Graubunden, Switzerland’s largest canton, is going all out to woo Europhiles who are champing at the bit to cross the Pond this summer but who might not be ready for densely packed big-city attractions.
And while the name might be unfamiliar, Graubunden encompasses some of the destination’s most famous locations, including Davos, Engadin and St. Moritz. In all, the canton makes up almost 20% of the country’s total land area and features 1,000 mountain peaks, 615 lakes, 150 valleys and the Rhine Gorge, which is so dramatic that locals call it the Swiss Grand Canyon.
Michelin-starred restaurants and thermal spas — thanks to the Romans, who passed this way some 2,000 years ago — add to the allure.
But despite its roots in antiquity, the region is adding new and revamped features this summer, including new hotels, special events and soft adventures.
Where to stay
Switzerland is famously green, and the four-star Valbella Resort in Lenzerheide is undergoing a renovation grounded in sustainability. Areas such as the Capricorn restaurant, the accommodations and junior suites in the Tgiasa Principala building and a lounge area and swimming pond are among the features that are new or expanded.
The resort’s Tgiasa Fastatsch building opened June 3, while the rest of the property will open on Aug. 26.
Meanwhile, the 100-room Hotel Cresta Palace, an art nouveau landmark in Celerina, will debut 40 modern rooms July 8.
Upgrades include new layouts; refreshed interiors with new furnishings, bedding and decor, and a newly built Staziun da Basa sports center.
Spa lovers can visit the Schweizerhof Lenzerheide, which reopened May 25 with a redesign of their 16,000-square-foot BergSpa.
Finally, the Art Boutique Monopol St. Moritz, a Preferred Hotels & Resorts property located a short walk from Lake St. Moritz, is renovating 18 of its rooms.
Features will include natural wood floors and an overall urban vibe. The property will retain its collection of modern art and its rooftop spa with a panoramic terrace.
What to do
For visitors who want to take a stab at seeing it all, Alpine Circle tours offer an overview of the region via bus, train or car. Itineraries include the Rhine Gorge, Swiss national parks, Swiss villages, canoe trips, the Landwasser Viaduct and even opportunities to spot local fauna.
Or take the kids (preferably age 8 or older) and join in one of the region’s Foxtrails scavenger hunts, during which participants are tasked with cracking codes, deciphering messages and exploring local terrain.
Open year-round in the Arosa Lenzerheide region, for example, the Heidsee Lake Foxtrail involves navigating natural waterfalls and takes about two hours. A longer option, the Muntanella mountain trail runs from Churwalden via Heidbuel, and operates during the summer.
Serious cyclists can explore the more than 1,550 miles of marked mountain bike trails, taking advantage of public transportation — including cable cars, the Rhaetian Railway and the Graubunden Post bus — all equipped to transport bikers from the valley to the summit.
The Rhine Gorge offers a range of adventure options, including river rafting, kayaking and biking, or exploring the gorge via rail or car.
Hikers can navigate the long suspension bridge at Trin and take the 90-minute walk along the banks of the Rhine from the Versam to the Valendas train stations.
At Lake Davos, options include swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing and golfing at a nearby 18-hole course, while Lake Cauma in Flims Laax offers swimming and hiking on forest trails along the shore.
If all this isn’t enough to tempt travelers, the Jazz Festival in St. Moritz is back after a two-year Covid hiatus. Slated to run from July 7-21, the festival is marking its 15th anniversary with 60 concerts, including free performances in the Upper Engadin and open-air shows at the Lej da Staz.
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