Mountain Resorts : Leukerbad
By guest writer Bob Bestor
awesome mountains with natural hot water springs. It
has lovely hiking trails in the summer, and good skiing in
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Leukerbad is a lovely small
town, conveniently located not far from Geneva, and offers a
very different experience to that found in Switzerland's cities.
Where Leukerbad Switzerland is
Up around the Furka Pass, at the
foot of the Rhône Glacier, is where the river named Rhône begins
its southwesterly trip to the eastern end of Lac Léman (Lake
Geneva). Think of the river and its valley between Brig and
Martigny as a spine with wiggly ribs extending from it on both
sides. The "ribs" are intersecting valleys accessed by dead-end
roads that snake up into the Alps. In these higher valleys are
found some of Switzerland's best-known resorts: Zermatt, Saas
Fee, Crans Montana, Verbier. Others, like Evoléne, Zinal and the
Lötschental, are not so well-known - at least by Americans.
In the lesser-known category is
Leukerbad, population 1,700, a modest resort enclosed on three
sides by a spectacular sheer rock wall, the Gemmiwand, that
rises some 3,000 feet. From the town center, a cable car rises
almost vertically to the Gemmi Pass at nearly 8,000 feet, where
walkers pick their way over a flat, rocky moonscape and picnic
by an Alpine lake.
Leukerbad's main attraction for
Europeans is the heated thermal waters which flow from the
ground at 51 C (124 F) into dozens of public and private baths
and pools. The town's public bathing facilities are impressive
and extensive and many hotels have spa facilites.
But for most Americans, Leukerbad
in summer is a place for taking it slow; poking around the
village, lounging by a hotel pool, or perhaps riding up one of
the cable cars for an easy mountain hike. Given its end-of-road
location, about 30 minutes by car from the Rhône, Leukerbad is
not a headquarters from which to make daytrips.
The town is accessible by car and
most SBB fast trains stop at Leuk-Susten where a bus winds the
last 30 minutes up to Leukerbad.
How to Enjoy a Good Day in
One of our most memorable hotel
stays was three nights in Leukerbad's Les Sources des Alpes,
a swank 26-room hideaway with spa facilities and a
Your first day at Les Sources
might begin with a sunny alfresco breakfast that includes
fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee brewed to order at your
table in a Melior pot.
What to do in Leukerbad
This is followed by a walk to the
village to purchase supplies for a picnic luncheon in the
mountains. Assuming you left the hotel properly attired for your
Alpine outing, the day's next event is a short stroll to the
Gemmi Cableway station for a ride to the high country (about $18
RT). As the gondola slides past that fearsome vertical rock face
you'll notice the ant-like figures of fitter, braver souls
making their way to the top (or descending) via a path carved
from the rock. They are not climbers but walkers, and what they
are doing appears dangerous only in the sense there are many
places where the narrow trail skirts the very edge of the
At the top is a network of
walking paths. One leads gently downhill to Sunnbuel, above
Kandersteg, from which the Kander Valley can be reached via
cable car. From Kandersteg, a return to Leukerbad is possible by
rail and bus. You, however, will probably want to find a spot by
the Daubensee (lake) for your picnic and return via the Gemmi
Back at the hotel you're just in
time for your spa treatment and massage reservation.
Afterwards, a bit weary from the high altitude and from being
manipulated by strong hands and powerful jets of water of widely
varying temperatures, you shuffle on shaky legs to Les Sources'
inviting outdoor pool. Tossing aside your thick terrycloth
robe, you slip into the warm water and paddle about while
watching the late afternoon thunderstorm gather above the
With a nap and a magnificent
dinner still to be crossed off the day's the checklist, you
gratefully contemplate the twists and turns of life that
delivered you to this place at this time. Just when the
sky looks its blackest you climb out of the pool and into a big,
thick towel the pool attendant takes from a stainless steel
warmer. It is now officially nap time and through the open
French doors to your balcony, you hear the first drops of rain
just as your head hits the pillow.
Wonderful Dining in Leukerbad
Dinner is in the hotel's elegant
La Malvoisie. After starting with a refreshing
melon soup, you turn your attention to the main event; a Bresse
chicken. It comes in stages. First, the breast is
carved and served with a buttery truffle sauce. The dark
meat, legs and wings, is returned for additional cooking and
brought back a few minutes later with little skillets of sauteed
wild mushrooms and a side dish of perfectly steamed spinach that
began its day in the hotel's garden in Sion. Your waiter
has suggested a bottle of Capannelle rosse, a Merlot from the
Italian house of R. Rossetti. The wine is expensive but
tonight is a special occasion, it's Wednesday.
After a light dessert of
house-made sorbets selected from containers off a cart brought
to the table, you try unsuccessfully to ignore the restaurant's
parting gift, a small plate of intensely-flavored chocolates.
The day nearly done, you follow
the sound of live piano music across the lobby to the wood
paneled bar. There you sink onto a comfortable, winged-back
chair and enjoy the final beverage of the evening, perhaps a
finger of single malt whiskey or a glass of vintage port.
Now it's really nap time.
Where to Stay in Leukerbad
As you have by now discerned, Les
Sources des Alpes is expensive; the weak dollar has room prices
ranging from about $250 to $425 for a double. But there are
dozens — hundreds if you add in a long list of vacation rentals
— of less expensive lodging options in Leukerbad.
The modern Hotel Astoria,
for example, is not far from the center and top double rooms go
for about $150. The more rustic, chalet style Walliserhof
has doubles starting around $130.
On a hillside near the edge of
town the Appartmenthaus Alfa offers one-and-a-half and
two-room flats starting at about $450 per week. The spic ‘n span
Apparmenthaus Europe has larger apartments with spacious
south-facing balconies and sleeping accommodations for up to
five persons. Depending on the season, weekly rates range from
$500 to $600 per week.
Hotels, Guesthouses - contact
Les Sources des Alpes
CH - 3954 Leukerbad
Telefon ++41 274 721 000
Fax ++41 274 722001
Robert Lambrigger - Klibenstrasse 2
CH - 3954 Leukerbad
Telefon ++41 27 470 14 60 - Fax ++41 27 470 14 65
Email: [email protected]
Tel. 027/470 14 15
Fax 027/470 22 18
Email [email protected]
Tel. +41 (0)27 472 79 60
Fax +41 (0)27 472 79 65
Family A. red Roten-Loretan - 3954 Leukerbad
Tel. +41 27 472 74 70
Fax +41 27 472 74 75
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26 Feb 2004, last update
28 May 2011
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