All Images Credit Burgenstock Resort

The Bürgenstock Hotel and Resort: Switzerland's Wellness Nirvana [Video]

Jul. 7th, 2022

Switzerland is a destination known for several admirable attributes; some of the world’s best ski resorts, the finest watches, and, of course, chocolate. Switzerland is also known for having the most highly regarded wellness resorts in the world, offering a range of treatments far beyond the massage. One of Switzerland’s most iconic wellness retreats is remote and exclusive, sitting high atop a mountain range, and overlooking Lake Lucerne. It is a vacation, a sanctuary and a retreat of the highest order, where couples go to reconnect, where explorers go for new adventures, and where weary bodies go to heal. Without question, the Bürgenstock Hotels and Spa is one of Switzerland’s finest hospitality treasures.

The experience begins in Lucerne, where the resort's futuristic catamaran collects guests from their pier dock. They are then transported across the scenic lake to another world, one that appears to be an eagle’s nest in the clouds. One can only imagine this place 100 years ago, as Europe’s beau monde and high society made the same journey.   Their destination was this lofty sanctuary perched 1,600 feet above Lake Lucerne. Today it is more like a vacation village, boasting several grand and glamorous hotels, a dozen restaurants, two of Switzerland's finest health retreats, and an infinite list of active pursuits from golf and tennis to hiking and biking.  This is no small affair. It is the largest resort in Switzerland, sitting on 150 acres of land and surrounded by alpine mountains, rolling hills, and an endless supply of fresh mountain air.    

The Bürgenstock Resort has been a respite for the well-to-do, royalty, and stars of the silver screen for over 100 years. And it should be; far removed from the world’s troubles, it is a haven only accessible by a funicular which is, in essence, a metaphor and the ultimate velvet rope, only allowing the invited into their world of opulence and privilege.

The resort became an instant magnet for Europe’s upper crust when it opened in 1873. However, its’ heyday was during the 50s and 60s, where A-list celebrities retreated to the Bürgenstock Resort to escape the prying eyes of the press and paparazzi. One of the resort’s most famous residents was Audrey Hepburn, who lived there for 17 years and was also married in a chapel that still stands on the grounds today. Sophia Loren also lived there, with her husband Carlo Ponte. Other luminaries included Charlie Chaplin, Indira Gandhi, and in later years, President Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger. One of its’ more notable chapters took place in 1964 when Agent 007 himself, Sean Connery and the crew, made the resort their home while filming Goldfinger. 

Wikicommons: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Fotograf: Gerber, Hans

There are several accommodation options at the Bürgenstock Resort, including the Palace Hotel. This well-preserved 100-year-old hotel features 109 rooms and suites with classic decor. The Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence is their most recent addition and is nothing short of an architecture design and wellness triumph. This hotel is solely created to improve the health of its’ guests, with cutting-edge medical facilities and, an in-house staff of medical and therapeutic specialists providing skin, medical, and fitness health services. The hotel itself is a design and beauty masterpiece both inside and out.  Featuring wooden pergolas and gabions, or wire cages filled with stones, its’ striking façade is accompanied by terraces overlooking the rolling hills and alpine mountain landscapes. 

The resort’s most opulent place to stay is the Bürgenstock Hotel. After a 410 million pound investment in the resort complex, this hotel single-handedly retook the place as one of the premier destinations for luxury travel in Switzerland.

The design of the hotel is as dramatic as a James Bond film. Arriving by the funicular, as it shimmies and shakes along its 45-degree incline, guests arrive at nothing short of Switzerland’s very own Shangri La. The Bürgenstock Hotel is tastefully opulent, a haven in the clouds that rivals its’ former glory days of the 50s and 60s. Interiors are simply sublime, filled with charcoal state surfaces, natural wood finishes, bronze panels, and chic and contemporary furnishings. The hotel is situated to take complete advantage of the mesmerizing views over the lake. Nowhere achieves this better than the Lakeview Bar & Cigar Lounge, with a three-story-high floor-to-ceiling window, fronted by a beautifully styled contemporary space. Any time of day is spectacular, but none more so than at dusk for an aperitivo as the sky changes color and the live piano music adds to the ambience.

Bürgenstock Alpine Spa

The Bürgenstock Hotel is an impressive haven of wellness. Its’ most grandiose spa is the 100,000-square feet Alpine Spa, alternatively the Waldhotel Spa focuses on long-term and more chronic health issues. The Alpine Spa is truly a showpiece: the indoor pool is set in an auditorium-sized space, with windows offering endless lake views that seemingly rise to the heavens. It is a comfortable space where guests swim laps while others laze about drifting off with a book in hand. As beautiful as this facility may be, the spa's most stunning space is the outdoor infinity-edged pool. One could not dream of a more beautiful place to swim. Featuring whirlpools and water jets, with relaxing waters set at a balmy 35°, guests feel they are swimming in the clouds. The pool is cantilevered over the edge, almost suspended in air, and the warm water creates a fog-like mist adding to the ethereal atmosphere. From the pool's lofty perch, guests swim its’ edge and gaze, often in disbelief, at the lake 1500 feet below.  

The Alpine Spa is as beautiful as it is enormous. With earth tone finishes of slate, stone, and natural wood, it is accented with carefully placed candles, and sitting areas around a fireplace. The comprehensive spa experience offers five pools, 13 state-of-the-art treatment rooms, and 24-hour fitness space. The destination spa is made for guests to spend the whole day, offering saunas with panoramic views, an Alpine Rasul steam bath, a solarium, an infrared cabin, hot and cold Kneipp baths, and a saline floating pool that mirrors a Dead Sea experience. There is also a serenity room with nap pods and waterbeds, and a relaxation area set around an open fireplace. Guests are offered complimentary fruit, flavored water and tea, and healthy snack bars.

Waldhotel Spa  

The Waldhotel Spa, although less theatric, is equally impressive with a focus on medical recovery and the science of healing. Guests take part in healing programs that focus on a wide range of treatments from weight loss to chronic pain or post-operative convalescence, all of which are administered by a team of doctors, nurses, and therapists. The Waldhotel Spa also addresses mental health issues, with a focus on controlling stress and anxiety. 

The spa is fully equipped with all the bells and whistles, including an indoor-outdoor pool, ice room, salt grotto, spa treatment rooms, and steam and sauna. Beyond that, the Waldhotel Spa offers state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. The spa clinic provides transformative wellness programs ranging from three nights to two weeks. Focusing on various goals, the programs address mobility and activity, weight management, detox, body and mind balance, beauty, and overall health. 

One unique treatment offered is the cryotherapy in the Icelab. This chilly encounter is known to reduce inflammation, eliminate joint pain, and aid weight loss. After a consultation, guests enter the chamber with gloves, socks, underwear, and a hat to protect their ears. There are three-chambers with decreasing temperatures from chilly to freezing. While being supervised, the guest moves along as directed by the therapist to the final room, where they stay for as long as they can, with a recommendation of one to two minutes. The freezing temperatures shock the body, however, when one leaves, they feel as if they were jolted with electricity and possess a higher level of vitality.

Burgenstock Hotel Accommodations

The Bürgenstock Hotel and Alpine Spa offer 82 rooms and 20 suites all situated to take in the gorgeous views of Lake Lucerne. Accommodations are the epitome of luxury, such as the tycoon-ready Katara Suite with a full kitchen, living room, dining room, outdoor terrace, and a private sauna and treatment room. The sumptuous rooms are chic and modern with a contemporary Alpine style featuring walnut wood floors, rough stone finishes, and richly colored quartzite walls that create a lavish yet comfortable ambience.

The room's most romantic feature is the two-sided fireplace facing both the living area and the bath. However, the central point of the accommodation is the floor-to-ceiling oriel windows with a window seat, where guests enjoy the mesmerizing views. Even the bathroom makes a statement, with a wet room, a rain shower, a sunken bath made for two, a fireplace, and a panoramic window complete with vistas of the twinkling lights of Lucerne in the distance.  

The Bürgenstock Resort feels more like a village resort with its various hotels, facilities, activities galore, and, of course, restaurants. The cuisine choices are plentiful and range from casual to fine dining. All of their amazing dining options feature an impressive wine list courtesy of their vault, with over 850 labels from around the world and an emphasis on emerging, up-and-coming producers. A constant companion in each of the restaurant’s dining outlet is the service, which is invariably friendly and efficient, yet never imposing. 

The Pan-Asian Spices Kitchen is an all-day dining restaurant that begins each day with an impressive a la carte breakfast. At night, the space shifts to become noticeably romantic with candle-lit tables and a side dish of views over flickering lights from the villages around the lake. The cuisine offers a journey of authentic Asian specialities, including Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Indian, mustering up all of the smells and flavours they bring. The open show kitchen provides a flurry of activity with woks flaming, pots steaming, and meats sizzling. Not-to-miss dishes are the sushi, dim sum, tandoori, and especially the Spices Signature Peking Duck.

Guests can visit any of the restaurants throughout the complex, begging the question: ‘What type of food are you in the mood for tonight?.’ The Waldhotel is a destination wellness centre and their Verbena Restaurant & Bar creates gourmet meals with a focus on nutrition. Their mantra “Eat well to live well” says it all. Forget about your bland tofu or tasteless veggies, this is delicious food first that happens to be good for you. With a ‘clean’ menu free from animal fats and salt, the focus is flavorful Mediterranean cuisine, incorporating many of the 30 herbs grown in the restaurant’s chef’s garden. 

It’s easy to see why so many elites over the years have chosen to take up permanent residence at the resort. There are simply so many recreational activities that one could never get through them all. The winter sports include nearby skiing, exploring the countless snowshoeing trails, snowmobiling, tobogganing, curling, or skating on a gorgeous ice rink with the alps as a backdrop. Warmer weather welcomes watersports on the lake, extensive mountain biking trails, horse riding, and canoeing. The resort’s tennis academy offers pro lessons or playtime on the Davis Cup standard indoor and outdoor tennis courts. The resort also offers a highly acclaimed nine-hole golf course, as well as a Golf Academy and driving range.

No matter what time of year, filling the lungs with the fresh Alpine air is a must for health and personal pleasure. The Bürgenstock Resort obliges with 70 hiking trails through the property grounds and the surrounding pristine woodlands. One destination that makes a perfect hike is the world-renowned Hammetschwand Lift. The hike from the Bürgenstock Resort takes about an hour and a half and goes along the scenic Felsenweg Cliff Walk, through pristine forests with stunning lookouts over the lake. The Hammetschwand Lift was built in 1905 and is the highest outdoor elevator in Europe at 500 feet tall. This iconic landmark was also featured in the 1964 James Bond film, Goldfinger.

There are also plenty of activities indoors, such as complimentary movie nights and film screenings in the state-of-the-art cinema. Activities offered include a range for all interests from wine tastings, to cooking classes, to retail therapy at their shopping arcade.    

Some places that we travel to have a lingering effect on us. We know that from the first moment of arrival, this will be the one holiday that we never forget, a timeless memory. Such a rare place exists in northern Switzerland on the high mountain overlooking Lake Lucerne and its’ name is the Burgenstock Resort.

Glenn Harris

Glenn Harris is an accomplished journalist focusing on international travel, fine dining, and luxury lifestyle events. His wanderlust has taken him to over 105 countries where he is constantly straying off the beaten path uncovering new and exotic finds. He particularly enjoys seeking out lesser known travel gems and places to stay, dine, or experiences to capture. ...(Read More)