Swiss bliss. Editor Sophie Ritchie shares how to spend a scenic summer weekend in Villars-sur-Ollon near Lake Geneva
There’s a little bit of sorcery about Switzerland in summer. It’s a country of such natural beauty that everything feels a little enchanted – whether you’re gazing up at the voluptuous mountains, laying by the lakes or simply devouring a few squares of melt-in-the-mouth milk chocolate.
Perched at 1300m in the western Swiss Vaud Alps, just over two hours from Geneva airport, Villars-sur-Ollon is a resort village that embodies the very best of alpine life. Best known for its superb ski slopes, there’s still plenty to enjoy once the snow melts.
Combining stunning terrain with traditional cuisine and a plethora of outdoor activities, (whether that be hiking, biking or even electric scootering) here’s how to spend a luxury summer weekend in this pocket of Swiss paradise.
Where to Stay: Chalet RoyAlp Hôtel & Spa
Villars is full of chic hotels, but none quite as exclusive as Chalet RoyAlp Hôtel & Spa. Nestled towards the upper end of the village, this five-star property makes the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of high altitude adventuring.
The 63 rooms & suites (as well as 30 residences) have been designed to offer guests both comfort and serenity. Spaces blend traditional interiors with state-of-the-art facilities and luxury furnishings to create a haven of gourmet luxury.
Swipe your key and open the door for a waft of pine as you cross over the threshold. With smooth wooden flooring, baths the size of a three-piece sofa and mesmerising views across the mountain-filled skyline, there’s very little to critique at this lavishly relaxing property.
As well as its cozy rooms, guests can also try a number of different restaurants. Opt for fabulous fine dining at the Michelin-starred Le Jardin des Alpes, savour flavours of Swiss history at the traditional Le Rochegrise or simply knock back a few cocktails at the more casual Le Grizzly.
Served by a team of welcoming staff, breakfast is an equally delicious affair. Tuck into a buffet-style area brimming with fresh breads, fruits, cheeses, cereals, pastry and hot options needed for a busy day in the alps.
There’s little point in booking a room if you don’t pack a swimsuit – the on-site spa is both tranquil and beautiful.
With a spacious 1,200m2 to explore, don a robe and explore the six treatment rooms (we love the rejuvenating steam room and stylish lounge area with magazines and fresh fruit on tap).
Soothe tired legs with a massage – The Spa by RoyAlp offers an array of expert treatments with Cellcosmet, Biologique Recherche, Pure altitude, Aromatherapy Associates products. chaletroyalp.com
What to Do
1 Alpine activities
Adrenaline lovers, hold on to your helmets. There’s a number of ways to get your blood pumping in Villars-sur-Ollon, with plenty of mountain biking and hiking opportunities. Traverse over 300km of signposted footpaths – there’s even the option of hiring electric scooters for the truly brave.
Recommended route: Col de Bretaye via Lac des Chavonne and Col de la Croix
Take on a challenging but worthwhile trek starting at Col de Bretaye. A route that takes roughly four hours, don your hiking boots and get ready for an afternoon of gleaming lakes, views of Lake Geneva, roaming livestock and dreamy landscapes at every turn. Find out more here.
2 Glacier 3000
Swap the hikes for heights and head to the nearby Glacier 3000. A stunning Swiss glacier that boasts everything from dog sledding to skiing, make the most of the warmer summer temperatures and take on the glacier’s very own self-controlled roller coaster before winter rolls around.
With an otherworldly atmosphere, prepare to be mesmerised by the breathtaking panorama onto the Swiss Alps, as well as multiple dining opportunities. glacier3000.ch/en.
3 Sample the Swiss life
Embrace your inner Swiss and discover more about the area’s surrounding heritage and produce with a number of tours and classes.
Foodies can book visits to a nearby dairy farm in Col de la Croix to watch a bubbling cauldron of cheese be turned into artisan products. Alternatively, tempt a sweet tooth with a chocolate workshop at Laderach Chocolatier Suisse in the nearby town of Vevey.
Finally, get a fondue fix with dinner at restaurant Miroir d’Argentine, located about 15 minutes from Villars. Surrounded by the lush mountain pastures of Solalex in the Vaud Alps, this traditional eatery offers authentic cuisine (especially meat/poultry dishes) at the foot of the Miroir d’Argentine. Open until November, miroir-solalex.ch.
Make it happen
Nearest airport: Geneva. To find out more and start the adventure, please visit villars.ch.
Words by Sophie Ritchie, Editor.