How does the idea of sleeping in an igloo appeal to you? Not for me, thanks, is my first reaction. I like my creature comforts too much and the thought of waking in the night in need of the bathroom and potentially freezing to death, is enough to put me off.
So when my husband booked us an overnight stay in an igloo to celebrate our wedding anniversary, our relationship was about to turn frosty.
Luckily, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
A LUXURY STAY
Whitepod is a collection of igloo-shaped geodesic (made of light straight structural elements mostly in tension) pods – offering cosy, family, deluxe pods as well as three new super luxurious suite pods. Located in Les Giettes in Valais, the pods are a 30-minute drive into the mountains from Montreux.
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
After following the long and winding road from Montreux, we reach our destination. Pulling into the car park of the Chalet Les Cerniers, we are greeted by the reception staff who speak perfect English. They explain the layout of the area – the location of pods (a 15 minute hike away), on site restaurant (in the Chalet Les Cerniers next door to the reception), the pod-house retreat (located by the pods) where they serve their afternoon buffet tea, as well as all the activities on offer.
Next we are presented with our rucksack of necessities – headlamps, map and crampons ‘snow chains’ for our shoes (“Pah”, I think to myself, we won’t be needing those, thanks. How wrong I was!)
A SLIPPERY START
We set off towards the pod house, slip-sliding all the way as I dismissed the need for the crampons. The mini-hike to the pods is a steep uphill walk, following the path lit by solar charged lights (this is an eco friendly resort after all) but to be clear, you do need to be physically fit to reach them in the snow. Thankfully this is without hauling your luggage with you, as this is whisked up to your pod by snow-mobile.
However, any irritation at my ineptness to manage the hike dissipate upon entry to our Forest Suite pod – we are talking 5* luxury with an unparalleled view. The pods are warm and cosy thanks to an automatically set fire (which obviously my husband can’t resist tampering with), boast a state of the art bathroom, Nespresso machine, mini-bar, hammock, sauna and the very crispest of white linen on the bed and WIFI! I could have quite easily not left the pod at all.
However, as we have a reservation at the restaurant for dinner, after relaxing for a while in our igloo and admiring the stunning view, we prepare to walk down to Les Cerniers, their on-site restaurant.
A STEP UP FROM TRADITIONAL SWISS FARE
With an extensive menu, it really is a step up from traditional Swiss mountain fare – ranging from truffles to other gastronomic delights such as pan-seared zander served with a carrot cake and vegetable jus, to interesting vegetarian dishes like the lentil steak served with creamy sweet potatoes and a barbecue sauce. We really enjoyed their delicious home-made smoked butter which accompanies the bread.
I can’t fault either the quality of the food or the service and although not a bargain price-wise, I highly recommend it.
BREAKFAST IN BED DELIVERED BY SNOW-MOBILE
As we are only there one night, we enjoy a delicious plentiful breakfast brought to us by snow mobile in our pod the next morning whilst enjoying the view.
Had we have been there longer, we would have taken advantage of the plethora of activities on offer: snow-shoeing, dog sledding, massages, skiing on their 7km of private slopes, snow scooters, sledging, etc. There really is something for everyone.
We were sorry to leave but real life called, but we will definitely return another time. Friendly staff, excellent food – this is mountain life at its finest.
My top tips for a stay at Whitepod:
Wear warm clothing if you arrive in winter (i.e. ski suit, gloves, woolly hat) – you will be walking up a snow covered path at 1,400 metres altitude.
Prepare yourself for the hike up to the pods by wearing good walking shoes or snow boots and make sure you wear the crampons provided!
Avoid over-eating or excessive drinking in the restaurant at night time – you’ll need to find your pod and they are all very similar looking in the dark!
Try to experience the activities on offer such as snow-shoeing, dog sledding, massages or skiing on their private slopes.
Try visiting in the summer – the pods are camouflaged with netting and blend into the grassy hillside. Cows graze in the pastures around the pods and although not as dramatic as in Winter-time, the views are still stunning and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy – 25km of hiking trails, mountain biking, paragliding, horse riding, tennis, badminton, table tennis, giant chess as well as the other wooden games available at the pod-house.
ADDRESS: Whitepod Hotel and Restaurant, Les Cerniers, 1871 Les Giettes, Switzerland.