The tired editor of SHM went to Belvedere for a “restart” – it is a hotel whose boss and owner has been recognized as one of the best in Switzerland in 2018.
My work schedule became completely unbearable at the end of last summer. There were business meetings, interviews and negotiations, and the phone was ringing all night. Three days was all the vacation I could afford for myself. I really wanted to spend this time in maximum peace and quiet and with a complete change of scene. That is why I chose the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the heart of Switzerland, a region that embodies the true spirit of this country. There was one other reason: one of the owners of the Belvedere hotel in the city of Scuol, Kurt Baumgartner, had been nominated as the best Swiss hotelier of 2018. Of course, I wanted to experience real Swiss hospitality.
Once on the train, I felt that thoughts about work which had been jumping around in my head began to calm down as I moved away from the city. You could observe emerald lawns through the window, scenes of suburban life… lambs, busily chewing grass, horses proudly tossing their heads, those famous Swiss cows, wandering with dignity. As a result, I entered another rhythmic state. The mountains were rising, the fir trees were becoming higher, spreading their thick branches… the snowy peaks of the mountains offered a majestic view, and daily worries suddenly seemed petty.
The village of Scuol was hidden in the mountains at an altitude of 1,250 meters above sea level. For a long time the train made its way through a tunnel in the depths of the Alps, then jumped out into the valley of the Lower Engadin. Scuol as a resort started off in the second half of the 19th century, when the mineral waters were recognised throughout Europe as valuable in the treatment of diseases of the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal tract and many other areas. The main local attraction is the mineral springs, which arose due to the unique topography: various geological layers lie in the mountain, giving rise to the healing waters. There are about twenty springs in Scuol, so the mineral water can be drunk from the fountains in the street as well as from the taps in the hotel. I intended to plunge into the thermal waters and wash off my burdens and worries.
For the convenience of guests, Kurt Baumgartner has made a serious financial investment in building a long corridor connecting the hotel and the spa complex of Engadin Bad Scuol. You can get to the thermal springs in your bathrobe without leaving the hotel. There is also a tasting room where you can taste mineral waters of different flavours and properties. There are several pools of different temperatures.
You can even swim from one spring to another… as I swam into the outdoor pool, massaged by thousands of bubbles and basking in the sun’s rays, gliding as it was over the snow-capped mountains and dark fir trees, time stopped for me. The anxious thoughts that had been tumbling about in my head disappeared.
The special atmosphere that reigns in Belvedere is worth noting: the owners, Julia and Kurt Baumgartner, the parents of four children, have created a friendly and comfortable environment. Their attitude is seen in the details – for example, in each room there is a bathrobe and slippers for visiting the thermal springs, as well as a comfortable backpack that can be used on walks. Frankly speaking, initially I had little intention of communicating with those around me. But pretty soon, I began to exchange impressions with the other guests. As a matter of interest, everyone can create their own program for their own tastes in the hotel. For example, a married couple who had come with their two daughters in the autumn family program had a choice of entertainment: the children can go to the stables then on a forest hike, to the bakery, and to a role-playing game based on German fairy tales, all in the space of five days… while their parents have the time to take a break in a spa or in a restaurant.
However, the restaurants are worth mentioning separately… The restaurant in the adjacent boutique hotel, GuardaVal, is called “Paschiun art culina rica alpine”, which means “Passion for Alpine cuisine”. And this really is the main passion of the chef, Rene Stoyer, who uses only products grown here in the Alps in his kitchen and who has created a whole philosophy based on this fact: “Our dishes are not just good and modern-looking – they are prepared in order to create physical and spiritual harmony”. The restaurant received 15 out of 20 points from Gault Millau. The hotel also has a family restaurant for children’s meals: Allegra, where there is a buffet, and where you can try the famous Scuol sweets – confectioners are the pride of the Lower Engadine. According to historians, the natives of this valley were pioneers who opened confectioneries in 891 European cities!
In Venice, the Engadine confectioners were even officially forbidden to work, as it was so difficult to surpass their famous sweets: for example, the local nut cake, for which every chef has his own unique recipe.
At first, I thought I would spend all three days in the thermal springs and restaurants. However – surprisingly – in the morning I felt a surge of energy and was ready for a small trip in the Alps. In this sense, there are many opportunities in Belvedere for skiing, hiking, and mountain walking. Kurt Baumgartner personally creates programs for outdoor activities, so a variety of leisure activities are provided. The Motta-Naluns-Ftan-Sent mountain ski area has around 80 km of various slopes, as well as a very beautiful 10km trail. There are trails for cross-country skiers, and there are ice rinks for figure skating fans. I went hiking, with the backpack, during which I discovered a new and unique pictures of nature, listened to the sounds of the mountains and forests, inhaled the frosty air, felt my muscles heat up, and finally realized that I felt great. Well, after such a day, there is nothing better than to plunge into a sauna. There are all types of baths and saunas at Engadin Bad and even a course of Roman-Irish bath rituals, developed by experts based on ancient rituals. This lasts 2 1/2 hours and leads to complete
It must be said that my days in Belvedere just flew by, but they turned out to be so intense that the memories are still vivid. A warm family atmosphere combined with the utmost professionalism created an amazing ambience in the hospitable home of the Baumgartners. The healing properties of the local waters had a miraculous effect – I returned home a completely different person.