Switzerland is renowned for its spectacular scenery, soaring mountains, fresh air and outdoor recreation. What better place for a rejuvenating vacation than a country known for its healthy lifestyle? The Swiss are also renowned for their spas, luxurious amenities and vacation resorts.
The vacation opportunities and spas found in the canton of Graubünden’s Engadin Valley are popular with the Swiss but known to all-too-few Americans. Scuol, between the the Silvretta range and the Swiss Dolomites, is a place where mineral waters flow from community fountains. Cobblestone squares are surrounded by historic houses decorated with sgraffito, a technique of scratching a design through the surface layer.
Its curative waters have made Scuol a wellness destination for centuries. Switzerland’s prosperity and customary high quality has transformed it into a distinctive vacation destination with the finest of accommodations, cuisine, and spas.
Hotel Belvedere is Scuol’s grande dame hotel, perched high for a commanding view of the mountains and village. It is connected by a glass hallway to the Bad Engadin Scuol, a thermal spa that opened in 1993. With bathing, saunas, and a variety of wellness and therapy baths and treatments, it is the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation.
The Roman-Irish baths—Switzerland’s first—have extensive treatments that include a soap and brush massage.
The Lower Engadine an area steeped in tradition that has retained its culture and language. An area that was isolated before railways, it is where Romansch, one of Switzerland’s four national languages, is spoken. A remnant of days of occupation by Roman soldiers, Romansch is the language of less than one percent of the Swiss. It certainly isn’t necessary to be fluent, but you’ll gain a better sense of the culture if you learn to speak a few words with the characteristic zestfulness, like the greeting “Allegra!” and the toast, “Viva!”.
Scuol a place to try traditional local and regional foods like Bündnerplatte, a plate of alpine cheese, dried meats, and pear bread known as pan cun paira (pear bread). Engadiner Nusstorte, a nut cake made with walnuts, is another specialty that should not be missed.
The mountains and river gorges provide outdoor recreation with a spectacular view. There are over 600 miles of alpine trekking and biking along pathways marked with sign posts. The white water of the Inn River creates breathtaking rafting opportunities.
And, of course, winter means snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating, and skiing.
Getting there is a journey past the better-known tourist destinations and through magnificent landscapes, past soaring peaks and Engadine valley villages. It’s a short trip from Scuol to the 11th century Tarasp Castle, perched on a rock over 300’ high, and to charming villages like Guarda.
Switzerland’s only national park and largest nature reserve is also nearby. With strict standards for maintaining undisturbed plant and animal life, the Swiss National Park is one of the best preserved wilderness landscapes in Europe. There are fifty miles of designated hiking trails, and animal watching tours are offered.
A postbus ride through the Swiss National Park leads to a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Convent of St. John in charming Val Müstair. The main square in Val Müstair is where orders were given for the battle that led to Swiss independence. From there, if you like, you can even walk or take the postbus to Italy.