Switzerland's Ski Resorts: Greenest Places to Eat and Sleep
Go Green: Eat, Sleep, Ski
By Abigail Butcher
Switzerland was one of the first countries to start consciously working towards sustainable skiing, with resorts such as Saas-Fee and Zermatt banning cars more than 50 years ago.
Modern developments including those at Andermatt and Laax have led the way in ecological and environmental design, and in a country renowned for its wonderful local food, almost every restaurant you step into will serve predominantly Swiss fare on the menu.
Abi Butcher looks at the greenest options for staying and eating in ski resorts in Switzerland.
rocksresort in Laax, Graubunden
This complex of accommodation, bars and restaurants, set right at the lift station in Laax aims to be carbon neutral and self-sustaining in line with the resort’s Greenstyle ethos. It was named the “Best Green Ski Hotel” at the World Ski Awards in 2017 and 2018 for its use of resources and the environment.
All of its electricity is generated from regional hydropower, waste is separated and recycled and only ecological cleaning products used. Rocksresort offers e-bikes that run on its ecologically produced electricity and has Tesla charging stations in the garage. It has its own habitat for highly endangered wild bees and other insects, and employee uniforms are made with sustainable fabrics.
Accommodation is a mixture of double rooms, apartments for four, six and eight people and the buildings are heated with renewable biomass energy.
Whitepod eco-luxury hotel, Les Cerniers, Valais
Clustered around a 19 Century farmhouse, 15 geodetic pods are constructed with a self-supporting framework using minimal material. The shape and size of each dome has been chosen specifically to require 30% less energy to heat or cool than a traditional building,
Each is heated with a wood pellet stove, served with water from an underground spring, with furniture made from recycled materials and wood from certified Swiss forests.
Food served in the restaurant is local and all waste is recycled, all cleaning products are 100% biodegradable. Whitepod also offers ‘hug therapy’ with the resort’s huskies, sylvotherapy (forest bathing) and while it has 7km of private ski trails, it also offers ski touring, snow shoeing and transport to the ski slopes of Champery in its customised electric Land-Rover.
Valsana Hotel, Arosa, Graubunden
Opened only a couple of years ago by the Tschuggen group which pledged to be completely carbon neutral across all of its hotels since 2019.
The Valsana’s hotel and apartments is powered by an ice battery — ‘waste’ heat is drawn from the hotel and reconverted to reusable energy by passing it over ice blocks and a huge water tank.
All stays in the hotel are CO2 neutral from check-in to check-out, with unavoidable CO2 emissions offset through the finance of climate protection projects in Rwanda and Switzerland.
Décor in the Valsana includes framed dried botanicals from the surrounding hills and retro record players, and rather than have a dedicated ski shuttle bus, guests are asked to use one of the free resort buses that stops outside the hotel.
Food is sourced locally, eco-certified cleaning products are used, waste recycled, packaging and use of paper kept to an absolute minimum — news is displayed on blackboards.
This lodge and hostel, built from wood and natural stone, has been renovated by its current owners according to Swiss ecological construction standards — using local, renewable and sustainable materials without chemical finishes.
The high windows that capture a lot of sunlight are triple glazed for maximum insulation, lime-based plaster and ecological and water-based mineral paints have been used throughout.
The energy is heated with a geothermal heat pump, driven by locally-produced electricity from windmills and hydroelectric plants in Andermatt, all biodegradable waste is composted and the rest recycled or burned under the Swiss waste concept.
Residents are encouraged to bring as little packaging as possible and asked to pick up any cigarette butts.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Restaurant, Zermatt, Valais
This restaurant, set at the top of the Klein Matterhorn at 3838m, holds the Minergie-PÒ certification, a quality level for low energy consumption.
Electricity is generated by an award-winning high-yield photovoltaic system fitted to the south façade and the building itself made from prefabricated wood, insulated with rock wool and framed by metal and glass.
Transporting water to 4000m is neither cost nor energy efficient, so waste water from kitchen and bathrooms is collected, treated and reused for sanitation.
Chetzeron, Crans-Montana, Valais
Housed within the sustainable Chetzeron Hotel, made using reclaimed local stone and wild oak, with natural ventilation and heat production, the highest level of energy efficiency, and powered by solar panels, the building is advanced in its sustainability.
Even water for the hotel and restaurant is pumped from a local lake, and furniture made by local Valais craftsmen to avoid unnecessary transportation.
The food served in the restaurant — which is part of the Slow Food Movement — is local and seasonal, in order to respect the planet and reduce the ecological footprint as much as possible.
A small menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner ensures freshness and reduce food waste.
Bären Restaurant, Wengen
Willy and Therese Brunner, owners of Wengen’s Bären Hotel and Restaurant are clear about their philosophy: “There is no reason to go far away for food when all the good things are close by — sustainability and local valuation are important issues for us.”
The couple pledge to supply only home-grown, locally and regionally-grown products wherever possible, which includes beef from Wengen, lamb from Grindelwald, game from local hunts, fish from nearby Lake Thun and Lake Brienz as well as mountain cheeses and butter from local producers.
Willy and his kitchen team serve home-made dried meat from Wengen, salad, herbs and decorative flowers from the hotel’s garden as well as serving beers and 70 percent of wines from Switzerland.