Wonder spa will have you feeling on top of the world
Many guests reach the Tschuggen Grand in Arosa after one of the world's more impressive rail journeys, in the bright red carriages of the Rhaetian Railway, heading into the heart of the Swiss Alps via winding tunnels and spectacular rail bridges over huge chasms.
The 80-year-old Grand, set beside emerald alpine meadows, keeps the visual extravaganza going, not least if you arrive in the evening to see the hotel's magnificent spa in all its floodlit splendour.
Entering the lobby to the most effusive of welcomes, you take the lift to your room. Each floor has its own colour scheme to create a harmonious effect which, especially after a long journey, helps you relax before you even enter your room.
Indeed, the Tschuggen Grand achieves the almost impossible by creating a mellow atmosphere within a constantly busy and bustling hotel where guests vary from keen outdoor types, eager to hit the local ski slopes and walking trails, to couples looking to chill out in the mountains, and even children dashing between playrooms.
The rooms were recently redesigned by renowned Swiss interior designer Carlo Rampazzi, famed for his creativity in colour, pattern and light, and they enjoy a restful feel that sits well with the impressive views of the mighty Grisons Alps. Combined with spacious bathrooms featuring local granite and slate, the ensemble encourages you to spend far too much time in self-indulgence and relaxation - unless, that is, your room looks out across the hotel's 'bergoase', or spa.
This is the centrepiece of the Tschuggen Grand, a 5,000 square metre oasis of pampering over four floors and designed by Switzerland's leading architect Mario Botta. The design is minimal, with local granite, light maple wood and glass being the only building materials used. The open plan nature of the spa means that guests on the fourth floor can see all the way down to the ground floor.
Among the raft of features are beautifully lit indoor and outdoor swimming, relaxation and hydro-massage pools, a large sauna (including a women only area), a steam room, 12 individually furnished treatment rooms featuring sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, and a state-of-the-art gym if the surrounding mountains are unable to provide you with a tough enough workout.
The bergoase offers a range of massages, the best of which is probably the 'Five in One' treatment for 230 Swiss francs (HK$2,220). This 75-minute pamperfest is a mixture of aroma oil, face, feet, Swedish and hot stone massages. For weary skiers and hikers, it's the perfect conclusion to a day in the mountains.
The Tschuggen Grand's location beneath the towering mountains that loom over Arosa means that, until recently, it has focused on alpine skiing - indeed, the hotel boasts its own private 'Tschuggen Express' monorail ski lift, which will have you up on the slopes in only two minutes. But summer is equally enticing and increasingly popular to visit if you're an outdoor type.
Easy walking trails lead from outside the hotel into the hills and mountains, while more adventurous guests have everything from mountain biking, strenuous day hikes, rock climbing and Nordic walking to test their stamina - and give them an excuse to head for the spa before dinner. And that's not forgetting the highest 18-hole golf course in Europe at an altitude of 2,000 metres.
You're also well catered for, with a choice of five restaurants when the mountain and spa action is over for the day. These vary from the elegant Grand Restaurant featuring contemporary international cuisine to the traditional, wood-panelled B?ndnerstube, which serves local specialities such as fondue and raclette (go on, you can indulge in all that melted cheese after a hard day on the hills) and, perhaps surprisingly for a country not noted for its wines, some rather fine locally produced Grisons.
Where and how
Tschuggen Grand Hotel
Tel: +41 81 378 99 99
Rooms cost from 225 Swiss francs (HK$2,069) to 1,585 Swiss francs
Flights to Zurich on Cathay Pacific start at HK$9,580 return