Now our girls are somewhat older we more and more can take up real outdoor activities. And we are just in the right place to do so: the lovely village of Malbun, situated in the eastern exclave of the municipality of Triesenberg, in Liechtenstein. It is located at 1,600 metres (5,249 feet) above sea level in the Alps less than two kilometres from the Austrian border. Being the only ski resort in this tiny country it also is an excellent destination in summer. The steep slopes at the end of the Malbun valley surround the little resort of Malbun (1’600 m) like an arena. The small scale of this little mountain village and the traffic-calming measures in the center of the village make it a particularly family-friendly resort.
We stay at the lovely family hotel Gorfion. The hotel has been recently renovated to a very high standard. It feels almost like a chic design hotel, but still has the casual relaxedness of a kids hotel. It offers 55 very well-equipped rooms with bathroom, including many family rooms. Our room isn’t the biggest we have stayed in and not the height of luxury, but it is cosy and highly functional. The girls adore sleeping in the bunkbeds being able to peek out of the window with an amazing view of the surrounding mountains. All rooms go equipped with flat screen TV’s, Wi-Fi, safe, telephone, spa bag with bathrobes, hair dryer, baby equipment, etc. Every floor has a communal area with free use of washing machine, fridge and microwave. Again a very well thought off touch which shows the hotels dedication to travelling families. And a very comfortable lounge area, with splendid cocktails, for the evenings.
From the outside the hotel perfectly fits the Alpine architecture. A lot of decorative carving and moldings, balconies and gabled roofs with wide eaves. In front of the hotel there is a huge terrace with a huge playground. This set up is great as parents can relax with a drink from the local Liechtensteiner Brauhaus while their children roam around. Depending on the amount of guests there are several child care minders that entertain the little ones. As our girls find themselves just too old, they are perfectly happy to go their own way as there is no shortage of things to do: draw, play table soccer or table tennis in the large kids playroom. And what about an indoor mini climbing wall? Above this all the one thing our kids love most was the really lovely pool area with lots of spa jets. For adults in need of some relaxation the spa section offers a sauna and steam bath. The perfect place to get rejuvenated after a day hiking or skiing.
Although we stay in the midst of summer, we’d definitely like to go back in winter. Perhaps not your first idea if you're looking for a high-end skiing area, but skiing right through the centre of the town along nice little alpine huts, really has it's unique charm. It is truly Ski in/Ski out with the children’s ski school located on the front doorstep of the hotel.
In Summer we will ‘have to do’ with the extensive network of mountain footpaths around Malbun that leads into an idyllic, virtually untouched natural landscape. The geography of this little country makes it an outstanding bikers’ destination, with lots of tricky dedicated trails and paths. We start our hiking adventure on top of the chair-lift on the Sareiser Joch. The nearby mountain restaurants offers a big and sunny terrace with a small children’s playground. There is even a Pet Donkey Zoo. From the restaurant we split up. Angela takes our youngest daughter down all the way back to the village; a leisure walk taking around 2 hours. The oldest daughter joins Menno for a 5 hour walk along the ‘Fürstin-Gina-Weg', a magnificent round trip to the ‘Augstenberg', and along the flower-carpeted ridge on a mountain trail down to the 'Pfälzer cabin' of the Liechtenstein Alpine Association, at the foot of the 'Naafkopf' (2'108 m).
Quite a climb for both but a hearty lunch inspired by German and Austrian cuisine at Pfälzerhütte heightens the stamina levels. The descend from Pfälzerhütte to Malbun leads them along scenic mountain views to the mountain pasture "Alp Gritsch" and back to Malbun again.
Besides all the sport activities Malbun offers several other leisure options. The legendary eagle and owl show at the Falknerei Galina is the most prominent one. We are also fortunately to be around during the annual Malbun Sommerchilbi: a big summer fair with a host of activities, children’s entertainment and regional culinary specialties. Great fun to mingle with the locals and experience our first ‘cow shit’ roulette. Just image a cow dropping, pointing the winning number on a roulette ‘table’ laid out in one of the towns meadows. Unfortunately we just miss the Malbun Donkey Festival. You by now get the point; this is just the destination for a genuine low key family holiday. As long is you do not expect theme parks and Disney figures you will have a great time. Actually Malbun and its commitment to family-friendly services and activities has led to them being awarded the "Family Destination" certificate by the Swiss Tourist Board.
Distances are short in the “little country”. Vaduz is only 15 km away from Malbun. Reason enough to enjoy the cultural offerings in the “little town” from time to time, even if you are holidaying in Malbun. We especially like the National Museum, it displays artefacts about the history, culture, nature and landscape of Liechtenstein in its three buildings and 42 exhibit rooms. In addition, a part of the Liechtenstein crown jewels - a replica of the “princely hat” - can be viewed. Halfway from Malbun to Vaduz is Triesenberg, perched high above the Rhine valley. At the local history museum, you can find out about the history of this Walser settlement, where the locals still speak a well-preserved Walser dialect. A short detour we highly recommend.
This “little” country has bigger detours: in case a company or you have the money, one can rent the entire country for $70,000 a night. It’s not that all residents are packing up their stuff, but actually it's more like just having an immense party including accommodation for 150 persons. We are not sure it has ever been rented yet, but it will offer the chance to rename city streets and town squares, print your own temporary currencies or carve logos or names into the snow on the mountainside. The mayors and marching bands can welcome you with a custom medieval festival and present you the key to the city, or perhaps a wine tasting event at a Prince's estate followed by a fireworks show.
We are perfectly happy with the activities around Malbun and they make us carve for some great food. Well, at the Gorfion we are at the right place for that. As the evening meals are out of this world. Every evening we are wowed with the most beautiful dishes which wouldn’t look out of place in a Michelin star restaurant - no heavy typical mountain food. Executive Chef, Michael Spirk and his team, source almost all their ingredients from local suppliers. Milk, cheese and yogurt come from nearby Alp Pradamee. Fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs and tender meat arrive from selected agricultural and organic farms in Liechtenstein. And a local hunter personally provides us with delicacies like venison. In the mornings the rich breakfast spread is evenly impressive. The bar area provides us a stunning alpine chic oasis of cosiness with a great cocktail choice and, in the cooler months, a lovely roaring open fire. The perfect place for a after dinner nightcap. Anything more you need?
# It’s a kids hotel in the truest sense of the word, so you don’t have to feel bad about the mess your kids might be making. Every conceivable type of baby equipment is at your disposal – making packing for your holiday that much easier.
# Don’t forget the lama and alpaca trekking experience. It’s such a unique way for children to discover the countryside with these friendly animals - and children quickly forget how long they have been walking. A taster trek is 2 hours, but how about a day trek while the lamas carry all equipment or multiple days?
# It is they complete package we like most. Good food, friendly staff, a lot to do in terms of activities and culture, a heap of different amenities focussed on families with kids. Starting with the off-road buggies to the extensive mash menu for babies.