A WELLNESS WEEKEND IN SWITZERLAND WITH VAARA
When luxe activewear brand, Vaara, asked if I’d like to join them in Switzerland for a weekend of wellness and relaxation, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Firstly, Switzerland with it’s Alpine air and picture-perfect scenery has been on my travel bucket list for a long time. But that aside, a weekend spent in the spa, being in nature and doing yoga on the top of a mountain (!!) pretty much sounds like my idea of a dream weekend.
Despite it’s notoriety as a winter destination, Gstaad is fast making a name for itself as the perfect summer getaway, particularly amongst the wellness crowd. Just a 90 minute flight from London to Geneva followed by the most picturesque train journey imaginable winding through the Alps brings you to the popular destination of Gstaad. Stepping off the train into 32 degree heat quickly dissipated all my preconceptions of a snowy ski resort. Our home for the weekend was the beautiful Le Grand Bellevue - the commanding 5-star hotel in the centre of town. Think Swiss chalet-meets-stately home. Immediately you can see the attention to detail, but without the air of pretence or stuffiness that often accompanies it. This is even reflected in the hotel’s owner, Daniel, who welcomes guests as he would old friends. You kind of get the feeling that anything goes here (including late night piano sessions), and no request is too large - or indeed, small. As soon as we arrived we were ushered to the impressive 3,000 square metre spa area. The aromatherapy massage using organic oils was the perfect antidote to the morning of travel and also happened to be one of the best massages I’ve ever had - it didn't take long to forget about the 3am wake up. There were way too many experiences to try including a hay sauna and ice fountain (I wish I had a whole extra day to spend here!) but I opted for the infrared sauna and salt inhalation grotto. In my post-spa state, I settled in to my room complete with mountain views and organic Bamford products (having sensitive skin, it’s always such a pleasant surprise to find hotel room products that I love and can actually use!)
One of the hardest parts about travelling for me is undoubtably finding healthy food. Airports and being somewhere new always poses it’s challenges. Usually I let my standards relax a bit when I’m away and have a more flexible approach but it’s nice to know that there are options. Luckily, the hotel’s food selection was vast. From the organic roast chicken and heirloom tomatoes at dinner to the fresh cherries in my room, it was pretty easy to eat whole and unprocessed food. Plus the complimentary soft drinks in the mini bar meant there was always an endless supply of Swiss mineral water, which really does taste like it’s been bottled on the mountain. We ate at the quaint Le Petit Chalet on the first night and the Michelin-starred Leonard’s on the second. Again, both felt totally relaxed and unpretentious without any compromise to the quality or service. In fact, we stayed up late laughing (probably far too loudly) in the beautiful outdoor restaurant until the early hours.
The weekend’s activities kicked off with a gondola ride up to the top of a mountain for a yoga class. It’s hard to describe how clean everything feels - the pure air brought a whole new level of zen to the experience. By the afternoon we were biking along the river to the neighbouring village (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to a normal bike after using an e-bike). The following day we headed to the most serene lake for stand up paddle board yoga. Now, I’m OK at yoga, but I honestly sucked at this. My irrational fear of still water took over and I could barely manage a downward dog yet alone stand up. Thankfully, the other girls were amazing at it so more than compensated for my lack of ability. In all honestly, Shavasana couldn’t come soon enough! A case of all the gear no idea in my Vaara set but at least I felt (and looked) the part.
The whole weekend flashed by so quickly yet I still left feeling as rejuvenated as if I’d been away for a week. There’s definitely something in the spring water! I’d love to visit again and next time, will allow an extra couple of days to explore the spa alone! All in all a magical weekend break with the loveliest group of people.
Find my top 5 healthy travel tips here.
All outfits from Vaara
Images my own & Phill Taylor. Please do not use without consent.