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LUXURY RESORT: Bürgenstock  Resort, Switzerland 

Style: Ultra-modern meets Belle Epoque
Scene: Mountain top
Seen in the lobby: Celebrities, or those who look as if they should be

IMAGES OF Audrey Hepburn followed me around at the Bürgenstock Resort - her wedding to Mel Ferrer at the little white chapel in 1954, strolling along the spectacular Felsenweg cliff-edge pathway, taking tea on the terrace of the grand Palace Hotel overlooking Lake Lucerne, relaxing beside the kidney-shaped Hollywood Pool. The famous mountain-top resort in central Switzerland was home to the actress for 14 years, and her presence there is ubiquitous thanks to a splendid collection of photographs in the Museum Corridor that links the lovingly-restored 1903 Palace Hotel to the dazzling new five-star superior Bürgenstock Hotel and Alpine Spa.  


The historic resort dating back to 1873, triumphantly reopened in late August after nine years of extensive construction and renovation valued at around 550m Swiss francs. A favourite of Hepburn, Sophia Loren and husband Carlo Ponti, Charlie Chaplin and countless other celebrities in its 1950s to 70s heyday, the resort now offers four hotels from 3 to 5 star superior, 383 rooms and suites, 67 residence suites and villas, 12 restaurants and bars, three pools, a golf course, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, boutique shops, 70km of walking and biking trails, horse stables, a 10,000 m² spa and a state-of-the-art health and medical excellence centre with a multi-disciplinary team of doctors.

Sailing into the sunrise on an early morning ferry from Lucerne, the sprawling 60-hectare ridge-top resort 500 metres above the lake, was visible on the horizon from far away. A liveried footman met me at the dock, took my luggage and delivered me to the resort’s recently-restored shiny red funicular which first began taking guests up the steep incline in 1888. There’s an airport and road access on the other side of the ridge but the funicular trip up the mountain directly to the new 10-storey Bürgenstock Hotel was a thrilling and historically-authentic way to arrive.

The spectacular panorama of the tranquil ink-blue Lake Lucerne and snow-capped peaks framed by the colossal floor-to-ceiling windows and tall brass pillars in the impressive reception lobby was mesmerising. In an instant, I understood the magnetic appeal of this place to the glamorati of the past.

Charming Dario showed me to my sumptuous suite which had an elevated version of that breath-taking lake and mountain view. The suite was warm and welcoming, featuring quartz stone walls, American walnut floors, an elegant Italian marble bathroom with twin vanities, a lounge with a double-sided fireplace, an über-comfortable king-sized bed festooned with a profusion of puffy pillows, weightless down duvets and the softest of bed linen . . . and a spacious dressing room to hide my luggage and clutter. An overhanging window seat looked towards the lake, the majestic Belle Époque Palace Hotel and the 1127m Bürgenstock mountain with its famed Hammetschwand Lift.

Over the next few days, I explored the vast resort and dined at restaurants headed by the celebrated three-star Michelin chef, Marc Haeberlin.  Champagne on the Palace Hotel Terrace at sunset followed by dinner in the Salle Palace was a glittering affair beneath magnificent chandeliers and artworks. Lunch at the Oriental Sharq Restaurant consisted of 16 shared plates, prepared and served with theatrical panache. The Taverne 1879 Restaurant served traditional tasty alpine dishes accompanied by Swiss horns and a trio of folk musicians, while the Spices restaurant specialised in delicious Asian cuisine. The Palace Hotel’s RitzCoffier Restaurant was my breakfast venue, a veritable museum decorated with burnished copper pots and pans, ornate silverware and a massive black oven from yesteryear.

After a relaxing massage from Lisa at the Alpine Spa, I lost an hour in the beautiful 129m² infinity pool that wraps around a glass-walled inside pool. To move from one to the other, you press a button and glass doors slide aside. I discovered other buttons that activated bubbles, whirlpools and a trio of giant nozzles. Floating on a sea of bubbles high above the lake encircled by mountains was heavenly.

I love how everything is so accessible in Switzerland. If there’s a mountain top or cliff face, the enterprising Swiss build a funicular, lift or cable car to take people to the top. The Hammetschwand Lift is an astonishing engineering feat. Built from 1900-1905 by the resort’s original owners, Bucher and Durrer, the 165m tower still holds the distinction of being the highest outdoor elevator in Europe . . . and the fastest. The lift whisked me in seconds from the Felsenweg cliff-top pathway to a magnificent viewing point and restaurant. From there I walked back to the resort through autumn forests and green meadows populated with pretty, be-belled cows.

The commissioning of the luxury residential villas, the palatial 678m2 royal suite which occupies the entire top floor of the Bürgenstock and the five-star superior Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence Centre is taking place in stages this year while the much-anticipated grand opening of the entire Bürgenstock Hotels and Resort Lake Lucerne is scheduled for spring 2018. By then, guests will be able to travel across the lake from Lucerne in just 30 minutes on a high-speed catamaran.

The dawning of a new Belle Époque for the much-loved Bürgenstock is nigh and the resort is oh-so eager to welcome another generation of Hepburns and Lorens. What new faces will adorn the walls of the Museum Corridor 50 years from now? 

Check in: Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort,CH-6363 Obbürgen
Ultimate Luxury:  The Royal Suite  
Most Indulgent Moment: Audrey Hepburn lived here for 14 years
Insider Secrets: We love the fact that there are sliding door that open on to balconies that let in fresh air - too many hotels are air conditioning only these days.
Junior Luxies: Not specifically catered for but welcomed. 
Dress code: Designer if you please!
Dent in the platinum:

Luxury Links: 

Burgenstock Hotels and Resorts www.buergenstock.ch
Switzerland Tourism www.MySwitzerland.com
Swiss Travel Pass www.MySwitzerland.com/rail
Swiss International Air Lines www.swiss.com/ch/en

 Justine Tyerman 10/11/17
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