From peak to peak to palm trees
What could top taking in panoramic views of 24 snow-capped mountain peaks, including one of Switzerland’s most famed summits – the Matterhorn? Arriving in a helicopter, perhaps?
These are all possibilities that await at Glacier 3000 in Les Diablerets, just one hour from the palm tree-lined lakeside promenade in Montreux. Aptly named for its location at an altitude of 3,000 metres, Glacier 3000 can be found at the highest point of the Vaudois Alps.
Describing it as the Jungfrau of the Lake Geneva Region, Félicien Rey-Bellet, sales manager for Glacier 3000, told Travel Courier that in addition to 25 km of ski and snowboard runs, the site is home to the world’s highest alpine coaster – offering visitors sweeping views as they whiz around the track – and a peak walk that’s said to be the only suspension bridge between two mountain peaks. For those interested in sending their clients on these adventures, special rates are available for agencies or operators.
Jürg Schmid, CEO of Switzerland Tourism, believes one of the perks of visiting the country is its compact size, making it easy for travellers to experience a variety of landscapes without having to travel far, a point which is embodied in the Lake Geneva Region, also known as the canton of Vaud.
“People want to experience, they want to learn, to discover and not just rush through cultures, and obviously Switzerland with its nature, mountains, and with the fact that it’s all very close together, in one hour, you can go from palm trees to glaciers,” he says. “And you really are in 1 to 1.5 hours from the peak of a mountain to the next city where you can enjoy an art exhibition.”
By the numbers, the region is proving popular among Canadians, with an increase of 7.7% noted in overnights for the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period last year.
“More than anything, it is the savoir vivre of the Lake Geneva Region which accounts for its attractiveness,” says Caroline Eggenschwiler of the Lake Geneva Tourist Office. “A myriad of activities are offered, from local and international events to open-air sports activities, the regional expertise, the typical and renowned high-level gastronomy, the excellent wines, and the living traditions.”
Although the Lake Geneva Region is often packaged with other areas, there’s certainly enough to do to warrant an entire vacation. Here are just a few ideas, beyond visiting Glacier 3000…
Chill at Chillon
This medieval fortress on the banks of Lake Geneva is the most visited monument in Switzerland. Though there is a train station nearby, those staying in Montreux can easily take a stroll along the lakeside to arrive at Chillon Castle – all the while admiring the view or taking photos from different vantage points with the Dents du Midi mountains in the background. Many writers and artists were inspired by the castle, including Lord Byron, the author of the well-known poem The Prisoner of Chillon. Tours of the premise are available or the Chillon Castle can be rented for events.
Dig into Gruyères
For clients seeking a charming medieval town, Gruyères is a perfect option. Located at the top of a hill overlooking the Saane valley, here visitors will be able to pose with one of the photospots on the Grand Tour of Switzerland – a large red frame ideal for social media posts – set up in front of the castle. As Gruyères gave its name to the cheese, one would be remiss not to try some during their stay.
Wine time in Lavoux
Another way to get a taste for the region is by visiting (and sampling) the historic vineyards in Lavoux, which have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hillside Lavaux Vineyard Terraces make up the largest contiguous vineyard region in Switzerland.
Museums for all
Even those who don’t have a penchant for museums, may just find a museum they like in the area, ranging from food to photography.
Fans of Charlie Chaplin or cinema may want to spend time at Chaplin’s World, where sets come to life in an interactive Hollywood-style studio, and visitors can discover more about the man behind the movies by touring his former home, the Manoir.
Athletes and sports aficionados can learn about the history of the Olympics and take in over 1,500 exhibits ranging from torches from previous games to displays with gear worn by athletes across participating nations. The Olympic Museum, which also has temporary displays, is located in Lausanne, home of the IOC (International Olympic Committee). Outside of the museum, the city is full of many things for clients to do, including a visit to the old city, complete with a 13th-century Gothic cathedral.
One of the most renowned chocolate brands in Switzerland is Cailler, and chocoholics can definitely get their share of samples during a visit to Maison Cailler. This is also a good option for families, since the interactive chocolate experience is hands-on. Visitors learn about the history of chocolate and see how chocolate treats are made on-site, and can even create their own chocolate bar. The head chocolatier is Geraldine Maras, who earned the title World Chocolate Master in 2015.
While in Montreux, music lovers and Freddie Mercury fans can visit Queen: The Studio Experience Montreux Exhibition, in the Montreux Mountain Studios at Casino Barrière Montreux, where the band created many of their biggest albums.
There’s even the Alimentarium Food Museum in Vevey, which doesn’t even require visitors to go inside, as one of its main attractions is an eight-metre high giant fork in the water along the promenade.
The Lake Geneva Tourist Office provides agents with a few more reasons clients should visit:
Easy access: Located in the heart of Europe, the region is served by Geneva international airport, which is only a 40-minute train ride away from Lausanne.
Unique way of life: eight wine appellations and fine dining restaurants recommended by the best gastronomic guides make it a must-visit destination.
Exceptional landscapes: Lakes, cities, Alps, Jura, vineyards, countryside – the diversity of Switzerland packed into limited territory.
Efficient public transit: From Lausanne, all the regions are easily accessible in less than an hour by train, boat, bus, cableway, and other modes of transport.
High-quality infrastructure: Luxury establishments, historic hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs – the region offers all types of accommodation and boasts a long tradition of hospitality.
Wellness centres: Two thermal springs and several spas in the top hotels offer a range of facilities to rest and relax.
Historic heritage: Artisans keeping their know-how alive along with important historic sites – the region has a rich history that can be discovered through a host of activities.
Architecture and design: Many architects have contributed to world-renowned buildings.
A range of cultural attractions: Museums of art, history and design, theatre, dance and music festivals – an eclectic program provides something for everyone.
Staying active: The varied landscape with its many signed paths and trails for hikers, cyclists and mountain bikers offers sports activities for every level.