years of winter tourism in the 2014/15 season.