I was won over on the approach. As I took the boat ride across Lake Lucerne, I could see mountains for miles. I next hopped on a vintage funicular that climbed into the sky, bringing me to one of Switzerland’s most ambitious projects.
I had long heard about Bürgenstock, a mini-village that dates back to the 1870s, a place where Swiss society and boldface names like Audrey Hepburn would vacation in the 1950s. But I had to see it to grasp its sheer size and scope. The sprawling 148-acre property is made up of 30 disparate buildings. Some, including the chapel, are historic structures with that quintessential Alpine charm, while other, newer builds are more contemporary in style. The 102-room Bürgenstock Hotel is one of the newcomers, a modern building with plenty of muted limestone, oak, walnut, and quartz finishes, as well as magnificent floor-to-ceiling views of the water. My standard room featured an enormous sitting area with a brass fireplace, two bathrooms clad in Arana marble, and a sumptuous, lake-facing soaking tub.
This is just one of four hotels on the property. The Palace Hotel, built in 1903 and now impeccably restored, has a world-class art collection. The 12-room Taverne 1879 is an authentic Swiss guesthouse complete with antler-bedecked walls. And the recently opened Waldhotel rivals Lanserhof as one of Europe’s top medical spas, offering everything from nutritional counseling to cryotherapy. There’s also a 45,200-square-foot spa facility with a Finnish sauna and an ice room.
The resort has 12 restaurants, lounges, and bars, and over my four-night stay, I managed to try sashimi and dim sum at the excellent Spices Kitchen & Terrace, mezes at the light-filled Sharq Oriental, and an excellent foie gras terrine at RitzCoffier, the Bürgenstock’s nod to French fine dining.
But ultimately, it’s the great outdoors that beckon here, and the activities are limitless: gentle hikes along the cliff walk up to the Hammetschwand lift (reportedly Europe’s highest outdoor elevator), golf on the nine-hole course, and sailing in summer. Still, I found nothing was more beautiful or restorative than the lush Swiss countryside. Rooms from $650; buergenstock.ch.