Small Town Experiences High Above Switzerland

When the first snow falls each winter on the East Coast island I call home, I always daydream off to being atop a mountain. I made a vow to seek out more alpine experiences this year and I began that journey with Switzerland. A lover of small town experiences, I happened upon Whitepod in the Western Alps and I knew I had to spend a night in the region of Valais.

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We made our way up to the tiny village of Les Cerniers (population 70) via bus from the train station and got a warm welcome by school children on their way home who must have been between the ages of two and five. The last stop at the top of the hill and we would arrive at Whitepod. Upon checking in, we traded in our luggage with the concierge for a backpack (with headlamps for night) and hiking poles for a 10 minute winter walk in our snow boots uphill to the main lodge as our bags were delivered to the room.

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It was like Christmas day when we sauntered on the deck of Pod number 6, the white snow globe like dome we would be calling home for the next 24 hours. We couldn’t wait to unzip the flap door to see what awaited us inside. Our newly renovated Deluxe Pod was modern with natural design elements from floor to dome ceiling. A front and center table and chair set-up with fresh juice and homemade sweets to kick back and relax in-room, Nespresso machine for early mornings on your deck, wifi, and a walkie talkie instead of a phone to call for anything you need — like breakfast delivered straight to your Deluxe Pod. The pods are weatherproof for snowy nights and soundproof for late night conversations in bed by the fire with an iMax-like view to where the starry skies meet mountains below.

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Of all of the snow-sport and alpine offerings at Whitepod including 25 kilometers of trails, private ski slopes, and mountaineering for the more extreme, my first time dogsledding was both thrilling and dreamy as we passed through snow-laden pines.

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With all of the on-property activities at Whitepod, you’re bound to work up an appetite. The main lodge is open 24 hours with an honor bar for a night cap or two.

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Breakfast is served downstairs and afternoon tea time on the main floor each day, which are included in your stay. Boil your own egg and choose from an assortment of homemade breads with melon jam and caramel sauce, dried and fresh fruits, fresh juices, hot coffee and cocoa.

The food and wine for dinner just down the hill is sourced from local producers and made on property, themed with sustainability in mind. We left full and happy after ordering a charcuterie assortment, Vacherin and Gruyere fondue and chestnut mousse topped with crumbled meringue.

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Bring the whole family, make it a friend-cation, or couples nature retreat. It’s an authentic place. An eco-luxury experience wrapped in a blanket of white you will never want to end.

Innovative Glamping Essentials

Check out these 6 Innovative products to enhance your next glamping experience helping you to stay connected, creative, and incredibly organized when you’re off on your next glamping adventure.


Mac owners, get ready to fawn over the best thing invented for the person whose computer is always full – just like me. Tardisk seamlessly permanently converts your computer into double the available storage. Next time you head out into nature, you can leave that extra hard drive at home and travel a little lighter with Tardisk.

Hyper USB
USB for Iphone

If you want to leave your computer behind all together and love traveling light and simply using just your iPhone to capture your adventures, you’ll want to make sure you’re backing them up. The Hyper USB (available in 8-64 gigs) has a lightning connector for your iPhone or iPad, making safe storage an easy option.


If you want to capture those memories and see them on paper right away, you’ll want to purchase Prynt, a travel size device you plug your iPhone into which turns your smartphone into a printer. All you have to do is attach the phone and viola!

Goal Zero Solar Panel

If you’re off glamping, it’s likely wherever you’re heading off to has lots of sunshine and little or no outlets for plugging in. Get a Goal Zero Solar Panel, it’s an earth friendly way to stay charged up throughout the day.

Pela Case
Pela Case

Why not bring a phone case out into nature that dissolves right back into it. Pela Case is an iPhone case made to be fully biodegradable back into the earth.

Wool + Oak Duffle Suitcase
Wool + Oak

Last but not least, here’s what you should pack all of it in. The rise of creative crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have made it easier for innovative, well designed products to actually make it to market. I came across one that knocked my socks off last month – the Wool + Oak Duffle Suitcase. I don’t think I’ve seen a better duffle out there. Including three compartments, two built in shoe pockets, 13 utility pockets, and an attachable toiletry kit, these bags ship in September just in time for fall glamping.

Watch their witty video here on how it all works.


After a long New York City week of conferences and meetings, I was itching for some space and nature, and embarking on my first journey to Ithaca, New York would prove to be the perfect solution. Prior to my trip, I only knew of Ithaca as the home of Cornell University. Leaving this adventure up in the air, as I have many times before, often do with my adventures, I rented a car and embarked on a solo road trip north to spend a few nights of glamorous camping, or Glamping, at Firelight Camps.

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Walking from the check-in area to my tent, I glanced up and noticed the trees were just beginning to turn their brightest spring greens. I breathed in the crisp fresh air. The lack of noise was enchanting. Immediately the noise also clamoring in my head followed suit and began to quiet. This plot of land had something special about it. It’s calm, cool, and collected vibe began to rub off.


Setting aside my suitcase, I loosely fell back and unfurled atop the billowy comforter. Relaxation hit me hard- the birds chirping, a slow and steady breeze blowing, and the sounds of absolutely nothing else- I didn’t want to move.

tent view

With eighteen tents in total, each complete with a forest-facing back porch and rocking chair, if you’d end up here by way of blindfold, you’d easily imagine you were in the middle of nowhere. The reality being you’re a ten minute drive from town, with the main road just up the hill.


Firelight Camps offers a perfect stay for all types of travelers. For the food fanatics, breakfast is impeccable – homemade granola, local bread from Wide Awake Bakery, freshly baked quiches, and their special blend of Firelight Camps Nicaraguan coffee. Perfect fuel for a day in the outdoors.

Just outside of camp, I discovered a wealth of food and drink spots to visit in and around Ithaca. I enjoyed tasting Port at Ports of New York, grabbing a cider sampling at Finger Lakes Cider House, and tasting homemade cheeses from Lively Run Goat Dairy.


For the active and early riser, you have unique access to sunrise trekking on trails, like Upper Buttermilk Falls, that lead to beautiful waterfalls with swimming holes.

playing bocce
bocce toss

Those looking for family time there is plenty of community space where you can play bocce ball together or gather around a campfire sharing stories over dinner, a glass of wine and homemade smores. The latter is where I needed up my first night- spending time with someone else’s family, who immediately felt like my own. After all, community is what brought Firelight Camps to life.

sourcing for dinner

I had a chance to spend an entire day with co-founder Emma Frisch, a self-taught chef who appeared on Food Network Star. She and food and travel writer Simon Majumdar were sourcing and preparing dinner for a collaborative event the second night of my stay – part of Simon’s casual series #GiveUsABedIllCookYouDinner where he travels around when he’s not filming. When I asked Emma how her and her partner Bobby ended up here, she said, “We started this hotel so people could disconnect to reconnect – to tell stories to get to know one another.”

couple campfire

After all of the literal tastes Ithaca and Firelight Camps had to offer, I left with a small taste of my own on what life might be like if I lived here – in a very comfortable tent. I’d return to experience this all over again in a New York minute.

event tent

Firelight Camps not only offers overnight Glamping, but hosts other events, packages, and retreats.