Skiing and sheep to relieve stress

As a hotel manager in Zermatt, Paul-Marc Julen is continuing the work of his predecessors. The family tradition includes breeding the Blacknose sheep that originated here. Whenever possible, the hotelier takes his boys onto the pistes at the foot of the Matterhorn to carve some speedy turns.

Entrepreneur with respect for tradition

A ski racing career was almost within reach for Paul-Marc Julen, but now he is the third generation to run the family hotel business. The father of two is also dedicated to his role as president of Zermatt Tourism.

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"There are times when I simply cannot ignore the pull of the piste and have to take a break from work."  

Where can powder snow still be found? Where are the longest pistes? Where is lunch served with views of the Matterhorn? Over breakfast, Paul-Marc Julen shares tips with his guests to help them have a perfect day of skiing. Advice from the hotel manager is worth a lot, because he grew up here and knows Zermatt and the ski area like the back of his hand. Plus, he is himself a real winter sports enthusiast.

His gazes out of the window. The Matterhorn glows in the morning sunshine. Those who live in Zermatt face the familiar dilemma of having this most amazing ski region on their doorstep, but also needing to work and look after their guests. However, someone like Paul-Marc Julen is not always able to resist perfect snow conditions. He delays his office work until the evening so he can enjoy a few runs on his skis.

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Sunday is family day and ski day

Jarno and Rajan have been fully rigged out in their ski gear for a while now, waiting patiently for their father. Paul-Marc Julen’s two sons are just as mad about skiing as he is and can hardly wait to hit the slopes with their dad. Sunday is always family day for the Julen clan. In winter, the programme for the day is predefined: off onto the piste.

"When our family goes skiing, we always debate about where we’re going to go."

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© Schweiz Tourismus

Zermatt has a fabulous range of pistes on offer. Those who visit Zermatt are truly spoilt for choice. Even locals like the Julen family sometimes still find it hard to plan the perfect day of skiing. Rajan is into ski racing and wants to hurtle down steep slopes. Jarno loves jumps and could spend all day in the freestyle park. Their mother prefers a more leisurely piste – and Paul-Marc wants to make everybody happy.

"Zermatt is just as much about going on ski trips as skiing – there’s something for everyone." 

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The Julen family agrees on one thing: food is also very important on a day out skiing together. Though here, too, everyone has their preference. They used up a lot of energy during the many speedy descents in the morning. Hunger prompts Paul-Marc and his boys to rapidly find a table and sit down.

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The scent of melted raclette cheese fills the air. One glance at the Valais platter is guaranteed to make your mouth water and breathe new life into tired muscles. Add to this the fresh mountain air and views of the unique mountain world with the Matterhorn dominating the skyline and it is easy to lose track of time and while away the hours here recharging your batteries. The pistes are calling though – specifically, a really long final descent to the valley.

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Sheep breeding that forms a deep connection with the family roots

At the end of the downhill slope into the valley lies the farm of the Julen family. The kids beg Paul-Marc to let them go and check on the lambs. The hotelier is happy to oblige. Breeding the domestic Blacknose sheep is an integral part of tradition in Zermatt. They remind him of his origins. Joyous bleating fills the barn and the sheep curiously approach the fence. It would appear they want to say hello to Paul-Marc or are they actually after an extra helping of food? In that they are successful: Jarno and Rajan really want to feed a lamb with a bottle. Guests can also stroke them and find out more about this special breed. Every Wednesday, the sheep shed is open to visitors.

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"Guests sleep on pillows and under blankets made from our sheep’s wool."

Sustainability is important for the Julen family. Everything produced on the farm is used in their restaurants and hotels. Paul-Marc and his sons nibble on some dried meat, which they made, of course. Then it’s time for the boys to tackle their homework. The circle of tradition is complete: from hotel and skiing to farming and the family. Typically Zermatt.

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