Special care in St Moritz; an Austrian country hotel; Seevilla, Altausee; AA upgrades

Breaking a Leg in St. Moritz

In February 1999, on the second day of my Switzerland trip, I fell and broke my hip. I was in the hospital "Klinik Gut" in St. Moritz for 30 days.

Upon arrival at the Klinik, the one thing they did not ask me was to "show us proof of insurance". In fact the question of insurance did not come up until the fourth day, at which time Dr. Urfur came in and said “Oh, by the way, do you have insurance, we have no socialized medicine in Switzerland.” When I told him I had Blue Cross, he replied, “That's wonderful, they are good to work with.” In fact I encountered only one bureaucrat the whole time in regard to the insurance. It took Blue Cross seven and one-half months to pay Klinik Gut a total of $38,000 (the entire bill, by the way).

What I got for my money: excellent treatment (I found out later that the doctor was the Swiss Olympic bobsled team's doctor); excellent food (the Klinik had an actual chef who would come to my room every day in his big chef's hat and ask me if the food was o.k. and what he could make different for me); and I also got staff who actually came when I rang the bell. One thing I never got there was a lot of smart talk from staff.

I couldn't travel on a commercial airliner, so Blue Cross arranged for me to come home in a Lear Jet (cost of $40,000).

The first thing the doctor told me on my arrival back in Minnesota: you fell in the very best country in the world; they are the experts when it comes to fractures.

The Klinik had windows in the room that you could actually open; I had real fresh air (try that in the United States!). In the afternoon they would bring me up on the roof of the Klinik so I could sit and enjoy the mountains and the mountain air.

On the last day I was there (February 29, 1999), when I was sitting on the roof, a butterfly came and landed next to me. I found this unbelievable, as it was still very much winter! After an instant, it flew off again.

George Hulstrand
Willmar MN

Austrian Country Hotel

Your article on Austrian country hotels includes some quite elegant lodgings - all great choices. One we visit or dine at on every trip to Grundlsee/Altaussee, is the Seevilla (Altaussee, A-8992, tel. +43/03622/71302, fax 71302-8, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) located directly on the lake looking up to the Loser mountain. It is Old World, reasonably priced, great food (especially dinner buffet with local musicians), and at one time hosted the composer, Brahms. Altaussee also includes one of the best tailors and clothing stores in Austria named Haselnus. Another store is located nearby, Bad Aussee, and is owned by a wonderful couple, Georg and Traudi Haselnus. They custom-make beautiful traditional clothing and also offer great stuff off the racks by Schneider and Gössl of Salzburg.

William H Wood, III
Hobe Sound, FL

More on Seevilla, Altaussee

Our week's stay in the Seevilla (Editors note: see contact info above) was marvelous. This was our second visit and it certainly won't be our last. If you haven't been to Altaussee, I think you'll find it a delightful destination. There is so much to see and do. The hotel has a spa and a pool, there is swimming in the lake, there is a golf course nearby and if anyone is into paragliding this is a center for that sport. In the winter there is skiing and snowboarding. The hiking is wonderful. There are trails everywhere. Eating is a delight. If one tires of the cuisine in the hotel. (I really don't know why they would, as it is excellent) there are a number of restaurants in the town and vicinity. Gasthof Loser is a favorite of ours. Every Thursday they have folk music. Every Tuesday they serve smoked trout. It is to die for. Owner Hans Glaser's restaurant has been featured in the gourmet magazine Essen und Trinkin. The town of Aussee is five kilometers away. Excellent shopping here. An added inducement: all the salespeople in the town wear Trachten. The town of Aussee is near Lake Traunsee. A nice outing is to walk from Traunsee to Toplitzsee, a lake with a somewhat shady and mysterious past. Anyone interested in WWII would be enjoy reading up on Toplitzsee. Day trips from Altaussee will take you all over the Salzkammergut. It is not far from any attraction, Salzburg included.

Ed and Thea Reilly
Torrance, CA

Upgrade Not Easy on AA

I found your October column about air upgrades interesting, but not consistent with our experience with American Airlines AAdvantage Program. My wife is a platinum class member and these are our recent experiences.

• Last November we booked economy class to Zürich for a mid-May, 2003 trip - requested business class mileage upgrades at 50,000 miles per person and had to wait until 10 days before the flight to finally get upgraded. Although the request had been on standby status for six months, we were charged $50 for each upgrade as AA chose to view the confirmation (e-tickets so no paperwork involved) as a "rush" order!

• In April 2003 we inquired of AA's platinum desk about again using 50k miles per person for a business class upgrade to Rome for September 2003. We were told there were no business class upgrades available for any transatlantic flight for the entire month of September (we weren't even queried as to what category coach tickets, so presumably even a full fare coach ticket five months in advance wouldn't get the job done). We finally concluded my wife's 400,000-plus AAdvantage miles were becoming of limited value - our main goal being transatlantic upgrades and we used 100,000 miles each to fly coach to Rome.

May and September are the months we typically travel to Europe, and it appears to us that using AA miles for business class upgrades (at least at those times) is no longer a realistic option. As a result my wife has switched to Northwest which on a worst-case basis at least offers business class without restrictions for 160,000 miles (theoretically also for 80,000, which probably only works in the dead of winter). Those who make trips to Europe at off-peak times may be able to get some AA business class upgrades on occasion. Good luck!

Bill Bohnhoff
Via E-mail

December 2003/January 2004