If you travel to Switzerland on business, there’s a good chance you are visiting Geneva, Zurich or maybe even Basel.
Although it’s a bit smaller than Vermont and New Hampshire combined, there are few places that offer more beautiful views of lakes, mountains, and medieval cities combined with five-star hotels and fine dining.
It’s also a great venue to ride its scenic and punctual trains, or drive its highways an mountain roads, either in a rented sports car or even motorcycles.
Recently, I came across a very interesting itinerary put together by Barrett Hollo, a luxury travel advisor with SmartFlyer. I thought it was a great seven day trip for anyone who has already done the country’s two main cities or wants to add onto it and get some highlights of one of my favorite places to visit.
The trip is good for families, friends, or a romantic getaway, or as Hollow puts it, “Tick off the Swiss bucket list you didn’t even know you had.” You might want to come back.
Upon your arrival in Geneva, you’ll be whisked to your private transfer to Lausanne, about 30 minutes, also the home to the Olympic Committee headquarters and Olympic Museum, as well as a history that’s rich with art and traditional cuisine.
Arrive at the Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa, fresh from a $100 million renovation completed in 2017.
Comprising three bedrooms (both pictured above), a modern open plan living area, a kitchen, a fitness area and a wellness space, this family-friendly 3,740 sq. ft. suite is situated on the top (6th) floor of the Garden wing situated in the Royal Savoy gardens. Enjoy stunning mountain and lake views. You may not want to leave – or you will definitely end up coming back.
Pop up to the Sky Lounge with its 360 degrees panoramic views over Lausanne, the Lavaux region, Lake Geneva and the Alps, tor lunch. After, meet your VIP guide and head to Lavaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Here, you’ll enjoy wine tasting which is a special treat since Switzerland only exports about 10% of their wines, so you’ll be able to experience some amazing vintages you can’t find back home. Soak in the views from the vineyards with the lake and mountains all-in-one. It’s truly breathtaking.
Dine at La Brasserie du Royal in the hotel, what Michelin calls “a truly chic dining experience.” The red book says, “The brasserie, with its menu created by Marc Haeberlin, is highly enticing, featuring dishes such as pâté royal en croûte, goose foie gras, and a mousseline of crayfish from Lake Geneva. The many dishes (sole, veal ribs, etc) carved and prepared at your table add a final flourish to the dining room.”
Today, prepare yourself to experience some of the best culinary treats of Switzerland. Board the “Chocolate Train” of the Golden Pass Services which leads to Gruyères, before your final stop at La Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory.
During this journey in the nostalgic panoramic carriages reminiscent of the “Belle-Epoque,” coffee and croissants will be served to accompany the Alpine views. After approximately an hour-and-half in your first-class train, you’ll arrive to the Gruyères cheese factory.
Your guide will help you explore the cheese factory where you’ll learn about the process from start to finish. Of course, you’ll be tasting along the way; even those who don’t consume dairy will be able to participate since the cheeses are lactose-free!
After some free time to discover the surrounding village and its castle, it’s lunchtime. Finish up and continue to Broc, where the chocolate factory is located. After another 90-minutes or so on the train, you’ll arrive at the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory for a guided tour and tasting. On the way back to Montreux, enjoy the charming Swiss countryside.
After freshening up, a car will be waiting to take you to the village of Crissier about 10 minutes drive for dinner at Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville (below), one of only three restaurants in the country to win the top honor of three stars for consecutive years.
“Chef Franck Giovannini has returned to take up the reins at this extraordinary restaurant. In charge of an impressive team (no fewer than 25 chefs!), he conjures up masterful dishes which perpetuate tradition coupled with constant attention to detail and exceptional service,” says Michelin.
This morning, it’s time to make the journey from Lausanne to Bern, Switzerland’s capital city. You have the option to either take the scenic train or why not drive – SmartFlyer can arrange exotic car rentals, so perhaps a red Ferrari. It’s your choice. The “Swiss Traveling Bellboy Service” transfers your luggage to your next hotel so you don’t have to worry about luggage.
Schweizerhof Hotel & Spa
The one-bedroom 1,320 sq. ft. Presidential Suite can have up to three connecting rooms added if you are traveling with family. A fully separate dining room seats up to eight.
Once you check-in and get settled, it’s time to acquaint yourself with Bern. While this city is often overshadowed by nearby Interlaken, we love setting up a home base in Bern for a more authentic Swiss experience with less crowds. We suggest a walking tour of the city, starting with traversing the Old Town, which extends from the loop of the river Aare, across the “Moränenhügel,” westwards to the site of the medieval fortifications. Continue with a visit to the western city gate and tour the Clock Tower. Here, you will enjoy a unique view over the rooftops and streets of Bern. Discover ancient technology and benefit from the performance of the clockwork figures (which begin four minutes before the top of every hour) and workings of the astronomical clock.
Head back to Schweizerhof Hotel, located directly next to the train station, for an evening of relaxation. If you’re up for it, take advantage of the spa for which the hotel has been known for decades. They offer jacuzzi pools, a hammam, a sauna, and five treatment rooms. The hotel gym is also open 24/7 if you need to squeeze in a workout!
End the day with dinner at Jack’s Brasserie, recipient of Wine Spectator’s Best Award of Excellence, and five stars from the Swiss Wine List Award. The schnitzel here is a must-try, and for those who love a good celebrity connection, check out the plaques across the restaurant noting famous faces who’ve also dined at Jack’s.
Using Bern as your base, today you’ll take a day trip to Interlaken, located in the Bernese Oberland on an alluvial plain between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Overlooked by the three mighty mountains, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, it’s the starting point for numerous activities.
Nowhere else is the view of the mountains and lakes of the Oberland more beautiful than high above Interlaken. So, if you’re feeling adventurous, consider hang gliding! Tandem flights are available with an experienced hang-glider pilot. The hang-gliding season is a bit longer than the paragliding season – lasting from April to November.
Alternatively, if you want to keep your feet on solid ground, head to Jungfraujoch, considered the ‘Top of Europe.’ Located at the highest railway station in Europe, you can visit the Ice Palace and the Sphinx Terraces. The Aletsch Glacier is another sight here worth taking in as it’s the largest river of ice in Europe. Then return for a stroll through the mountaineering village of Grindelwald before heading back to Bern.
Today, take a deep dive into the art of making cheese. En route to the Bürgenstock Resort, you’ll be taking a detour through the Emmental region. You’ll see up close how cheese is made in the countryside during your stop at Show Dairy in Affoltern.
Bürgenstock Hotel & Resort
Once arriving at Bürgenstock, you’ll want to soak up the incredible views of this recently renovated property. Explore the expansive, car-free resort that includes a 100,000-sq. ft. spa, a healthy living center, 12 restaurants, numerous boutiques, and a 9-hole golf course.
After nine years of refurbishments, the hotel is even grander than ever, despite its fame dating back to 1873. Be sure to check out the legendary Alpine Spa, along with its sweeping views of the mountains and lake below. Settle in for an apéro and dinner at The Oak Grill.
In terms of where to stay, there are four distinct hotel choices within the resort, however, the urban, chic Burgenstock Hotel & Resort features floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of Lake Lucerne and is a good choice for the first stay. Of course, there is also the grand dame Palace Hotel and even a 12-room authentic Swiss chalet.
The Burgenstock’s 2-bedroom Presidential Suite (above) includes an 1,800 sq. ft. panoramic terrace, there’s a double-sided fireplace, the master bath has floor to ceiling lake views, there’s a grand piano, and the dining room can seat up to 14 guests.
Enjoy breakfast at leisure as you prep for a day of touring. You’ll take the funicular from the hotel down to the lake where you’ll catch a boat to reach the historical city of Lucerne, which has been preserved and carefully developed for centuries.
See the Chapel Bridge and take a leisurely walk through a maze of small streets and bridges dominated by countless historical towers, fountains and frescoed buildings. After your walking tour, relax for lunch in the city center. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, we love Amore Mio for some gelato or hot chocolate!
If you are an enthusiast of watches, your guide can take you for a VIP visit to the three-floor Bucherer boutique, the world’s busiest retailer of timepieces. As you select your purchase, it is put on a conveyor system that brings it to the check-out on the ground floor. Busses of Japanese and Chinese visitors pull in like clockwork leaving 50 minutes later often with multiple purchases. If your company is involved at all with logistics or customer service, it’s an educational experience.
Once you’ve had your fill of the city, take Bürgenstock’s very own boat back across Lake Lucerne. When you’re back at the resort, you can gear up for another chocolate tasting.
This evening, relish in dinner at Spices Kitchen whose Asian fusion is sure to be a highlight. Michelin gushes, “The aromas that waft out of the large show kitchen here are sure to get your taste buds tingling with their promise of pan-Asian delights from Japanese to Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes, all authentic and made using the very best ingredients. There’s also a stunning view!”
Choose to relax at the spa or head out for one last adventure. You can take a cruise on crystal-clear Lake Lucerne to Alpnachstad where you’ll ascend by the steepest rack railway in the world to Pilatus Kulm.
Once on top, you’ll have time to walk up to the vista point to admire the breathtaking panorama over the Swiss Alps and Lucerne. Then, descend by aerial cable car to Fraekmuentegg, change to smaller cable cars and sweep over pine forests and mountain meadows to the village of Kriens for your private transfer back to the hotel.
If you’re looking to stay closer to Bürgenstock, take a short hike to the Hammetschwand Elevator, the tallest elevator in Europe. Or, even go for a round of golf while you take in the mountains. Be sure to enjoy Alpine Golf Restaurant right by the links for lunch during the summer season.
Buochs Airport (LSZC) is 15 minutes from the resort with a 6,500 ft. runway can take private jets up to the Gulfstream G650, GlobalExpress, Challenger 605, and similar types. You can also transfer via helicopter to Zurich Airport if you are flying commercially.