In the midst of a ski season characterized by low snowfall, high temperatures and green slopes, Mark Browne explored the little-known Swiss ski resort of Melchsee-Frutt in search of a mountain getaway.
Situated at a lofty 2,000 metres, this high plateau in the mountains of central Switzerland is surrounded by soaring peaks, some of which exceed 2,500 metres. Skilifts bring winter sports enthusiasts to a height of 2,225 metres at the Balmeregg lift and other lifts go to over 2,100 metres, guaranteeing snow throughout the winter season.
The resort offers a range of slopes suitable for beginners as well as more challenging black inclines for the more experienced and reds for those in between. It also offers tobogganing and a children’s snow playground.
As it is a plateau, visitors can also take advantage of the flat expanse to go on cross-country hikes around the frozen lake at the centre of the plateau, or to engage in cross-country skiing. Another alternative activity which the frozen lake in the centre of the plateau affords visitors is the possibility to go ice fishing. Local ice-fisherman guides supervise to ensure safety and to ensure that the condition of the ice is right.
Getting there is an adventure
There are destinations which are difficult to reach and then there are those where the journey is part of the adventure experience. Melchsee-Frutt is definitely in the latter category! Visitors are brought up to the plateau by cable car from the hamlet of Stöckalp below. Rising through the evergreen forest, cliffs rise impressively alongside as you ascend to the lift’s summit at the base of the resort, which is a car-free zone throughout the year. Even reaching Stöckalp, whether by car or public bus from the town of Sarnen, is an enchanting experience. The road winds gradually upwards through picturesque countryside and small villages, often affording stunning views of the lakes of central Switzerland.
“Switzerland’s unrivalled level of public transport means that this is certainly a viable means for a visit here”
Despite its remote location, Switzerland’s unrivalled level of public transport means that this is a viable way to reach your destination. The trains, in particular, are frequent, comfortable and punctual. Moreover, they follow epic routes through some of the world’s most celebrated scenery in the Interlaken region of Central Switzerland.
Where to stay
As a small resort, Melchsee-Frutt offers a modest selection of accommodation options. The pinnacle of these is the Frutt Mountain Resort. A four star superior hotel, it has won numerous awards including best four star wellness hotel in Switzerland. It is managed by Kempinski, just like the renowned nearby five star superior Kempinski Palace Engelberg, so little wonder that the quality is assured!
“The welcome commences even before ascending to the plateau”
The welcome for guests commences even before ascending to the plateau, with an informal reception in Stöckalp where luggage is collected for upward transportation and guests are greeted with a warming gluhwine. The warmth of this welcome continues on arrival at the main plateau where the hotel is located. With over 100 spacious guest rooms and suites offering stunning views across the surrounding mountains. It is decorated in a modern Swiss style that still makes extensive use of traditional materials and wood. The numerous old-fashioned giant cowbells decorating the lounge bar are a nice touch of local flair too. The classic ski lodge style sits in marked contrast to the ultra-modern exterior of the main building.
A choice of four restaurants is available to guests, ranging from the international restaurant “Titschli” and the “Special Cuts” meat specialist to the Italian restaurant “Lago” and the “Chalet Gemsy”, which prepares the local cheese fondue. The exquisite cuisine of each of these is supplemented by the award-winning wine lists available. There’s even a cigar lounge.
“As a wellness hotel there is an extensive spa area”
As a wellness hotel there is of course an extensive spa area, which features a pool, saunas and steam rooms as well as private treatment rooms. The massive glass wall of the pool area allows guests to enjoy spectacular views of the bordering Melchsee alpine lake while relaxing and there is also direct exterior access for those who like to cool off in the snow after their sauna!
There is also a separate fitness area for those who prefer to get their exercise indoors! Other key attractions include the convenience of ski-in, ski-out and a range of family-friendly facilities including a bowling alley, cinema and kids club. More modest hotel accommodation as well as holiday apartments are also available locally.
How to get there
The famous city of Lucerne is the most proximate local urban centre and located under 35 km from Stöckalp, or about 75 minutes by public transport via train and bus. This in turn is accessible from nearby airports located in Zurich, Basel and Bern in around an hour or less in each case.
Mark Browne was a guest of the Frutt Mountain Resort.