The yacht’s being refurbished, you’ve done Ibiza too many times, the Hamptons are too cliquey and Bodrum is so 2021. So where to head this summer? Allow LUX to offer you some recommendations from one of our absolute favourite summer destinations (and no, this is not paid-for content): Switzerland
Switzerland in summer: panoramic views, (mostly) blue skylines, clean air, no crowds, teeming wildlife, one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, some of the best hotels in the world, and activities from kitesurfing and kayakking to glacier skiing and wine tasting. What more could you want? Perhaps, just a little guidance through the options, to get the very best out of your Helvetian experience.
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Zermatt is, in effect, the epicentre of the Alps, in a valley surrounded by more than 30 of the highest peaks in Europe, which glow white with permanent snow even on a hot summer’s day. And it’s usually warm and sunny here: the resort is on the border with Italy and if you take a telescope to the top of its highest peak, Monte Rosa, you can see the spire of Milan cathedral.
Every type of mountain activity is available, including summer skiing at the top of a Swarovski crystal-encrusted cable car. It is also a paradise for mountain dining, with more fine dining spots than St Tropez, better views, and fewer crowds. Try the Findlerhof for its beautiful local farmers’ meat and cheese platter, and epic Matterhorn views; and Restaurant Zum See for an idyllic gourmet experience in a meadow at the foot of the peaks. In the village, we had a highly memorable meal at the restaurant in the hotel Omnia, all pared-back boutique chic and astonishingly vibrant flavours.
Stay at: The Cervo is Zermatt’s eco-resort, and its owner, Daniel Lauber, is a passionate and thoughtful sustainability pioneer. One of the most thoughtful sustainable hospitality experiences, from the biodegradable slippers to the renewable energy heating system – tough, at 1600m altitude. The food, all sourced locally, is both hearty and magnificent and the staff have risen impeccably to the challenge of finding excellent wines and cocktail ingredients with a local remit.
Badrutt’s is St Moritz, or so you will probably think after staying there. The hotel dominates the valley and lake like a citadel. The service became legendary even before the former Shah of Iran flew its staff out to serve a banquet marking 2500 years of the Persian Empire at the palace of, near Shiraz, in 1972. It’s the kind of hotel where the staff know what you’re thinking, before you do.
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The facilities make it, effectively, a holiday in one property: huge indoor pool with picture window, lawns and gardens (in the middle of St Moritz!), fine dining in a formal banquet hall which makes you feel like Audrey Hepburn (whoever you are), and across the road, its own pizzeria at Chesa Veglia – in reality a top social spot in its own right. And the views across to the mountains are inspiring.
The Palace is a hotel that will whisk you into the jazz era even by thinking about it. This is a place where generations of European aristocrats have visited to stay and dine at; or to play tennis on its impeccable clay courts, or dance at its Greengo nightclub (in summer, it incorporates the indoor pool as a bar and terrace). It’s a perfect base for walking tours, or for strolls around Gstaad’s chi-chi high street, or just to exist in and take the air and dream of eternal youth.
Two luxury hotels in one place? Mais oui; the Palace and the Alpina are like Meursault and Margaux, we couldn’t live without either of them. The Alpina has contemporary style and vibrancy within the envelope of Alpine glamour (unlike some new luxury hotels in the Alps, it’s not pretending to be in Brooklyn), an outdoor pool with heart-melting views over the mountains, an equally gorgeous indoor pool and spa, and one of our favourite Japanese restaurants outside Japan.
The Nira Alpina is a hotel and restaurant resort on the edge of the high Engadine valley, between Lake Sils, inspiration for poets and artists, and buzzy St Moritz. Its rooftop restaurant, Stars, has a dramatic view across the valley and lakes where daytime kitesurfing gives way to reflections of the moon by night, and over to the jagged mountains on the other side. It’s at the foot of the Corvatsch mountain, which makes for energetic hiking in summer; at the end of a long walk down from the Fuorcola Surlej pass, we love indulging in a glass of Franciacorta here, followed by a bottle of vibrant Chardonnay from the nearby Bündner Herrschaft wine region, accompanied by its delicate, locally-sourced mountain food, big on herbs and vegetables from the nearby high valleys. We haven’t stayed at the hotel, but the restaurant is an experience in itself.