Once a favourite retreat for the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren, Switzerland’s mountain-top Bürgenstock Resort has been restored and expanded for a new generation of luxury travellers. tama lung joins the grand-opening festivities
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A thousand guests have made their way to Lucerne to celebrate the grand opening with the Qatari hotel owner and developer, our group flying into Zurich and then catching a train to Lucerne, a ferry to the base of the Bürgenstock mountain and the charming fire-engine red funicular to the peak and lobby of the Bürgenstock Hotel.
Walking past the ubiquitous watch displays – this is Switzerland, after all – we find ourselves in an inviting reception area complete with roaring fireplace and gleaming limestone floors. But the real draw, from here and almost every corner of the resort, is the view over Lake Lucerne, which extends in four directions like sinuous fingers. At dusk the sky over the distant shore bursts into a rainbow of blues, pinks and purples, having shed the layer of clouds that accumulate most mornings.
One of the best vantage points to be had is in the guestrooms of the Bürgenstock Hotel, while soaking in the oversize tub next to a glass-enclosed fire. But probably the biggest draw, and certainly the most popular among social-media followers, is the adjacent 10,000-square-metre Alpine Spa.
The three-storey spa has everything I’ve ever wanted in a wellness retreat: the usual saunas and steam baths, but also an infrared sauna, ice room, saline floating bath, nap shells and waterbeds for lounging.
Not to be missed is the outdoor infinity pool that extends from the indoor lap pool and appears to float above the lake. It’s easy to spend hours exploring the wet and dry areas before curling up near the fireplace to enjoy the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the Serenity Room.
But we’re here to celebrate and the Bürgenstock does not disappoint. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Qatari dignitaries and Katara managing director Bruno Schöpfer, the doors of the Bürgenstock and Palace hotels are thrown open to reveal lavish food stations serving up mountains of Kaviari caviar, raclette cheese from the cows grazing in the pastures behind the hotel, Thai salads from the Asian-themed Spices Kitchen & Terrace, and spit-roasted lamb from the Sharq Lebanese and Qatari eatery that occupies Loren and Ponti’s former villa.
The evening is capped off with a stunning fireworks display lighting up the entire Bürgenberg ridge, and dancing that continues past midnight in the ballroom. The next morning, we awake to find the hotel nestled in the clouds as if it too is not yet ready to get out of bed and back to work.
But there is plenty more to take in at Bürgenstock, including a visit to the Waldhotel to learn about its innovative medical and therapeutic services. The hi-tech hotel/hospital provides tailored programmes covering everything from mobility and weight management to cryotherapy and anti-ageing. Guests can relax and recuperate in specially designed south-facing rooms with private terraces, and a dedicated spa with various pools, saunas and steam rooms.
The walk back to the main hotel passes the Gothic chapel built in 1887 and made famous by Hepburn and Ferrer’s wedding – their son Sean, who was born in Lucerne, attended the hotel’s
THE BÜRGENSTOCKMOUNTAIN’S HAMMETSCHWAND LIFT STILL DRAWS TOURISTS MORE THAN A CENTURY AFTER IT WAS BUILT