From Belle-Epoque decadence at the Engelberg Palace, to family-friendly thrills in Frutt, Kempinski offers two unique ways to experience the splendour of Switzerland, whatever the time of year. We sent a writer to report back on this ultimate alpine paradise…
Arrival At Kempinski Palace
Just a short drive away from Zurich, sits Central Switzerland’s first and only five-star resort, the Kempinski Palace. This Belle Époque beauty surveys the awe-inspiring Alps from its pride of place in the sleepy village of Engelberg. Taking raw luxury to mountainous new heights, the heritage-listed building takes inspiration from its sublime surroundings, with local materials such as wood and stone featuring in contemporary details crafted using traditional techniques. The effect is sumptuous yet not impersonal, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is too often lost within high-end hotels of this calibre.
These interiors are the product of London-based architect and interior design practice,
Jestico + Whiles, who have mastered the craft of understated opulence for the modern age. Watch out for hidden treasures from the past; from hexagonal motifs and coffered ceilings, to grand chandeliers mingled with mosaics and marbles.
The colour scheme of Switzerland’s seasons is carried through into the 129 spacious rooms and suites, from autumn’s rich ochre to summer’s soft primrose, fused with indigo echoes of the Alpine air. Each and every room is endowed with glorious vistas. Capacious balconies and numerous terraces give ample space for basking with a cocktail in the sublime sunshine to the soundtrack of cowbells clanging.
Drink & Dine at Kempinski Palace
Breakfast is served here; expect a calorific spread of cakes, muesli, meats and eggs-made-to-order, guaranteed to get you through till your first piste-side pitstop. Take high tea in the Wintergarten lounge, or during the Winter months, cosy up under a fur throw at Chalet Ruinart, where ample ski sustenance is provided – think fondue, raclette, cornichons, and copious amounts of carbs.
At the Palace Bar, toast to your good fortunes by the glow of the roaring fireplace.
Afterwards, head to the Habanos Cigar Lounge and you’ll uncover an exquisite selection of cigars, cigarillos and cognac waiting to be devoured over a smooth jazz vinyl record.
In the Cattani restaurant, the menu is French to the core, albeit fashioned with seasonal Swiss produce. Executive chef, Michéle Müller, takes a farm-to-table approach, acquiring ingredients from local farmers and cheesemongers who exude passion for their products. The flavours of these ingredients take centre stage on plates such as the beefsteak tartare or delicate Sole Meunière.
Come snow, rain, or shine, there’s no shortage of alpine activities to take part in. Ride the world’s first revolving gondola up to Mount Titlis. Here one can brave the highest suspended bridge in Europe on the Titlis Cliff Walk, or, visit the Glacier Cave all year round. During the cold Winter months, Engelberg Titlis provides the largest ski area in central Switzerland, offering 82 kilometres of ski slopes to throw yourself down.
Keen cyclists can enjoy the High Valley’s selection of biking trails. Depending on your taste, you can choose from leisurely e-bike routes, to challenging cross-country and enduro day tours. If golf is more of your thing, book a tee time at Golfclub Engelberg Titlis, which combines the challenge of an 18-hole course with the spectacular mountain backdrop.
For a spot of natural wellness, take a tour around the Härzlisee, next to the Brunnihütte, where you can practice barefoot grounding around a ‘trickle path’ that encircles a lake. Be prepared to be moved by this multisensory and meditative mountain experience.
The rooftop spa awaits boot-weary limbs after long days of pummelling pistes. Boasting views like no other, the infinity pool is harmoniously designed to overlook the Hahnen. Find sweaty serenity amongst the Vitarium, steam bath and Finnish sauna. Using natural products with herbs and scents that evoke the Alps just beyond the window, the expansive variety of soothing massage treatments, facials and scrubs may well render you horizontal for the rest of the day.
Frutt Mountain Resort
Situated in the heart of Switzerland, not far from Lucerne and Interlaken, is the four-star Frutt Mountain Resort. Whether you’re toting a newborn, trying to keep junior entertained, or travelling with tweens and teens, the hotel truly has it all.
Inside, expect an earthy, organic look that tips its hat to the local scenery, with plenty of cow hides and cosseting crannies to curl-up and get cosy in. Travelling en famille is a breeze, with a selection of indoor activities such as the cinema, mini bowling alley, and table football, alongside the Kids Club Murmeli-Höhle for children aged three and over.
While the bambinos are in their crèche sessions, the sun terrace calls out to parents. A
prime location for musing over the pine-studded plains and mirror-still lakes, the vista is enhanced by a well-earned glass of Fendant.
State of the Art Spa
Awarded the best 4-star wellness hotel in Switzerland, here Alpine adventurers bask their way to bliss in the soul-soothing panoramic pool, with majestic mountain views in every direction. Offering a selection of steam rooms, saunas, experience showers and a Crevasse, it’s a spa lovers sanctuary. Within the numerous treatment rooms, magic-fingered therapists await your call to melt away stress, knots and tension. Highlights include the sauna infusion, which involves the Aufgussmeister pouring water mixed with essential oils onto hot stones, and then directing the scented steam towards the bathers using rhythmical movements of a towel, accompanied by ethereal music. While It’s difficult to convey in words the intensity of Aufguss, this multi-sensorial wellness experience which marries the combination of heat, sound and heady aromas, stimulates feelings that are at turns sensual and incredibly cathartic.
Back to Nature
Just steps away from the Melchsee-Frutt slopes, Winter months see snow worshippers
flocking to Frutt for the Ski In & Out resort. In the summer, however, it’s all about the
watersport-friendly lake and its surrounding hiking and biking trails. The route repertoire offers a wide spectrum, from short distances to longer hikes, where you can be at one with the mountains, enveloped wholly by the surrounding nature. It’s the stuff of Swiss chocolate-box dreams, guaranteed to leave you on a Heidi high.