Bernese Oberland for Gourmands

Feb 5th, 2006, 08:35 AM
  #121  
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Swandav- the Vevey du Lac had a recording in French which I couldn't understand. I looked at their website and it said they are closed for renovation. Then I phoned the Best Western 800 # and was told Du Lac was no longer available- she implied it was no longer part of the BW chain.
BW (which I dislike) has a hotel in Montreux called the Eurotel Riviera which gets an awful review on trip advisor- would not stay there.

We can possibly adjust things some more in order to stay at Montreux's Eden Au Lac and depart on June 30.
I'm going to phone the other Vevey hotels now:
Trois Couronnes and Pavillion.
Michelin also lists Hotel Bahse in Bionay and the Hotellerie de Chatonneyre in Corseaux.
Do you know anything about these properties or their locations?
I'm going to look back at your other comments on Montreux/Vevey on this thread.
Cicerone- what is your favorite Vevey hotel?
calville is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 10:47 AM
  #122  
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Trois Couronnes has rooms available on June 30. Rates are 495CHF lakeview and 295CHF city view. Half board is 75CHF pp.

Hotel Pavillion (not on the water)also has rooms available on June 30. The rate is 320 CHF. Half board is 45CHF pp.

Neither hotel is air conditioned. Trois Couronnes claims rooms on the lake don't need a/c. It certainly sounds great on tripadvisor- how hot does Lac Leman get in the summer?
calville is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 11:38 AM
  #123  
 
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Hi calville,

Wow, I didn't realize you would be there so late -- it's a good thing I mentioned that!

If I were you, I would re-work the itinerary to leave Montreux by 30 June.

Corseaux isn't charming, in my opinion -- I walked through and wasn't impressed. Haven't been to Blonay.

In Vevey, the Pavillon isn't charming at all.

If you don't want to rearrange your schedule, go to the Trois Courounnes.

Or, if you're willing to be above the lake (Corseaux/Blonay), go to Glion. My favorite hotel is up there, the Victoria (www.victoria-glion.ch). They're usually the last to sell out. Great ambiance & service.

Your buddies should be helping you more!! Or they need to buy you a few dinners!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 12:01 PM
  #124  
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LOL Swandav- I'll tell my friends what you said.

Switzerland certainly is expensive- 495 CHF at Trois Couronnes is just too much. I know you prefer Montreux anyway so I take it you'd much prefer a lakefront room at Eden au Lac over a city view at Trois Couronnes.

I have an international calling plan on my phone and decided to phone rather than wait around for email responses. Half the hotels I've emailed have not responded or are very slow to respond when they have few vacancies.

We like to travel in the offseason when rates are cheaper and less crowded but Switzerland's mtn weather dictates travel during high season.

Swandav, if you had never been to either Gstaad or Montreux and had to divide them between 4 nights how would you do it?

Ingo- thanks so much for the "super hot tips" about Soglio and the "grotti." I need to research your grotti tip some more and will be posting back about that. I think we're adding another night to Ascona. I've marked off your route suggestions from Ascona to Sils-Maria- it looks fabulous! We're getting so excited!

PKS 2000- thanks for your comments. I love Paris so I'm sure your trip will be equally fantastic. I'll be looking for your trip report in July.

Thanks everyone!
calville is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 12:15 PM
  #125  
 
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OK, I'll pipe in. I was in Vevey during the Montreux Jazz Festival and thought it was a great place to stay. It's 10 min. to Montreux by train. I stayed at Hotel Negociants. I don't recall if it had air but it certainly didn't need it.

I stopped in Blonoy on the way to Les Pleides (sp?) and thought it was a charming little town. There was a B&B there, who's name I don't recall but where I thought would be fun to try to stay. You could probably google it.

Even though it was warm in Vevey, I don't recall it being obnoxiously so.

With respect to the trains in Locarno, you're right, they did go by frequently. But I got used to them and figured if the beautiful villas along the promenade could handle I surely could. I also have stayed at the Panorama in G.G. and it is lovely. I did notice the trains there as well. It was VERY hot when we were there and I was quite comfortable at the Panorama with the French doors to my room open.
Catbert is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 01:53 PM
  #126  
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Thank you so much Catbert.
Can you comment more on Hotel Negociants? It sounds cute and the price is certainly right. Were the rooms really small?
Do you remember if the beds were comfortable?

The lack of a/c still concerns me though...

What are your thoughts on Vevey vs Montreux? Which do you prefer? Have you been to Gstaad? How would you divide 4 nights between Vevey/Montreux and Gstaad? Or would you skip one altogether?
We could stay in Montreux on the lakefront and leave on the 30th. Did you go to any of the Montreux jazz performances? Where are they held?
calville is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 02:05 PM
  #127  
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PS Catbert- According to Michelin there's a little hotel/pension/B&B w/ 15 rms in Blonay called Les Sapins.

Hotel Bahyse has got 13 rms. I need to get out a map.
calville is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 02:20 PM
  #128  
 
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I really liked the Negociants. It's location was great, right in the old town, near some great shops. A block from the lake. The room was large and the bed was fine. I had large french windows that opened onto the old town street. The bathroom was very modern and nice. No complaints at all. The breakfast was also very good.

I preferred Vevey (apologies to Swandav, who is wonderful) because Montreux was a zoo with the Jazz festival and it was good to get away from the hubbub. The views on the promenade were extraordinary. There are bunches of free venues for the festival; something going all the time. And then you can get tickets to the headliners. I skipped the headliner when I was there because I had seen BBKing several times already and tickets were really pricey.

Like I said, I really enjoyed taking the train to Les Pliedes, with a stop in Blonoy. I had a nice lunch in Blonoy and walked around the town. You could take the train there and walk back down (along a walking path) to Vevey. Also, I really enjoyed taking the boat to Geneva and the train back. Be sure to get out on the water while you're there.
Catbert is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 02:37 PM
  #129  
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Thanks Catbert and sorry for my million and one questions but even if you were NOT going to be in the area at the time of the Jazz Festival, do you still prefer Vevey over Montreux?
And between Vevey and Gstaad, which do you prefer?
From snippets in books Vevey sounds more appealing to me but the hotel in Montreux might be more desirable.

Everyone I promise- my ruminations are almost over
calville is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 02:41 PM
  #130  
 
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I'd probably stick with Vevey if I went when the festival wasn't going on. But I'm sure I'd visit Montreux.
Catbert is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 02:45 PM
  #131  
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Thanks for your answer Catbert.
Have you stayed overnight in Gstaad?

I'll bet the food is great on Lac Leman-another reason to economize on the hotel and splurge on restaurants.
calville is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 01:30 AM
  #132  
 
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Sorry Caville, I have not been ignoring your post, just reading some of the other postings and thinking about your trip. Some musings and reccos:

1. On my own vacations, I never plan on trying to "do" more than 3 places in 2 weeks. You have 4. That seems like a lot of moving around, even by your own admission. Given flight arrival and departure times, drive time between places, potential for traffic, getting to and from the 4 destinations may eat up more time than you think. I would seriously recco that you consider cutting this down to 3 places. If you and your group are serious about some outdoor activities like walking, you will need time to do this, and IMO you aren't giving yourself enough time, esp in Wengen and Vevey. Switzerland is small, but that does not mean you should rush through it. The drives should really be enjoyed as well, don't take the highways and tunnels, take the high passes and the back roads, this will add time (including getting lost) but the scenery is much better. If you are going to drive, you may as well have the better scenery and less traffic.

2. One of your messages says you are flying "into Lugano to avoid the Jazz Festival in Ascona" but then you are going right to Ascona. Do you mean flying into Lugano to avoid the Jazz Festival in Montreux? As you can't fly to Lugano directly, how long is this connection taking you and where are you making the connection? You may end up taking all day to "save" yourself some time in Montreux, but if you stay outside Montreux during the festival in my experience the extra crowds are not that noticeable.

3. Take a look at weatherbase.com for average temps for June/July. Generally, Switzerland is not that hot and that is why most places are not air conditioned. Most Swiss homes are not air-conditioned for the same reason. Anecdotally, the summers of 2002, 2003 and for a few weeks in 2004 were really hot, 2002 was brutally so; we went about 2 months without rain and had probably 30 days in excess of 90 F, even in mountain resort areas like St Mortiz and Zermatt. It is impossible to predict what the weather will be like in June/July 2006. If you have a choice and as you probably are not used to sleeping with out, I would pick a place with air-conditioning. Besides comfort in a heat wave, this is good for noise and mosquitoes. Swiss houses and hotels generally do not have window screens, so every type of flying insect can and does invade rooms at nigh time. I never found mosquitoes to be a huge problem, but there are some and there are more at lake level. Street noise in towns is definitely an issue at night in the summer, and being able to close your windows is a benefit.

4. My favourite hotels in the Vevey area in NO particular order are: the Trois Couronnes in Vevey, L'ermitage in Clarens next door to Montreux (http://www.ermitage-montreux.com/), the Lausanne Palace & Spa in Lausanne (http://www.lausanne-palace.com) and Le Mirador Kempinski above Vevey (http://www.kempinski.com/en/index.htm). I think all would be in about the same price range as the Trois Couronnes, which I think you are finding pricey, but they are worth a look. I know for sure that the Lausanne Palace and the Kempinski have air conditioning. If you want to avoid crowds and noise from the Jazz Festival, I would definitely pick the Kempinski, it is set high above the town and would not have any noise or crowd issues, has stupendous views, you can get to vineyard walks from here and it has a great outdoor pool (rare in the area, most are indoor). I see that the Negociants is on your list, I have not stayed at there but have eaten in their restaurant which I thought was very good, and their location is certainly very nice right in the old town. If you are worried about room size, fax or e-mail them and ask, they should be able to give their average room size for all room types. For two people, you want at least 28 square meters, IMO. Ask if their quote is net or gross size (i.e. does it include the bathroom/closets, Swiss probably don't include this, but others do as it makes the rooms seem larger when quoting size).

5. I so far prefer Vevey to Gstaad that I can't even put the two in the same sentence. However, I am a water lover, and huge Lake Geneva with the Alps in the background is the big draw to me. Gstaad cannot offer anything like it, there are barely any streams in the area. Even the Engadine offers many more lakes. To walk in the vineyards high above Lake Geneva is far preferable to me over walking in the more rolling hills of the (waterless) Gstaad valley. More importantly in summer, to sit on the upper deck on the back of a ferry going down Lake Geneva, cold beer in hand, Swiss flag waving in the breeze watching the little towns go by with the backdrop of the Alps is my idea of an absolutely perfect way to spend an afternoon or a whole day. You cannot do this in Gstaad. To be perfectly honest, my dream summer vacation in Switzerland would not include any time in Gstaad, other than a drive part way through the valley to get to the wonderful Jaunpass Pass over or back from the Lake Geneva area.

6. Get a map and look at how deep the Gstaad valley is. I don't know what you are gong to do here for 3 nights, but if your plan is to take day trips from here out to the Interlaken area, then you will spend more time in the car than you want. You have seen references to the Kandersteg area, and the walk to the Oeschinensee is a great one, doable in a half day and a bit. A ferry ride along Lake Brienz or Lake Thun is really a wonderful way to see those lakes a get a feel for those areas, and a visit to one of the towns is a good way to see that area. However, doing all this from Gstaad is not really going to be that much fun, IMO, as the drive in and out the long valley road will get tiring. What you might consider rather than 3 nights in Gstaad is to spend 2-3 nights in Wengen and 2-3 nights in Thun or Speiz or another town one of the lakes (but NOT the town of Interlaken). Thun has a very nice old town and a castle, and lots of restaurants. This would give you access to Kandersteg for a day (40 minutes from Thun versus 1.5 from Gstaad), you could also spend a 1/2 day or more going by ferry down one the lakes, and see the towns, and if you wanted to you could drive the Susten or Grimsel Passes or even the Furka, which are really fun passes. (You may be taking the Susten over from the Engadine, I don't know what your route is, I would definitely recco you take as many passes as you can.) You could spend one night in Gstaad, although that is a lot of moving for one night; or you could drive to Gstaad for a day on your way to the Lake Geneva area, and on the way you could also stop at Châteaux D'ouex another place you mentioned wanting to see, OR do the Jauner Pass and stop in the Gruyere area.

7. IMO, 2 nights in Wengen will hardly give you time in the area. If you want to go up to the top of the Jungfrau that is basically an entire day; if you want to do the Mannchilen walk, that is another 1/2 day or more. So you will either be rushed or have no time left to go to Murren, walk the floor of the Lauterbrunnen valley to see the waterfalls, take any walks around Wengen or the walk down from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen, etc. Also IMO 2 days in Vevey will not give you any time to really do anything, the castle at Chillon needs an entire morning or afternoon, you want to get up to the vineyards to do a walk and if you want to do a wine tasting then you need the whole day, then you can't do a good ferry ride or get to Gruyere; etc.

8. You will hear cowbells in Wengen, it is tiny. Not sure if you will hear them at the Steigenberger in Gstaad, depends on road traffic, I think not. Don't know the location of the Alpenrose. You would not hear cowbells in downtown Gstaad.
Cicerone is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 03:52 AM
  #133  
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Great to hear from Cicerone- thanks so much!!

You gave me so much info- I need to absorb and call some more hotels today and get things locked in. I'm concerned we're starting our trip over Corpus Christi weekend which is widely celebrated in Catholic Switzerland(?)

Our original plan was to fly into Geneva and depart from Lugano or Milan.
Then I discovered that the Ascona Jazz Festival is taking place during the dates we'd be in Ascona.
So we decided to flip it around and begin our trip in Ascona -arriving in LUG (Lugano airport- not Milan's Milapensa).

Then I discovered our trip is constrained on the other end by the Jazz Festival in Montreux.

I hadn't planned on all these complications.
In my original plan to depart from Lugano at the end of the trip the prices and flight times looked fine. The only complication was fear from being on a prop plane flying through that terrain.
I need to start over again today looking at the flight times arriving in LUG. I've been told the drive from LUG airport is about 45 mins to Ascona by rental car- or a taxi for 150CHF if our arrival times are very different from our friends.

If we shift everything and arrive a few days earlier than originally planned we can avoid both the Ascona and Montreux Jazz Festivals. My only concern with that plan is getting to Sils-Maria too early for peak wildflowers. Have you ever been inside the Waldhaus?
I noted you like the Walther in Pontresina. Ingo likes the Waldhaus and the easy hikes practically outside the door look perfect for us.
If you have cons for Sils-Maria and the Waldhaus I would love to hear them

MPX Milan seemed less desirable because of traffic and distance- also I found few hotels on trip advisor that appealed to me.

I really appreciate your thoughts on Gstaad- almost everything has its pros and cons so your input is very helpful to me. A dissent of opinion is what makes this board lively and helpful.

From photos though I can see why Gstaad appeals to Swandav (besides her sentimental attachment and friends in the area). For both of us, the mtns in our home states are the lush Appalachians which I find just as attractive or even more so than the Rockies. The wooden chalet architecture also looks interesting to me.

However, I'm also in agreement with you about water. One of the highlights of a Caribbean cruise was getting off the big boat and hiring a local fisherman to take us in his rickety speed boat along the coast of St Lucia. It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time!
I'm calling the Kempenski now.
Your points about Wengen are excellent- especially if we're unlucky with weather we should go for 3 nights to maximize our chances of seeing the mtns.
Thank you so much Cicerone!
calville is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 04:46 AM
  #134  
 
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Hi calville,

I'm responding to your questions of me a day or so ago --

Like Cicerone, I'm concerned that you're packing too many stops with too few days. So when you ask how I would divide four days between Montreux & Gstaad, I have to reply that I wouldn't!! I like to stay at least four days in any place, so staying two days or one/three days just wouldn't occur to me!

I also love Montreux, and have spent more time there than anywhere else in Switzerland. Gstaad is a recent "discovery" for me, so that may be why I sound so enthusiastic. But you won't go wrong spending four days on the lake!

I also have to say that my ties to Montreux are very personal -- I attended boarding school there in 1968. So, I'm a bit prejudiced and cannot give an objective opinion.

I guess the deciding note between Gstaad and Lake Geneva would be if you prefer straight mountains (hills, actually) or water with mountains in the distance. Poll your group. Get them around the computer and go to www.webshots.com and pull up some images of both places. See how the folks react.

I've done some reviews of my favorite activities in Montreux. I don't recall if I posted them already, but here they are again:

Montreux old town
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Lavaux
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Promenade Fleuri
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Morges
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...rges_Vaud.html

Hey, how about starting a *new* thread with your next itinerary? My computer doesn't like this lengthly one, and I forget what we've all said before. Can you start fresh, re-stating the relevant points?

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 05:09 AM
  #135  
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Thank you Swandav. I'll call the next thread Gourmand Switzerland Part 2
calville is offline  

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