Sometimes a find is so exciting you just want to return. The gal felt that about the Olympic Park in Ouchy, down by the lake at the south of Lausanne. Having taken a hike up the steep incline that actually IS Lausanne (a city for the ultra-fit, at all times) she wanted to go back to that supposed world home of toned muscles, home of the International Olympics Committee.
This time she started off by putting her face through a hole in a cut-out of an Olympic athlete of former times. At London’s last Olympics, back in 1948, the UK team had to make its own uniforms, stitching a sign on to your-own white t-shirt worn with your-own black shorts. And bring your own starting block, or do without.
As I looked back down at Lac Leman I thought, those were the days. Come forward to 2012 and the Olympics have become fashion-centre after Milan. Team Italy’s uniforms are Armani, and stylishly under-stated, basically navy and white, with a bomber-type navy jacket that would make me switch nationalities and even practise for the weightlifting event.
Azerbaijan’s gear is also Italian, by Ermanno Servino (who he?). Spain has ignominiously been bailed out again – the Russian fashion company Bosco is clothing its athletes. Jeff Banks (still alive?) is dressing Belize. The UK high street chain Next is doing the UK’s opening and closing parades’ outfits, although anyone would think Stella McCartney, as a fashion designer, is the UK’s overall creative director.
Let us be accurate. She is the sportswear consultant for Adidas, which, as a main sponsor, is providing the actual performing costumes for the UK team, so obviously she, paid by Adidas, is doing that, and just that – and it is horrid.
Not quite as horrid as what the well-meaning British stewards have been given to wear by LOCOG, the London Organising Committee Olympic Games. Some of them were self-consciously loitering around Heathrow a couple of days ago, looking as if they wanted to hide.
I would too, if forced to wear fit-anyone cheap black trousers topped by a dull-raspberry and dull-strawberry solid-block fit-anyone top that makes Walmart’s best look like Milan. Enough criticism, let us get back to style.
From the Olympic Park it is a five-minute hike (through a gate if you know the code) to Beau-Rivage Palace. Opposite the north-facing front entrance of this elegant 1861-vintage building is the most gracious statue imaginable. Pure white, and lovely.
Go in through the metal and gold entrance, up four steps into the marbled and chandeliered lobby and there is a central flower display, again pure white and lovely. This is classicism at its timeless best. But the owners of the 169-room Leading property, the pharmaceutical Sandoz family, know how to spend to keep ahead of the times.
At the rear of the lobby, at the Anne-Sophie Pic at the Beau-Rivage Palace (two Michelin stars), turn right and, after 30 yards, opposite the shiny-wood boutique, take the elevator down, not to the bowels but to modern fitness. You emerge to, take a deep breath and let it out slowly, the ten-room Cinq Mondes spa.
This cost $12 million to construct, to a design by Maurizio Papiri, and it is gorgeous (funnily enough the silver-coloured walls are complemented, rather than destroyed, by hints of dull-raspberry and dull-strawberry solid-block, which here work, magnificently – LOCOG take note).
One of the 26 therapists, Emilie, in full length dull-raspberry culottes topped by a couture white blouse, took me through for an 80-minute Polynesian experience. After a coconut and sugar body scrub, and a coconut and orange massage, I felt thoroughly cleansed, but so glad I was here in stress-free Switzerland rather than tentative (like how long does it take for lunch actually to arrive?) Tahiti. I went past the LifeFitness gym, and the big indoor pool, and out to the outdoor pool.
Lunch here arrived with lightning speed, at the Terrasse. What an idyllic spot, at one end of the pool. I was with Stéphane Reumont, a Frenchman who fell in love with the Swiss way of life eight years ago and has never left (well, he has three kids under eight to keep him grounded).
He has even given up golf as he is too busy. His maximise-every-moment career has taken in a history of art degree, tour guiding and tourism management, and golf management. Now he not only manages the spa here but also oversees quality for the entire Palace complex – and he has a thriving spa retail side, too.
A luxury hotel is all about detail, he says, pouring his gazpacho out of a glass teapot as I exclaimed about the taste of the burrata in a glass vacuum bowl.
When he arrived here he concentrated on details, and now the majority of his business comes from locals (one man is in regularly four times a week). His regular males, incidentally, are more loyal than the ladies, who do return regularly but also go to try the competition.
This was a colourful meal, with lots of talk about spa trends and fitness generally – and thankfully the menu makes no mention of such offputting words as heart-food, life-cuisine, lifestyle, vitesse or anything like that.
With time pressing, the meal came to an abrupt end. Rushing past the all-white flowers, the all-white statue and some bright-coloured flowers in the public beds outside (this is pristine Switzerland remember), the gal went on her way.