Your eyes open, and you’re surprised that you feel so warm. There’s snow underneath you, the walls are made of snow, you’re in a sleeping bag that can deal with temperatures as low as -40°and, as you lift your head, your breath condenses into billowing clouds in the cold air. You look at your watch, and you get dressed as quickly as possible and head outside. It’s freezing, and the night sky is dark inky blue, but this is what you came for, and you watch enthralled as the sky brightens to pink, and the light starts to pick out other peaks. At last, it happens: the triangular tip of the Matterhorn is alchemically transformed into gold, a sparkling pyramid. It’s a breath-taking, memorable sight.
This is one of the experiences made possible by one of the Iglu-Dorf villages, now present in Zermatt, Davos-Klosters, Engelberg, Gstaad and Zugspitze. The company’s history runs back to 1995, when Adrian Günter built his first igloo in order to be able to take photos of the sunrise and find pristine snow for snowboarding. Soon, locals and tourists began asking him if they could use his igloo, and next winter, his three small igloos were able to host 15 guests. In 2001, Günter invented a system to replace the painstaking process of cutting blocks of snow with a saw and assembling them. The new method, based on inflating a balloon and covering it with snow, was patented in 2002.
Romantic bath in the Igloo Village Engelberg © Engelberg-Titlis/Christian Perret
Today, the igloo villages offer a range of hospitality types, including heated igloos, ice bars, romantic suites and hot tubs. But if you want, you can still opt for the original experience, which shows you why fondue is one of Switzerland’s favourite culinary specialities. At temperatures below zero, cheese fondue and mulled wine go down very well indeed. www.iglu-dorf.com
Whitepod, Les Cerniers
Whitepod is a hotel with constructions of similar shape. In the heart of the Alps, at Les Cerniers, 45 minutes by car from Montreux, there are fifteen geodetic pods each for two people, heated with wood or pellet-burning stoves. Whitepod asks its guests to play a role in the hotel’s ecological mission, where the use of energy and water is kept to a minimum, waste is recycled, and the staff walk to work. Sleeping in a pod heated by a wood-burning stove means that you’ll probably have to get up during the night to add a log. It’s all part of the experience, which includes a range of daytime activities, with 7 kilometres of private piste for skiers. You can also go dogsledding, hiking with snowshoes guided by a sleigh dog, and paragliding. And every day, you’ll have the unique nocturnal silence of the snow-clad Swiss mountains to look forward to. www.whitepod.com
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