Romance By Lisa Kahan

Love is in the Air in the Swiss Alps

Hoping for a relaxing romantic getaway, members of our exclusive [multisite.site_brand]SELECT community of travelers set off on a week-long journey into the heart of the Swiss Alps. What they found has them already planning their return trip.

Staring out the car window, our [multisite.site_brand]SELECT travelers could hardly believe their eyes. Lake Geneva, widely considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, was just as magnificent as they had imagined. Perhaps even more so, as the midday sun turned the water a stunning shade of blue. On the far shore, the snow-capped peaks of the Alps formed a magnificent backdrop, hinting at the heart-racing scenery to come. Taking in the panoramic view, the couple quickly realized there was no way they were going to nap on the 90-minute journey from Lausanne to Gstaad as they had planned.

Only hours before they had been in Paris, the start of a six-night birthday getaway. Already off to a fairytale start, their trip had begun with a night in one of the most romantic hotels in Paris, the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris. This historic hotel, once the private palace of Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon's great nephew, is famed for its elegant interiors and stunning Eiffel Tower views. Their room didn't disappoint. They felt like they could almost reach out and touch the tower's lattice-like legs as they watched the lights twinkle from their window seat.

Tearing themselves away from the iconic view, the couple spent their first evening strolling the cobblestone streets of Paris, passing the Champs-Elysees, the Louvre and the Palais Royal before stopping for dinner. With only one night, they chose Les Antiquaires, a popular neighborhood bistro near the Musee d'Orsay, where they settled into a cozy leather banquette and dined on steak frites. And now, after a good night's sleep and a short train ride to Lausanne, they found themselves in the back of a car being driven to Gstaad, a tiny town nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps.

Switzerland Train

Although short, the ride was spectacular. Starting out along Lake Geneva, with its picturesque vistas, the vineyards and farmland outside of Lausanne quickly gave way to sweeping emerald-green pastures where granite-faced mountains heaved themselves out of the ground. As the peaks became taller and more dramatic, and the road began to twist and climb, their driver regaled them with stories about life in the mountains, Swiss history and the country's uniquely cosmopolitan culture.

Home to over 100 peaks more than 12,000 feet high-including the famous Eiger, Matterhorn and Jungfrau-the Swiss Alps comprise one of the most majestic regions on Earth. It would be hard to exaggerate the beauty of this spectacular landscape, a place where snow-capped mountains stretch as far as the eye can see and glaciers glisten in the sun, where every spring long winding valleys are blanketed in colorful wildflowers and mountain lakes the color of turquoise reflect the sky like highly polished mirrors. And at the center of it all is the idyllic alpine village of Gstaad.

Switzerland Matterhorn Peak

Exclusive and glamorous, Gstaad has beckoned the international jet set for decades. Overflowing with Champagne-swigging merrymakers during the holiday season, the rest of the year Gstaad is a close-knit village with less than 10,000 permanent residents and an enviable assortment of world-class restaurants, cozy wine bars, fashion-forward boutiques and well-respected art galleries. Gstaad also happens to be home to one of the region's most impressive hotels, the Alpina Gstaad.

Quiet and unassuming, the Alpina Gstaad sits on a hilltop a short walk from town. Perfectly sited to take advantage of the spectacular mountain views, the hotel's traditional wood-clad exterior blends perfectly into the green sloping meadows that surround the chalet-inspired building. Appreciated for its understated elegance, warm service and excellent restaurants and spa, the Alpina Gstaad became an instant favorite among the town's well-heeled travelers when it opened in 2012.

The Alpina Gstaad's public spaces and 56 rooms and suites reflect the natural surroundings with a sophisticated mix of Alpine-chic furnishings paired with intriguing pieces of contemporary art. Bathed in sunlight, the couple's Deluxe Suite was no less impressive with panoramic mountain views, comfortable yet luxurious furnishings and a generous layout that included an oversized terrace and sitting area complete with a hand-carved stone fireplace. Selected for them by their travel advisor, whose regional knowledge and attention to detail was remarkable, the suite was the perfect retreat for a couple seeking a few days of quiet.

The Alpina Gstaad

The next day, the third of their trip, our [multisite.site_brand]SELECT travelers indulged in a bountiful buffet breakfast before dedicating the day to the Six Senses Spa, an Asian-inspired sanctuary in the heart of the hotel. In addition to the requisite massages and treatments, the spa also features a salt room, hot and cold plunge pools and, the showstopper, a year-round outdoor swimming pool kept at a balmy 90 degrees. They reveled in them all, even the thrilling experience of running through the chilly mountain air to jump in the steaming pool.

Set in the picturesque Saane river valley, Gstaad attracts hikers from around the world. Rested from their day at the spa, on day four the couple decided to follow a nearby river upstream as it wound its way through the mountains. A moderately difficult trail recommended by the Alpina Gstaad's concierge, the views were fantastic and the air refreshing as the river rushed past the happy couple. The hike was so enjoyable, the next day they decided to walk another ten miles. This time, along an old farmers' path that links Gstaad to the picturesque town of Saanen and the village of Rougemont, across the border into France.

Hungry and tired from the days' exertion, in the evenings our couple would wander into town for a casual dinner. Afterward, they enjoyed a quiet nightcap at the Alpina Lounge & Bar before retiring to their room. The bar's oversized lounge chairs, live piano music and elegant fireplace set the perfect tone for what they already consider to be one of their best vacations. Relaxed and refreshed, they could have stayed in Gstaad for weeks, but it was time to move on for the final leg of their journey: a night at the Burgenstock Resort in Lucerne.

Switzerland Lake Lucerne

Perched high above Lake Lucerne, the views from the Burgenstock are guaranteed to take your breath away. Reached by funicular from the lake below, there are few hotels in the world whose entrance is more dazzling as guests disembark from the exhilarating ride straight into the hotel's gorgeous lobby. Colossal floor-to-ceiling windows in every room offer magnificent panoramas, while the interiors set a new standard for sophisticated elegance. The hotel's Alpine Spa-one of the world's largest at 110,000 square feet-is nothing short of magnificent with a rooftop infinity pool that is second to none.

On their last full day, our couple took the hotel's private ferry across the lake to Lucerne. They wandered the medieval streets, shopped in the boutiques and explored the town's famous wooden bridges before stopping for a late-afternoon drink at a cozy local bar. Although their trip was quickly coming to an end, there was still one more indulgence, a massage at the Alpine Spa the next morning before they left for Geneva to catch their flight home. As they sat in the back of the car on the way to the airport, admiring the mountain views, they knew they would return soon.


Romance-along with luxurious accommodations and impeccable service-can be found at all of these properties. Plus, you will enjoy the bonus amenities of these [multisite.site_brand]SELECT Hotels & Resorts: