Nature joyfully unfolds its mystery in the country of peace
Switzerland, sandwiched in the middle of western Europe, is full of wonders – towering glaciers, lush forests, clear lakes, bubbling springs meandering between mountains and valleys, herds of cattle and sheep grazing on picturesque pastures…
Switzerland enjoys a pleasant climate and four seasons. The temperature in summer is rarely higher than 30°. The train is an important form of transportation when traveling in Switzerland. The rail system extends in all directions, able to take one to every corner of the country, even to the top of the snow mountains. The facilities on the trains are quite complete including dining cars which provide food and drink. It is a good idea to purchase a Swiss Pass, which features different opportunities for different days. With the Swiss Pass, you are entitled to various transportation services during a certain period of time, including city buses, intercity trains, cruise ships, etc. The ticket can be bought at railway stations, airports and tourist agencies throughout Switzerland.
Land of Purity amidst Snow Mountains
Graubünden, hidden in the depths of Switzerland, is the largest state of the country. It’s the place that best embodies the pure nature of Switzerland. Graubünden is home to Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland; Maienfeld, the hometown of Heidi; and St. Moritz, the renowned skiing destination attracts numerous visitors including European royalty and celebrities every year. The Glacier Express and the Bernina Express run on the RhB railway, passing by breathtaking scenery.
In the vast valley surrounded by the Bernina Mountains, lakes, forests and snow mountains compose an amazing scene. This is the Upper Engadine area, where St. Moritz dwells. The city is blessed with abundant sunshine and a pleasant climate all the year round. When the clear and dry air meets the bright sunshine, you will see the air sparkling like champagne bubbles, something you may not find elsewhere in the world.
As the only place in Switzerland that has hosted two Winter Olympic Games, St. Moritz boasts high-quality skiing conditions and facilities. The skiing season is from November to the following April every year. There are four major large Alpine ski areas at Corviglia/Piz Nair, Corvatsch, Diavolezza, and Muottas Muragl respectively, as well as some smaller ski resorts. The smaller ski resorts, which are usually equipped with children’s facilities, are especially suitable for family travelers. There are many stores in the town of St. Moritz where you can buy or rent skiing gear. In addition to skiing, alpine hiking is also a very popular option. You will simply be left breathless as you pass by crystal clear mountainous lakes reflecting the image of surrounding glaciers, or by the vast pastures dotted with colorful flowers and lovely herds.
Corvatsch is the highest peak in the Engadine area, covered with snow all the year round. It features a 120 km long piste and 23 skiing slopes, including the longest night lit piste in Switzerland. Sitting inside the panoramic restaurant at an altitude of 3,303 meters, you will marvel at the magnificent sight of Piz Bernina, the Matterhorn and Mont Rosa. A new ski school, Schweizer skischule Corvatsch AG, has been set up in the ski area to teach beginners and advanced skiers about skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and other skiing skills. There is an ice cave formed aeons ago at the top of the mountain. In this ‘crystal palace’, which is about 140 meters deep, you can start a wonderful adventure with a safety belt fastened. Corvatsch is also the first choice for alpine hiking. The 80-kilometer hiking trail is truly picturesque. The classic “Water Path” will take you to six alpine lakes one by one; or you can start from Roseg Valley and enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding peaks at Surej.
Diavolezza magnificently stands above Pers and Morteratsch Glacier and is surrounded by alpine peaks. At the restaurant terrace on the mountain top, you can jump into a whirlpool and enjoy hot bathing against a snowy mountainous backdrop. The signature three-course lunch at this restaurant is worth a try. There is also a place on the mountain that provides a VR skiing experience. Sitting in a comfortable seat and putting on the VR equipment, you can immediately enter a virtual world. Take a bus or train from Engadine to Bernina / Diavolezza station, then take the aerial cable car to Diavolezza.
Corviglia/Piz Nair, at 3,057 meters above sea level, is always lively in winter. Take the train from Dorf at the town of St. Moritz to Corviglia. Ski here or change to a cable car which takes you to Piz Nair at the top where you will have a panoramic view of the surrounding valleys. The main skiing area at Corviglia features excellent skiing conditions including a 100 km long World Cup standard piste. Corviglia Snow Park is a place for fun seekers.
Before St. Moritz became a top ski destination, it had already been famous for its hot springs and spas. Today there are many wonderful spa options in the town, among which is the OVAVERVA Pool, Spa & Sports Centre. Guests can swim in the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, or relax in the outdoor pool with massage jets and underwater aerators, while enjoying the alpine scenery. In addition, a wide range of body and facial treatments, Kneipp path, sauna and steam bath, skiing programs, fitness facilities and delicious meals are also available. A children’s area equipped with various water slides has been set up and spa treatments are exclusively developed for teenagers and children.
Located in the center of St. Moritz, the Badrutts Palace Hotel is indeed a magnificent palace between the Alps and the vast lake. Since its opening in 1896, it has attracted royal nobles with its luxurious and thoughtful services. The hotel is open only in summer and winter every year. In summer, guests are guided to go boating, go hiking, go fishing, play golf, and have picnics. In winter, the hotel offers a variety of skiing trips, as well as ice hockey, horse riding and other winter activities.
Badrutt’s Palace Wellness, the hotel’s spa and wellness area, spans three floors and covers an area of 1,800 square meters. Abundant natural light and fresh pure air create a warm and comfortable atmosphere. Engadine’s larch and granite are used for interior construction and decoration, giving the space an elegant ambience. Martha Weidman, a spa expert from India, has designed a series of therapy programs, including Ayurveda for guests. The huge indoor swimming pool is a highlight here. With floor to ceiling glass windows all around, the room sumptuously invites in the surrounding dreamy landscape which are then reflected in the pool.
Kulm Spa at Kulm hotel in St. Moritz is one of the earliest spa centers in Switzerland. It also boasts the beautiful scenery of Lake St. Moritz and the Engadine area. Relaxation, Detoxification and Regeneration are the three pillars of the spa. Special experiences include a salt grotto, bio-sauna made from Swiss pine, Kneipp path therapy, etc. Products used in the treatments are from Valmont and Pharmos. Kulm spa also provides day spa services for non-resident guests. At the Pizzeria Kulm, the hotel’s star restaurant, you can get diverse fish and meat specialties of southern Italy, as well as all kinds of pasta and crispy pizza directly from the wood oven.
In addition to the excellent dining at hotels, there are a variety of restaurants in the town as well. Le Mandarin is a Chinese restaurant serving mainly Cantonese food. Hato, located on via Da Vout 3, offers creative Asian cuisine and a fascinating view of St. Moritz Lake.
To the northeast of St. Moritz at Engadine area lies Scuol, an old village known for hot spring waters since the ancient Roman times. Local people still speak Romansh. The village is quiet since there aren’t many people living here and the life pace is slow. However, it is very vibrant due to rows of colorful houses on the façade of which are ancient patterns and cool paintings. It’s also known as a ski resort thanks to its 80-kilometer long piste. You may very often see an interesting picture here – on one side is people wearing full gear speeding down the snow field while nearby are people bathing in the gurgling hot spring pools almost clothes-less.
There are more than 20 kinds of mineral springs in Scuol. The mineral water is not only used in modern thermal centers, but also flows in the village for people to freely enjoy any time. There are nine points in the village where people can get natural mineral water. Engadin Bad Scuol is at the top of the list for travelers in Scuol. The big thermal center features indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, and provides steam bath, Romansh bath and massage services. The closest railway station to Scoul is Scoul-Tarasp, from where you can walk or take a bus to the village.
Switzerland’s only national park, Swiss National Park, is located nearby, in the Engadine Valley at the junction of Zernez, Scuol and Fuorn Pass. There are 80 kilometers of designated hiking trails in the park, and tourists are only allowed to walk on these trails. As a result, the ecological environment of the park is well preserved. There are more than 30 different mammals and 100 kinds of birds living here, including wild goats, antelope, marmots, mountain hares, lizards, etc.
Apart from Graubünden, other perfect skiing areas include Jungfrau near Interlaken in south central Switzerland. There are dozens of cable cars and hundreds of pistes here. Then between Interlaken and Montreux lies the Gstaad where 85% of the pistes are for junior and middle-level skiers. Beside the small town of Engelberg is the Titlis ski area, which features children’s areas, children’s skiing coaches and children custody services. Also there is the world’s top Zermatt ski resort, which has a plenty of pistes fit for all levels.
The Fragrant Oasis by the Lake
In the heart of numerous Swiss, Lake Geneva (Lake Leman) formed by Rhone Glacier is a gift from nature. The lake spans over Switzerland and France and at its southwest corner lies the second largest city of Switzerland, Geneva. The clear blue and calm water, snowy mountains and azure sky make up an incomparable picture. Swans swim in the lake all the time and colorful sailboats line up at the wharf. It’s a wonderful experience to boat on the lake, or walk and ride by the lakeside. When night falls, the neon lights on both banks shine up the lake.
The huge artificial fountain Jet d’Eau stands high in the lake. Except for the maintenance period in November and rainy and windy days, there is a chance to see the splendid scene nearly every day when the water from the fountain jets up to a height of 140 meters. If you walk up the causeway by the fountain, you can enjoy the scene at an even closer distance. Jardin Anglais, located by the lake, features large areas of lawn and an amount of ancient trees. So it’s quite a perfect place for leisurely walking. The well-known L’horioge Fleurie (Clock of Flowers) is inside this park. Fresh and colorful flowers and plants make up a huge clock face and the twelve numerals. When the blooming period of one type of flowers ends, they are immediately replaces with another type of flower and therefore form a new pattern. As a result, the appearance of the flower clock renews with the seasons. The fact that the clock mechanism is buried underground means that it’s not just a decoration, but a real clock.
At the intersection of Lake Geneva and River Rhone sits Rousseau isle, a very pleasant place with beautiful scenery and broad views. There are some really good cafes on the island. So just get a cup of aromatic coffee and immerse yourself in the warm sunshine. If you want to go a little farther, one hour’s train ride will take you to Montreux Riviera. It is located on the east bank of Lake Geneva and filled with a romantic atmosphere. The Chateau de Chillon by the lake was built in the medieval time.
There are quite a lot of five-star hotels by Lake Geneva, all in beautiful lake and alpine surroundings, and providing luxurious spa and health services. Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva is the first hotel built in Geneva, which still exists as a landmark of the city. The hotel’s Spa Mont Blanc offers a wide selection of spa treatments. Diversity of facials that feature the products and know-how of Biologique Recherche, Swiss Perfection, Subtle Energies and DR Burgener are available. The Beau Rivage Genève also has a long history and boasts magnificent decoration. Since 1865, it has been welcoming visitors from different places, including celebrities and politicians. The hotel’s La Suite de Beaut é spa is designed and run by Bellefontaine, a local Swiss brand. The main ingredient of Bellefountaine products is the pure glacial water and alpine plant extracts. Combined with advanced biotechnology, Bellefountaine develops a series of excellent anti-aging formula. The Le Réserve Geneve Hotel, SPA & Villa inside the lakeside garden features a spa of 2,000 square meters, the largest in Geneva. Ultima Geneva is a luxury hotel which has just opened recently and is only for private rental. It accommodates up to 16 guests. The three-story villa has an exclusive wellness space where a rich range of spa treatments and beauty programs are available. There is an outdoor heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, Turkish bathroom and sauna room.
Nearly a thousand restaurants can be found in Geneva. The lakeside one Le Bain des Paquis offers quite authentic cheese fondue, the national food of Switzerland. It’s a melted cheese dish served in a communal pot over a portable stove heated with a candle or spirit lamp, and eaten by dipping cut bread, vegetables and fruit into the cheese using long-stemmed forks. The restaurant is also famous for steak and lobster.
An Elegant Dwelling with Story
In the middle of Switzerland, Lucerne is a picturesque old city featuring lakes, snow mountains and pebbled roads. Reuss River runs through the city toward Lake Lucerne, dividing the city into two parts – the old town at the right bank and the new town at the left bank. There are 7 bridges across the river, the biggest of which is Chapel Bridge where 110 paintings dating back to the 17th century can be found. On both banks of the river stand rows of medieval style buildings and modern cafes. When you walk into the narrow streets of the old town, you will be amazed at the amount of interesting and skillful wall paintings. Taking boat on Lake Lucerne will definitely give you an eye feast of the beautiful scenery.
The place played an important role in Audrey Hepburn’s life as well. In 1954, Audrey Hepburn was advised by her private doctor to take a retreat in Lucerne when she suffered great stress during the preparation for a stage play. The resort she dwelt at the time was Bürgenstock Hotel & Resort. Hepburn once said: I can be myself here, disturbed by no one. Built in 1873, the resort enjoys a long and glorious history.
Located at Mt. Bürgenstock 500 meters above Lake Lucerne, Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort stands against the breathtaking backdrop of the glistening, deep-blue waters and the Alpine foothills. It is comprised of four hotels and a residence. For a wellness experience, the two distinctive spas worth a try – Alpine Spa, one of the earliest spas built in Europe and Waldhotel Spa, the biggest spa in Switzerland.
The two spas are two different concepts, each matching the hotels they are located in. The Bürgenstock Alpine Spa is the ultimate pampering wellness spa with breathtaking views. Highlights include an infinity edge pool with the feeling of flying over the lake, an eco-pool with chemical-free water, different types of saunas and steam baths, Kneipp bath, infrared cabins, unique silence room with water beds, and Hollywood Pool – a protected monument dating back to 1954 and giving the feeling of California in Switzerland with amazing spa garden. The Waldhotel Spa is part of the unique health and medical excellence hotel, and is a peaceful place. It is meant for relaxation, recharge, replenishing the spirit, and letting one be inspired by the peaceful nature, woods and greens of the surroundings. The outdoor and indoor pool, Himalayan Salt Grotto, ice room, Steam baths and sauna facilities offer wonderful experience.
The resort is open for everyone, with many day guest offerings such as hiking, biking, cliff walk, Hammetschwand Lift and culinary experience through eight restaurants.
Sustainability is a core value of Bürgenstock Resort. A unique system using lake water to heat and cool all the buildings of the resort has been developed. Lake water is also used for the swimming pools, irrigation of the golf course and plant watering throughout the entire resort. When the track for the Bürgenstock Funicular was rebuilt, special paths were integrated to allow the local wildlife such as hedgehogs, deer, rabbits and foxes to cross the tracks safely.