Travel: A Swiss haven of health and wellness
I started my Swiss adventure in grand style. I was travelling First Class in a train speeding along between the sparkling Lake Zurich on one side and mountains on the other in the east of the country, charmingly named Heidiland.
My destination, 62 miles and just an hour away, was the stunning and exclusive Grand Resort Bad Ragaz. The name conjures up the sort of venue that the rich and famous would feel comfortable in and they are regular guests, including Roger Federer.
It’s a fairytale location that I had to pinch myself was real as I settled in for a few days to rest, relax, eat and be shown the first steps on a path to wellness. The motto here is ‘live healthy to stay healthy’.
Pure mountain air is obviously the best start for feeling great, but here it’s the special thermal spring water that has drawn people to this regeneration sanctuary since 1868. Locals have been taking advantage of the body-temperature spa water for almost 800 years. Guests can take a short trip to bathe in the water as it springs from the hotel’s amazing Tamina mountain gorge.
There was no shortage of opportunity to take advantage of this very special, health-giving liquid. The resort has four hotels and a residence. I was staying in the newly-renovated Grand Hotel Quellenhoff which retains the classic feeling of its period architecture with a modern, chic twist.
The hotel has an almost endless offering of thermal baths, spas, sauna and steam room venues some of which are strictly au naturel (naked to you and I). The Tamina Therme is a public area offering access to thermal water experiences. My favourite, however, was the Helena Bath, so beautiful and tranquil. It was reputedly built to entice a princess to the resort and it worked. This was a right royal treat for me too. My skin will thank me in later life I hope!
Also towards my perfect skin quest, a Tamina Flow massage with Vinka from Croatia was the best I’ve ever had. She’d worked on super yachts for seven years, so was used to people who demanded the best.
At the Grand Hotel Bad Ragaz resort everything is geared towards wellness - of the mind and body whether it’s with treatments or activities such as yoga or pilates. For those who want to take things to a higher level, there are wellness packages and also a medical centre.
For me, the sheer indulgence of being in such a stunning place - my spacious and elegant room looked out over snow-topped hills and the outdoor pool - was enough.
But what is most impressive and also a great draw to the resort are the restaurants. Between them they have six Michelin stars, a Green Michelin star and many other accolades. Their Swiss twist on all the cuisine brings a fresh, unique and earthy taste as ingredients are sourced as much as possible locally.
Verve by Sven is for more casual dining and where I breakfasted. There’s a self-serve ‘marketplace’ or you can choose a la carte dishes. My server Marco recommended the special of poached egg, tomato jam, Swiss tofu cream with lovage, crispy sourdough bread and garden cress. Wonderful: I was well and truly woken up for the day. Cornflakes will never have the same attraction again.
In the gorgeous Memories our culinary minds and tastebuds were truly blown – but in a good way. This is the resort’s main draw for diners with an impressive 3 Michelin stars. There was an exciting atmosphere as renowned chef Sven Wassmer and his staff prepared seasonal dishes in the open kitchen as we waited eagerly for the next perfectly formed mouthful. The menus change constantly with the seasons. No Vegan options here as ingredients are drawn from an area that prides itself on dairy farming.The emphasis is on sustainability and the creation of ‘authentic, holistic taste experiences that are closely linked with nature’. In place of an a la carte menu we were treated to surprise taste experiences. Each one a minimalist masterpiece that seemed a shame to disturb.
We dined on dishes with ingredients such as Mountain Cheese, Oona Alpine Caviar, Rainbow Trout and, one I particularly loved, Old Mother Cow from Hinterhofmetzgerei. Simply exquisite.
For a very different experience we dined at the 2 Michelin star-rated IGNIV by Andreas Caminada. This was a fun, sharing way to eat, as our small group swung the marble ‘Lazy Susan’ our way to make sure we tasted each of many offerings, paired with wines. Home-made sweets and macaroons anyone? Takeaway box please.
This was a glimpse of a level of luxury and excellence that we’d all like to get used to. At the resort there is also a water sommelier, and, following a tasting, I can testify that there really is a taste difference and that water with a high mineral content is good for hangovers following overindulgence in alpine-style cocktails.
But if you can tear yourself away from all this mind, soul and body nourishment, there are outings on offer too. The resort has two golf courses and a casino and we also visited a local vineyard producing a rose sparkling wine.
But as I left this haven of health I felt great and hope I can keep on the path to wellness.
Rates start from £575 per night for a double room including breakfast and full access to the spas. To book, visit www.resortragaz.ch/en