Fresh Swiss air and sparkling mineral waters add the finishing touches to these sumptuous wellness resorts.
I approached my window with the anticipation of a child on Christmas morning, unsure of what view would appear just outside the drawn curtains of my hotel room. I had arrived in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland late the night before, the scenery around me shrouded under a blanket of darkness as I stashed my Swiss Travel Pass in my suitcase and made my way from the train station to my hotel.
I peeled back the first curtain, opened the balcony door, and stepped out into the crisp morning air to find myself surrounded by pristine wooden chalets lining the base of the countless snow-capped mountains that lined the backdrop of the village. The subtle sound of cowbells lingered in the distance as a gentle breeze of sweet mountain air enveloped my senses and triggered an intrinsic desire within me to inhale deeply. Every muscle in my body seemed to relax as I exhaled, bringing a smile to my face and a warm sense of peace through my body.
I had not been in Switzerland for even 24 hours, and already I was more relaxed than I had been in 24 years.
There’s an unmistakable purity that penetrates into Switzerland’s cultural core. In Zurich, drinkable water flows from more than 1,200 picturesque public water fountains set throughout the city. Throughout the country, roses, violets, and dahlias are served as a pairing alongside delicate slices of Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese without so much as an afterthought since Swiss farmers rarely use pesticides. The country is even home to more than 1,600 protected natural areas throughout its 26 cantons, often to help protect the purity of the waters flowing throughout the parks.
Switzerland is home to some of the cleanest air and some of the most pristine natural mineral springs in the world, so it comes as no surprise that this unspoiled destination is a wellspring of wellness offerings. The Swiss have long put a special focus on self-care that the rest of the world is slowly catching up on, producing some of the world’s finest luxury skincare lines—like La Prairie and Valmont—and home to some of the world’s most luxurious wellness hotels.
In Zurich, travellers don’t even have to leave the city to soak in the waters of one of the country’s best-kept secrets. The super chic B2 Boutique Hotel and Spa is located in the former Hürlimann brewery, where the building sits directly on top of the city’s Aqui mineral spring, a precious water source that feeds this 60-room boutique hotel with rich mineral water for its award-winning rooftop thermal bath and spa. The spa is located inside the old stone vaults of the hotel’s top floor that once housed large oaken casks of Hürlimann beer, but today is home to three gigantic wooden basins filled with warm mineral water and a series of jets and bubble loungers that help soothe guests’ tired muscles.
The spa area includes a series of other thermal pools with wellness classes held throughout the week that include aqua-yoga and swim classes for children. The full-service spa—with massage treatments and body rituals like their famous milk-herbal pouch massage that deeply hydrates the skin after a long soak in the mineral waters—sits directly below but the spa’s ultimate wellness offering: a heated rooftop infinity pool that overlooks the entire city of Zurich.
Deeper into the Alps, visitors can uncover the healing benefits of pure air and alpine adventures at The Cambrian, a Design Hotel, in the village of Adelboden. This recently renovated luxury hotel specialises in outdoor wellness, with guided hiking trips during the summer and spring (complimentary for all guests) and all-levels of ski packages in the winter.
The hotel’s 750m2 spa also offers seasonal treatments, like the popular springtime blackberry body wrap that harnesses the antioxidant rich properties of wild Swiss blackberries to purify and relax the body. The spa’s year-round locally-made Alpienne honey body scrub with mountain salt crystals has also long been a guest favourite for its rejuvenating effects on the skin.
Wellness within the hotel’s walls extends far beyond treatments though, as the spa also includes a heated indoor pool, a fitness centre, a Finnish sauna with steam bath and rain shower, and a heated outdoor thermal pool that allows guests the chance to soak in mineral-rich thermal water while immersing themselves in the fresh alpine air among a stunning backdrop of soaring mountains.
Set among the Alps of Eastern Switzerland, The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is frequently regarded as the ultimate wellness destination in Switzerland, where gleaming white walls create a temple-like atmosphere for this holy grail of thermal baths. This Leading Hotels of the World property’s wellness tradition dates back more than 150 years, with a first-class spa (which employs a full-time “hugger” who wraps guests in a heated towel upon exiting the thermal baths), an elaborate outdoor sauna circuit with special programming from the current world champion sauna infusion masters, a world-renown medical center, thermal baths that include a family spa and a series of thermal waters at varying temperatures, complimentary e-bike rentals, and the Clinique La Prairie (The Grand Hotel Bad Ragaz is the only hotel in the world where guests can purchase these luxurious Swiss beauty products onsite).
The medical centre on site is often used by elite athletes and visitors looking for long-term wellness results, where a team of highly-qualified medical doctors are onsite to attend to everything from nutrition counselling and physical therapy to dermatology and dentistry. The Spa Suites within the Grand Hotel Quellenhof offer the ultimate wellness retreat, where each room is fed entirely by the locally sourced thermal water from the Tamina Gorge and include 24/7 personal butler service.
Switzerland’s focus on wellness goes beyond providing temporary respite from stressful routines; it provides an opportunity for self-rediscovery. www.myswitzerland.com ◼
© This article was first published in June-July 2019 edition of World Travel Magazine.