Review: Zermatt Resort and Homestead Crater
Last weekend I had big plans to stay home and do nothing. But that all changed when April (Sweet Life in the Valley) told me about an opportunity to spend the night at the Zermatt Resort complete with dinner and scuba diving and eating cookies with a bunch of girly bloggers in exchange for a blog review. I jumped at the chance.
I drove up the canyon to beautiful Midway, Utah with my new friend Erin from Two More Seconds. (She is putting together the Sewing Summit this fall in SLC.) Midway was settled by Swiss immigrants and the Zermatt Resort has a very European feel, dancing bear statues and bellhops in traditional costumes included. We checked in at the main lodge and then headed over to dinner at Schneitters Restaurant.
Schnitters has a new chef and a new menu and we got to taste a lot of their new dishes. I think I counted 8 courses? I don’t care for seafood, so I didn’t particularly enjoy the shrimp cocktail or the crab dip, or the corn and crab chowder. But I tried it and it was good, for seafood. They brought us hot rolls, which were fabulous, and we got to taste their amazing wedge salad. I’ve never tasted a salad that was more delicious. Life changing delicious. Really. I mean, if you top it with bacon it’s gonna be good anyway, right? The main course was a tasty chicken, pasta and veggie dish with asparagus and zucchini and sun dried tomatoes in it. Then we tried a smattering of desserts, none of which were totally impressive. Their strawberry shortcake was my favorite of the three, but I wish it had been fresh strawberry sauce (like mine) instead of cooked. I’m just picky when it comes to dessert I guess. But it was fun to hang out with girls and talk blogging and internet and social networking. Oh, and when you go out to eat with a bunch of bloggers, this is kind of what it looks like. (Really, click that link, it’s HILARIOUS!)
After dinner we hung out at the pool and the hot tub for a while, and then went back to our rooms to eat more cookies and ice cream cones and talk more blogging and internetting and stayed up far too late enjoying the whole thing. We stayed in a few of the villa’s, which were awesome. Lots of beds, lots of bathrooms and a nice kitchen. They would be a wonderful place to go with a lot of family or friends for a getaway or a reunion. (As long as you didn’t have to sleep on the sleeper sofas. The beds were great, sofas? not so much. Erin, I still owe you for switching me!) Saturday morning we had breakfast at Fanny’s Grill which is across the street from the Zermatt Resort at the Homestead Resort. (Both were purchased by the same parent company last summer, so they like, do stuff together and everything.)
[ Image of the Homestead Crater interior from the Zermatt Resort]
After breakfast I went here. The water from a natural hot spring has hollowed out the inside of a limestone deposit that is shaped like a 55 foot tall rock beehive. Yeah, cool. It is called The Crater , and people have been soaking and swimming here for more than 100 years It is as warm as a hot bath, 90ish degrees year round. (That’s 32 for you celsius people.) And the water is clear and bright blue from all the minerals (the blue in the picture is really accurate). Plus it has a 65 ft deep pool of water to scuba dive or snorkel or swim in, but it is located at over 7,000 feet above sea level. Pretty freaking awesome. Our coordinator at the Zermatt Resort dropped the ball and forgot to schedule us for the scuba session we were planning on. So when we arrived they told us that we would only be able to swim in the Crater. Which would still be a nice warm soak in a mineral hot spring, but it was pretty disappointing. But as David (I think he is the Manager at the Crater) was helping us get our forms signed and our life vests on it came up that we had hoped for little scuba-ing. And he called someone else to watch the front desk, dropped everything else he was doing and made sure we had an awesome experience.
[ Image from the Zermatt Resort. That isn’t me, but it could have been, it looks just like this! ]
After David hoisted our vests and tanks and tubes into the water we had a quick 20 minute chat about how to breathe underwater and how to not get the bends and basically how to not die or drown. And then down we went. And it was awesome. Now, let me just tell you that I am not a diver. I’ve watched people go diving from the boat, but jumping in a lake or an ocean where there are live creepy crawly things is not on my bucket list. But thanks to the last minute schedule rearranging by David I was able to go under in full scuba gear and have an amazing scuba experience for an hour without the chance of being eaten by a shark, or nibbled by a turtle or a carp or something. And besides the warm safety of scuba diving at 7,00 feet above sea level, I had one of the most beautiful experiences ever. As I swam around with 80 pounds of gear on my back I happened to look up. And I stopped swimming and just stared for a while. I was about 40 feet under the surface but I could see the sunlight filter down through the blue water in a warm hazy glow. The only thing that was moving was the bubbles rising to the surface, and all I could hear was the sound of my
very loud oxygen tank breathing. But it was incredible. I could have stayed there forever, I felt like I was in another world.
I also overcame one of my other irrational fears. I stood there out of the water, but just in my swimming suit for about 20 minutes. First time in my life that has happened. It was a weekend of first I guess. As far as scuba diving goes The Crater probably isn’t the most stellar experience ever. It is small, it doesn’t have a sunken ship in it or buried treasure. It’s not a coral reef or the caribbean ocean or anything like that. But I did go scuba diving in a nice and warm mineral hot spring 7,000 feet above sea level. And you won’t get that experience anyplace else in the world. I don’t think.
Up until 1996 you had to climb down a rope ladder into the Crater through this opening in the top of the dome. They have since blasted a tunnel through the rock so you can just walk in. They have also built a nice little dock area with step ladders and some soaking spots arounnd the edges so you can hang out without having to tread water. The biggest bummer about the whole experience (besides the seeming lack of organization from our coordinator at the Zermatt) was that scuba diving for an hour in a mineral hot spring pool leeched a lot of the pink out of my hair. Saturday morning it was still a pretty pink color, and Saturday afternoon it had changed to a mostly peachy blonde pink. Not that I can hold that against the resort, but if you have pink hair I’d suggest skipping the scuba session… bummer.
[ A climb up these stairs takes you to the top of the Crater dome. And this view of the valley ]
I’d love to go back to the Zermatt with a group of friends for a getaway or with my family for a reunion. But I’d make sure I was planning my own activity schedule because our coordinator didn’t seem too concerned that we had the best experience possible. Which was kind of frustrating and a little disappointing. And just due to time restraints there was a lot of things that we didn’t get to do. They have mineral hot pots to soak in, a spa, carousel, a full service bakery, golf, ATV’s (half of our group went out on those in lieu of a scuba session) or in the winter you can choose pretty much any sport involving snow or ice or penguins. That’s a lie, no penguins in Utah. Duh.