Bernese Oberland for Gourmands

Dec 20th, 2005, 06:34 PM
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I just got out the really big dictionary (Webster's Third New International) and lo and behold definition #1 is a greedy or ravenous eater:glutton; #2 is a luxurious eater:epicure, gourmet.
American Heritage dictionary is the reverse.

Bob, I don't want to disappoint you- I'm in favor of eating great gobs of greasy molten cheese as long as it's Gruyere and not Kraft
What's better- fondue or raclette?
calville is offline  
Dec 20th, 2005, 07:49 PM
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Gourmand likes lots and lots of food (and hopes it will also be good). Gourmandise means the activity of overeating. Gourmet is the connoisseur of good food.

You needn't worry about all food being too heavy - the Swiss have long taken advantage of their geographical location in the center of it all. You find light French dishes, you can order sparse Italian, and vegetarian has long ceased to be a joke, lots of people eat light so any good restaurant should be able to please. Ask nicely before you sit down - no problem.

WallyKringen is offline  
Dec 21st, 2005, 03:24 AM
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Catbert, not nice!

Now I have to wipe up all the coffee I spit out on my desk . . . !! lolsc???

swandav2000 is online now  
Dec 21st, 2005, 04:45 AM
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Hi, Yes, Gstaad is very likely the place for you, and daytrips by train are possible to Montreux or even Cully (where the Auberge du Raisin is located). I have to recommend a more modest, but wonderful, menu at Auberge de Rivaz. The Engadine valley, St. Moritz or a neighboring town will be a nice contrast; you can daytrip to Poschiavo, very near Italy. Ingo has posted many restaurant recommendations for that area. I love Lugano and Locarno, but in June they might be quite warm. Stick to your plan of two places four nights each. That's the way to savor the experience, culinary and otherwise. J.
jmw44 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2005, 05:29 AM
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Oh, I think Catbert's post was very appropriate. Would like the idea of mud wrestling LOL!!!

Star ratings are done by the Swiss hotel association. Quite accurate, but you never know if it is a large hotel with 300 beds and often hosting conventions or a cosy small family run hotel. Both can have 3 or 4 stars.

Martha Python's comment is simply ignorant. I doubt she has ever been to Switzerland.

Your comment on German food is neither ice nor correct. First, there is no "German" food. Every regio in Germany has its specialties. It's not only Schnitzel! Second, in the past 15 years the food in Germany was influenced by many foreign cuisines - Italian, French, but also Asian etc.

You won't like Saas Fee if you prefer rolling hills and green in spite of gray mountains. Also, Saas Fee is located in a cul-de-sac (end of the valley) and inconvenient for day trips/excursions to other places of interest.

I would not recommend to visit the highest Alps (Engadine, Saas Fee, Zermatt) earlier than mid June. This is the time when most cable cars, hotels, restaurants etc. start the summer season there.
Ingo is online now  
Dec 21st, 2005, 05:36 AM
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Now on to comparing Gstaad/Saanenland to the Engadine. Like Swandav wrote, it cannot be done. I have to make some corrections to previous posts, though.

The houses in the Engadine are not gray. They are usually white with sgrafitti and sometimes colourful frescos.

It is correct, that the Saanenland is greener than the Engadine- but you won't realise it in June because the (gray) mountains in the Engadine will still be snow covered then and you will mostly move around the valleys where it is green too.

A reason for the Saanenland being greener is that it gets more and more often rain than the Engadine - and in the result the grass grows quicker.

The advantage for the Engadine is: it gets more sun and beside the grass other, rare wildflowers have better chances to grow and survive. For example, the Fex Valley near Sils is famous for its wildflowers (esp. the sunny, dry slopes on the northern side, where you find marmots as well).

Re food: The Engadine is quite much Italian-influenced. There are countless restaurants listed in Gault MIllaut or Guide Michelin, especially around St. Moritz.

Ingo is online now  
Dec 22nd, 2005, 04:07 PM
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Thanks again to all the wonderful Fodorites for their helpful info.
More questions to follow!
calville is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 11:24 AM
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SWISS WILDFLOWERS – response to my email to hotels re: peak season for wildflowers
In caps is the date info the hotels sent me.
*= recommended by both Charming Small Hotel Guide and The Good Hotel Guide 2005.
Quiet= Michelin rating for peace, tranquility (?)
Views=Michelin rating
Disclaimer: some of this info may be wrong but I thought others might find my compilation of hotels and wildflower dates helpful.

GRUYERES el 2,254 ft pop 1556
*CHF $100 MID JULY (Hostellerie de Chevalieres) Quiet, 3 star, Good view

WENGEN el 4183, pop 1050
CHF $150 (Caprice) Not quiet, 3 star, Exceptional view- no response to wildflower question
CHF $90 (Alpenrose) Quiet, 3 star, Exceptional view

GRINDELWALD el 3,392 ft, pop 3876
CHF $240 (Belvedere) Not quiet, 4 star, Exceptional View
CHF ? “from End of May until End of June: mountain spring (Enzian, Krokus, etc)
- July/August (Alpenrosen, Enzian, etc)
- September (Thistle, etc).” ( (comprehensive answer from Hotel Schweizerhof) Not quiet, 4 star, Very Pleasant Michelin, Exceptional View

CHF $145 (Hotel-Restaurant Kirchbuhl) Very Quiet, 4 star, Exceptional View

ADELBODEN-el 4,429 ft, pop 3550
CHF $135 EARLY JULY TO MID JULY (Park Hotel Bellevue) Quiet, 4 star Thermal baths in middle of village (Good Hotel Guide), Very Pleasant Michelin, Exceptional View

KANDERSTAG el 3858 ft, pop 1150
*CHF $110 END OF JUNE TO MID AUG (Doldenhorn) Quiet, 4 star, Very Pleasant Michelin, Good View

GSTAAD el 3,444 ft. pop 2500
CHF $160 Gstaad THE WHOLE MONTH OF JUNE (Le Grand Chalet) Quiet, 4 star Very Pleasant Michelin, Exceptional View

CHF $180 Saanenmoser-4160 ft “MID JUNE ON” (Hornberg) Quiet, 4 star, Good View

CHF $155 Schonried-4040 ft END OF MAY OR ALL OF THE MONTH OF JUNE (Alpenrose) Not Quiet, 4 star, Exceptional View

CHF $175 Saanen (Steigenberger) Not Quiet ,4 star, Exceptional View
(no response to wildflower question)

SILS-MARIA el 5959 ft pop?
CHF $195 JUNE 10 TO MID JULY (Waldhaus) Quiet, 5 star, Very Pleasant Michelin, Exceptional view

SILS-BASELGIA el 5912, pop ?-
CHF $210 MID JUNE TO MID JULY ( Margna- opens June 17) Quiet, 4 star, Good view

GUARDA–el 5420ft, pop 153
*CHF $95 MID JUNE TO END OF JUNE (Meisser) Quiet, No star, Good view

CELERINA el 5675 ft, pop 1,214
* CHF $110 (Chesa Rosatsch) Quiet, No stars –“unique”, Good view

PONTRESINA el 5820 ft, pop 1807 None of the Pontresina hotels have responded to my wildflower question and lack of tranquil setting is not as appealing (?)
CHF $140(Walther) Not Quiet, 4 star, Very Pleasant Michelin, Good view
CHF $240 (Grand Hotel Kronenhof) Not quiet, 5 star, Exceptional view
CHF 224 (Hotel Saratz) Not quiet, 4 star, Good view
(Chesa Mulin) Not quiet ,3 star, Good view
calville is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 11:57 AM
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Another nice area in the Bernese Oberland is Kandersteg. We have stayed at the Victoria Ritter- outstanding and elegant food.

The hotel itself is old world, country-not nearly as elegant as the food, but quite nice, and lovely views. You can take the cable car up and hike around. Here's an exerpt on the area:

Just 30 minutes by train from picturesque lake Thun in the Jungfrau region is the village of Kandersteg (3,857ft.) in the Kandertal valley. As you approach the valley, the first thing you notice is the contrast between the fertile green meadows that line the river Kander and the high cliff walls that appear impenetrable. Above the cliffs are numerous lush valleys that wind deeper into the mountains before splitting into even more secluded valleys that take hikers to remote glacial lakes, hidden alps and quaint mountaineering huts. Towering above this maze of hiking trails are hanging glaciers that lead to the summits of the Doldenhorn (11,932ft.), Frundenhorn (11,050ft.), Oeschinenhorn (11,434ft.) and Bluemlisalphorn (11,994ft.).

There is a cable car up, which allows you to do some hiking around Oeschinensee without too much effort.

Saas Fe is also a really nice town, and the trip up to the glacier (by series of cable cars/trams) is worthwhile.
ilana25841 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 12:08 PM
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Illana- thanks so much for the info on Kandersteg- it sounds beautiful. How does it compare to Adelboden and Gstaad area?- I hadn't heard of Adelboden or Kandersteg until I began researching this trip. How are the restaurant choices in Kandersteg?

LLC- do you know why the Alpenrose Hotel in Schonried is not listed as "quiet" in Michelin? It sounds like such a peaceful, rural setting. What's adjacent to it? I'm still leaning strongly to the Alpenrose if we go to Gstaad.

Ingo-thanks so much for mentioning the wildflowers. I do think alpine wildflowers are one of the Wonders of the World (I've only seen them one time and we are still obsessed).

We'd like to travel to Switzerland in mid to late June before the peak tourist season starts.
It's looking like the Engadine might be better for wildflowers at that time of yr?
Swandav- what's your take on June wildflowers- how are they in Gstaad and Wengen at that time?

Ingo- I've looked at your past posts and see you've stayed at both the Waldhaus in Sils-Maria and the Margna in Sils-Baselgia- could you please compare them and which do you prefer?
To avoid moving around alot could we stay in the Sils area but still visit Guarda and other parts of the Engadine?

JMW and Wally thanks also for your posts.

Thanks to everyone who has read my post and responded. Everything sounds so great I'm still having trouble narrowing my focus. I'd like to see both the Engadine and Bernese Oberland as well as Lake Maggiore
calville is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 12:21 PM
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If you can afford it, the Waldhaus in Sils-Maria would be my choice.
Ingo is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 01:20 PM
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I'm guessing that the reason the Alpenrose is not listed as quiet is that the front of it faces the road. The road is not that busy, and most of the rooms are on the back side. The dining area all opens up to the back with a gorgeous view. I would consider it to be a very quiet, tranquil location.
LLC is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 01:31 PM
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Hi Again,

I haven't been to the Gstaad area in June; I've only been there in May & Dec. I only remember one particular field of wildflowers in a meadow outside of the town of Gstaad.

I was in Zuoz in June, though, and can attest to the wildflower season. I went bicycling with a friend around the lakes and down the Inn Valley, and there were wildflowers everywhere.

Some photos:

Engadin in June

Saanen in May

The good thing is that you can't go wrong!!


swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 4th, 2006, 06:29 AM
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Swandav- your photos are excellent- thanks so much. Zuoz and Guarda are stunningly beautiful but look kind of gray and gloomy whereas Saanan appears sunny.
Did you see any sun in the Engadine during your June trip?
I was also impressed with the yellow flowers in May in the Gstaad area. What part of May were you there?
calville is offline  
Jan 4th, 2006, 06:56 AM
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Hi Again calville,

Thanks for your comments on the pictures! I think it always helps to give some concrete examples of the scenery --

Hmm. How funny. I had forgotten about the cloudy weather -- in my memories, the Zuoz trip is all sunny! But now that you mention it, I do recall that on one cycling day, we were racing to beat a storm (that never materialized). I guess it was overcast, but not enough to dampen the trip!

I got to Saanen on 22 May and stayed for only three or four days. I was really sick when I got there and didn't get out until the next day, 23 May. I really enjoyed it, though. I spent Christmas there in 2004, and I'm going back this June (now I'll really be looking for wildflowers!).

When I was planning my first trip there, I also was leaning toward the Alpenrose, but I was dissuaded by the news about the road going right by the hotel.

I just found a new hotel review site -- at the Swiss Tourist Office at There are 9 reviews of the Steigenberger, all of them good. I didn't look for the Alpenrose though. Eight of the reviews are in German, but I copied & pasted them onto Google's tranlation site. You may want to spend some time there to help you decide --

Have fun!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 4th, 2006, 09:39 AM
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As I mentioned before, the Engadin (Zuoz & Guarda) usually gets more sun than Gstaad. Bad luck for swandav

Ingo is online now  
Jan 4th, 2006, 06:20 PM
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LOL Ingo- I'm glad you and Swandav have a rivalry- helps to sharpen the focus for us novices.
The book Walks in the Engadine by Kev Reynolds just arrived today- lots of photos and it does look spectacular with unusual formations and terrain.
We may have to go to both places.

I was kind of bummed out to find the prices quoted on must be for singles in low season.
Switzerland will be very expensive if we want to stay in nice hotels.

Swandav- I agree the Steigenberger sounds very nice. Why doesn't it get a quiet designation? I'd like to look out a hotel window and see cows at least once during our trip.
Did you drive by the Alpenrose? Anything negative to report?
Cicerone does not approve of Steigenberger.
I no longer trust guidebooks on hotels- info is often inaccurate and outdated.
For example, Haus Paradies in Ftan, included in both Good Hotel Guide and Charming Small Hotel Guide has a negative review on trip advisor- needs to be refurbished and uncomfortable mattresses. I hate to sound so picky but the older I get, the more I want my hotel to be at least as comfortable as home.
I do think some simpler properties can be charming if very clean and well maintained.
Thanks for the tip re: I think I missed the reviews.
calville is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 03:35 AM
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Yeh, there are a few "rivalries" among the Swiss fanatics -- Engadin vs Vaud vs Ticino vs . . . well, it could go on forever!

Personally, I think the Steigenberger is *very* quiet; it's out in the middle of nowhere! It's way up on a hill in the teeny tiny town of Saanen. It was extra-quiet when I was there. I am a huge fan of Cicerone's, but of course there are times when I will have a different opinion. Cicerone also favors a hotel in Montreux (the Hermitage) that I didn't enjoy. So I just chalk it up to the differences of folks!

I've heard nothing but good things about the 5-star Ermitage-Golf in the same town as the Alpenrose, Schoenried.

I did find a review of the Alpenrose at, and the translated German text said that the hotel is past its prime.

I think you would be very happy with the Hotel Grand Chalet, on a hill above Gstaad. It's small and new, and the views are great (though the best views, I think, are at the Steigenberger).

No, I never drove past the Alpenrose; I've only driven twice in Switzerland, and those two times weren't in this area. I've never been tempted to step off the train in the town of Schoenried, so I haven't seen the hotel myself.

I think you would be happiest if you did take a look at some of the reviews. Here's a link to the pages:

Note that the Gstaad listing includes Saanen, but Schoenried has its own list. Even if you don't read the German or French texts, you can see how many stars guests gave for each area (rooms, service, etc).

Yes, Switzerland is expensive, and if you want to stay in a four-star place, you'll pay a LOT! You should also know that many three-star places are just as charming and pleasant and only have a lower rating because they lack an elevator or a restaurant or some other specific facility.

Well, it's a gas to re-live my trips and think about the gorgeous hotels and gorgeous views. I don't know how you're going to make the decision, unless you do end up at both places!

Good luck!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 5th, 2006, 05:57 AM
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Why don't you split your time between the Saanen area and the Engadin. About the review on the Alpenrose being past its prime, I don't think they were even talking about the right hotel. The review (translated from German) talked about 3 floors of rooms with no elevator. That's not the right place. The Alpenrose is definitely not past it's prime. Alpenrose is a fairly common name for hotels in Switzerland, I think the reviewer may have been referring to someplace else. It has always gotten good reviews from it's Karen Brown listings. I've been to Switzerland three times in June, wildflowers are beautiful then. I have stayed at many places in Switzerland and the Alpenrose is definitely my favorite.
LLC is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 08:29 AM
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calville, please do not trust all the reviews posted by the tourists on the net. You never know what spoiled their trip.

The Paradies near Ftan e.g. is still an excellent hotel. I read a review in newspaper (very high reputation) recently and it got ravings! Absolutely no need to be refurbished, as they wrote. And about the matresses ... well, to each his/her own ...

I like the idea of splitting the trip and visiting both Gstaad and Engadin. That would make a nice change! And a completely different experience.
Ingo is online now  

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