The westernmost of the Swiss cities is Geneva, one of the most important cities in terms of finance. The UN has its headquarters here, and the International Red Cross coordinates its humanitarian actions from its Geneva location; even so, the city is especially known as the capital of the luxury watch industry. All of the best brands have a boutique on one side or the other of the Rhône, among them is Patek Philippe, the last local manufacturer still in the hands of one single family committed to carrying on the watchmaking tradition. Part of that commitment can be seen in the museum which the brand inaugurated in 2001 in an Art Deco building in the Plainpalais district, a must-visit if you want to understand not only the legacy of Patek Philippe but also the history of watchmaking in general. Its collection includes five centuries of watchmaking art made up of 2,000 pieces, amongst which is the Caliber 89, the most complicated watch of the world. The museum is topped off with a library of 8,000 works devoted to the measurement of time.
The world’s jet set travels to Geneva to buy watches that are hard to find outside of Switzerland – and that has triggered the construction of luxury hotels. Having said that, if there is any hotel that has been steeped in excellence since its opening, that hotel is Des Bergues – the oldest of all the city’s hotels, opened in 1834. Writers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and members of royalty have made this hotel their own – a hotel which has proudly overlooked Lake Geneva for almost two centuries.
In 2005, Des Bergues became a Four Seasons hotel and was completely renovated by interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. The hotel now has 71 fashionable rooms and 44 magnificent suites in Louis Philippe style, a library, and a spa with a Moroccan hammam, a marble steam room, private treatment rooms, a gym, and a swimming pool on the building’s top floor. On the rooftop terrace of the top floor guests will find the Izumi Japanese Restaurant which offers unparalleled views of the famous Jet d’Eau Fountain.
The other haute cuisine restaurant at the Four Seasons is Il Lago. Awarded with a Michelin star and run by chef Massimiliano Sena, the restaurant specializes in Italian cuisine and features an exquisite selection of Swiss wines. Many of these wines are produced at the vineyards surrounding the city of Geneva and Lake Geneva – a true paradise for wine tasters. The Four Seasons, just like Badrutt’s Palace and Park Hotel Vitznau, are members of Swiss Deluxe Hotels – a company made up of the finest five-star hotels in Switzerland and which guarantees a supreme level of service in every possible way.
The time finally came to return to the Basque Country. The return flight was from the Geneva Airport, as Swiss offers direct flights to Biarritz from there. Thus ends this trip through the Alpine country of Switzerland, where we were able to enjoy its magnificent landscape, its cuisine, its culture, and the impeccable nature of its hospitality industry.