And Oskar Goes to... The Chedi Andermatt
Labrador of luxury: writer Titus Arnu took his dog with him to stay at The Chedi in Andermatt, an elegant hotel with a fine dining menu for our four-legged friends.
Sometimes I wish that my dog could talk. I want to know what he’s thinking when he tilts his head to one side and gives me that look that melts my heart every time. Is he really suffering when he sits and yowls at my door? Or is he just after a bit of attention? Does he see me as a boring old lump constantly sat staring at a screen? Does he wonder why I don’t spend all my time running around outside and enjoying nature? Is he in love with the sweet, curly-haired dog next door? I wish I knew… Oskar does manage to express himself quite well without using any words, though. Almost all of his attempts to communicate with me revolve around one thing: food. When I’m standing in the kitchen with the fridge open, Oskar tells me what he wants with his eyes and the way he moves.
He resorts to an almost comical interpretive dance to get me to understand him. «I want a sausage!» «Give me cheese!» «How about that bread crust?» And my answer is almost always no. Outrageously unfair as far as he’s concerned. Oskar is a two-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador. Weighing in at 33 kilograms, this muscular canine is always hungry. He will devour anything that isn’t safely locked away. Mastering «Sit», «Stay» and «Drop it» at puppy training was no problem for him. I dread to think what would happen if he could talk and use the phone. And I’m relieved that Oskar isn’t able to read and write. Otherwise, he would be able to understand the beautiful doggy menu in our hotel room. On the front there’s a black Labrador staring into the camera.
“The hotel welcomes dogs with open arms, with everything set up to make life comfortable for our four-legged guests.”
This could well be Oskar’s brother. The back is filled with a list of exquisite meals prepared without seasoning or spice especially for dogs. We’re talking fried rice with chicken and vegetables, couscous with poached fish and eggs, and game bird with vegetables. You can also order raw treats (minced beef, lamb and chicken with vegetable flakes) and even dessert (banana ice cream and fruit salad). If you can talk and dial the number, that is. Oskar starts by bounding over to the bowl that has been left in our room for him. A few welcome snacks await him. They are demolished in one mouthful. Wagging his tail, he proceeds to explore our room, a Junior Deluxe Suite at The Chedi in Andermatt. A comfy dog bed has been set up in front of the fireplace. There is plenty of space to run around and several soft fluffy rugs. When I open the sliding door onto the hotel’s courtyard garden, Oskar can smell the fresh mountain air.
Our room on the ground floor is ideal for walkies, as the side exit takes us straight outside. From there, we can take a stroll along the Unteralpreuss, the mountain stream running through the village. On our way back to the hotel, Oskar pulls hard on his lead until it is taut. He must be keen to return to the relaxed luxury on offer at The Chedi. «We are more leisure than business here,» says Melanie Horn, who works for the Sales & Marketing department at the five-star hotel. Oskar seems to have grasped this laid-back approach and spends the interview lying on the floor like a good boy. Every so often, he will stare longingly at the caramel biscuit on my saucer. When a yappy little chihuahua comes into reception and starts making a scene, Oskar stays cool and his eyebrow just twitches. No young whippersnapper is going to ruin his mellow mood.
“When we are back at the hotel, all Oskar can think about is food.”
The hotel welcomes dogs with open arms, with everything set up to make life comfortable for four-legged guests. Here, lavish luxury is on the cards for people and animals alike. Faux leather dog beds in all shapes and sizes await in one of the back rooms, with something to suit Pugs, Great Danes and every breed in between. Past canine guests even include dogfluencers like Mumford, a doggy star of the screen known in Switzerland for his appearance in a Coop advert. Did you know that Mumford can do a handstand (a pawstand?), hide in a suitcase and balance a stick on his nose? Oskar can’t do any of those tricks. But that doesn’t stop the staff fussing over him. The doorman greets him with a smile and gives him a friendly pat on the back when we leave the hotel in the afternoon armed with a rucksack full of bottled water, treats and poo bags. The area surrounding the hotel is a dream for dogs and their owners. Meadows, streams, mountain lakes and sprawling pastures provide the ultimate backdrop for long walkies.
From the hotel, we make our way up to the Gotthard Pass. The view here is a little disappointing at the moment thanks to a huge construction site. Once you get past all the cranes and diggers working at Lago di Lucendro, though, things quieten down and you are left alone with your thoughts. A narrow, rocky path takes you to Lago d’Orsino and three other lakes at an altitude of 2,500 metres. Oskar listens to the whistling marmots and would love to be let loose to catch himself a juicy little snack. But nature conservation and a healthy diet stand in his way. Dogs have to be kept on their leads and make do with admiring the view and sniffing the bluebells and cyclamens. The highlight of our whistle-stop tour is a dip in the ice-cold Lago d’Orsirora.
Back at the hotel, all Oskar can think about is food. There is a delicious smell of bread, bacon and cheese coming from the main restaurant. I presume that Oskar has registered this as his tongue is hanging out and his nostrils are flared. I guide him past the entrance to the Michelin-starred restaurant called The Japanese on the way back to our room. It may be closed, but Oskar is keen to stop for a bite to eat right away. That might have something to do with the aroma of fresh raw fish and steamed rice. Labradors were bred to be the perfect water dogs, so fish is the holy grail for them. But dogs are banned from the restaurant – and rightly so. When we get back to the room, I decide it’s finally time to get my paws on the doggy menu and I end up ordering a tagliata. After a short wait, there is a knock at the door and Oskar’s personal waiter ceremoniously hands me a bowl that makes my dog’s mouth water. Fresh beef, fried to perfection and served on a bed of steamed rice with carrots and peas.
Did Oskar enjoy his fine dining experience? It’s hard to say as he had scoffed the lot down within 30 seconds. Later, I get stuck into the book ‘I know what you’re trying to tell me – understanding what your dog is saying’ by Stephanie Lang von Langen. The animal psychologist helps owners translate dog speak so they can better understand their pets. Will I be able to communicate with Oskar soon? And do I need to be careful what I wish for? «The moment we start seeing our dogs as humans, we are falling into a trap,» explains the animal psychologist. «As much as we love our pets, dogs aren’t people and people aren’t dogs.» Got it! Good night then, Oskar! I’m off to eat my evening meal without you. I think it’s probably best that way for everyone. Stay and drop it!
Words Titus Arnu
Photos Enno Kapitza
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