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Bürgenstock Resort review: Escape to the Alps for a world-class tennis holiday

With its dramatic tennis courts, destination spa and magnificent mountainside setting, the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne offers the complete sport and wellness package

The Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne in Switzerland is home to the most beautiful state-of-the-art tennis courts in the world. Offering glorious Alpine views straight out of Heidi, where better for a tennis holiday? Keen players can hit some balls, learn from a pro, and tune-up for the season ahead. But you’ll return with more than a few tennis tips; with its stellar spa, first-rate food and impeccable service, you’ll come back fully recharged and rejuvenated. Here’s why the historic mountainside getaway of Bürgenstock should be on your holiday radar.

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

History in the making

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

Bürgenstock has been a pioneer of luxury hospitality since 1873, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Ever-innovating, its owners built Switzerland’s first electric funicular in 1888; and, inspired by Eiffel, added Europe’s tallest outdoor elevator in 1905. Its heyday came in the ‘50s and ‘60s when a Who’s Who of Hollywood stars such as Sophia Loren and Sean Connery discovered it. In 2017, the 60-acre resort (comprising the flagship Burgenstock Hotel and Alpine Spa with both contemporary and heritage accommodation, and the Waldhotel) reopened after massive £440m renovation, and today attracts a cosmopolitan global clientele of all ages.

Audrey in the Alps

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin
Courtesy of ETH Bibliothek Zurich
Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin
Courtesy of ETH Bibliothek Zurich

Audrey Hepburn, so the story goes, happened upon Bürgenstock when she asked a taxi driver to recommend a lovely lunch spot. Within 48 hours, she’d rented out a chalet and stayed there for over a decade. You can see the old chapel where she married Mel Ferrer in 1954 (even hire it out for your own nuptials), play a round of golf on her favourite course, and take a dip in the Hollywood pool.

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin
Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrerr at Burgenstock Resort. Courtesy of ETH Bibliothek Zurich.

Travel plans

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

You can reach the resort from Zürich in under an hour but where’s the fun in that? I take the scenic route via train (danke schön to the ticket inspector at Zürich Hauptbahnhof who gave me a complementary Toblerone), then a boat, then an ear-popping ride in the resort’s pillar box red funicular. On the return leg, I break the journey for lunch at Zürich institution, Kronenhalle, once frequented by Coco Chanel, now frequented by Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia. I recommend the signature Zürcher Geschnetzeltes.

A room with a view

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

The 348 rooms and suites at Bürgenstock offer all the contemporary luxury you’d expect of a five-star property but nothing – not even the walk-in wardrobe or the double-sided fireplace – can compete with the sunken bath for two with floor-to-ceiling window and panoramic views over Lake Lucerne and snow-capped mountains beyond. Not a soul can see in; from my Acqua di Parma-scented oasis on the 6th floor, I’m eye-level only with the eagles.

Bowled over

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

You could stay at Bürgenstock a month and not eat the same dish twice. The resort has ten restaurants, bars and lounges including a cutesy Swiss tavern serving traditional fondue; Spices Kitchen for all things pan-Asian; and Brasserie Ritzcoffier for white-gloved service in the French classical tradition. I try to be good but flip flop between healthy and hearty; supping steamed sea bass, miso soup, and green juice one day; hot waffles with honeycomb, and white asparagus with hollandaise the next.

Redux and rejuvenation

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

Bürgenstock’s 10,000m² Alpine Spa has treatment room, steam baths, a lake view sauna, a serenity room, and garden pool, but its crowning glory is its heated infinity pool, perched on the mountain ridge overlooking the lake. You could lose hours there. Bürgenstock’s second spa within the Wald Hotel focuses on restoration and recovery. I try cryotherapy in the IceLab and after just five minutes emerge with that energised, fully alive feeling you get after cold water swimming.

Mountain highs

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

“The first thing I tell guests,” says Bürgenstock’s spa director Maggie Derblay, “is to go for a walk, to listen to the sounds.” I take her advice on day one, and every day thereafter. Even half an hour in the mountains is restorative, whether in the hazy light of early morning when the mountains are shrouded in cool mist, or late afternoon when the sun shines on the lush green pasture. I miss the sound of the cow bells even now.

Court action

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

Rain never stops play in the resort’s all-weather Diamond Domes, the most beautiful state-of-the-art tennis courts in the world, named after their faceted timber ceilings. “They’re a coach’s dream,” says Bürgenstock’s resident coach Tom Bohunicky, a Slovakian former pro. His VIP clients appreciate the privacy; while all players benefit from the peace and quiet, broken only by the sound of cleanly struck balls, sonorous in the cathedral-like setting. Hotel guests can book courts, rent racquets, join in with socials, or book a one-to-one with Bohunicky (strongly recommended).

Play it like a pro

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

Bürgenstock runs its programme of training, clinics, and celebrity events in partnership with LUX Tennis whose world-class coaches – all pro players with ATP or WTA experience – teach on the courts of the world’s most beautiful hotels, including the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat in France and Soneva Jani in the Maldives. Bohunicky coaches kids, beginners, veterans, talented players, and not so talented players. He tailors training to suit.

Pure escapism

Bürgenstock Hotel Review: The World-Class Tennis HolidayPin

They say it takes 10,000 hours to master tennis. Under Bohunicky’s tutelage, I reckon I could nail it in half that. With no traffic noise, no distractions – I’m accustomed to the hip-hop-soundtracked courts of east London – I can tune into my technique and really focus mentally. Even now, weeks later, I’ll cast my mind back to the serenity of the Swiss mountains and Bohunicky’s patient instructions. I hope to go back next year a better player. Only a few thousand hours to go.

 Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, CH-6363 Obbürgen
burgenstockresort.com

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