INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND - I’m told people come to this picturesque mountain community nestled in the bosom of an enchanting Alpine valley seeking solace on what’s known as “wellness weekends.”
Those staying at the ritzy Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa usually feel better as soon as they arrive at this classic property that sits in the centre of this idyllic tourist town.
A feeling of calm comes over me as I stand below the hotel’s domed entrance admiring the regal trappings of this 150-year-old stately beauty, which actually started out as two hotels — the Pension Victoria and the Hotel Jungfrau. They were brought together under one dome in 1856 to make Interlaken’s best 5-star property — another gem in the Swiss Deluxe Hotel collection.
Grand is a good word to describe this swanky property, which rose to prominence during western Europe’s Belle Époque period when royals, intellectuals, artists and authors beat a path to this peacful town for a little R&R. Here they could suck in clear mountain air, overdose on the jaw-dropping Bernese Highlands scenery and rejuvenate in highly touted spas like the one at the Grand.
Above: Two hotels were brought together to form one of Europe's best properties.
Most of he hotel’s 224 rooms — 102 are junior or full-size suites — look out on the mountain brilliance that surrounds this immaculate community where legendary Alpine peaks like the Jungfrau (at 4,158 metres it’s often referred to as the “Top of Europe”), the Mönch (4,107m) and the Eiger (3,970m) — I see see each clearly from my stylish room — rise into the clouds.
I stand at the window of my room — it’s decorated in a classic style that suits this historic property so well — admiring a horde of paragliders drifting through the valley, their colourful chutes standing out from the stunning snow-capped mountain backdrop. What an awesome sight!
Those who come to the Grand Hotel seeking wellness, have come to the right place.
The hotel’s massive 59,000-square-feet spa in regarded as one of the best in Europe — maybe on the planet. But mind you, this is no ordinary “spa.”
Opened in 1991, the facility is one of the most advanced in the world — the range and extensiveness of its services goes well beyond anything I’ve seen before and the expertise of its staff takes wellness to a whole new level.
With its large indoor swimming pool, outdoor brine bath, whirlpools, sauna complex, massage choices, fitness gym and range of treatments, the Grand’s spa meets all the needs of its usually well-healed clients, who are evaluated by a doctor so the right results for them can be achieved.
Above: The alpine view guests get from the hotel's room is simply awesome.
Hans-Peter Veit, the Grand’s congenial Spa Director and one of the most informative people in his field, has assembled an incredible staff that advises guests on treatments, fitness, nutrition and the medical benefits of the procedures offered here.
Treatments that address aging and weight issues are in great demand at the Grand’s spa and Veit tells me the success rate at his facility is higher than the norm.
“We design programs that suit each individual guest and what they feel comfortable with. It’s our goal to introduce a program of exercises and treatments that our guests will be inspired to continue doing after they leave here,” Veit tells me.
“We have many returning guests and some stay in the spa (there’s 10 upscale rooms in the spa area) for their entire stay because they are also seeking privacy. The average stay is about four days,” the director says.
Veit is most proud of the spa’s success rate with overweight clients. “They lose about two kilos per week on average with our programs,” says Veit, “and most keep that weight off.”
The director says the majority of the guests at his spa come from Switzerland, Germany and Russia, but in recent years, thanks to the facility’s global reputation, more Asian, North American and Middle Eastern guests have been arriving.
“We have a staff of 40 professionals and they work very closely with our guests, whose average age is between 45 and 50,” says Veit. “Some of our guests have been coming here for 20 years and we are always striving to surpass their expectations.”
After a day at the spa, guests can enjoy some haute cuisine meals in the hotel’s world-renowned La Terrasse restaurant, governed by one of Europe’s most respected executive chefs, Stefan Beer. His culinary creations are legendary, and combined with the Alpine eye candy outside La Terrasse’s windows, make the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa a sweet treat for travellers.
Swiss Deluxe Hotels is a group representing 41 of Switzerland’s best hotels, which offer unique experiences in some of the most visited places in Switzerland. For information, go to www.swissdeluxehotels.com/en
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