Traditionally, the Swiss Alps are famed for picturesque mountains full of adventurous thrill seekers catapulting down freshly powdered slopes. This image can however, often lead to the common misconception that once the winter ski season is over, the region falls dormant. In reality, for unfettered voyagers hoping to avoid the overloaded beaches of the Mediterranean, Swiss summertime sees the spotlight move from the slopes to the country’s greener pastures.
Evading the beaten track of established alpine resorts such as Zermatt and St Moritz, summer in the Alps brings focus to the awe-inspiring lifestyle destinations of Andermatt and Leukerbad; up and coming regions of the Alps, accessible from Zurich and Geneva airports respectively. Set to rival traditional skiing locations, Andermatt and Leukerbad are shaking up conventional notions of the Swiss Alps, posing impressive summer programmes in addition to their winter offerings. Ultimately, the bright sunshine, pure air, unspoiled landscapes and warm temperatures make the Swiss Alps an idyllic summer destination for all types of visitors.
The alpine village of Andermatt is undergoing a radical transformation from a once sleepy ski resort. This ambitious project is the undertaking of renowned resort creators Orascom Development Holding, and on completion will boast an unparalleled range of real estate. Including, serviced residences within the project’s inaugural hotel, bespoke chalets and luxury apartments. Opening later this year is the project’s inaugural hotel, the 5-star Chedi Andermatt, which is scheduled for completion December 6th. If you’re planning on returning again and again, then investing in your own home-from-home is worth considering. Keen to showcase the Swiss Alps during the summer season Andermatt is offering an impressive summer programme.
The region plays host to an array of possible adventure to make the most of the great outdoors. For group pursuits, guests can try gold panning on the Rhine, known as the ‘Swiss Grand Canyon’, armed with a gold washing pan, a hand shovel and knee boots or follow a 21st century treasure hunt with Geocaching clues along the scenic Gurschenalp trail. The more adventurous can abseil from one of the gondolas at Gemsstock-Gurschen whilst less intrepid travellers absorb the remarkable panoramic views with a sunrise cable car over the mountains. No trip to the Alps would be complete however without hitting a cycling trail. Whether you fancy a casual bike ride or something a little more extreme Andermatt enjoys an ardent cycling culture and this summer celebrates with a selection of five new cycling routes.
Alternatively, Lake Luterseeli lies an hour’s gentle walk from Andermatt. The secluded, beautifully situated, freshwater lake is an idyllic spot for a refreshing swim in the height of summer. For reward on arrival, visitors can picnic al fresco, making use of complementary firewood for barbecues beside the water. You’re never too far away from a lake or river in Switzerland. Nearby Lake Lucerne, nestled among the mountains, presents perfect waters for a variety of watersports including windsurfing, sailing, canoeing, rowing and stand-up paddle boarding. For those more accustomed to the ski slopes of the Alps, they can try wakeboarding or water skiing to challenge their skills on the water.
Leukerbad, the largest spa and wellness resort in the Alps, has a clear focus on both inner and outer wellbeing.
Hiking close to Leukerbad can vary from wild and exhilarating treks to gentle strolls amongst the quaint villages of the foothills. The hiking trails of the Gemmi Pass range from short walks to day-long excursions. Whilst all take in stunning scenery, the more experienced hiker will be rewarded with an exceptional view from the peak of the pass. For more leisurely forays into the surrounding landscape, designated horse riding trails can also be followed down into the Rhone Valley with a handful of traditional mountainside restaurants for refreshment en route.
Keen cyclists will also be in their element across this region with leisurely paths around the lakes and scenic cycle routes that wind across the rugged terrain. For more serious adrenaline seekers, Leukerbad is home to Switzerland’s longest via ferrata or climbing pass, featuring 216 metres of ladders and 2,000 metres of steel cable installed in the rock face of the majestic Dauberhorn. For a family excursion, 18 scenic bike routes take cyclists across the Torrent Pass and through the picturesque Rhone Valley.
If seeking respite from hectic day-to-day life, Leukerbad naturally comes highly recommended. Capitalising upon its continual source of thermal water flowing from the mountains, the spas of Leukerbad focus on holistic wellbeing whilst making the most of the natural surroundings.
Swiss Development Group, renowned for developing luxury properties throughout the country, is also setting the standard of wellness retreats in the region with 51˚ Spa Residences. Anticipated to welcome residents in 2015, 51˚ Spa Residences is a pioneering development offering an extraordinary lifestyle experience. Upon completion, owners of the twenty-eight luxury residences will be the first to have in-house access to the revered and nourishing water via private spas, whilst a wider but exclusive spa experience will be made available for residents and their guests to enjoy.
For a relaxing retreat, the Alps are an unparalleled spa destination, whist for those craving an active break, the glistening blue lakes, diverse terrain and snow-capped peaks play perfect host to adventurers on land and water. Ultimately, summer in the Alps really does give winter a serious run for its money when it comes to laid-back al-fresco living and adventurous pursuits. After all, life is more than a beach.