Es­cape To

A chic spa re­treat, sur­rounded by Alpine scenery that in­spired a lit­er­ary leg­end, is a per­fect stay to clear the mind

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Marisa Can­non

Swiss Serenity – A chic Alpine spa re­treat

Co­cooned in match­ing fleece robes, cou­ples doze on cush­ioned loungers, drink­ing in the warm mist of the spa around them. I tread care­fully past them un­til I’m in the dim cham­ber of the cold­est plunge pool – a chilly 65 de­grees. Hold­ing my breath, I dunk my­self in, be­fore hot­foot­ing it to a steam­ing pool nearby, wel­com­ing the flush of warmth through my body.

I’m mak­ing the most of the spa at the Chedi An­der­matt, an alpine re­sort in Switzer­land’s Urseren val­ley. Over the week­end, I’ve popped down at least twice a day, be it to roast in a sauna, loll on a daybed or swim a few lengths in one of its many pools. Span­ning 26,000 square feet, no one could blame you for los­ing a few days here.

Chief among the spa’s at­trac­tions is the hy­drother­apy wing, home to two steam rooms, a biosauna, a Fin­nish sauna and three plunge pools of grad­u­at­ing heat. At re­cep­tion, a ther­a­pist en­cour­ages me to al­ter­nate be­tween the hot rooms and cold pools – a tech­nique de­signed to as­sault the body’s ther­mo­stat, im­prov­ing cir­cu­la­tion, re­leas­ing en­dor­phins and ru­mored to burn fat. Af­ter a few ses­sions, and sev­eral pints of wa­ter, I flop in a daze onto one of the loungers. The process is ex­haust­ing, but also in­vig­o­rat­ing – like the feel­ing af­ter a long run, with­out any of the pain or ex­er­tion.

Sur­rounded by lush bot­tle-green moun­tains, guests seek­ing a few more en­dor­phins can try the 12-me­ter out­door pool or the 35-me­ter in­door pool on the spa’s up­per level. Floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows of­fer stun­ning vis­tas of the val­ley, while in win­ter the glass roof can be heated to melt off any snow that might ham­per a clear view of the sky.

If it’s not al­ready ob­vi­ous, the Chedi is a paragon of lux­ury – de­signed by ar­chi­tect Jean-Michel Gathy, who has also worked with Aman Re­sorts, One and Only Re­sorts and Che­val Blanc. My Deluxe room mea­sures a vast 560 square feet and fea­tures so many va­ri­eties of wood that the ho­tel won’t al­low in-room irons be­cause of the risk of fire.

The cen­tral liv­ing area is lit­tered with floor pil­lows, while on the far wall, a gi­ant mono­chrome silk screen of a ski slope does a good

job of re­mind­ing you where you are. The bed – which I’m told will “change my life”– is made by Scan­di­na­vian brand Has­tens, which also sup­plies the Royal Court of Swe­den.

Each of the 105 rooms has an elec­tric fire­place, which is con­trolled at the touch of an iPad, as are the lights, blinds and tem­per­a­ture. All come with Amici cof­fee ma­chines, and wine lovers will ap­pre­ci­ate the Chedi’s be­spoke cabi­net ser­vice (avail­able for guests of Deluxe suites), which fills their in-room wine store with bot­tles of their choice.

The Chedi’s main draw is the pre­mium pow­der cov­eted by skiers ev­ery win­ter. Its après ski of­fer­ing and per­son­al­ized ser­vices – which in­clude a“ski but­ler”to take care of your equip­ment – aid its ap­peal. Out­side of peak sea­son, when I am here, the ho­tel has cu­rated a range of guest ex­pe­ri­ences that tap into the ver­tig­i­nous land­scape and lo­cal cul­ture.

One of my fa­vorites re­volves around lo­cal gas­tron­omy. At din­ner one day, I’m dis­tracted by the 16-foot-tall cheese hu­mi­dor at the restau­rant’s cen­ter, in­side of which sits a ta­ble over­flow­ing with gruyère, Tête de Moine and lo­cal soft and blue cheeses along with chut­neys, jams, grapes and apri­cots. By the next day, I’d booked my­self in for a lunchtime tast­ing, which fea­tured pair­ings with lo­cal wines, cured meats and the op­tion of a half-day tour at a lo­cal cheese dairy.

Sense of Ad­ven­ture

Be­yond the lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel, the vil­lage is as quaint as it might have been 200 years ago, when the first traces of tourism be­gan to ap­pear on its slopes. Away from the in­dus­tri­al­iz­ing Europe and its bus­tle, An­der­matt was a fa­vorite with the ur­ban elite, who be­lieved the alpine air was good for the lungs.

Dur­ing a walk­ing tour of the vil­lage, lo­cal guide Banz Sim­men tells me that ear­lier still, in the 18th century, Goethe was a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor, declar­ing it one of the most beau­ti­ful places he had ever seen. Word of the writer’s fas­ci­na­tion spread quickly, and the vil­lage soon be­came a pop­u­lar hide­away for those who could af­ford to get there. Not long af­ter, the Bri­tish ar­rived, tak­ing on ex­ploits that Sim­men says“not even the Swiss were crazy enough to,”such as the first as­cent of the Mat­ter­horn in 1865.

About a century later, the Brits made a tri­umphant re­turn when An­der­matt was cho­sen as the back­drop for a car chase in the Bond film Goldfin­ger, in which Sean Con­nery’s 007 ca­reered through the Furka Pass in an As­ton Martin DB5. For any guests in search of a sim­i­lar thrill, the Chedi’s clas­sic car ex­pe­ri­ence al­lows them to test the re­gion’s hair­pin turns be­hind the wheel of a new Morgan Plus 4, the two-door Bri­tish road­ster orig­i­nally pro­duced in the fifties. The pack­age (CHF895/$882 per per­son) in­cludes a four-course din­ner, a bot­tle of cham­pagne, a map book of the area and a cap, to avoid any un­wanted windswept dos.

I opt for some­thing a lit­tle less high-oc­tane – a ses­sion of med­i­ta­tion and yoga with the Chedi’s res­i­dent Ti­betan guru, Loten Da­hort­sang. Sit­ting cross-legged, we are led through a se­ries of slow breath­ing ex­er­cises. The chime of Ti­betan cym­bals breaks the quiet and we rise from our mats, stretch­ing into chal­leng­ing poses that seem to elon­gate my spine. Af­ter class, we drink tea with Loten, who de­scribes his jour­ney from Ti­bet to Nepal and, fi­nally, to Zurich. As we say good­bye, he tells us we should spend the rest of the day in the spa, it’s very beau­ti­ful. He’s not wrong.

Rates start from CHF500 ($483) per night for a Deluxe room with break­fast. ghmho­tels.com/en/an­der­matt

For more in­for­ma­tion visit myswitzer­land.com.

Pic­tured: The Chedi An­der­matt

Clockwise from top left: The Chedi An­der­matt’s wine iibrary; Grand Deluxe room; Furka Pass

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