Saturday, October 13, 2007

on a local holiday

I hardly ever take a "real holiday" my family tells me. But that must be the condition of most executives, as we are supported and encouraged by the blessings of mobile phones and Blackberry-type accessories in our usual paranoia about leaving something undone or missing a "wonderful opportunity".

Well, last weekend, my wife and I did take the opportunity to have a real holiday, just by ourselves. And as Switzerland is quite wonderful enough for us by itself, we don't need 7-star hotels to make it even more wonderful for us. We are as happy to take a tent or doss down in a youth hostel as we are with something better. But this time we decided to spoil ourselves a little and went to the wonderful Hotel Seeblick in Emmeten, near Lucerne.

If you have a smattering of German, you will know instantly that "Seeblick" means a "view of the lake" - and what a wonderful view one has of the Lake Lucerne from high in the alps: in the distance you can see Lucerne itself, and you are on the opposite side of the lake from what is called with "Swiss Riviera" with tropical plants, including figs and bananas, growing in the microclimate there. From the village of Emmetten itself, there are two cable car "lines" (as it were) taking you to two different parts of the surrounding Alps. During the summer (just ended) the hotel has tennis facilities for the use of hotel guests (free of charge), though you have to bring your own racquets and balls. The whole of the year, also without charge, you can play Billiards. If the weather outside is inhospitable for any reason, there is also a sauna, solarium, gym, a swimming pool and a German-language library - though I did find ONE book there in English. If the weather is fine, you can go Nordic Walking or (in the winter) snowshoe walking - or, in the summer, use the outdoor swimming pool with its indescribable views. If you want to really spoil yourself (and perhaps even be beautified in the process), there are massage, cosmetic, medical and related facilities for what I found to be reasonable market-related prices (though I don't have an excessive belief in beautification, so I'm afraid I did not indulge). Neither are we mountain bikers or Trampolinists (is that the right word?), so my wife and I couldn't enjoy those either, but the weather was wonderful, so we just wandered gently up the mountains and enjoyed the views and the brilliantly clear and clean air, stopping in one of the mountain huts for a glass of the local apple juice and buying some of the local mountain cheese.

We returned to our rooms (perfectly adequate but nothing to write home about) for a short rest before goingt to dinner - the food is excellent and the service is wonderful as the staff are attentive and friendly, and you feel that this is what the "old" Swizterland must have been like a hundred years ago when the world's elite came to Switzerland to experience real Swiss hospitality before Swiss people became (generally) too financially ambitious to work in hotels and restaurants, and the industry came to be staffed largely by foreigners.

By the way, the hotel has a very nice play area for children (outdoors as well as indoors).

There are also conference facilities for up to 350 participants, and Seeblick was chosen one of FOCUS magazine's "Top Ten Seminar Hotels in Switzerland".

Astonishingly, prices for single rooms start at 77 Euros (that's about 120 Swiss Francs), though single rooms with a view of the lake are 90 Euros. There are usual discounts for long stays and group rates and so on.

Sadly, the hotel's website is only in German at present (as far as I can make out) but if you ring, the staff seem all to speak English and there were lots of foreign guests at least when we were there. Sphere: Related Content

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