Lorraine tells us that Cervinia is one of the oldest ski resorts too, having been firmly put on the ski map in the 1930s. It has continued to attract discerning skiers ever since and is accessible from both Turin and Milan Malpensa airports (with Turin being the nearest). Its super high altitude (approximately 3,899 metres) meant that even though it was April when the girls visited, they were greeted with masses of snow and there wasn't an ounce of slush in sight!
They stayed at Hotel Hermitage where they received the warmest of welcomes from the Neyroz family, who built the hotel and have managed it ever since, so it’s fair to say that they’re passionate about what they do and both Lorraine and Lisa agree that this really came across in the service. After being shown to their cosy, but spacious rooms and being stunned by the view of The Matterhorn (or Cervino as it’s known in Italy), they were treated to a Caviar facial treatment at the hotel’s new spa, which they followed with a swim in the pool − the perfect way to relax after their journey.
In the evening, they enjoyed Prosecco and an aperativo in the bar with Madame Neryoz − which is a nightly ritual that brings hotel guests together to chat and wax lyrical about their day’s skiing. Lorraine absolutely loved this personal touch − it worked so well and was one of the highlights of the trip. They were also given a mini tour of the extensive wine cellar where the Bar Attendant told them that private dinners and tastings can be arranged. Very romantic! In fact, the girls were told that just recently a gentleman who had been a frequent guest at the hotel since he was a boy, proposed to his fiancée in there – of course, she said ‘yes’!
Dinner was a typical mountain-cuisine-style banquet including a feast of various entrees and pastas, or grilled meat or fish, whilst dessert − showcased on a traditional ‘sweet trolley’ − really did make the mouth water! It had to be Crepe Suzettes which were very impressively flambéd at the table with glugs of Grand Marnier – delicious!
The next day was what Lorraine and Lisa had really been looking forward to − a chance to hit the slopes. They awoke to blue sky and sunshine, so as conditions were so wonderful they set off for the highest slopes, being escorted to the cable car (a two-minute-drive away) by a member of the hotel team. The pistes here are well groomed, and nice and wide, so are great for skiers who like to build up their confidence gradually during the week. It’s an intermediate skier’s paradise, but there are a few nice advanced runs to get the heart racing if you desire. Cervinia is located directly on the border with Switzerland and an international ski pass can be bought which enables skiers to hop over to Zermatt for the day and discover more challenging ski opportunities, but since Lorraine and Lisa only had one day in skiing heaven, they stayed on Italian terrain.
They stopped for lunch at a mountain restaurant recommended by the hotel called Chalet Etoile – just off a nice blue run above Plan Maison – and Lorraine sampled Reindeer Ravioli, whilst Lisa requested gluten-free pasta which they provided with no issues − pretty impressive! On the neighbouring table was a group of ski police (probably due to the fact that the Swiss border was so close) enjoying lunch with local friends, and the girls say that it was almost like a scene from a James Bond film. Their day was perfect and by 4pm they were suitably exhausted so they wearily returned to Hotel Hermitage and a hot cup of tea and a warm in front of the huge fireplace in the lounge.
In summing up, Lorraine says that although Cervinia isn’t the prettiest of resorts, it’s a great place to ski and the mountain scenery is hard to beat. The main street offers plenty of shops and cafes for an après ski saunter or a mug of hot chocolate too. Hotel Hermitage is the real star of the show here; it’s a special little gem – relaxed, cosy, warm and friendly.