The Sweet Life in Switzerland

Laax Switzerland
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Kulm Hotel St. Moritz’s Chesa al Parc restaurant has an extensive sun terrace.

Photo by swiss-image.ch

Kulm Hotel St. Moritz’s Chesa al Parc restaurant has an extensive sun terrace.

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Based on our recent trip, we’d describe Switzerland as a calming European retreat; even cities like Zurich and Basel seemed to move at a relaxing pace. A new itinerary to follow is the Grand Tour of Switzerland, designed to take you across the country by train or car.

You’ll need about 10 days to drive the full route. We suggest starting in easy-to-access Zurich. Head to the Park Hyatt Zurich, the concierge will be happy to arrange a private limousine transport from the airport for the 20-minute ride. Note: For those embarking on the Grand Tour by car, we suggest making a rental car reservation before arriving in Zurich to ensure all amenity needs are met. Upon arrival, check into the corner Presidential Suite, which has a kitchen, dining area, marble bath with a tub and a steam sauna. The best part about this guestroom is its floor-to-ceiling windows. When we visited, the Park Suites had just been recently renovated. These accommodations come with separate living and sleeping areas. Each Park Suite also has a large marble bathroom with a deep-soaking bathtub and walk-in rain shower — hello, relaxation. These suites are also ideal for families or couples traveling together, as it is possible to get connecting rooms. We also suggest taking advantage of the air shafts in the rooms, which allow that fresh Swiss air to fill the guestroom. Note: This hotel is pet-friendly, and Roscoe will enjoy his own amenities, including a dog bed and a water and food bowl. Dog-sitters can also be arranged upon request.

Lac de la gruyere in the Fribourg Region is just one of the stunning lake settings visitors will find in Switzerland.Pictured: Lac de la gruyere in the Fribourg Region is just one of the stunning lake settings visitors will find in Switzerland.

In the evening, the place to be seen is ONYX Bar in the hotel lobby. The bar has large windows that look onto the restaurant’s summer terrace, creating a serene environment. The hotel has a large collection of wine (3,000 bottles to be exact), so we suggest ordering a vintage glass or two. ONYX also serves barrel-aged cocktails, which we hear gives the wine and distillates a nice finishing touch. After happy hour, travelers should visit the hotel’s restaurant, parkhuus, which is open to locals, meaning it feels lively and authentic. The signature dish is the loch fyne salmon from Scotland on cedar wood, served with lemon and horseradish cream. Groups should also ask about dining at the Chef’s Table for a memorable experience. Advisors should contact Stefan Hannig ([email protected]) to plan a special stay.

Park Hyatt Zurich’s ONYX Bar has a large selection of vintage wines. It also serves barrel-aged cocktails.Pictured: Park Hyatt Zurich’s ONYX Bar has a large selection of vintage wines. It also serves barrel-aged cocktails.

A stay in Zurich isn’t complete without some time for shopping. Luxury and international brands can be found on the Bahnhofstrasse, a short walk from the Park Hyatt. For visitors with a sweet tooth, we suggest visiting Confiserie Sprüngli on Bahnhofstrasse 21. Note: The shop is closed on Sunday. Here, guests should indulge in Swiss Luxemburgerli and, of course, the chocolates. Luxury Travel Advisor also suggests venturing into the hip and upbeat area of Zurich West. (Travelers can take train number 13 from the Park Hyatt straight to the neighborhood.) In this trendy district, we suggest visiting the market hall. The hall is open everyday and is very popular with families, especially for Sunday brunch. The shopping can continue in Zurich West, as there are many chic shops. For an experience, stop in the popular Freitag boutique, which is actually made out of shipping containers. Tip: The area around the market is condensed so finding the shops is simple. Zurich West is also the place to grab a drink with locals and other travelers. The Hive is a popular club, which is a party-goer’s haven at night. It’s easy to find, simply follow the umbrellas floating outside the entrance. For more of a relaxed drink, stop in at Frau Gerolds Garten. Guests can sit amongst reimaged shipping containers (a common theme) and enjoy the view. After a festive stay in Zurich, it’s time to embark on the first leg of the Grand Tour. We suggest driving from Zurich to Luzern and exploring on from there. (For more information, visit grandtour.myswitzerland.com.) Flying to Zurich: Swiss Air flies direct from John F. Kennedy airport. Posh fliers should take advantage of the arrival lounge in Zurich, the shower we experienced was immaculate and there were plenty of pastries and fruit to snack on.

The destination we suggest visiting after the city of Neuchâtel is Basel. Guests will find ideal accommodations at Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois. The highlight of this hotel is the culinary experience. Guests are urged to make reservations for the restaurant, Cheval Blanc by Peter Knogl, two to three months in advance for a weekend date. The wait will be well worth it, as Cheval Blanc has three Michelin stars. Chef Peter Knogl’s French haute cuisine is intertwined with Mediterranean and Asian influences. To make a reservation, contact Viven Loch ([email protected]). The hotel’s additional eateries, Brasserie Les Trois Rois and Restaurant Chez Donati, also offer delicious delicacies, including Swiss and French brasserie specialties and Italian cooking, respectively. Bar Les Trois Rois is a popular destination for guests and locals alike in Basel. Guests will want to order the Cocktail of the Year, by the Mixology Bar Award 2015, Jackie Brown. This festive drink is made with Pusser’s Rum, Portwine, black tea — Les Trois Rois blend, Appenzeller, lemon juice, a squeeze of orange zest and a spray of absinthe.

The presidential suite at Les Trois Rois in Basel has an open-air Jacuzzi and sauna, which are set above the rooftops of the Old Town.

The presidential suite at Les Trois Rois in Basel has an open-air Jacuzzi and sauna, which are set above the rooftops of the Old Town.

The Presidential Suite at Les Trois Rois is the top accommodation, complete with two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a sitting room with two dining tables and an open fireplace. VIPs will also want to unwind in the open-air Jacuzzi and sauna, which are set above the rooftops of the Old Town. To book a stay, advisors should contact Helen Wörner ([email protected]) and Marina Gully ([email protected]).

Visitors should soak in Basel’s art scene at the famous museums, including Fondation Beyeler. The museum annually mounts three exhibitions of modern art. There are also temporary exhibitions like Jean Dubuffet—Metamorphoses of a Landscape, which will be on display through May 8. At the end of the month, Beyeler will show an exhibit by American artist Alexander Calder and Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. This display will run until September 4. Other top museums in the city include Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum Tinguely and Vitra Design Museum. Note: Art Basel will run from June 16 to 19 this year. To set up guided tours in Basel, contact Natascha Martin ([email protected]).

Zermatt is a romantic location for couples to stop in during a longer stay. We suggest connecting with nature in this alpine town, which is easy to do with a bounty of ski slopes and hiking routes. In the shadow of the famous Matterhorn, adventure-goers will want to spend some time hiking in the pristine landscape. Don’t worry, there are trails to match all skill levels, and in the warmer months there is less snow to contend with. There are several trails to choose from. One of those paths, clearly marked, will lead walkers to a site where glaciers left large caverns in the ground, also known as a glacier garden. There will be large trail signs around the village limits that will lead hikers the correct way. Here’s a tip: Yellow trail signs point to easy trails, red signs point to intermediate hikes and blue signs point to alpine trails, which are the most difficult. Travelers will encounter a suspension bridge along the glacier garden hike that was built in 2011 from cable car wires. Those with a fear of heights may want to skip this bridge, but it is strongly built. Not interested in hiking? Zermatt is the perfect place for snow bunnies (or summer bunnies). There is ample shopping at luxe stores and delicious chocolate shops. For a true dining experience, we hear that Chez Heini is known for its lamb, but that’s not all. This popular spot is also known for its upbeat, ’80s dance performances, a local favorite. For a memorable mountain panorama, we suggest taking a ride to the Gornergrat, one of the best places to see the Matterhorn — weather permitting. This mountain viewpoint can be accessed by a cogwheel train from Zermatt. Along the way up to the Gornergrat, travelers will see fabulous vistas. Tip: The observation deck is open year-round.

Grand Hotel Kronenhof’s Kronenhof Suite comes with a balcony with views of the Roseg Glacier and the St. Moritz mountain range.

Grand Hotel Kronenhof’s Kronenhof Suite comes with a balcony with views of the Roseg Glacier and the St. Moritz mountain range.

St. Moritz is a must-see in Switzerland. This luxury playground will provide guests with plenty to do, from skiing to spa treatments. We suggest clients stay at either Grand Hotel Kronenhof or Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. In the center of Pontresina, a picturesque village about three miles from St. Moritz, sits Grand Hotel Kronenhof. At this point in the overall journey, we think a spa day is well deserved. With about 6,500 square feet of space, the Kronenhof Spa is the perfect relaxing hideaway. As for what to book, The Kronenhof Energy Signature Massage uses acupressure along the body to release blockage and restore the body. For couples, we suggest booking the Private Spa Suite, which will leave the guests in complete seclusion. Amenities in the suite include a hydrojet tub, water bed, and a salt body scrub. This suite also includes an Alpine view and champagne. Tip: Treatments are available for those 14 years and older.

Guests can continue to relax in the Kronenhof Suite. This top suite boasts a spacious bathroom, and visitors can continue to rejuvenate in the Jacuzzi. This guestroom is located on the south side of the hotel, complete with a balcony with views of the Roseg Glacier and the St. Moritz mountain range. Remember, this is a seasonal hotel, which runs from mid-December to early April in the winter and mid-June to mid-October for the summer season. Guests staying at Kronenhof can benefit from the sister-property, Kulm Hotel St. Moritz, located in the center of St. Moritz, by playing a round at the nine-hole golf course at Kulm.

Kulm hotel also welcomes guests on a seasonal schedule, from early December to mid-April. The summer session runs from mid-June to the middle of September. In the warmer months, guests can take advantage of not only the golf course but the tennis courts as well. We think that stand-up paddle boarding on Lake St. Moritz will also please travelers. For dinner, guests should book a reservation at the K at least 24 hours in advance. The special at this eatery includes grosses pieces, flambés and soufflés. The Engadine nut cake is the signature dessert. For dinning reservations, contact Claudio Stupan ([email protected]). We suggest travelers book one of the Luxury Suites. These rooms come in one- and two-bedroom configurations with a separate salon, a dining table and a balcony overlooking Lake St. Moritz. Contact Brenda Zimmermann ([email protected]) to plan a stay at Grand Hotel Kronenhof or the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. 

ADVISOR INSIGHT:

Brigitte Feinberg of Avenue Two Travel creates memorable trips throughout Switzerland for clients. Here are some of her top tips and suggestions.

If you can’t complete the entire Grand Tour, Feinberg suggests completing the route to Interlaken.  “Interlaken can be enjoyed for several days as a base to visit surrounding lake towns and also the Matterhorn,” she explains.

Traveling with children? Feinberg advises stopping in Bern, which is ideal for children because of the resident chocolate factory, cheese making experiences and the BearPark.  At this special park, adults and children can see wild bears up close as they play and fish along the Aare river.

If you want to travel by rail, the Glacier Express is the prime choice, says Feinberg. On the train, which travels from Zermatt to Davos or St. Moritz, guests will see deep gorges, valleys and vistas. The train runs through 91 tunnels and across 291 bridges.

For those seeking a traditionally Swiss meal, Feinberg suggests ordering cheese fondue (popular throughout the country). She suggests Raclette cheese with pickles, potatoes and small sausages for the quintessential, “live like a local” taste.

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