Escaping Qatar’s scorching summer, Marhaba’s Jasmin Maier embarked on a four-day trip to Gstaad and Basel in Switzerland, organised by Switzerland Tourism.
Besides its Swiss cheeses, chocolates and stunning Alpine sceneries, Switzerland is celebrated for its luxury lifestyle, precision, efficiency and hospitality par excellence. With numerous lakes, high peaks of the Alps, 118 Michelin-starred restaurants and the world’s densest network of roads and railways, Switzerland is the ideal destination for families, honeymooners, adventure-seekers and nature-lovers alike.
Every day is an escapade in Switzerland! Get a glimpse of what each adventurous day in Gstaad and Basel is like with Jasmin Maier every week!
Zurich welcomed us with a pleasant temperature of 17 degrees and the much-desired fresh air which we all extensively inhaled once the airport’s terminal doors opened. After an overnight flight of six hours on-board one of the world’s youngest fleets operated by Qatar Airways, our group was excited to set out to our first destination, the city of Gstaad or ‘the last paradise in a crazy world’, as British actress Julie Andrews would say.
Getting to Gstaad:
- Qatar Airways flies daily to either Zurich or Geneva; onwards
- by train from Zurich / Geneva (3 hours)
- or by car from Zurich (2:30 hours) / from Geneva (1:45 hours)
Using public transportation is probably the fastest and most reliable way to travel around Switzerland. It is also the best way to enjoy an unparalleled panorama of the Alps in a relaxing ambience. In collaboration with Swiss Travel System, we received an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass granting us unlimited use of major railways, bus routes, boat lines and public transport services in more than 90 cities.
In Zurich, the railway station is conveniently located right inside the airport. Trains are punctual and our first class coach was furnished with comfortable leather seats with a SBB Bistro offering speciality coffees as well as snacks and drinks.
Thanks to the built-in electricity plugs next to our seats, we could all charge our phones which were drained after clicking at least a hundred pictures of the jaw-dropping landscape of the Alps mountains we passed through throughout our three-hour journey from Zurich to Gstaad.
After our arrival and warm welcome in Gstaad, we checked in at the ultra-luxurious boutique hotel Ultima Gstaad, a Hotelleriesuisse rewarded 5-star superior property. While the hotel’s exterior is relatively understated, the lobby greets you with ever smiling and attentive receptionists and a fusion of tradition and contemporary art by renowned artist Alec Monopoly creating an atmosphere of harmony and elegance. Confidential and elitist, Ultima Gstaad intentionally has only 11 suites and six residences with an above-average staff to guest ratio.
My personal butler, a fine quadrilingual lady, escorted me to my Junior Suite located on level two of the main building. I cannot tell which feeling was more overwhelming when she opened the door to the suite: The wow factor of the lavish interior or the fact that I would reside here the next two nights.
I was amazed to learn that all their suites are ‘smart’, equipped with iPads and wireless touch screen phones allowing you to regulate the lighting, music, and the sound system in the wardrobe and the bronze clad fireplace.
After lying down on the ultra-comfy bedding, it was hard to leave hotel room. I had everything I needed, but Gstaad was waiting. Our dedicated tour guide, Margaret, awaited in the lobby to take us to charming Alpenland Hotel for a Swiss lunch followed by a real highlight for the romantics – a nostalgic horse carriage ride around Lake Lauenen. Situated in the heart of a nature reserve, the splendour of Lake Lauenen is an ideal destination for hikers, bikers, nature lovers and those seeking the perfect Instagram shot.
Throughout our lunch and horse carriage trip Margaret, who is fluent in five languages, provided us with insightful information about Gstaad and its residents, guests and history. Did you know that famous regular visitors to Gstaad have included Madonna, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, haute couture designer Valentino Garavani, and many more?
With a tummy full of Swiss cheese and a memory card loaded with postcard pictures, we returned back to our luxury retreat, The Ultima Gstaad.
After an eventful day, all I needed was to relax. The Ultima Spa by La Prairie offers a wellness programme that is second to none. The exclusive La Prairie spa menu includes white caviar treatment, therapeutic massages and more. I treated myself with a Hamam session and a dip in the perfectly temperatured pool to end my day.
Author: Jasmin Maier
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