For thousands of years, humankind has recounted the tale of The Fountain of Youth, which is told to have magical restorative powers to grant eternal youth, yet was never found. However, in Switzerland, there is a place with thermal waters that have welcomed worn-out and weary bodies for over 200 years. Today it is a well-being sanctuary for those seeking physical healing, such as restoring sore muscles and treating irritable skin conditions like eczema. Tucked away within a quaint village in the Swiss Alps, one will find the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.
The resort has a well-deserved reputation as the place to visit for indulgent self-care. Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is the largest in Europe, compromising of three hotels, state-of-the-art wellness, medical facilities galore, and endless active pursuits. Beyond the hotel and wellness centers, there is a full-service casino, world-class golf courses, and, for the gourmand, seven restaurants: three of which have been awarded Michelin stars.
The natural beauty of the Bad Ragaz Area
The location is ideal for anyone who seeks restoration and renewal. Set amongst the backdrop of the Swiss Alps, expansive vineyards, and the Rhine River, the fresh mountain air is perfect for brisk walks or a bicycle ride through the nearby wine region. However, Bad Ragaz is much more than a hotel; the area features a campus comprising of interconnecting buildings, which include spas, restaurants, bars, and medicinal facilities. Throughout the complex, gorgeous sculptures and art pieces proliferate the outdoors; these larger-than-life creations dot the leafy parks for visitors to admire. One can undertake leisurely walks or sit to gaze at the snowcapped mountains in the distance.
The beauty of the area cannot be overstated, as the mountains and pristine rivers have a profoundly positive effect on all who visit. In fact, the mountain scenery of this area is the inspiration behind the children’s novel Heidi by Johanna Spyri, who authored the book in 1879 after a visit to Bad Ragaz spa. It is easy to see why she created her fiction about the young heroine who refused to return to the dirty city after a sojourn in the mountains of eastern Switzerland.
The town of Bad Ragaz and the resort is based on the restorative effects of the nearby thermal spring, which hunters discovered in 1242. Yet, years later, wooden channels were created to direct the water into Europe’s first indoor thermal pool in 1872 in the Quellenhof Hotel.
Healing Waters of the Tamina Gorge
Many refer to these magical waters as “Blue Gold”, due to their proven qualities to soothe and heal. Siphoned into the resort from the Tamina Gorge located a few miles away, the nutritious water is known to be beneficial for one’s digestive system. Hence why guests are drinking water from fountains throughout the property. The water is kept at 96 degrees, an optimum temperature to trigger positive reactions throughout the body, from reducing muscle tension, improving the skin, relaxing the joints, alleviating spine pain, stimulating metabolism, and even boosting hormones.
Switzerland’s Wellness Oasis
Bad Ragaz Resort proves a step beyond a place for deep tissue massages, mani-pedis, or a soak in the hot tub. There are 70 doctors and therapists in the complex with designated areas based on guests’ needs. A state-of-the-art medical center provides services ranging from plastic surgery and dental implants to sports therapy and traditional Chinese medicine. Beyond its clinical services, this remains the largest spa in Europe, with day guests from around the region visiting the open-to-the-public wellness center, and an exclusive area reserved for hotel guests.
The Tamina Therme provides a wide range of thermal bath and spa areas. There are ten thermal spring-fed pools of various temperatures, with indoor and outdoor options. Yet none is more stunning than the outdoor pool with a striking granite monolith at its center, where guests are carried around by a steady undercurrent, while others may settle for a massage under the water jets. Steam and saunas are part of the experience: this includes their latest addition, Ragaz Sauna Village. The saunas provide mineral-rich, salt-infused waters, boosting an already refined experience by offering a swimsuit and an ‘au natural’ option.
Helenabad Thermal Spa
The Bad Ragaz provides its most indulgent spa experience at the Helenabad Thermal Spa. The spa is a tribute to Helen of Troy and is designed with beauty at every turn, drawing inspiration from supposedly the most beautiful woman in Greek mythology. Its most stunning feature is the 19th-century baroque pool, adorned with marble columns, ceilings with hand-painted frescoes, and lavish areas to drift off into oblivion. With a constant flow of thermal spring water fed from the Tamina Gorge, guests relieve tension beneath waterfalls, massage jets, whirlpools, and alcoves.
There are several spa and wellness areas in the 65,000-square-foot facility, including a gym, sports pool, and an outdoor pool where guests can view the Alpine mountains in between laps. Sauna World is a special zone with whirlpools and wet rooms. A vast array of saunas comprises the Finnish sauna, steam and sauna baths, and samarium. One of its most unique features is the Kneipp zone, with waters ranging from warm to downright frigid temperatures, where guests tread over stones to stimulate their feet and ankles to promote circulation.
Indeed, this is a spa with a comprehensive panoply of treatments ranging from the traditional to the avant-garde. Guests can also receive a range of Swiss holistic skincare treatments by La Prairie, SwissCellSpa, Niance, or machine-based treatments by Caviarlieri. Their menu of massages is extensive and created to provide healing for several issues. One of their signature treatments is the Tamina Flow massage. The massage is not only relaxing but also healing, with swift and smooth movements that help relieve muscle tension. The treatment is a combination of Thai massage and sports massage techniques and lasts for 75 blissful minutes.
At the heart of Bad Ragaz, it is all about helping guests in their pursuit of wellness. Services range from time in the public pool to fitness workouts or more serious medical treatments. The NEWYOU Method® seeks to get to the root cause of health issues and to prescribe lifestyle choices to help guide guests to wellness. The program includes six lifestyle elements created to transform the mind, body, and spirit. The guests focus on a range of experiences to promote long-term improvement: from physical activities to exercises promoting mental wellbeing, with a focus on good nutrition and immersing themselves in the natural world.
Sublime Suites at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
There are several hotels within the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz complex. The aptly named Palais is the original hotel, with rooms retaining a regal décor accented with rich parquet floors, period furnishings and clawfoot tubs. Hotel Ragaz is one of the two five-star properties and is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. The complex offers a range of accommodations from comfort to family-sized suites. Natural tones and muted colors are to be expected in this property.
The Hotel Quellenhof Spa Suites are sure to impress even the most affluent traveler with its elegant design features and amenities. There is no other way to describe these accommodations other than opulent and lavish. The suites were designed for nothing short of a well-being oasis with modern décor, calming neutral hues, soft leather sofas, and a spacious balcony for fresh air and views over the park or mountains. The most distinctive feature is the installation of thermal water into all the suites, providing rejuvenation whilst soaking, showering, or drinking. They’ve left no stone unturned to create a sophisticated space for self-care and an emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle.
The Hotel Quellenhof has been renovated often during its 150-year history and continues to set the benchmark for the highest standard of luxury hospitality. Once inside, a guest will look up and see a shower of starlight in the form of 2500 blue, white, and clear glass bulbs cascading past the winding staircase. Beyond, luring a legion of selfie-mad seekers, its purpose is to remind us that this hotel and its services return to one thing: the magical waters of Tamina Gorge.
The Spa Suites take up an entire wing of the hotel that is only accessible to guests. Those who enter the wing will discover a tall lobby with a minimalist design featuring white walls, sleek furnishings, and colorful artwork from Switzerland’s most talented contemporary artists. In the lobby lies a rare and unusual feature: a water bar serving 30 varying types of water from brands worldwide, such as the detoxifying, charcoal-infused powerhouse known as Beneva Black Water. As if that is not enough, they have a dedicated water sommelier, a certified expert on the hotel’s expansive water collection, to explain each water’s health benefits.
Culinary Pleasures at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
Even if the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz was not renowned for being one of the best spas in Europe, it would still have a reputation as one of the top dining destinations in Switzerland, and with good reason. The resort is home to 11 restaurants offering a range of dining options, from Michelin-starred cuisine to casual sushi.
The resort boasts of three restaurants with a sum of five Michelin stars, proving a nirvana for the enthusiastic gourmand. Sven Wassmer is known for his take on Haute Swiss Alpine cuisine, focusing on innovation and seasonal produce. Wassmer has a penchant for linking cuisine to nature, a practice you’ll find at his two Michelin-star restaurants Memories. His second offering is healthy cuisine focusing on sustainability and fair-trade ingredients at Verve by Sven, a restaurant that confers a Michelin star of its own.
Yet, one dining option is nothing short of legendary. Andreas Caminada is the rock star of fine dining in Switzerland and happens to be the youngest Three-Michelin-Star chef in Europe. IGNIV is his outpost at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz that has been awarded two Michelin stars. The focal point lies in experiential dining on shared plates, with up to 30 different dishes is nothing less than a culinary extravaganza.
For cuisine slightly more casual yet equally authentic, Zollstube is an excellent option for traditional Swiss dining. The décor resembles a Swiss chalet with wood-paneled walls and red and white plaid fabrics. The menu offers national favorites from fondues to Rösti and 15 craft beers.
Around the resort, there are also plenty of lounges and bars to bend an elbow. For the gin lover, their Golden Wave Bar has the unique distinction of having one of the largest arrays of gin in Europe. One can indulge in their selection of 140 gins for a beyond-the-gin-and-tonic experience. The bar’s ’gin sommelier’ is an expert in the juniper spirit and takes guests through their offerings that vary in taste, ingredients, and strength.
The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is a destination resort with an exhaustive list of options for the active traveler. Superb hiking trails and horse riding are available activities to pursue during your stay. The region is ideal with its stunning scenery and sprawling vineyards suitable for biking, as complimentary bikes are available for guests. The outdoor action doesn’t cease in the winter either: skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding are all within reach.
For the golfer, the resort offers one of the top 18-hole championship courses in Switzerland, with a 9-hole executive course and Golf Academy. Beyond golf, the Tennis Club Bad Ragaz offers five clay courses, indoor and outdoor courts, and badminton.
The Grand Resort at Bad Ragaz is one of those resorts that get everything right. From their top-notch wellness facilities and luxe accommodations to world-class dining will send a traveler soaring for the heavens.