Chesa Salis: Engadine Delight
This is the first of a series of articles I’ll be writing on a number of European hotels and their locales in central Europe, most notably Romantik Hotels & Restaurants from which I was gathering story material. http://www.romantikhotels.com/
After visiting good friends in Liechtenstein my wife Lis and I drove south through Switzerland. We passed the unpronounceable alpine town of Chur (whose name I defy non-Swiss to pronounce correctly....sounds like choir) with our goal the historic village of Bever, nestled within the Oberengadin Valley near the resort of St. Moritz.
Our eagerness to be there was tempered only by the stunning scenery as we drove ever higher into the mountains, ultimately climbing over the Albula Pass, then dropping rapidly into the Engadin/Engadine to see Bever cloaked in the golden rays of an autumn afternoon.
As the rooftop of Europe, the region straddles the high Alps at the headwaters of several major European rivers, including the Rhine, the Rhone and the Inn.
The atmosphere was bracingly clear at an altitude of 1,714 metres / 5,623 feet above sea level.
Our stay for the night would be in the patrician residence of Chesa Salis, dating back to 1590 and owned at one time by the aristocratic von Salis family of Graubunden.
The hotel promised unspoilt natural surroundings, peace and relaxation. It was all that and more. There’s a charm to Switzerland that permeates the landscape, honed by centuries-old traditions and a quiet respect for quality of life. The Chesa was a fine example, and we embraced its comfort.
Classical dishes and regional specialities were offered, plus a wine cellar with 400 rare wines from Italy, France, Austria and Switzerland --- certainly an evening to anticipate after a walk about the hotel grounds and public footpaths of Bever.
Sunlit mountains looked down on the village already in shade as the Bernina Express train whisked quietly through on its run to Lugano. The fresh alpine air does increase one's appetite. A gourmet evening beckoned.
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1. Welcome! - The Swiss nurture a culture of hospitality. Even this friendly bovine outside a country restaurant invited travellers to the table.
2. October foliage - By mid October trees were turning colour at higher altitudes.
3. Albula Pass - Though well maintained, the Albula Pass road is above the treeline and can be blocked by snow for 7 months of the year.
4. La Punt Chamues-ch - The southern end of the Albula Pass opens up to the village of La Punt Chamues-ch.
5. Chesa Salis balcony - The architecture of Chesa Salis combines a Tyrolean–style wood fronting with traditional Graubunden painted stucco.
6. Post hike relaxation - Guests take their leisure in the autumn warmth.
7. Afternoon sun - Chesa Salis absorbs the last rays of afternoon sun. Historic designs using natural material attractively blends human activity with the landscape.
8. The local train to Arosa stops in Bever. The Swiss use trains the way the rest of the world use buses.
9. Mountain peaks – View from Bever.
10. Woolies - A boy meets sheep a few doors from our hotel in a neighbourhood with a homogenous mix of farms and residences.
11.Wagon ride - A glimpse through a window in our room.
12. Guest room - Our room was spacious and comfortable, with a hand painted ceiling.
13. Sabine - Our waitress for dinner, Sabine Rahn, was a charming young woman drawn to the region from northern Germany 11 years ago.
14. Prosecco - At Sabine’s suggestion, we started with an aperitif of Prosecco flavoured with syrup made from mountain flowers.
15. Dinner menu - One of the set menus.
16. Carpaccio - An evening meal might begin with the following: Carpaccio of Engadine sausage was my appetizer (pictured here), paired with Fizerser Blauburgunder 2009, while Lis ordered scallops with pomegranate and gratinee of celeriac, served with a glass of a local George Schlegel Reisling Sylvaner 2006.
17. Capuns - House made Capuns ‘Chesa Salis’ (from the menu).
18. Main course - Roasted medallion of Engadine Angus beef (from the menu).
19. Pinot - I tried an Italian Terrazze Retiche Di Sondro, Il Pettirosso, 1997 and a Swiss Terra Firma Merlot 2005, eventually settling on an excellent Obrecht Monolitta Pinot Noir which went well with both beef medallions and Lis’ roast beef with béarnaise sauce.
20. Dessert - We went 'local' with a Swiss cheese plate.
21. Breakfast view - A view of the garden area from our breakfast table the following morning.
22. Breakfast - From the buffet: a protein-weighted breakfast with continental coffee and a fresh müesli roll.
23. Table décor - Seasonal table decorations in the reception hall.
24. Dining room - The dining room had already been reset for evening dinner as we made a late morning departure.
25. Chesa Salis window - Small windows and exterior walls decorated with sgrafitto (artfully scraped and sometimes painted plaster) are typical of the Romansch region.
26. St. Moritz - Nearby elegant St. Moritz lay temporarily dormant before the start of winter activities. The season was near an end, with no sign that day of the resort’s distinctive yellow sun trademark in this view across the St. Moritzer See (Lake).
27. Descent from Maloga - Wet snow turned to rain as we left Maloga Maloggia to descend into the valley.
28. Mountain & mist - Like a scene from Lord of the Rings, a distant peak was swallowed in mist as we drove into Bregaglia Valley.
Romantik Hotel Chesa Salis
Bügi Suot 2
7502 Bever-St. Moritz, Switzerland
Family Jürg & Sibylla Degiacomi
Tel +41 (0)81/8 51 16 16
Fax +41 (0)81/8 51 16 00
Other useful links:
Switzerland Tourism www.MySwitzerland.com
Please note: All story material and photos are copyright © Gary Crallé. No reproduction in any form for commercial purposes without written consent.
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Gary Crallé is a seriously sociable travel photographer who appreciates wherever he is. With almost 70 countries under his travel belt it’s surprising he hasn’t put on weight. He likes to concentrate on what is good for the body and soul (history & culture, gastronomy, health & leisure) and the spirit within us (geography, self-discovery/adventure). Image-based stories are his passion.
Located: Georgetown Canada
Likes: photography, adventure, gastronomy, history, events, health & leisure