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LUXURY BY THE LAKE

Lucerne in central Switzerland offers picturesque views and luxurious experiences

Lucerne, the gateway to central Switzerland, is embedded in an impressive mountainous panorama. Situated at Lake Lucerne, it is within easy reach of the Rigi, Pilatus and Stanserhorn mountains. A haven for nature lovers, the city is a luxury hideaway that welcomes visitors with its spectacular views and tranquil surroundings. I had the opportunity to visit this picturesque city in mid-September at the invitation of Lucerne Tourism. Arriving in the city, it is hard not to be amazed at every turn at how beautiful it is and how it blends history with culture, art and nature.

Lucerne is a city of town squares and churches. A landmark of the town is the Museggmauer, a wall which, with the exception only of one of its towers, has been preserved in its original, well-fortified state.

Tradition and modernity stand side-by-side with ease in Lucerne, as the town has also earned a reputation for itself with innovative design. The futuristic Culture and Convention Centre, designed by leading French architect Jean Nouvel, is one the architectural highlights of the town. It is also a landmark of “Lucerne: Festival City” and venue for a wide variety of cultural events throughout the year.

Lucerne is the ideal starting point for many excursions to the highlights of central Switzerland. A trip up one of Lucerne’s regional mountains, the Pilatus or the Rigi – the queen of mountains – is a must. Excursions up onto the Stanserhorn, the Bürgenstock or a steamship cruise on Lake Lucerne with its many bends and arms are certainly recommended. The Gotthard Panorama Express originates in Lucerne and ferries its passengers to the foot of the Gotthard pass via Lake Lucerne and then continues by rail into Ticino, south of the Alpine ridge. The “cherry road” leads from Lucerne through the landscape of cheery trees and kirsch.

One of the interesting things to do is to take a lunch cruise, which is run by the boat cruise company Vierwaldstättersee. On the relaxing boat trip one can enjoy an à la carte menu. There are also seasonal meat, fish and vegetarian specialty dishes. The delicious dessert of the day is the icing on the cake and is the perfect way to end one’s lunch on the water.

For a luxury stay, consider the Hotel Villa Honegg. Warm shades of colour, precious wood flooring and lush leather, velvet and brocade materials meet the eye and bewitch the senses as soon as one enters. Villa Honegg is an opulent piece of artistry to delight all the senses — managed personally with passion and charm.

The following day I visited the newly opened Luxury resort the Bürgenstock Resort. Comprising two luxury hotels, Waldhotel - healthy living, a medical wellness centre, Residence suites, business facitlieis and the peerless 10,000 sq Bürgenstock Alpine Spa, all set against a breathtaking mountain landscape.

From here one can visit Mount Pilatus with the steepest cogwheel railway of the world. The wold’s steepest cog railway starts its climb at Alpnachstad and tackles a maximum gradient of 48 per cent, thereby passing forests, meadows and rock faces.

A visit to Bucherer, a leading jewellery and Swiss watch boutique that offers exquisite watch brands and stunning jewellery pieces is ideal for those seeking a quintessential Swiss experience. Indeed, opulence is at its best, too, at the Grand National Hotel Lucerne, Gold-trimmed walls, imposing chandeliers and a wealth of space for socialising are part of the Grand Hotel National Lucerne.

One of the highlights here is the Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne where I had lunch at Restaurant Galerie. This 5-star culture with personal charm and nostalgic luxury is situated directly on Lake Lucerne with spectacular views of the lake, mountain and city. Swiss and Mediterranean cuisine are offered here as is live music.

Arguably the best experience was at Mount Titlis where one can touch everlasting snow. Even the excursion up to the mountain is an absolute treat. The new gondola TITLIS Xpress leads up to the intermediate station. The TITLIS Rotair, the World’s first revolving aerial cableway, continues all the way to the top. At the summit of the 3000-metre mountain, a breathtaking panorama as well as other highlights await such as restaruants and terraces, the Glacier Cave, the “Titlis Cliff Walk” which is Europe’s highest suspension footbridge and of course eternal snow and ice. The “Ice Flyer” on the glacier chairlift lets vistors literally fly over the Titlis glacier to the Glacier Park, a free attraction.

One of the notable places to stay is the Park Hotel Vitznau, where one can bask in superlative luxury. With over six wine cellars, 2 Michelin starred restaurants and 18 Gault Millau point eateries, one will spoiled for choice. A stunning jewel on the shores of the lake, the hotel is the perfect blend of nostalgia and contemprary, a tranquil oasis for peace and relaxation.

Indeed a trip to Lucerne is the perfect getaway and will leave one feeling refreshed and relaxed – and a bit spoiled after a world-class luxurious experience.

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