Very few places in the world can you ski and surf in the same day, in Summer. And to surf in the Alps, seems like a nearly impossible concept. However, this is now possible in Switzerland and feasible to incorporate into your summer holiday in Zermatt. We caught up with the International Business Development Manager of Chalet Zermatt Peak, Mathew Klaiber, who recently experienced a lifelong dream of skiing and surfing in the same day. He took Chalet Zermatt Peak’s Executive Chalet Manager, Fabian Eberle, a novice surfer along for the ride. Keep reading to find out more about this new alpine lifestyle…
It has long been known that summer skiing in Zermatt is a special experience. Skiing at close to 4,000m on a glacier with amazing views of the Matterhorn, glaciers and 3 countries. Couple this with the fantastic culinary opportunities and you have a recipe for an incredible summer holiday in Zermatt. With the opening of Alaia Bay, you can enhance this experience with surfing in the same day.
Alaia Bay is a purpose built wave pool based in Sion, Valais. The facility has the ability to generate excellent quality waves to suit all level of surfer, from complete beginner through to experienced pro.
Matthew: “I have grown up with a passion for both the Alps and the Ocean. Dad is Swiss from the Alps and Mum is from Bronte Beach in Australia. Family holidays were either spent skiing or surfing. I used to day dream and draw pictures in Art class of waves breaking at the foot of the mountains.”
“My entire life has been spent either living 500m to a ski lift or 500m to the ocean. Naturally when near the beach, one dreams of the Alps, when in the Alps you dream of the ocean.”
“I was very excited to watch the transformation of Alaia Bay from concept to reality. They have done a great job to create quality ocean like waves in the Alps.” So if you are keen to ski and surf in the same day, here’s how it can happen…
My morning started with a Signature Breakfast with our Gourmet Chef at Chalet Zermatt Peak. After a fresh and healthy meal and maybe a cup of coffee too many, I headed over to the Matterhorn Express Gondola to travel up to the Klein Matterhorn Summer Ski Area at 3,883m. Zermatt has the largest and highest summer ski area in Europe.
Recent late season snowfalls meant the conditions on the glacier were fantastic. Fresh corduroy pistes, crisp clean morning air, and amazing views of the glacier and surrounding mountains. We skied solidly for a couple of hours before stopping for a coffee and croissant at the café. We then went and had some fun in the snow park. It is not unusual to see some of the international ski teams training on the glacier.
At 12.00 we were ready to head back down to the chalet for lunch. Our Chef spoiled us with his famous lunch dish and a glass of one of his favourite white wines from the region.
We changed clothes and headed off to Sion. By car it is a about an hour and fifteen minute drive down the amazing Matter Valley and along the Rhine river to Sion. Via helicopter, it is a 15 min flight. Alaia Bay is situated adjacent to Sion Airport.
15.00. We are greeted at Alaia Bay by some of the happiest staff in the Alps. Why wouldn’t they be, look at where they work! The pool has been designed and built using the Wave Garden proprietary technology. Similar pools are open in other locations such as Melbourne, Australia, Bristol, UK and in Seoul, Korea.
We arrive an hour before my session. We checked in, then we are fitted out with suitable boards and wetsuits. The equipment available is the best high tech gear from leading surf brand Quiksilver.
Having spent a lot of time growing up and surfing in Australia, I am allowed to surf the expert setting. Fabian who never surfed before but is as equally excited, takes a beginners lesson.
Matthew on the Expert Session at Alaia Bay
For the expert session, the machine serves up 1.5m waves in 5 wave sets every 90 secs, meaning during the 1hour session everyone in our group are able to catch up to 14 waves each. Fitness levels are duly tested. The wave can be likened to a perfect beach break. The session starts off with a “Turns” wave then ends with the “Barrel” setting. The feeling of coming out of a barrel and looking up at the snow-capped peaks is very special.
Fabian was introduced to surfing via a 1.5hour session which began on the grass with the basics of paddling, standing up and surf safety. He was then accompanied into the water with the rest of his class and 3 instructors. The machine setting they used for the beginner session were perfect for learning to surf and I must admit, much more forgiving than the unpredictable ocean. This controlled environment saw Fabian standing up all the way to the “beach” on his second wave.
Warm showers and a well-designed changing room welcomed us post surf. Warmed back up and with smiles on our faces we proceeded upstairs to the modern restaurant and terrace area.
We ordered a beer, poke bowls and a pulled pork burger and sat back to watch the next session take place. I had to pinch myself several times as I looked back up and watched the sun set over the Alps, knowing I just fulfilled a childhood dream.
Skiing takes place all year round on the Theodul Glacier under the watchful eye of the Matterhorn. Skiing is possible even in the height of summer. Europe’s highest and largest glacier ski area has up to 21 kilometres of pistes to enjoy.
Suitable for all skier abilities. Freestyle fans have something to look forward to as the Summer Snow Park on Plateau Rosa is one of the highest freestyle areas in the Alps. The summer ski area is also a popular training area for international ski and snowboard teams.
The new gondola up to Klein Matterhorn over the glacier is an experience in itself and also recommended for non- skiers. The Glacier Paradise which allows you to venture into the actual glacier is also a must see.
The pool has 6 settings currently on offer: Beginner, Waikiki, Malibu, Advanced, Expert, Pro. The machine setting is adjusted to create waves suitable for each session.
The “line up” is very well managed and the vibe in the water great. A big change to some places in the world where surfers literally fight over the limited waves. By the end of the session you will have several new friends who share the “stoke”.
Ok, it is the Swiss Alps and we were coming out of a late winter, however, we were lucky to have warm temperatures in the Valley in the afternoon and water temps of 17 degrees. A full length 3/2 wetsuit was perfect. The water is expected to warm to 23 degrees in summer.
Fully stocked surf shop with all the latest fashion and equipment, golf club style changing rooms and warm showers. A well-appointed terrace and deck with amazing views and a modern healthy menu. I could not help noticing the purpose built cellar supplying some of the best wines in the region.
What do I Pack?
Do I now have to haul ski and surf gear for my summer holiday in Zermatt? Feel free to bring your favourite board, however together with the leading surf brand Quicksilver, Alaia Bay is very well equipped with all the latest equipment you need including boards and wetsuits. Top level ski equipment and instructors are available year round in Zermatt.
Good to book your sessions in advance. Alaia Bay is starting to prove very popular with both the locals and visitors to the region.
The unique and private property, Chalet Zermatt Peak, is the current winner of the World’s Best Ski Chalet, awarded for its architecture, stunning location and world class food and service. Perched centrally above the enchanting village, the exclusive Chalet Zermatt Peak offers breathtaking views of the Matterhorn and pays homage to architectural design and luxury. To add, the award winning Swiss chalet team offer a truly unique and highly personalised experience along with the in-house gourmet chef who takes guests on mesmerising culinary journeys and will assist you in navigating the carefully curated wine cellar.
The privately-run chalet is spaciously laid out over six opulent floors and includes five deluxe double bedrooms, ceiling to floor windows, sky observatory roofing and an indoor/outdoor Jacuzzi. The private Wellness Centre containing a gymnasium, full treatment spa and in-house massage therapist ensures guests enjoy the ultimate in relaxation. What’s more, the spacious open plan living areas spill out onto a generous wrap around balcony, all framed by the most envied view in the Alps; perfect for a summer holiday in Zermatt.
All of this combined is why Chalet Zermatt Peak continues to attract loyal guests from around the world.
Malibu Setting at Alaia Bay
Thank you to Matthew for a fantastic account of your ski and surf in the Alps experience. It is safe to say there’d be a few of us at Alps In Luxury who would be keen to try it all out in one day!
Chalet Zermatt Peak is the perfect place to stay for an ultimate luxury experience whilst enjoying the mountains or the ‘ocean’ during a summer holiday in Zermatt. For more information on the chalet or any of the activities mentioned, feel free to send us an email or give us a call on +44 (0)1202 203569.