The High Life
- Apr. 21 2015 00:00
Between river and mountains in Rosa Khutor
For skiers, the Rosa Khutor resort in the mountains above Sochi is a little piece of sports heaven. The nearly 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) of trails are open for business about 140 days a year, often right through the May holidays. Skiers and snowboarders of all ages and levels of skill spend the day on the slopes and then relax every evening in the resort's many bars, cafes and restaurants. But what happens when the season ends?
Actually, the season never ends in Rosa Khutor. After a small pause on the mountains from mid-May to mid-June while the trails thaw out, the summer season begins. And it turns out that there is even more to do in the summer than in the winter.
The Rosa Khutor resort is a small town nestled in the Caucasus at a bend in the Mzymta River. The resort has over 20 hotels, from modest to extravagant. At the lower end of the budget scale is the Panda Hotel (http://pandahotel.ru), which has simply furnished rooms for under 2,000 rubles (about $40) with all the basics, as well as a café and sauna for easing away the day's sore muscles. At the other end of the budget is the resort's sole five-star hotel, the Radisson Rosa Khutor, which has almost two hundred modern rooms, a number of bars and restaurants, an in-house gym and full-service spa, the Pyramid Health Club & Spa.
Located in the middle of town is the mid-budget Mercure Rosa Khutor, offering over 150 brightly decorated rooms, a cozy lobby bar with a fireplace for cool evenings, and an acclaimed restaurant serving Russian cuisine. You can begin relaxing right in the hotel: kids can be entertained in the hotel playroom while the grown-ups enjoy the hotel's sports facilities: an indoor pool, gym and Turkish bath.
In town you can rent a bike for a few hours or the whole day, learn to ride a Segway, or take a few turns on the ice at the rink. In good weather, you can soak up the sun on Rosa Beach — two swimming pools filled with mountain spring water by the Mzymta River. Or you can simply enjoy shopping in town and checking out the delights of the local café and bar scene.
Up in the Mountains
But the real fun is out of town. You can start the day with free yoga classes at the Rosa Peak viewpoint. There are free sports fields at the Rosa Valley and Rosa Plateau lift stations for volleyball, table tennis, field hockey, badminton, and soccer. There is also a trampoline for bouncing and indo boards for balance training — great for skiers, ice skaters, and surfers.
For a more active vacation, you can hike the trails by yourself or with a guide. For a bit more exercise, you can rent a mountain bike and take a longer route through woods and alpine meadows. Or you might try your hand at horseback riding, or try a quad bike.
Kids and adults will like the Rosa Khutor branch of Panda Park (http://pandapark.org/descriptions/hutor) which offers three rope routes in the trees 1,350 meters (almost 4,500 feet) above sea level.
Masterskaya Priklyuchenii (http://www.extreme-sochi.ru) takes adventure up a notch. The company offers a variety of classes and supervised activities, including guided hikes for city-slickers who don't have their mountain-legs yet. If you are not afraid of heights, the group offers four different rock climbing routes. You can try your hand — and feet — at canyoneering — a relatively new form of mountain sports that involves climbing, rappelling, swimming, hiking and jumping from cliff edges into mountain pools. There are almost ten routes that last from an afternoon to two days. If that doesn't scare you enough, the guides also do cave tours along seven different underground routes.
And if you want to be scared silly, check out A.J. Hacket's Skypark Sochi (http://www.ajhackett.com/sochi), where you can stroll along the longest pedestrian suspension bridge 207 meters (almost 700 feet) above a river gorge. Or you can fly 500 meters (1,640 feet) across the canyon on a giant swing. Or do a bungie jump at 207 meters (700 feet) or 69 meters (about 225 feet).
And at the end of the day, you can be glad you have a comfortable hotel to return to.