Live Like A Swiss Princess In Zürich
For the record, Switzerland does not have a royal family and is actually as close as you get to a direct democracy in this day and age. But these are just details. If there was a Swiss royal family, I imagine they would live in a modern castle like The Dolder Grand, with Warhol and Dalí paintings hanging casually on the wall.
Practice your royal wave on the wraparound balcony of a junior suite with panoramic views of Zürich, Lake Zürich and the Alps. When it’s time to venture out among your subjects in the city, there’s a complimentary hotel shuttle, or you can take the historic Dolderbahn, a steep railway that takes you direct to city center in just a few minutes. But with the enchanting Adlisberg forest as your backyard and a 4,000 square foot spa in the basement, it’s tempting to spend an entire weekend on property.
The Dolder Grand spa is among the most beautifully designed I’ve seen, by Sylvia Sepielli, with a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor pools and relaxation areas. Glowing columns offer a puff of either relaxing or revitalizing aromatherapy as you alternate between the sauna, showers, steam bath, sanarium and snow paradise room. Five Japanese Sunaburo loungers, tubs filled with warm pebbles, are a unique offering, meant to gently massage tired muscles. The spa was built 10 years ago, along with the spa and golf wings of the hotel, tripling the size of the historic property for a grand total of 175 rooms and suites.
Beginning in October, Switzerland’s own Dr. Pauline Burgener will debut her exclusive skincare line here alongside La Prairie and Amala. Burgener’s new Haute Couture line is only available in a handful of the top hotel spas globally, including the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown and Fairmont Grand Del Mar. With a PhD in biology, Burgener is known for merging the best natural ingredients, like Japanese green caviar algae, with the most effective biotechnology, like ultrasound infusion, for immediate results.
Haute Couture membership launched last year and Burgener already has 25 devotees, including Middle Eastern princesses and German CEOs. Membership costs $20,000 annually and includes 10 facials along with a quarterly skincare analysis performed at any of the 10 global locations that offer Haute Couture. The analysis measures a host of variables, including elasticity, pigmentation, sebum production, hydration, wrinkles and photo-aging. After each analysis, you’re sent a three-month personalized set of skincare products created to address your skin’s current condition.
“The purpose of putting this kind of treatment at a hotel spa is to give a holistic approach to skincare in a relaxing setting,” Burgener explains. By connecting the spa to the dermatologists back at her Lausanne headquarters, they’re able to come up with a comprehensive and customized skincare regimen tailored to each client’s lifestyle and skin concerns.
Coinciding with the Haute Couture spa launch in October, Burgener is also unveiling hotel amenities, her first time partnering with a hotel in this capacity. The shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion in every guest room will be by Dr. Burgener, with aromas of bitter orange and lavender.
Guest rooms are as thoughtfully designed as the spa, with luxurious touches like whirlpool bathtubs and jetted showers. Dark hardwood floors and paneling are a backdrop for simple elegance, with spacious walk-in closets and bright marble bathrooms. A new partnership with Handy allows guests to make free international calls to 28 countries with the bedside mobile phone, which also provides helpful hotel information and concierge recommendations.
When it’s time for dinner, choose between the terrace at Restuarant Saltz for light starters and grilled proteins or an extravagant tasting menu at The Restaurant. Chef Heiko Nieder has received two Michelin stars for his inventive flavor combinations and each September hosts international colleagues for a star-studded Epicure Festival. A collection of one-bite snacks arrives to begin, and you know you’re in for a treat. Proteins like hake and venison are cooked perfectly and plated like edible works of art with flourishes of sauce added tableside. Herbal accents play an important role, adding layers of flavor while keeping the food light. Tuna tartare with mustard seed granita and egg yolk was just one memorable bite from a recent summer menu and my favorite dessert was composed of apple savarin, amazake, crisp sunchoke and a quenelle of Thai basil sorbet.
Even after six or 10-course tasting menu with an array of extra treats and incredible sunflower seed bread, you won’t feel too weighed down. That is, unless you also consume a half dozen housemade chocolate bonbons after two desserts and mignardise like I may have recently. Who could possibly resist Swiss chocolate?