All posts filed under: Travel

Swiss Heritage adds “Switzerland’s Loveliest Islands” to its collection of handy touring booklets

Think of Switzerland and what comes to mind are mountains, pastures and lakes, but islands? Not really. Yet Swiss Heritage’s latest addition to its “Switzerland’s Loveliest” brochure collection introduces 33 islands — both big and small, natural and man-made — that dot the country’s lakes and waterways and traverse national borders.

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Meet Céline Dreveton: Artisan, Entrepreneur and Creative Force behind the UNIcréa arts & crafts fair

From 3-6 November, 100 talented artisans from across Europe will gather at the magical Château de la Sarraz above Lausanne for the 22nd ed. of the UNIcréa Salon for Art, Fashion & Decor. This ‘must do’ biannual event attracted more than 6,000 arts and crafts lovers to its Spring edition at the Château de Morges last May, many of whom were returning clientele eager to enjoy four-days of original creations, fashion shows, children’s workshops, and a uniquely welcoming and upbeat atmosphere that celebrates artisanal craftsmanship at its best. The success of UNIcréa stems from one woman’s determined efforts starting eleven years ago to shine a flattering spotlight on artisans and their creations, which she felt were being underserved at the typical arts and crafts fairs of the day. With a business degree and ten years experience as an interior designer and a travelling artisan, French-born Céline Dreveton, 38, had the training and personal experience to bring together the necessary elements for success.

Parting shots of winter in the charming village of Zermatt

I loved Zermatt the first time I saw it during a one-day stopover almost 30 years ago. I continued to love it every year for ten years when my husband and I celebrated his birthday with a ski-week vacation every mid-January. We saw its fortunes rise and fall and rise again and with it the opening and closing and opening again of shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and luxury villas. The last few years, as foreign money rolled in, it was hard to view an unobstructed skyline free of construction cranes. It was worrying, but somehow through it all, the village maintained its charm and authenticity even as free green spaces were eaten up, prices climbed, and the slopes became more crowded (especially with the new ski lifts). So what would we find — or not, I wondered, after a five year absence devoted to the needs of a house and garden and two adorable cats that were unable to handle our absence for more than a few hours at a time. Good to be back — and reassured Happily, we found that many …

hotels in switzerland

Not your average B&Bs: Switzerland’s Loveliest Hotels at your fingertips

Just in time for the holidays a handy pocket guide has been published by the Swiss Heritage Society as part of its popular series of “Switzerland’s Loveliest…” booklets. This time the country’s most beautiful hotels are getting the star treatment. I love this collection of handy-to-carry A6-format paperbacks because they make it easy to discover off-the-beaten-track cafés, holiday homes, museums, swimming locales–and now hotels–of architectural significance, as well as parks, gardens and walking trails of outstanding beauty. The purchase of these booklets also supports the Society’s efforts to preserve the country’s important architectural landmarks. That’s something close to my heart. Out-of-the-ordinary hotels that are off-the-beaten path In actual fact, Switzerland’s Loveliest Hotels is now in its 4th edition and this latest update adds 27 new hotel discoveries and 13 B&Bs to the original list of 51 hotels featured in earlier issues. In making their selection, the Society chose hotels that take a “global cultural approach” that encompasses a distinct architectural style that reflects the region in which the establishment is found, a “convincing” management concept and a warm welcome. The layout and furnishings of the rooms are also given careful consideration. The Society isn’t looking to follow the trend …

Traveller’s tip: When in Lugano, Switzerland, remember to look up!

I have been longing to get back to Lugano in the southeast, Italian-speaking part of Switzerland since I last visited it about 23 years ago with my sister Virginia, who was visiting us at our home in Basel in northwest Switzerland for Christmas. It was only a 4-hour train journey each way, which was part of the fun. Lots of time to shoot the breeze, enjoy coffee and croissants, and watch the scenery and architecture change from German to French to Italian (always a revelation in such a small country). Oh those pesky Alps! Ironically, even though we’re now located further south, just outside Geneva, the train journey is six hours each way due to a little thing called the Alps getting in the way. (Flying is faster but you have to go via Zurich, and I just can’t be bothered with all the airport stress. Apparently, direct Geneva – Lugano flights start very soon.) Anyway, we like train travel…it’s a good way to relax, listen to music, or finally get to that book or …

Fancy holidaying in a former hay barn? Farmhouse or Alpine hut? If so, Swiss Heritage has you in mind

If this holiday season you’re interested in renting a home that offers something out of the ordinary then the Fondation Vacances au cœur du patrimoine (the foundation for holidays at the heart of heritage) may have just what you’re looking for. Founded in 2005 by the Swiss Heritage Society with one goal in mind — to purchase, renovate, and then rent as vacation homes endangered historic properties — the Foundation now boasts a list of 21 impressive buildings that are available to the public to rent. I love the look of the 200-year old “Scheune” barn at Beatenberg in canton Bern. You would never imagine that originally the upper floor served as a hay loft and cows were housed on the ground floor. It stood empty for 18 years and was in a state of collapse before being transformed into a sleek, spacious 2-person apartment in 2007. Its location makes it ideal for long walks in summer and autumn and for skiing in winter. I can just picture the fire place roaring and wine glasses clinking after a super day out on the ski slopes. Heritage with mod-cons included …