Bergland Hotel Sölden

Bergland Hotel

Bergland Hotel

Any hotel with a strapline: Activity, Relaxation, Indulgence is aiming pretty high.  I mean, it’s an ambitious mix and could  easily sound like marketing drivel.  But the interesting thing about Hotel Bergland is that the 60 year-old hotel (we stayed in last week in Sölden) was simply not happy just being a comfortable hotel in the Austrian Alps. No, the 4 star hotel underwent a huge refurb 4 years ago in its effort to incorporate the surrounding  landscape and its produce into a plush, modern interior while offering great, traditional hospitality.

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So, I’ll start with the activity.  Skiing in winter and a ridiculously adventurous schedule (if you so desire) in the summer is not the full scope of it.  There’s a beautiful pool, gym and yoga room to boot too.

the fabulous pool in the Sky Spa, Hotel Bergland

the fabulous pool in the Sky Spa, Hotel Bergland

a gym with a view

a gym with a view

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Relaxation.  From the well-researched, especially selected Schlafen A La Carte mattress (blows any Four Season equivalent out of the water) to a jacuzzi with a heavenly mountain view to daily sauna infusions and ending with a floating water bed (yes!) for my mud mask body treatment…. Relax we sure did.  But with a ski rental in the basement of the hotel, a taxi organized to pick us up from Innsbruck and the lovely smiling girls on reception purchasing our lift pass, I’m not sure a ski holiday has ever been quite so easy… and therefore relaxing.

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Schlafen A La Carte mattress

hammock chair in the chill-out gallery

hammock chair in the chill-out gallery

a large jacuzzi

a large jacuzzi

The indulgence on offer is ridiculous but quite wonderful too.  Six course meals each night, breakfast buffets and cheese boards you could only dream of accompanied by a ‘modern Tyrol’ bar with practically any beverage you could imagine.  But indulgence comes in other forms too – chilling by the fire, enjoying a breathtaking view of the mountains from the spacious balcony or simply reading a book in one of the spa’s chair hammocks.

course after course of exquisite food… every night

course after course of exquisite food… every night

special menu/desserts for the Smalls

special menu/desserts for the Smalls

local produce

local produce

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the hotel bar

the hotel bar

 

He had cheese every night.  why not?

He had cheese every night. why not?

We skied, ate, swam, slept, steamed, sauna’d, laughed and ate some more.

kids' room

kids’ room

In summary –the Bergland Hotel set themselves up for a big fall down a black run but… instead of wiping out at the first jump, they elegantly slalom around their guests with style, control and a healthy amount of confidence.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel to any family OR couple looking for an exquisite (yet child-friendly) mountain break, whatever the season.

view from our balcony

view from our balcony

Life of Yablon was a guest of Hotel Bergland but the views in this post are honest and genuine. 

A junior suite in winter off-season (which it was last week) costs 158 Euros per person and prices in summer start from 133 euros per person.

For more information about Sölden – here is my previous post.

 

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Skiing in Sölden, Austria

I think one of my previous posts more than confirmed that He and I agree our Smalls need to learn to ski.    But – on top of learning – they need to feel the WHOOSH of it all too.  And there’s no doubt that uncomfortable ski boots and long lift queues can make for an odd sort of holiday.  So, this year, we decided to pick a different ski resort far from the Val D’Isere madding crowd.

night before the first ski - planning...

planning the following day

Our current au pair is an Austrian mountain girl and we were more than happy to take her advice.  Sölden, she assured us, would provide ample piste to satisfy both them and us.

Sölden, Austria

Sölden, Austria

What was a pint-sized mountain village is now a mile of (pretty busy) road flanked by buzzing bars, restaurants and a young crowd as much as family posses.  Also – most importantly if you are Spring skiers like us – the 35 state-of-the-art lifts and gondolas connect Sölden with one of Austria’s largest glacial areas. Three mountains (all over 3000m) with endless breathtaking views as well as fabulous skiing and boarding.

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We splashed out and booked a private instructor for the Smalls (3 hours a day in the morning) and, as a result, over the 6 days saw them go from beginner to intermediate quoting more black runs that I could EVER enjoy!

a state of the art lift takes you directly to Ice Q, a gourmet restaurant at 3000 ft

a state of the art lift takes you directly to Ice Q, a gourmet restaurant at 3048 m above sea level

Sölden regularly hosts the first World Cup race of the season; needless to say, He had to have a go at the slalom…IMG_4099

Added benefits worth noting: free ski pass for 8 year olds and under and free boots/skis for any Smalls renting with their parents at Intersport.

The Life of Yablon ski team pointing out their favourite piste

The Life of Yablon ski team pointing out their favourite piste

And then all you need is some blue sky and powder snow.

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Sölden is only one hour by road from Innsbruck airport.  Life of Yablon stayed at the Berland Hotelhere is the post.

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post: review of Rachael Chadwick’s 60 Postcards

Today I am posting a guest blog from one of my nearest and dearest.  Warning…  despite being a book review, these words are from the heart. x

There is much I can relate to in Rachael Chadwick’s 60 Postcards – that’s probably why Best Friend cautiously suggested that I review this book.   Eleven years ago I too lost my dear mum to cancer, all too young, with a loving family of three daughters, a brand new grandson and a wonderful husband all struggling to come to terms with the finality, injustice and quite simply overwhelming sadness of the loss.    Serendipity is a concept that threads through the book, so it was no surprise that I first settled down to read it on Mother’s Day.   

UnknownA little like becoming a mother for the first time, losing a parent unexpectedly gives you membership to a club that you never knew existed, or thought you’d be part of, but does give you a powerful solidarity on which to lean.  I was intrigued to see how this young woman had used her tragic and sudden loss to not only celebrate her mother’s life but help her to express her grief via a blog, and now via this book.  Consequently it has led her to her give up her job and take the 60 Postcard campaign further and wider meeting like-minded souls and unlikely pen-pals along the way.    One of the strongest themes in the book was the reviving role of family and friendship – both new and old.   I also recognised many of her well-observed reactions by friends and acquaintances on hearing the tragic news: the Suffer Police, the Disbelievers and the Tilters.   

Whilst I can’t but applaud Rachael, I did struggle with her writing at times and as a result I am saddened not to be able to champion the book and its sentiment more.   I am not a fan of the asides or exclamation marks and in my opinion, the narrative could have been pacier.   Having said that, it was only when I reached the final chapter that I felt that the account revealed a more candid expression of her regrettable reality.   She speaks of the conversation she had with her Mum a few days before she passed away that allowed them to “acknowledge out loud, for the first and final time that we were going to lose each other forever.”   For me this honesty is what the mother/daughter relationship is all about – even if it breaks an unwritten family rule not to talk about the future.  I remember the same difficult and emotion-filled conversation I had with my mum more than eleven years ago and as I read Rachael’s final chapter, I too wanted to go tell everyone quite how fantastic my mother was, how much I miss her and still feel her guiding me every day.

60 Postcards: The Inspirational Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to Celebrate Her Mother, One Postcard at a Time is out now.

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Village England. A real life handbag.

Last month I met Julia Dobson, one of the 2 founders of new handbag brand Village England for a coffee and a bit of a bag-natter.  Ex-LVMH, Dobson and her business partner Eddie Knevett who happens to have been head of accessories at House of Fraser are more than equipped to bring us – what is – the latest in Brit bags.

Julia Dobson and I talk handbags

Julia Dobson and I talk handbags

Digging deep, I wanted to know why we need more bag choice on our high street and how Village England planned to attract our attention in this already crowded market.

Here is my interview with Julia:

Which handbag did you carry before you launched Village England? As I’ve worked for handbag brands for years, I have been obliged to carry the brand I work for!  So, I carried CELINE when I worked there, Bally when I worked for them…

And which Village England bag is your go-to bag?  I carried the Polperro from launch until our AW14 samples arrived, but now I’m a Beamish girl.  I love the super soft leather, the squishy pockets on the front to carry all those things you need to access fast (Oyster Card, phone, pen, notepad) and of course the cross body strap for when I need to hold someone’s hand crossing the road…

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I admire her Aysgarth

What do YOU carry in your bag?  My life.  Without fail my phone, house keys and Village England purse (in yellow, since you ask).   Depending on where I am going my laptop and Smythson note book (gift from my last paid job), 3 or 4 pens and a lip gloss.  There has been more than one occasion when I have reached in my bag to pull out something for a meeting and have found a My Little Pony (with rainbow hair – a Christmas gift from my 4 year old son).  He sneaks it into my bag so I would have something to play with at work…  Love that boy.

What’s your ambition for Village England?  We set out to make women happy – make a great product that looks great and works within a real life.  Pockets that are the right height to use when they are on your shoulder and straps that work.  And then make sure we have the right attention to the details that you won’t notice unless they are NOT there – like a gorgeous lining that feels nice when you put your hand into the bag and feet on the bottom of the bag.  We engrave our studs with one of the original drawings Eddie did of a cottage, just because we think the details are important.

Who or what inspires you?  At the moment I am being completely inspired by a bunch of older women who are really teaching me a thing or two about cutting yourself some slack and enjoying the moment.  I think as women we seems to be hard wired to take on so much, to be perfect in every aspect of life, to feel guilty about everything, mothering too much, not being there enough, not being at work enough, not cleaning the house enough, not seeing our friends enough.  I’m currently working on just appreciating what I have, which is lovely, even if the kitchen floor really could use a mop.

a Newlyn in vibrant routemaster red £250

a Newlyn in vibrant routemaster red £250

What makes you really happy?  The sound of the boys laughing in the next room; a cup of tea in the sunshine on our deck, a quiet glass of wine with Mr Dobson once the boys are in bed.  Seeing one of our bags on someone on the tube – that’s probably the most exciting thing.

Is fashion for the faint-hearted?  Broadly there are two types of people who work in fashion – those for whom most of their self esteem is derived from the brand they work for and those that just work in an industry that sell a product and a derivative of the lifestyle that is used to communicate that.  Frankly there is a huge amount of competition in this industry, so you really need to have a great product if you want to have any chance of survival.  The major fear factor comes from the investment required: if you want to work with the best manufacturers, you have to sign up to some very big production runs, which are not cheap!

who would you LOVE to carry one of your bags – and which one?  So many amazing women I admire, but I don’t think we’re particularly a celebrity brand.  So I love it whenever I see a REAL woman carrying our bags, on the school run, heading home from work, heading out for a drink.

I persuaded some 'green fly' to model the range of Village England bags!

I persuaded some ‘green fly’ to model the range of Village England bags!

Who would you enjoy being stuck in a lift with?  A lift repair man.  Why a lift?  Can’t I be stuck in the Maldives instead?  Why have I never been to the Maldives?  And why does the return flight from a holiday NEVER get cancelled?

What makes Village England different from its competitors?  We care.  We really care.  We want to make an amazing bag (based on all our experience working for luxury brands) for a real world price. That’s our starting position

What can we look forward in the future?  Autumn /Winter 2014 will soon be upon us, which of course will include my favourite Beamish (you’ll see it in House of Fraser and Anthropologie amongst others)

Tell us a handbag secret…  Way back when… Eddie (my co-Founder and great friend) is the cause of one of the biggest hit bags a few seasons ago.  When on a buying appointment for House of Fraser in a certain brand’s showroom, he found a bag he rather liked in the corner, but the bag had been edited out of the collection and was not for sale.   Of course, if you have the buying power of House of Fraser you can get things back in to a collection if you’re prepared to back it with an order.  That bag was eventually launched with the name “Roxanne”, and provided him (and Mulberry) with some rather healthy sales.

You may have seen me out and about with my stunningly vibrant Cranleigh. Curiously many observers and admirers have glanced at my orange friend commenting that they think they have seen it on Bond St.  And yet the price is dramatically different. (80% of Village England bags retail at less than £300.) Based on the quality of leather, the diverse colours and the everyday wearablity, I’d advise you to check out Village England’s bags as Julia’s right – they are perfect for our very real lives…

Village England bags can be purchased online or in House of Fraser, Jarrolds (Norwich), Elys of Wimbledon, Fenwick Brent Cross, Kate Kuba and Anthropologie from next season.

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