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TravelThe Kienle Family's Vacation at the Foot of the Alps

The Kienle Family's Vacation at the Foot of the Alps

The Kienle Family's Vacation at the Foot of the Alps
By Aussy Aportadera
July 25, 2018
The Kienle family enjoys a week-long winter holiday in a 500-year-old village at the base of the matetrhorn

There’s nothing like the feeling of being able to play in the snow. Stepping into the powdery soft whiteness, watching your breath turn into smoke, layers of ivory curtaining the landscape. From the short latitude distance of the Philippines to the equator, snow is especially foreign, and the Kienle sisters can attest to that. “Living in the Philippines, we really relished being able to go on winter holidays when we were growing up,” says Stephanie, “And skiing—my family enjoys the activity, we try to go every year.”

This time, the destination is Zermatt: a sprawling town of half a century-old cottages with the majestic peak of the Matterhorn as its backdrop. And the only way into the luxurious winter escape is by train.

“We arrived early morning at Zurich airport,” shares Max, whose itinerary revealed a full day of meeting with friends who had come to join the ski holiday, and meet the latest additions to their growing family. Stephanie and Jessica had just given birth earlier in the year, now taking along 10-month-old Arielle and six-month-old Luca. “We were so nervous as it was our first time travelling on a long-haul flight with Luca,” says Jessica. “It was our first big trip together as a family, and I was praying that all would go smoothly. And luckily and to our surprise, he slept almost all throughout the trip!”

Even before the babies came along, the Kienles would travel twice a year. “Mostly during Easter and Christmas, with Max, our daughters, and their families,” says Zelda. This year, not only were they joined by their babies, Max and Zelda were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. “Zermatt is a destination resort and is one of the most beautiful places for a ski vacation. We have great memories of Zermatt from when Steph and Jess were teenagers.”

 

SECRET ALLEYS Max and Zelda in the old part of Zermatt (‘Hinterdorf’ meaning rear village). Charming barns, stables, stores, and old houses were built between the16th and 18th century
SECRET ALLEYS Max and Zelda in the old part of Zermatt (‘Hinterdorf’ meaning rear village). Charming barns, stables, stores, and old houses were built between the16th and 18th century

“It was just as I remembered from my first trip there,” says Jessica. “Rustic Swiss chalets, festive lights on the main street, a crystal clear stream running through it, and skiers everywhere walking around with their skis and ski boots. The main street ‘the Bahnhofstrasse’ had carriages with horses transporting tourists up and down the hill. It is a quaint little town with so much character and history, and to me, it is by far the most beautiful little ski town I’ve been to.”

All over the town of Zermatt, there are no cars. Horse carriages make up the transportation, and some 500 registered electric taxis all in the same compact size. Stephanie finds these non-combustion vehicles quite unique. “It was really nice driving up the small roads,” Jessica adds, “The sights were so beautiful. You see winter climbing up in the altitude, and you see how the scenery changes.”

Exploring the charming town on foot, the family really enjoyed as much as the winter season could offer. The village works its isolation from the outside world to its advantage, not that it truly keeps the tourists out. It’s a year-round destination for mountaineers and nature-lovers.

Zermatt is known for that: a high-altitude paradise amidst the Alps. The pyramidal peak of the Matterhorn, the last summit to be conquered in the 1800s, is the centrepiece of the entire snowy landscape that has been iconised into mainstream culture by the Toblerone bar. This glacial view met the entire family at their week-long residence.

“From the outside, it had a traditional alpine chalet look. The interior architecture and furnishing was a cosy mix of traditional and contemporary. Every piece of furniture and fixture created the chalet where everything blended so beautifully,” relates Zelda. “What caught my eye were the unique art pieces located throughout the chalet. The attention to detail was just impeccable. The views from most of the rooms of the chalet were stunning with the town of Zermatt below and the spectacular Matterhorn as a backdrop,”

The chalet also comes with a friendly team of experienced staff and trained chefs who whipped up delicious meals for us including some traditional Swiss food like raclette and fondue. A special dinner was prepared for our 35th wedding anniversary with a very delicious cake they brought out while singing with a miniature sparkler on it!”

The chalet also comes with a friendly team of experienced staff and trained chefs who whipped up delicious meals for us including some traditional Swiss food like raclette and fondue. A special dinner was prepared for our 35th wedding anniversary with a very delicious cake they brought out while singing with a miniature sparkler on it!”

 

SWEET DREAMS fireplace in the living room was the best spot to gather for après-ski and for the children play (as Arielle sleeps...)
SWEET DREAMS fireplace in the living room was the best spot to gather for après-ski and for the children play (as Arielle sleeps...)

Among their favourite parts of their chalet figured the open terrace, a great spot for them to gather and have drinks while appreciating the panoramic view of the town. The living room, too, is impressed in their memory. “There is a fireplace by a grand piano where we listen to Christmas songs, exchange stories, and experiences from the day’s ski, and where the children could play and crawl around,” says Zelda. 

“I think with kids—especially young kids and when you’re travelling with a bigger group—it’s just so much cosier renting a house,” Stephanie chimes in. In the seven days that they spent in Zermatt, spending time with the children in the snow was unbelievably the highlight of the trip.

 

“The most memorable part of it was when all the family hit the slopes together, including Andrea who started skiing down by herself side by side with her instructor,” says Zelda. “Andrea had ski lessons for four days in a row. She was the one most looking forward to her classes everyday! So, seeing Andrea go down skiing on her own, on the bunny slopes —that was quite special, and that made me really proud,” adds Stephanie.

“When they are older I will tell Arielle and Luca that one December, when they were just little babies, we brought them to see Switzerland and play in the snow for the first time,” shares Jessica. “Luca especially loved when we would take him out on the sled and pull him up and down the hill near our chalet.”

From the looks of it, this isn’t the last time the Kienles will be visiting Zermatt. “I believe that vacations are the chance to reconnect, to bond over the small things that you don’t really pay attention to on a day-to-day basis, so I’m really grateful to have had that time with them. I hope our kids will look forward to this as well,” says Stephanie. “While there’s always thrill factor to going to these kinds of destinations, I want them also to appreciate the little things. Little things like being able to enjoy quiet meals together, just enjoying every minute of the day.” Call it bonding time.

Photos: Zelde Kienle and Stephanie Kienle-Gonzales

This story was originally published in Philippine Tatler Traveller (Volume 13), available in all newsstands and book stores, and downloadable on Magzter, Zinio, and PressReader.

Tags

TravelTravelZelde KienleStephanie Kienle-GonzalesZermattAlpsskivacation

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