As the hopeful rays of early summer sunshine melt away into July’s interminable grey, our thoughts turn to sunnier climes. Sipping rose and people-watching in Provence? Soaking up the culture in the Cinque Terre? Chasing shimmering fish through the glassy waters of the Cyclades? Or… Gstaad? Given the distinct lack of golden beaches, frolicking dolphins and equatorial longitude, Switzerland may not be an obvious summer choice — but that’s where you’re wrong.
The ice capped peaks, frozen lakes and deep, snow-dusted valleys of winter are transformed, come spring, into a verdant wonderland of Alpine wildflowers, tinkling cowbells and golden sunshine. The raclette is subbed for healthy mountainside picnics and the bobble hat-clad skiers are replaced by bronzed yogis; Switzerland in summer is a wellness mecca.
This season sees the opening of Le Grand Bellevue‘s brand new spa: a pastel-hued palace of health. Inspired by the quaint chalets dotting the surrounding valleys, the spa design features subtle oak panelling and vases overflowing with bright local wildflowers. Forget the crammed beaches of southern Spain and make a beeline for Le Grand Spa’s peaceful Alpine garden, where you can sip free-flowing herbal iced tea in the outdoor relaxation pool. Let the stresses melt away in the softly-scented Hay Sauna, refresh your body in the Ice Fountain and boost the circulation with the unique outdoor Kneipp Walk.
Whilst your colleagues struggle against the hordes of sun-worshippers on the Amalfi Coast, you can relax on the sun-soaked garden terrace. Stretch out desk-cramped limbs with outdoor yoga classes, breathing in the pure mountain air, and knead out knots of stress with bespoke Bamford massages. Refuel with health-giving fayre in the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, LEONARD’s, or tuck into a mid-hike picnic al fresco on the banks of Lake Lauenensee.
Looking for a little indulgence to balance it all out? Skip Club 55: sunny weekends see guests spilling out onto Le Grand Bellevue‘s beautiful garden terrace for a languorous Sunday brunch, complete with live music and games of croquet. Tuck into local Swiss cheeses, French patisseries, fresh fruit and hearty dishes, alongside deliciously punchy brunch cocktails.
As the sunshine-drunk masses struggle to the airport aboard overcrowded coaches and overpriced taxis, enjoy the spectacularly scenic Golden Pass Railway, taking in chocolate box villages, glittering lakes and winding mountain passes, en route to the quick flight home.
This summer, it’s a no brainer: skip the go-to beach spots and mix it up with an Alpine summer in Switzerland, that’s as good for the body as it is for the soul… Just try not to feel to smug about it.
All images: Nick Hopper