Its snowy mountain glaciers, dense forests and green valleys make the Swiss Alps a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Switzerland boasts 200 mountain resorts, and almost 50 peaks at elevations of 13,000 feet. During the warmer seasons, the country's unpolluted lakes attract sailors, windsurfers, water skiers and swimmers. Hotels with a variety of lodging plans are plentiful in the Swiss Alps.
Most Swiss hotels are owned by an international or national chain. Best Western specializes in three- or four-star Swiss hotels. Some, such as the Best Western Hotel Bahnhof Terminus in Davos, are located within walking distance of the ski lifts. Swiss Quality Hotels are usually three- to five-star establishments, such as the Schoenegg Swiss Quality Zermatt Grandhotel, which has views of the Matterhorn. The Minotel Suisse Chain is actually an association of two- to four-star, family-run hotels. The Hotel Alpfrieden, located in the small, family Alps resort called Bettermalp, is a Minotel Hotel. Many Swiss alpine villages are car free. Purchasers of the Swiss Pass, good for unlimited train, bus and boat travel throughout the country, receive substantial discounts at major hotel chains.
Swiss Alps hotel managers appeal to active people by including a hearty breakfast in their rates. Some offer half board, which includes dinner, and others offer full board, which includes lunch. Each plan has its advantages and disadvantages. If you choose the half board, you will not get a chance to experience the other local restaurants, but dining in the Alps is expensive, and there is often a long wait for tables. Choosing full board means that you have to interrupt your daytime activities to go back to the hotel to eat lunch. The Chalet Cygnet, a boutique hotel near the Verbier ski area, offer an acceptable compromise. All rates are full board during the winter season, but instead of offering lunch, they provide a late-afternoon high tea, consisting of freshly baked cakes and breads, served with jam and honey.
James Bond's Switzerland
The skiing exploits of James Bond may have inspired many people to take up the sport. In the film "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service," the bad guys who chase James Bond down the slopes are headquartered at the revolving restaurant atop the Schilthorn Mountain in Murren. The restaurant, called the Piz Gloria, still exists. Explore your inner James Bond and stay at local Murren hotels such as the Hotel Bellevue, the Hotel Eiger and the Hotel Blumental.
The 16th-century physician Paracelsus wrote about the healing properties of the Swiss Alps mountain spring water. He put the Alps on the map as a health and wellness destination. During the 1800s, the Swiss Alps became a vacation spot for the wealthy, who believed that the dry air and mineral-rich waters would cure them of their respiratory ailments. Modern Swiss Alps spa hotels maintain their Old World ambiance, while boasting state-of-the-art spa technologies. The Chalet Royal Hotel & Spa in Villars, for example, uses Cellcosmet & Cellmen Swiss products, a new brand of cellular cosmetics. Hotel Kempinski, in St. Moritz, combines personal fitness training with its spa services.
- monte bre switzerland image by Steven Armstrong from Fotolia.com