Stylist’s executive fashion director Kitty McGee checks in to the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz for an alternative summer weekend away that soothes body, mind and soul
I have a weekly urge to book a weekend away. I’m always surprised at how quickly I de-stress, returning refreshed after just two days. In summer, the classic European weekend away involves sand and sea, but it’s impossible to ignore the growing number of celebrities who are turning their backs on the beach and heading for the hills instead. And, more specifically, a smattering of luxe Alpine spas that offer the sort of luxury, peace and wellness programmes you just can’t find in Croatia.
So when I found myself exhausted, sleepless and not exactly firing on all cylinders, I opted for a weekend at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland, overlooking the mineral-rich waters of the Tamina Gorge. Outside of ski season, Switzerland is a serene and beautiful destination, and I spend the hour-long rail journey from Zurich Airport (just a 90-minute hop from London) marvelling at rolling countryside and vineyards set against an Alpine backdrop.
The grande dame of European medi-spas, this vast complex boasts 10 spring water-filled pools, three sauna and steambath zones, Asian-inspired treatment suites and a private spa. Now in its 176th year, the Bad Ragaz straddles old and new, luxury hotel and medical clinic, indulgence and wellness; a traditional grand palace hotel with an unparalleled medical and rehabilitation centre (local boy Roger Federer is a regular). Bedrooms are either older and quaintly charming affairs or contemporary spa suites, with minimalist decor, floor-to-ceiling windows and mid-century modern furniture.
There’s nothing quite like it in the UK – and that makes the spa’s new Sleep Diagnostics Programme a major draw. I’ve suffered from bouts of sleeplessness for years, so during my two-night stay I’m poked, prodded, measured and monitored, spending a night hooked up to various machines to get a 360-degree view of my sleep patterns. I emerge, finally, with an understanding of my issues and practical techniques to tackle them.
Despite the serious medical pedigree, the Bad Ragaz still feels like a luxurious Alpine hotel, making it ideal for those who want a wellness retreat that resembles a holiday. Beyond the spa there’s biking, yoga, tennis courts and amazing restaurants. Restaurant Namun fuses Thai and Chinese cuisine, and utterly delicious cocktails in a low-key setting; whereas the seriously fancy Igniv is helmed by triple-Michelin-starred chef Andreas Caminada.
If you want to get involved in the scenery there are plenty of breathtaking local hiking routes (Swiss author Johanna Spyri was inspired to write Heidi, while staying here), nearby wine growing region Bündner Herrschaft hosts tastings, walks and tours, plus there’s direct access to cable cars taking you up to area of Pizol (2,222 metres) to ski or snowboard.
Switzerland sure isn’t cheap, but the Bad Ragaz has won over a new generation of devotees, including myself, and served only to intensify that urge for a weekend away.
Rooms at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz start at £290 per person, per night (resortragaz.ch); the three-day all-inclusive Sleep Diagnostics Programme costs £3,490 per person; Swissair flies to Zurich from a number of UK airports, from £91