This is the fourth in the Swiss dream ski week series, where Nick and Liam Bates, regular contributors to GenevaLunch, see how much great skiing at top Swiss resorts they can pack into one week. Be sure to check their tips at the end.
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Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – This was the perfect spa and smaller resort stop during the week, a relaxing antidote to the miles of slopes in the larger resorts. Resorts don’t get much more comfortable, charming and relaxing, with good skiing, great thermal baths and superb meals.
The fact that you can get off the train and the bottom of the lift is just 100 metres away is a plus.
This is a main train stop, so it’s easy to reach, part of the heritage of the area’s success in the latter half of the 19th century as a mineral baths spa. Zurich-Landquart-Scuol by train takes a little over two-and-a-half hours.
Scuol is one of a string of beautiful villages as famed for their architecture and “Sgraffito” traditionally decorated buildings as for the spectacular Engadine Valley scenery around them.
It is a centre of Romansh, Switzerland’s fourth language, spoken by only 1 percent of the population, but treasured here.
This is also a hugely popular summer resort area, in part because this is home to Switzerland’s only national park.
Scuol has 10 thermal baths, with the Engadin Bad Scuol the largest and most well known. The calcium- and magnesium-rich springs in Scuol itself were mentioned as far back as 1369.
The water is cold when it reaches the Earth’s surface, 6 to 8C. It contains between 1.1 and 17 grams of mineral salt per litre.
The sources for over 20 mineral springs are located near Scuol, 10 of which have been tapped and are used for mineral water cures, carbonic acid mineral baths and the Engadine Spa Scuol.
The Motta Naluns ski area goes from 1,250 to 2,800 metres, with a chairlift from Ftans and two cablecars from Scuol and another 11 lifts once you’re up on the mountain.
Time out for the baths and fine dining
We took an afternoon train to Scuol and settled into the Guarda Val, a charming local hotel. We then headed down to the local mineral baths, stopping off to taste the waters of a public fountain. This was a real surprise, as it offers a choice of clear drinking water or a sparkling, heavily iron-flavoured version, straight from the source.
The baths include a range of different temperatures and mineral content; some leaving the skin tingling. There is a sauna, jacuzzi, Turkish baths.
The local youngsters use the baths as a place to hang out, so it stays busy and lively, with boys on one side of the sauna and girls on the other.
We had a fantastic meal in the hotel restaurant, which is linked to the group of “Jeunes Restauraters”. The prices were more reasonable than St Moritz, with a three-course gourmet meal for CHF75, or four courses for CHF85. There was a good range of wine available by the glass or by the bottle.
Skiing and snowboarding in Scuol
We had a little dump of snow overnight, and it kept snowing throughout the morning, which meant lovely snow with not-so-lovely visibility.
The first run of the day was great because it was a layer of powder on top of groomed piste, so the runs were safe but smooth. Scuol is a much smaller resort than Verbier or St Moritz, with only about 80km of piste (Verbier has 400+) but it is nicely designed.
You can easily ski every run a couple times within the day, but there is a lot of nice off-piste in between these runs. Due to bad visibility I didn’t try any of it, but you can tell that when the sun is out it would be nice.
Scuol’s snowpark: wide selection of jumps, rails
Scuol has a great snowpark, especially considering the size of the resort. There was too much powder and it was too hard to see to try much of the park, but I had a chance to ride through it.
The park runs almost the entire length of a chairlift, and is suited for all skill levels. Its design isn’t quite as creative as the park in St Moritz, but there is a wide selection of jumps and rails. It is one of the biggest snowparks I’ve been to in terms of area, but it doesn’t have the biggest jumps.
In the afternoon the sun poked out from behind the clouds and we went to the top of the resort (2,919 metres). From the top we rode down, not to the village of Scuol, but to Sent, a village nearby.
The route down is the longest in the resort, 10 km, and offers a great view of the valley and the villages below. The snow was wonderful all the way down, with a decent amount of powder on the edges of the pistes. Sent is a tiny little town with large old buildings, with some Italian influences in the architecture.
From Sent we hopped on a free shuttle bus back to Scuol, only about 10 minutes away.
In the end, Scuol is small but quite fun. I think it would be a great place for a family to spend a couple days. The snowpark is fun and I could spend a lot of time in there.
The mineral water from fountains in the street is very cool, and the baths are nice. Scuol is a really good town to wander around in, but I wouldn’t spend too much time skiing, as at my speed I would finish all the runs in about half a day.
- Definitely build a fine meal into your budget here: excellent value for money
- Be sure to check out the village fountain!
- Take advantage of the snow park’s rails and jumps
- Balance out the skiing with time in the village, exploring the local culture
- Build in time for the baths; best to leave watches and jewelry behind, as they can be corroded by some of the minerals.
Swiss ski dream week
part 1, Verbier
part 2, en route by train
part 3, St Moritz
- Engadine regional tourism office
- snow conditions at the resort
- My Switzerland (national tourism office) page on Scuol, with good zoom map