Newly Swissed Online Magazine

Responsible Tourism at the Valsana Hotel Arosa

If protecting nature is your priority while traveling, Arosa should be on your shortlist. Courtesy of Responsible Hotels of Switzerland, we are invited to stay at one of their member hotels, the Valsana Hotel Arosa.

I have forgotten how remote Arosa truly is. It’s supposedly some 360 road curves away from Chur - or an hour on the train. Up there, tucked away at the bottom of a gigantic mountainscape, we find a cozy refuge.

In a nutshell, the Valsana Hotel Arosa is a modern haven with an alpine twist. But there is more to it than contemporary Swiss design; it is also a forerunner for sustainable tourism.

Genuine smiles greet us in the lobby. We are expedited to our junior suite, and the first impression is: Wow! The fusion of Swiss chalet aesthetics and modern elements instantly puts us at ease. From the floor panels to the quilt, it all feels very cozy.

There are surprises around every corner, too, such as a record player or a small book selection. On the wrap-around terrace, a swing asks us to gaze at the mountains beyond the (prominent) ice hockey stadium.

A word about sustainability at the Valsana Hotel Arosa

The hotel has been awarded membership in the Responsible Hotels of Switzerland organization. As we learned throughout the weekend, almost every aspect of the hotel’s design and operation has been carefully considered to minimize its environmental impact.

Since the hotel was planned from scratch, the architects incorporated eco-friendly materials in the construction and interior decoration. As such, the building fits in seamlessly with the surrounding nature.

The hotel’s utility manager, Christian Meier, takes us backstage to show us some cool technologies - no pun intended.

The hotel uses smart technologies like geothermal probes and ice storage to generate and store heat energy. The goal is to avoid adding more pollution to the environment, and that's pretty impressive.

The ice storage system is like a secret weapon that helps Valsana Hotel Arosa stay cozy when it's chilly and cool when it's warm. Here is how it works:

  • At night, they use electricity to keep grey water at freezing temperatures. The storage is in a large underground tank below the hotel, where the air is cool.
  • When temperatures increase during the day, they use this stored ice to cool the hotel by sending cold air through the ventilation system of the hotel.
  • When temperatures decrease during winter, they use the heat generated when ice melts to pump warm air throughout the building.
  • By keeping the process of freezing and thawing going, the hotel can maintain the right temperature, no matter the season.

Red deer watching from the comfort of a suite

One of the most memorable aspects of our stay was the Moving Mountains program offered by Valsana Hotel Arosa. As part of this program, guests can enjoy various exclusive activities, all included in the room price.

We set out for a night of game-watching adventures with Claudio, the hotel director. From the lobby of the Valsana, we are whisked to a top-floor suite in the nearby Tschuggen Grand Hotel. From this vantage point, we can see the slopes across the valley, the Schafrügg Wildlife Sanctuary.

Claudio explains the various binoculars we can use, one of which is an expensive Swarovski Optik model and another a night-vision binocular. He is an avid hunter and lets us in on the culture surrounding game management in Grisons.

Then, dusk turns into a veritable canvas painted with wildlife. We start to get the hang of spotting red deer as they venture from one meadow to the next. All the while we are tracking the game, the hotel offers a generous appetizer with local cheese and meats and a glass of white.

Arosa mushroom hunting for beginners

The following day, we get out of bed early. Another day of adventures awaits, courtesy of the Moving Mountains program. This time, we strap on our hiking boots as we are going mushrooming.

The dense forests, rich soil, and ideal weather conditions have made Arosa a haven for various species of mushrooms. But this is still a little-known fact, so don’t spread the word…

With Claudio's keen eyes and much-needed expertise, we unearth many chanterelle mushrooms. Those pesky golden fungi tend to grow in symbiosis with spruce and beech trees - and they like to hide underneath moss.

We learn that mushrooms grow in spurts: you might walk by a patch of forest one day without seeing one. Then, a couple of days later, they pop up for the next lucky hunter to pass.

And lucky we are! Again with a little help from our guide, we find a gorgeous porchini mushroom. By carefully twisting it out of the forest floor and then cleaning it on-site, we help protect the micro-environment. 

After we return, Claudio uses his precious room hour to wash and prepare our findings for the kitchen. Later that night, the Valsana chefs surprise us with a delicious dinner created from our finds.

Using mushrooms aligns with the philosophy of using locally sourced ingredients. We learn that many dishes on the menu come with an origin story where traditional Swiss flavors meet international cuisine.

We recommend reserving a table by the large windows. You will have stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains for fine dining or a casual meal. And if you time it right, you might see a reverse sunset reflected onto the peaks.

Hiking to the Altein Waterfall in Arosa

No doubt, Arosa offers year-round outdoor adventures. In winter, it is popular for skiing since the resort’s lifts are connected to Lenzerheide. This added playground makes it possible to ski in the sun from morning to evening.

But we are a bit early for skiing. Instead, we'll explore the Altein Waterfalls. Since the last Ice Age, the Altein River has carved a wide valley that opens up towards Arosa. It looks a bit like the Canadian wilderness...

Our hike begins at the hotel, although we will take the local bus to Arosa, Rathaus, the next time. That’s because the first stretch is on a paved road, leading through a neighborhood.

From the valley floor, it’s all wilderness along the river bed. Near the falls, we face a rocky and steep final ascent. Those views of Arosa in the distance and the Altein Waterfall in front of us must be hard-earned.

It's a worthwhile price tag to pay.

FAQs about Arosa

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators. Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.

Dimitri Burkhard

Download our e-book: 77 Facts about Switzerland