The Daily Telegraph recently published a list of the top 25 spa resorts in the world. Included in this list is the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland and, after a recent visit, we can wholeheartedly support its inclusion. However, the poor old DT could only provide a short paragraph and one picture, so we feel it’s our duty to give you a far more comprehensive, independent review. Grab a cup of cleansing herbal tea, align your chakras and read on.
The first thing to know is that the name is very misleading. It’s not a ‘Bad’ Ragaz at all. We have no idea what a Ragaz is, but the resort is a stupendous, magnificent and generally epic example of one. Employing over 700 people it’s more hamlet than hotel.
Many of these people are employed in the state of the art medical centre that is part of the complex. It’s the very epitome of smart Swiss health care and retains a wide selection of medical professionals to help enhance or correct most parts of the body or mind. There is also public access to a separate spa facility, with thermal pools, steam rooms, saunas and more.
Obviously, what a spa needs is a really good supply of water and the resort just happens to have exclusive use of a natural, thermal spring where warm, mineral rich water gushes out of the ground. In return for the use of this water the Resort has had to agree to be the ‘Guardian’ of the spring. It’s doing a great job too, as a brisk stroll up the hill to the source reveals. The former, rather grim, hospital has been restored as a visitor attraction and you can then walk safely into the mountain to see the point where the water gushes out of the ground at a very pleasant 36.5 degrees Celsius.
Once at the Resort the water is quickly put to good use. The spa complex is suitably vast, and very well equipped, but sadly we only had a fleeting visit so didn’t get chance to try all of it. However, what we did see was very impressive. There’s a large pool just for swimming/exercising and then a similar sized pool more suited to lounging around in the naturally warm mineral water.
For those wanting an authentic Nordic sauna experience there is the ‘No Clothes’ sauna or, for those of us with a little more reserve and with a little less of a gym body, a second sauna where you can retain your swimming costume (If you are hell bent on making it to the Nordic sauna there’s a large well-equipped gym where you can attempt to tone your body first). Of course, there are all manner of spa treatments available to ensure you end up feeling totally relaxed, or even energized, dependent on your preference.
However, there is only so much pummeling one can stand before needing a bit of fresh air. The Resort again has this by the bucket load, being situated in a picturesque bowl with mountains all around. Good, clean, fresh mountain air. You can either walk or take one of the electric bikes available from the hotel at a small charge. Slightly heavier than a normal bike due to a large battery pack, these modern wonders provide a little bit of extra oomph when needed, so you can laugh in the face of any inclines. You’re here for relaxation, not exercise, after all.
If walking or cycling all seems a little too much like hard work you could always have a word with the concierge as he may be able to lend you a Porsche for a few hours. Yes, a Porsche. A proper one. All you pay for is the fuel you use as you blat around the glorious countryside pretending to be a lot richer than you actually are. This is all thanks to the Resort’s brand partnership with Porsche and this useful agreement also results in a fleet of Porsche Cayennes (including the new hybrid) being used as transfer cars for guests arriving at the station or nearby airports. There is no extra charge for these transfers.
Exercise and mountain air inevitably makes you hungry and the resort has a range of restaurants for you to try (Six restaurants, a bistro and a café to be exact), including the prestigious new opening, “IGNIV by Andreas Caminada”. This new addition promises great things for lovers of the art of haute cuisine as his other restaurant has three Michelin stars. The remaining restaurants offer a mix of high-quality Asian, Mediterranean and an intriguingly titled Cuisine Équilibrée. However, after time in the mountains you may well fancy some authentic mountain food, so head for “Zollstube” where you’ll find hearty traditional Swiss meals and the resorts own beer, brewed on site using that thermal water. It’s well worth trying and is really very good (as you would expect).
For those of us used to hotels where you have to pay extra for everything it’s very refreshing to see large bowls of fresh fruit all over the hotel for guests to snack on as they walk from place to place. Also, in your room there is a Nespresso coffee machine with a limitless supply of capsules, free bottles of mineral water and more fruit.
There are actually three hotels as part of the resort, with a total of 267 rooms and suites. We stayed in the Grand Hotel Hof Ragaz and our Grand Deluxe room felt light and airy, helped by high ceilings and the fact that one wall was entirely glass. This looked out onto a private terrace and woodland beyond. Net curtains and/or drapes could be swished into place with the mere flick of a switch to ensure your stay in the large four poster bed was entirely private. There was also a writing desk that doubled up as one of the two minibars, and a separate seating area with large flat screen TV. The well-appointed bathroom was a pleasant mixture of marble and glass and contained a full size bath, two sinks, a large walk in shower and separate toilet. All in all, a very comfortable place to spend the night.
If you want to experience one of the best spa hotels in the world, head to Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland’s beautiful Heidiland region. It’s about an hour’s drive from Zurich Airport (104km) or let the train take the strain and use the excellent Swiss rail system. It takes just under 1.5 hours including one simple change at Zurich’s main station. Why waste money hiring a small Eurobox when you could be driving a Porsche?
Comfort rooms at Hotel Hof Ragaz, with spa access and buffet breakfast, cost from 380 Swiss Francs per night, although this fluctuates with dates and demand. For best results see the hotel’s website http://www.resortragaz.ch/en.html
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