Luxury Hotels

BURGENSTOCK – 1

There’s something about the longest day in the year, and yesterday’s memory will live forever. A pre-breakfast hike, listening to birdsong at BURGENSTOCK 1,266 metres ASL, above Lake Lucerne, was followed by yoghurt and strawberries out on a terrace with Stefan Leser (appointed three days ago as the equivalent of CEO of the Burgenstock Collective).  Just time to clean teeth and dash down to Burgenstock’s pulley funicular, 1888 and still going strong. It, the FUNicular, not Girlahead.

A four-minute funicular down through sky-high forest, straight into a waiting boat, two-deck, onboard WiFi, 15 minutes across a silk-smooth lake. Some Burgenstock team members actually go home this way. (Question, why are commutes generally-unrealised opportunities for employment attraction and retention? Those who join Google’s team at the Norman Foster-designed Google Park in Cupertino CA find complimentary Google-provided buses doing pickups up to two hours away, and onboard seating, with excellent WiFi of course, is up to any First Class airline par.)

So what IS Burgenstock? A 60-hectare paradise 500 metres above the lake.  Qatar bought it, and doubled that considerable spend with a nearly nine-year investment in infrastructure, roads and buildings and bringing what it already had up to 2022 trend-set. There are 383 bedrooms in 3 different hotels. Add residences to let – and residences to buy, soon, with already a long long wait list. There’s super accommodation for 300 of the over-800 team members needed to run what is in effect an urban metropolis atop a mountain. Come to visit, or to stay. Find hiking and biking, tennis and retail, a consecrated church and a ‘gigantic’ spa. Eat Asian, Persian, Swiss or universal Vitality, indoors or out. And so on.

Yesterday’s plan was actually to go off-campus for the morning. Fifteen minutes after leaving the Burgenstock dock the good ship Burgenstock arrived at Lucerne main boat station and it was under ten minutes’ walk, along the Covered Bridge and past rosy cheek female farmers selling pristine punnets of raspberries and strawberries.

The goal was Rosengart Collection Lucerne, taking up all three floors of the 1924-vintage National Bank Building.  The daughter of late gallerist Siegfried Rosengart, Angela Rosengart, 90, was not there – this working dynamo apparently had meetings in Berne – but a hilarious docent called Gabriella gave her take on the Mirós, dozens (sic) of Picassos and 125 works by former musician Paul Klee.

Then it was retreat of the weary, retracing boat and funicular. Time for another meal – oh gosh, it was still only lunchtime. Immediately after lunch, Burgenstock boss Christian Sack, a never-give-up creator from Salzburg, had arranged cheese-making with one of the resorts’ 50-plus local suppliers with whom Culinary Director Mike Wehrle personally liaises on a near-daily basis.

Rosy-cheeked cheese maker Christian Moser, in shorts and leather apron and ankle boots, had brought along all necessary supplies, including 16 litres of fresh cow’s milk already whatever-ing in a copper caldron with rennet etc. We broke the curds repeatedly until the temperature heated up to 48° – see image above, and video below – and turned it into a cheese cloth and then a mould, to mature, with daily turning, for six months (Moser’s brand is Jumi, this new cheese is a Mary, and if you are offered it in London’s Borough Market or an Islington stockist, remember it was partly made by a girl with dayglo green thumbs and gold fingers).

After that, it was time to recover in a Burgenstock Alpine Spa suite, relaxing in a scented steam room, humidity 100%, then a dry sauna, looking out at the mountains, and a soak in the jacuzzi. And there was to be another soak later, a torrential downpour as we sat out on a terrace admiring, pre-tasting, the giant sashimi and sushi platter Miss Japan had brought out personally. Obviously paradise is perfection punctuated by surprises….. more, much more, to come.