What comes to mind when you think of Switzerland? Cheese, chocolate, or endless skiing on the Swiss Alps? For clients who have never traveled to the picturesque country, or thinking to return for a winter wonderland retreat this season, we highlight some recent tourism news straight from the source, the Switzerland Tourism Office. From new hotels to rail and ski packages, here are a few reasons why Switzerland should be a destination to visit as the temperature drops.
Luxury Hotel in Gstaad
Opening December, the 56-room Alpina Gstaad is the first luxury hotel to be built in Gstaad in 100 years. The property will feature three restaurants serving traditional Swiss, international, and Asian cuisines, a bar and lounge, wine tasting room, private cinema, cigar room, ballroom and meeting space. Alpina Gstaad also boasts a 21,500-sq.- ft. spa, outdoor swimming pool and fitness center.
Just in time for the winter ski season, over 100 hotels (from all price points) in Engadin St. Mortiz will be offering their slope-loving guests a Hotel Ski Pass. The pass is available for purchase if your clients book two nights or more at any participating hotel. With the ski pass, snow sport enthusiasts can enjoy 220 miles of perfectly groomed pistes, three snow parks, 57 mountain transport facilities and a choice of 34 mountain restaurants—and let’s not forget the miles and miles of magnificent scenery.
New and Improved
Chateau Gutsch in Lucerne was once a gourmet restaurant but is now being transformed into a luxury boutique hotel. Its existing 31 rooms will be reduced to just 20 guestrooms, and plans are in the works to build an additional structure with 40 rooms and suites, a spa and banquet facilities. The new and improved Chateau Gutsch is expected to open next year.
The 8-room Maya Guesthouse, located in the village of Nax, is the first accommodation in Switzerland built with straw bales and other natural materials such as wood, stone, clay and glass. Truly a commitment to sustainable tourism, the Maya recovers the excess heat from its wood stove to heat the water during the winter and uses solar energy to power the property during the summer. Each room has a toilet and shower, private entrance and a terrace with views of the Bernese Alps.
Your clients can enjoy the city of Zurich to its fullest if they purchase the ZurichCARD for approximately $20. Valid for either 24 or 72 hours, visitors using the card have access to free rides on trams, buses, trains, boats and cable cars in Zurich, as well as free admission to all museums, a 10 percent discount at select shops in the city, and a culinary surprise at participating restaurants. Good news travel agents, the ZurichCARD is 10 percent commissionable.
Swiss International Airlines (SWISS) is offering additional flight routes from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Zurich (ZRH). Starting Nov. 29, the new flight service adds an additional four flights a week until May 5, 2013. Also, from now through November on SWISS intercontinental flights departing from Switzerland and on select flights to Zurich, all first and business class passengers will get a taste of Swiss cuisine as part of the SWISS Taste of Switzerland award-winning in-flight culinary service.
From now to Nov. 30, the Swiss Travel System will be offering a 2 For 1 Swiss Pass for all first- and second-class passengers. The pass allows one person to travel for free on any of Switzerland’s public transportation routes that include rail, road or waterway. In addition, children up to 16 years old also travel for free. The Swiss Pass can be purchased at any SBB railway counter at the airport and at railway stations in Switzerland.
For more information about Switzerland, visit myswitzerland.com.