Monica Galetti and Giles Coren head to the foothills of the Swiss Alps to experience health and wellness tourism.
Browse content similar to Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
All over the world there are remarkable hotels,
born of bold vision and daring endeavour.
This is how I ought to live.
Whether it's one of the remotest hotels on Earth
hidden on a Pacific island...
..or a sumptuous resort
on one of the highest mountains in the Middle East.
What an incredible view.
The people running these hotels
strive to create the perfect sanctuary.
But what does it take to offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences
in stunning locations?
Construction was a logistical nightmare, no water,
no source of power.
I'm a restaurant writer, newspaper columnist and critic.
I have opinions on just about everything.
-He's not a very good driver is he?
-HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE
And I'm a chef who's worked at the top end of the hospitality
industry for well over 20 years.
This is awesome! Whoo!
We'll travel to amazing hotels in every corner of the world...
..to spend time getting to know
the people working away behind the scenes.
I polish Elton John's fruits.
You polished Elton John's fruits.
Do you recall life under an apartheid? Has it changed for you?
Nelson Mandela was the first black president,
give me more inspiration to achieve what I want in life.
Join us as we venture inside...
..the world's most extraordinary hotels.
One of the most mountainous countries in Europe.
A landscape of towering beauty.
Those peaks with the sun dappling them and the green underneath,
-that's like pure Heidi.
Lots of cheese to be had. Clean.
-Possibly some beers.
-Cheese and beer and cleanliness.
These seem to me like Swiss expectations.
But where we're going it's not about pure indulgence.
We're in the foothills of the Alps,
on our way to the spa town of Bad Ragaz.
Overlooked by the spectacular Tamina Gorge,
visitors have flocked here since the 13th century to take
advantage of the mineral-rich thermal water.
Tapping into that local asset is the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz,
one of the world's most exclusive health and wellness hotels.
It should be a mind and body rehabilitation for us.
-Right, we can do this.
-After our stressful life.
In other hotels.
-Welcome to Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.
-Hi. Thank you very much.
There's been a hotel here since 1868.
Nowadays there are two luxury spas, two golf courses,
and Olympic-standard sports facilities to boost fitness
This modern day temple to wellness sprawls across an 187-acre site
with three separate hotels.
The most expensive rooms are the top suites,
costing up to £10,000 a night.
For those guests who want a more indulgent break, there's a
wine cellar, a cigar lounge, and nine restaurants, including
the innovative Michelin-starred IGNIV.
But ultimately it's the hotel's wellness credentials that
make it stand out. It has an in-house team of 80 medical staff,
offering everything from sleep therapy and dietary advice
Presiding over a staff of 777, ranging from doctors to porters,
is general manager and local boy Marco Zanolari.
It's much more than just a hotel. It's a destination in itself,
it's a lifestyle.
The combination of medical, hospitality, sports, water are much
more appealing to a lot of guests than just a hotel and a nice beach.
Before we start work I want to know what has lured the
well-travelled Marco back to Switzerland.
-Hi, how are you?
-Very well. How are you?
-Good, thank you.
-Please come in.
-What's all this on the wall?
-These are all your holidays?
-Well, it's all the places I worked at.
So, Middle East, the US, Greece,
Maui, Los Angeles, Miami.
I have a long relationship to this hotel. I grew up here...
-So did you used to come here as a child?
I'm a member at the golf club for 33 years.
So for me it's truly a coming home.
The position was published in the newspaper.
My mother saw it and told me, "Why don't you come home?"
Still, at your age, after 33 years in the golf club, your mum is
getting you the job. Is she round here?
My parents, my brother, everybody lives one town over.
-But it seems the hotel's distinctive focus on health was a
big part of the attraction.
How does it compare, coming back here, do you think you have
-It's a different expectation of luxury.
I think, truly, people will get to a point to in their lives where
you ask yourself, "Can I become more energetic, can I be healthier?"
True luxury is time for yourself.
True luxury is how much quality time you spend with your loved ones,
and what can you do to increase your time with your loved ones.
I think it comes down to this unique question.
So I'll be able to help people, help out, do some stuff, and maybe
I can have some treatments as well.
Oh, I'm sure you will. I'm sure you will. You will look so much younger.
Do you think? Surely that's not possible.
Whilst we are working here, we will be staying in the spa suites.
It feels like a healthy place to be.
Being away from the city, in a village, it's so green.
You can imagine people hiking.
Kind of feel like I should yodel.
Here, health considerations are built in.
The bed's gradient and firmness can be altered at the touch of a button.
Oh! Legs are going up.
And there is a pillow menu, as the hotel strives to ensure the
perfect night's sleep.
"Anti-allergy pillows." Right.
"A pine pillow." I want to try a pine pillow.
"Filled with 100% pine wood." Oh, maybe I don't.
"Beneficial for the heart, soporific and revitalising."
Water is piped directly from the gorge.
Shower. Thermal water.
It's also clearly a steam room.
Load of controls, so you can come and have a proper shvitz.
Jacuzzi. Massive. Thermal water again.
Loo. Thermal water? Possibly not, who cares?
And here, there is my own personal sauna.
Literally, like, cut off the corner of a pukka sauna.
So, I don't even have to leave my room and I can have the
healthiest holiday I've ever had.
Of course, a spa in your bathroom
is a typically efficient Swiss innovation.
It starts in banking, it starts in watches,
I think the reputation of Switzerland being very exact
and precise has helped us as a brand, Switzerland, to
attract guests to come and visit.
And it's that precision that the team attempts to bring to
every morning meeting.
We have Mr Fogarly arriving.
Evian. Just Evian. No other water inside.
We have people in this resort
that have been here for the last 45 years.
We were able to create the family environment yet with all the
amenities one would wish for.
She was a little bit sick the last few days.
Thanks to Andy we will play golf with her, as her husband
passed away last year, so she feels a little bit lonely.
Make sure it's not an easy competition
but make sure she wins, huh?
Meticulous pre-arrival planning is just one element of attending
to guests' wellbeing.
Once they're on-site there's a team of five butlers providing
24-hour room service.
My first job is to work alongside Irina...
..the hotel's very own pillow butler.
-You're looking very good.
I never get used to the amount of tunnels under hotels.
VOICEOVER: The butlers can walk up to 25km per day.
We don't need to go to the gym because we are always...
-Always constantly walking.
Wall of fame.
THEY SPEAK LOCAL LANGUAGE
That's what I said.
Please, go in.
This is our pillow stock.
-So the guests can request a pillow?
-Guests call us and order the pillow,
or they just say, "I can't sleep," we bring pillow during the
night as well.
The hotel believes good sleep is key to a healthy life
and offers 14 different kinds of pillows.
Each one is supposed to have different benefits.
Eucalyptus to help your breathing, lavender to prevent migraines,
and thyme to alleviate coughing.
Yes! Oh, my gosh, it really does smell like thyme.
And of course the guests' most requested option...
-That is the anti-aging pillow?
Now we're talking. It's no wonder...
This already looks like a magic pillow.
-I give you also.
-I need it?
It's loosely stuffed and treated with vitamin E, supposedly
allowing the guest's face to breathe whilst they sleep.
Oh, I can feel the effect already.
SHE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE
We have guests now. She called me and she ordered anti-aging pillow.
They must be high in demand. Do a few of them go missing?
I like the way you held back on that!
Anti-aging pillow coming through.
Of course, choosing where to rest a weary head at night is
important for guests.
But the real star attraction is the thermal water.
Locally known as "blue gold" it's everywhere you look -
flowing out of drinking fountains, in the hotel's very own beer...
..and of course the hotel's centrepiece,
the 8,500 square metre spa.
Over seven million litres pour into the nine pools every single day.
The hotel believes the water helps circulation and can ease
conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis.
275,000 guests and locals benefited from the water last year,
all under the watchful eye of spa manager Robert Heinevetter.
This is quite special.
All this water the mountain is giving to us, we all use it,
everybody from the hotel, the workers, everybody here is
only because of the thermal water.
It's really blue gold.
Along with running the spa,
Robert is a world-renowned sauna infusion specialist.
But there is one job here that he thinks really sets the place apart,
and he wants me to give it a go.
So what we have here, this is actually for me the most important
thing because this is a long tradition, we're giving the
-guests a hot sheet.
-But it's like that normally.
-This is important that we're giving the sheet like this, yeah?
And we have small contact, like, "It was nice? Yeah, you feel good?"
-This is nice.
-You can do contact again, it's all right.
It's not like we're doing it like this and say,
-"Yeah, have a nice day." This is not nice.
You need to do it from your heart.
Before each sheet can touch a guest's shoulders, it's
heated to a cosy 85 degrees.
-Did you have a good time?
-Is that all right?
-Oh, yeah, thank you.
All right, off you go.
GUESTS SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE
Good? I'm going to do something and you can stay here.
-You trust me to do this on my own?
-Yeah, of course.
Who knew it was so stressful to open a sheet for people?
Oh, no, I'm getting busy, I've got another one.
All is good?
I've done many jobs throughout hotels, but I've never been
made a chief hugger in a spa.
Warm sheet, give him a hug, send him off.
Makes you feel good. I feel good. Next!
Monica may be embracing her work but I'm going to meet chief
engineer Reto Schwengeler for something a lot less touchy-feely.
Hey. How are you?
This is the brain of the whole hotel.
The water for the hotel comes from the nearby Tamina Gorge.
Reto regulates the all-important flow into the complex.
-What is this?
-This is the source of the water.
-This is the gorge?
-And that's the shape it is, it's a sort of cavern?
-So here you can see the actual levels?
And that's the bottom of the reservoir, is it?
-If the water is here...
-You're in trouble.
-Does that ever happen?
-We hope that never happens.
-That's the big nightmare.
-Then this whole thing just comes crumbling to the ground.
Can you show me the button you have to push to stop all the water?
HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE
So he's going to get the guy out, he's going to log in and show
me the button where you can actually stop all the water, which is
basically just pure James Bond-villain territory.
Turn off the water and then charge
£1 million to turn it back on again.
-If I hit the OK...
-Yeah, hit it.
Nought percent water, really? So I've cut off the water?
The wait is half an hour. You have time now...
So now is when I make my call to the manager to say, "If you don't
-"deposit in my Swiss account a billion francs..."
Having talked me out of my dastardly scheme,
we're heading up the gorge for the weekly check on the source itself.
-It's very beautiful.
-Are there bears?
-Not normal, no.
-It is just amazing.
-I love it.
In the 13th century the sick were lowered down in baskets to
bathe for days on end in the steaming pools.
In 1840, they decided to make it a bit more convenient and wooden pipes
were used to channel the warm water into Bad Ragaz itself.
For 120 years these wooden pipes supplied the hotel, finally
being replaced only in the 1960s.
The futuristic system was installed in 2014.
This must have been a huge endeavour to put this pipe in.
Yeah, that was really strong guys, they put it there by hand.
-Guess you can't get a machine down here, can you?
This was all hand work.
I think there's a leak here.
Our first job is to check the pH balance.
Too much acidity will corrode the pipes, turning the hotel
Too much alkalinity and the guests will have stomach complaints.
We have tested the neutrality of the water and it is pretty much
neutral at 7.3.
Perhaps no surprise, given we're in Switzerland.
Does the water change?
No. Never something goes wrong cos Switzerland is tick, tick.
Like a watch.
After all this clinical efficiency,
the raw power of nature is even more stunning.
-That is like the Batcave.
Around 1240 the hunting men saw the steam on top of the gorge and he
was wondering what's down here and comes down and found the hot water.
And he goes back to his guys and tells them, "I found hot water,"
and they think he's crazy or really scared to go down here.
Some of it's closed and then some of you can see right up into the light.
Imagine Swiss hunters look down and they see hot water, which you can't
have in the 13th century without boiling it over a fire. Amazing.
And they thought immediately, being Swiss, "Aha!
"We build huge, very efficient hotel!"
It doesn't matter how hi-tech, the system, Reto still checks in
person that the water is flowing freely.
I love to go behind and get the real stuff.
As we neared the source, you can feel the heat rising.
That's hot. That's really hot.
You can touch with your hands.
It's amazing. The water is just so clear.
And hot. And just quite spooky.
It's not just in the hotel spa that water plays a central role.
-I will have a G and T, please.
Oh, I'm sorry, I've got only mineral water.
Butler Irina also works as a water sommelier.
-So this one is called Henniez.
The hotel believes water is not just beneficial to bathe in.
Heated by geothermal activity, it rises from deep within the Earth's
crust, passing through rocks and collecting health-giving
minerals en route.
We have still, medium sparkling and sparkling water.
-I've never heard of medium sparkling water.
-Isn't that what they call it in France?
-Oh, is it?
That's more... It's more...
I haven't really got the words to describe water.
Irina serves over 30 different varieties, some from the source,
including bicarbonate-rich waters which can help with a hangover,
and those high in sulphur, good for curing indigestion.
I like sparkling water, I don't drink a lot of it but the
main reason is I burp a lot.
-That's a good thing.
-Well, it depends.
When you're in the middle of a restaurant it's not good.
If the water has low bubbles, actually doesn't...
So this is for me?
Yes, and also this water is a best, um...
-..dinner or lunch companion.
It's medium mineralization
and it's just a good companion with the food,
don't disturb the taste of food.
Is there a correct temperature for drinking water?
-I like nice cold water.
-If we drink warm water or 36.5 water
it means it's the same body temperature, so the body
Irina can even recommend the right type of water to accompany
So you reckon the water is going to change the taste of the wine?
Exactly. Because of the minerals.
Each mineral has a different taste.
-I drink this first...
-First water, please make big sip,
and then the wine and after wine, water again.
I'm getting the lemonyness of the Riesling at the moment.
Slightly acidity... More of a sort of fuller Riesling flavour.
SHE BURPS Excuse me.
-That's a bit embarrassing.
-See, that happens to me if I drink it.
Chin-chin. Thank you.
Switzerland is one of the healthiest countries on Earth,
with the highest male life expectancy in the world.
The Swiss spend more money on health than any other European nation.
But the hotel's facilities also attract a high number of
international guests, including some permanent residents.
We can take the elevator.
One of the hotel's most valued guests is about to arrive,
and VIP butler Karina needs to make sure everything is fit for a king.
Normally I'm faster.
Her guest is a Middle Eastern prince and she has served him on
each of his last three visits.
It's a banana chocolate cake,
because he loves bananas and chocolate.
It's a top VIP.
We never know exactly but they will come with round about 300
pieces of luggage.
As always, he will occupy the entire top floor of the spa suites,
where for £10,000 per night he will get 600 square metres of
floor space, 360 degrees of balcony, and a thermal water Jacuzzi.
It's hot. And it's clean.
When he's here I will be here to care about the preparations
for the breakfast, then I will serve the breakfast, then I will
guide him through all the appointments.
I'm with him till he gets back to the suite
and then he will tell me, "I don't need you any longer,"
and then it's time for me to go home.
Before the prince's arrival, general manager Marco checks the
rooms to ensure everything is up to the hotel's exacting standards.
It's the little touches that we try to get right.
For example, if you leave your sunglasses out it's nice if
they're cleaned. Do you see it? Maybe, maybe not.
But you see the world a lot clearer when you walk out.
OK, what's the, um...
..the strength of the bed? Does he prefer hard or soft?
-He's always taking it hard.
-OK. So, that's pre-programmed, OK.
Put the initials on one side of the pillow, please.
-That will be a nice touch. So he has a nice pillow memory.
Overall, if a guest feels comfortable,
and then come home, and you've felt "Wow,
"that was a very unique experience, and I would like to return",
we have definitely done our jobs.
One of the most important and unusual ways
the hotel keeps high-end guests coming back
is their ultramodern medical centre.
No sausage dogs.
Clinic Bad Ragaz.
So... Yeah, so you've got sort of...
schlafmedizin, sleep medicine,
lungenkrankenheiten, lung disease.
But then gynaecology, special gynaecology and oncology,
I mean, cancer doctors?
Yes, dermatology, skincare,
lasering and stuff but neurology?
Bing! Got one of those, don't need one,
but it's a radiology unit,
it's plastic reconstructive surgery, orthopaedic...
I mean, that's more than they've got in my local hospital
let alone a hotel.
For the Swiss, good living is a national obsession.
Their insurance-based health system is one of the best in Europe.
Combining a medical centre and a hotel
is at the end of the day adding another experience.
The combination that you can improve your wellbeing, your energy level,
your performance within a beautiful environment,
it's a win-win.
The hotel's clinic employs 30 doctors.
This medical one-stop shop also offers cosmetic treatments,
For the guests,
receiving treatments away from the prying eyes of neighbours
can have its advantages.
I think confidentiality is the backbone of any hotel operation
or any medical operation.
It's a trust of your guests you cannot betray.
You go on a vacation,
you can visit a doctor,
and not your whole neighbourhood knows what you have done.
So you could just come back and look much better,
that it was just the beautiful water of Ragaz.
I'll be working with Dr Christian Hoppe,
hotel doctor and head medic of the Swiss Olympic medical centre.
He is a specialist in sports medicine and rehabilitation.
He's been practising for over 20 years.
We have people from China, from India, Brazil,
all over the world,
but main part coming from Middle East.
They're looking for a different approach.
It's a fact that people work hard,
and if people have only four weeks vacation every year
then they should use this four weeks to,
to make progress.
Retired banker Rolf Baumann and his wife Joy
have been coming here for more than 30 years.
It's very important to say we meet here in this resort.
-Yes, exactly, we met here.
-We met here.
She came in.
I knew I have to make something.
I shouted over the bar.
She was ordering a gupli, a glass of champagne,
then I said, "That's on my bill."
Very rude, you know?
But I went to her,
introduced myself, and then... It starts.
Then it was OK for me, yes.
-And we decided to get married.
-Hi, come in.
Currently, Mr Baumann is concerned about his weight.
-Your special interest in losing weight a little bit?
-How old are you?
What was your highest weight you've ever had?
And I was down, about one and a half year, on 76.
76, I think it's too low.
You were 87, and you're now 80 kilos.
You want to lose weight, but 76 kilos is too little.
So you want to lose what, two kilos?
Yes, but I would like to keep 78,
We go now and measure your weight.
-OK, so what's your first name?
There we go.
-Grosse. How tall are you?
182. You see, I'm 178, and I weigh the same as you,
-so I'm the fat one here.
-So you are too heavy.
Yeah, I'm the fat one.
Well, we need him to disrobe, don't we?
THE SCALES SPEAK GERMAN
It's telling him he's got to stand still and not speak.
DAINTY PIANO TUNE
Hence the music the computer's playing while it thinks.
Magermasse des Beins?
Das Bein is a leg.
-Is it telling you the weight of the legs?!
Then it will show you...
His legs weigh 19 kilos?
Der InBody test ist abgeschlossen.
-Does that mean finished?
-Hmm? Oh, look!
-Verstetigung. What does that mean, print?
You don't really need doctors with this kit, do you? I mean...
I could do this!
THEY SPEAK GERMAN
Danke schoen, Herr Baumann.
-Can I go on this later?
So this is his InBody test, and he's stood on there,
they've passed electric currents through him, it's broken down his...
body, the weight of his right arm, left arm, trunk,
right leg and left leg.
I've often told myself, when I come up as 12.5 stone,
"Oh, I've just got heavy legs."
But we're going to find that out about Mr Baumann.
His body composition in water and everything else,
muscle fat analysis...
Fortunately for Mr Baumann, Dr Hoppe has good news.
-Oh, man, I want to have this test!
Herr Baumann, with a BMI of 24,
that's just perfect.
You even could have two, three kilo more,
so you are really in a comfortable situation.
I will be happy in your age if I have the same levels.
But it's cost £1,000 to find that out.
I'm very glad to have this information.
I'm on the right direction.
I can't help wondering if having all these examinations on tap
has the potential to prey on guests' anxieties.
Do you get a lot of hypochondriacs in?
Yes, yes. No, really, it's a problem.
But it's our job to tell them that they don't have to spend
their whole money.
Because I know people who, if they came to somewhere like this,
they'd go, "Oh, I could have an MRI scan,
-"I could have little operations here and there."
People, they say, "I pay for myself."
A guest is king,
he, she can have what you want,
but it's my job as a doctor...
..when I like my patient to tell him or her what really makes sense
and what is spend money for nothing.
MONICA: For patients like Mr Baumann,
food and diet are central to their stay.
In this hotel, there's a choice of nine restaurants,
staffed by 85 chefs and overseen by executive chef Renato Wust.
Renato has created a bespoke health menu called Cuisine Equilibree.
It has over 700 carefully balanced recipes
and that no meal exceeds 600 calories.
He works hand-in-hand with hotel nutritionist Sonja Ricke.
As a nutritionist, I have a special relationship to the kitchen.
I'm somehow a ping-pong ball between the guests and the kitchen.
Sonja's job is to police the chefs,
ensuring their desire to please their guests' taste buds
is not to the detriment of the rest of their bodies.
There is really no unhealthy food and there is really no healthy food,
the only thing is that there is food we have to limit the quantities.
I'm helping Sonja and Renato prepare one of their menus.
We have always three course menu in Cuisine Equilibree -
starter, a main dish and a dessert.
And all the three courses are less than 600 calories.
-All three courses?
Oh, wow, that's impressive.
The starter is an asparagus soup with Ginger.
At just 137 calories, Renato is only allowed to add
five grams of olive oil to start it off.
-Very good, Chef. Very good, very good. A good try.
I was trying to, you know, distract her.
Oh, it's very good. That's very good.
The main course consists of lean veal steaks,
containing roughly half the calories and 75% less fat than beef.
This is accompanied by a Swiss potato rosti.
-In the recipe, you have 20g.
It's quite funny, there's Renato's cooking and everything he's adding,
a bit of oil, a bit of cream, Sonya has got her eye on it.
For dessert, guests will be served an exotic fruit salad
with a papaya and champagne smoothie.
-So, champagne in here?
-Yep, there, please.
Champagne smoothie, I like the way you're thinking.
So, you're allowing a bit of indulgence at the same time,
a little bit.
Even the lemon thyme garnish has medicinal qualities.
This is a herb to digest very well, so you can eat your herbs
and the digestion is also activated.
They control me, I don't put so much oil,
not so much butter, not so much cream in.
-Thank you, my dear.
Well done, guys.
I guess what it is that people are looking for
in your stressful lives is they come here and the worry of trying
to eat healthy is taken out of the equation.
Someone else is doing it for you behind the scenes
and you get to sit back, relax and enjoy.
Whilst guests may rely on Renato's 600 calorie menu
to keep the pounds off,
he uses a scooter to get from one restaurant to the next.
I have a restaurant I make only Swiss cuisine.
I have another restaurant I make only Thai cuisine.
And then here we have a Michelin star restaurant, IGNIV.
For those guests seeking the ultimate indulgence, IGNIV,
overseen by the three Michelin starred chef Andreas Caminada,
is a shared plate fine dining experience
and is the talk of the Swiss culinary scene.
The restaurant serves only local produce
and its sommeliers source wine
from the Donatsch winery,
a family-run vineyard on the opposite side of the valley.
Here they make one of the best
but least known pinot noirs in the world.
Pinot noir is notoriously hard to grow
but the Donatsch family have been excelling at it
for five generations.
The hotel buys 700 bottles from them every year.
It's harvest time and I'm helping boss Martin
pick the precious fruit.
-Nice to meet you. Hi.
You can help us.
We had a little bit of a problem this year with starting rotting
-because we had a lot of rain.
So we take off all the grapes which are not nice.
Every grape you wouldn't take in your mouth,
-you shouldn't put in the bin.
And it is all pinot noir for red wine.
Do you know what? I've never heard the phrase Swiss wine
-and in my life, in my work, I see a lot of wine.
I've never heard of Swiss wine.
Switzerland is not, erm...
..not famous for wine because we don't export.
So, why don't you export?
Our wine, even in Switzerland, very, very rare.
Our wines go to the best restaurants in Switzerland, to luxury hotels
and we have, even there we have waiting lists.
Even Burj Al Arab in Dubai or Noma in Denmark asks for our wine but...
-The most... The best restaurant in the world
-and you don't give it to them.
-We told them, "Sorry, we don't export."
What kind of people do you have picking?
Because, you know, grape picking is traditionally a job for poor people
-and you don't have any poor people.
-No, we have no poor people.
We have many customers or guests from Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
come here to work in the vineyards.
The hotel's guests come to the vineyard to sample a little bit
of the simple life, alongside locals.
-CEOs from big companies...
..work in the nature with the soil where I have dirty hands.
All the CEOS which come to us ask why you don't expand
when you could sell much more,
but I think the most important thing in life is to be happy.
Picking grapes to make wine may not be the most conventional
of wellness activities but it certainly pepped me up.
What a lovely way to spend a morning,
what a lovely way it would be to spend the whole picking season.
What a way to spend your life, out in the fresh air, staying healthy.
Back at the Donatsch family home,
hotel guests are rewarded for their work
with a hearty lunch prepared by Martin's mother Heidi,
whilst his father Thomas works down in the cellar.
With a predictable Swiss attention to detail,
he hand paints an emblem on each of the 2,400 premium bottles
he produces every year.
And, today, I'm helping to alleviate his workload.
-Is that OK?
-You make it like my dad.
-OK, I'm going to do another one.
-Is it, no?
-It's good when every bottle is unique.
-A bit different.
That's the reason why we make every single bottle by hand.
This is almost more fun than picking grapes.
Enjoyable as it might be,
it's hard to imagine many business owners resisting
the urge to cash in.
What would you think if your son decided to sell
the business for lots of money to a big wine producer?
HE SPEAKS IN OWN LANGUAGE
My dad said if I would,
it's my choice, but I think he told us that
because he know I wouldn't do that.
Money is not the most important thing in life.
The most important thing is to be happy.
I'm happier here doing this than I have been for a very long time.
So, I can well understand how you feel.
Giles may be enjoying the rejuvenating results
of getting his hands dirty,
but I'm off duty and heading to the hotel's dermatology department
where they take a more scientific approach
to feeling and looking younger.
I'm meeting lead dermatologist Brigitte Bollinger.
-When you look in the mirror...
-..what are you seeing?
What is not right in your face?
I think eventually I'm going to start getting more wrinkles
-as life goes on, yeah.
For your age, I think you can start with a kind of treatment
-to improve the quality of your skin.
Brigitte thinks natural fillers might be the best thing for my face.
The best areas are the stomach or the bottom...
-That's the premium fat.
OK, this will be, like, Galetti fat,
I'll have to charge premium for that if anyone's going to use that.
We need not too much, we need 30ml.
So, instead of having chemicals,
-you take your own booty fat and separate it...
-Your own, yes.
-..and you put it in your face.
-You take your own filler.
That's so interesting.
Who knew you could check yourself into a hotel,
have face implants and then checkout and no-one would know?
Whilst last year the hotel provided over 200 guests with facial fillers,
it's not one for me. I'm going to settle for the facial for now.
The hotel offers a full body health check.
It's a barrage of examinations including specimen
tests for your organs, as well as cardiovascular monitoring.
It costs £1,500 and is designed to give you a sense of your
Is there something specific you would like to know?
Basically, "How long have I got, doc?,"
is what I'd like to know.
I go away from my family to come to these fancy hotels
and I think they might worry the lifestyle is taking its toll
on me so I'd like to be able to go back and tell them,
"It's OK, I'm fine."
What makes sense is to know about your cardiopulmonary performance.
Is that good or bad?
And therefore I would suggest we do a stress test.
A Dr Hoppe stress test involves having my own
body composition measured...
..before being wired up to an electrocardiogram...
Oh! ..and made to cycle.
This is fascinating. This is brilliant.
I can see why people do this on holiday because it's all about me.
It's much better than lying on a beach
-drinking pina colada.
But it's not long before things get a little bit tougher.
I'm just breathing hard for stage effect, it's not really bad.
He can still talk and talk and talk and talk.
I can't believe.
Now it's up to you, you can continue or... OK. Keep going, keep going.
Sleep is also seen as being vital to good health
so the final stage of assessment happens at night.
-Just bring my dinner through and put it anywhere. Oh!
-Hey, good evening.
I'm going to be wired up for a sleep assessment by the hotel's
very own sleeping specialist,
Dr Mark Daeppen, a close colleague of Dr Hoppe.
So how does this work? Why do you need to know about my sleep?
It's very important
if you want to live long that you have a good sleep.
So why am I doing this in a hotel, not a hospital?
It's the hospital where they have their routines,
ward rounds during night shifts and nurses are stepping in
so you don't really get the quality of sleep.
You sleep much better and we have better results.
My sleep patterns will be recorded throughout the night by 60
electrodes stuck to my head to measure my brain activity.
I feel like I'm being prepared for a lobotomy.
My heart rate and breathing patterns will be measured through
pads on my chest.
And sensors on my legs will gauge how much I move in the night.
OK, very gently.
Finally, I'm forced to wear this cotton mesh cap,
purely for fashion reasons.
Your night cap.
-How do I look?
-We'll see you tomorrow, have a great sleep.
I'm going to nip out for a couple of drinks, is that OK?
Then I will come back up.
I think if you think about all the things that go with
the idea of spending a night in a hotel,
all the things from relaxation to me time to fun to naughtiness,
this is about as far away from what people mean as you can possible get.
While guests slumber the hotel never stops working.
Every night the main pool's 312,000 litres are drained and replenished.
And in the kitchens they're busy doing room service,
perhaps surprisingly for a health hotel, spaghetti bolognese
and not salad is the most requested dish.
No midnight feast for me though.
I'm up before sunrise to help catch the hotel some fish.
I'm at a lake called Walensee,
Just 20 minutes away to meet Andreas, the hotel's superstar chef.
This area of outstanding beauty is protected by the local canton
which grants just a few permits for people to fish on the lake.
Luckily for us and the Grand Resort,
our fisherman for the day Hans-Peter is one of them.
I quite like he's the only professional fisherman on the lake.
He cannot supply that many chefs.
He has some private people who come and buy it
but he has maybe three restaurants he supplies.
Our job this morning is to catch trout and perch
to take back to IGNIV,
Andreas's restaurant at the hotel.
Is it a more modern take on food compared to Bad Ragaz?
Our concept is a little bit younger.
It's a little more relaxed but it's a very high quality, actually.
The main idea is to have our three-star cuisine
broken down in a very nice atmosphere.
Is that very much part of the history of Swiss cuisine,
when you eat together?
We eat fondue a lot and cheese fondue and meat fondue as well
and that's actually a very social way of enjoying something
because you don't have your own plate and you just keep it for you.
-Conversation starts to flow.
And I think that's a nice way of sharing concepts.
Watching the sun rise over the beautiful lake, hearing about all
this wonderful food, it's easy to forget that we have some work to do.
So now the work starts, huh?
-We're not here to look, we're here to work.
-Oh, come on.
Come on, Monica, move. Take off your jacket, you're getting wet.
Hans dropped 600m of drift net yesterday evening which needs
hauling in by hand.
Oh, it's a good size.
The hotel is very lucky to be
able to have this fish 20 minutes from their doorstep, so fresh.
In this environment, what a dream.
With the catch unloaded we're heading back to the restaurant.
Head chef Andreas introduces me to his Michelin-starred understudy, Silvio.
-How are you? You OK?
-Nice to meet you.
-Lovely to meet you.
I'm helping out on a lunch time service.
Whilst Monica will no doubt feel at home in the kitchen...
..I will be doing my best not to embarrass myself with head
-I have a jacket for you.
Aw! I thought you were going to show me to my table.
No, I'm sorry.
Francesco and I will be looking after a table of ten diners,
paying upwards of £130 a head.
Expectations will be high
and we have less than an hour before they arrive.
It looks beautiful, or not?
I think so, yeah.
So, the next step...
..to iron a table.
They used a bright white, crisp, ironed table cloth as a dust sheet.
HE SPEAKS GERMAN
-Closed side to the guest.
-Closed side to the guest, yeah.
They're just redoing the cloth that I did
because in the ironing I left two little tiny black marks from the
brass polish so they're whipped the whole thing off and are going again.
-Monica, you can just finish two.
-Finish two with the apple.
It's quite a calm kitchen so far.
When it's like this it's nice to make something look so pretty.
Can you imagine when you've got five, six tables on?
-We'll prepare the candy stall.
It's for our guests if they would like something sweet
for the coffee or to take away, then.
And so you put them in a row?
The idea is here to have the high...
-Mm-hmm. High ones.
-..and then we go...
High at the back and low at the front? OK.
And, yeah, we do it a little bit freestyle, you know?
-Oh. You do this a bit freestyle?
-Yes, a little bit freestyle.
-Suddenly now you tell me you do it freestyle.
-I was trying to do it Michelin.
-So I'll put it there and then we...
I suggest you'd put this on the right side.
-You need a lot of plates here.
-Yeah, it looks good.
-Is that good?
-Yeah, it looks good.
I'm going to turn my back and you're going to move it, but...
-And those are beautiful.
Is that...? That's pink chocolate.
Pink chocolate, yeah.
So, my opinion... Do you want to know what I think?
You know, the chocolate, it feels so good here in this area.
Well, in that case...
With our bird you know?
-Yeah? Is that your special bird?
-Yeah, our special bird. Yeah.
Your paradise bird, lovingly fondled.
Joking aside, the prep and everything can all be done
and nothing hinges on it,
but the actual service, I've never actually done that.
There's quite involved fiddly stuff.
It's not just slapping down egg and chips.
It's a bit nerve-racking and, given that I'm a restaurant critic,
there's an extra edge.
There's more at stake. I could look a double fool.
There, thank you.
Frances, the other waitress, just crossed herself as she saw me
carrying these glasses.
It's got us flowing, you know?
-It's OK, perfect.
No, on the right of the water glass.
The lady looked so unimpressed with something that I did,
the way I reached, whatever it was.
It was not excellent. It was not acceptable.
Genuinely stressful - genuinely.
People aren't very nice to waiters, are they?
-I mean, I'm always really nice.
-Oh, is that so?
-They're nice to chefs, aren't they?
Here's hoping I can do better with the starter.
OK, we're getting this out and this has got to have a vinaigrette,
a beetroot vinaigrette poured round it,
and then I've got to smash this little bonbon with a spoon
when he winks at me.
How did it go?
It was great. It was... It was...
I mean, it's not rocket science, but I was worried.
I was stressed that if I'd do it too gently, it wouldn't go,
and if I did it too hard, it would go splat
and go all over all these lovely ladies.
And, you know, we looked at each other, boom, and it worked.
-You got it?
-So, you know, yeah.
Little hurdles, Monica.
Aim low and succeed - that's my motto.
This is going to be the first surprise after the main,
after the appetisers,
and there, the nuggets into...
-There will be nuggets under there?
-The chicken nuggets.
-And we are serving this together.
-And then we are looking in our eyes, another time.
-OK. Really deeply?
And by three, we take off the cloche and we do this move.
Grabbing the opportunity to end on a high note, I make my escape.
-Did you give up?
-How did it go?
-Lots of fun, yeah. Did you enjoy it?
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
It was jolly. It's nice. There's fun things to do...
-..as opposed to just spanking plates down.
Yeah, there's a bit of drama in it, isn't there?
Yeah, yeah, it was fun.
-Hi, Giles. How are you?
Our time at this health-fixated hotel is drawing to a close
but, before I leave, manager Marco has invited me to
hit some golf balls.
I go to lots of hotels,
and it's rare that I finish feeling really, really good.
We try to have a luxury that is very familiar.
Here, it's all about yourself. It's about taking time for yourself.
The only problem that remains is my golf.
Right, I'm just going home.
Thank you very much.
And for me, it's time to say goodbye to butler Irina...
Chocolate, Swiss chocolate... Thank you.
-..and nutritionist Sonja.
Stay happy and well.
That was a wonderful thing to say. SONJA LAUGHS
When they leave the hotel, many guests are given a health plan.
Before we go, I want to get my results.
-How are you?
I don't know. You tell me.
Yeah, OK, I will tell you.
-Let's start with body measurement.
The fact is that you have more muscle,
-much more muscle than fat...
..so you're an athlete.
-Is that what that shows?
-Just perfect with your body.
-Oh, my word!
It's magic hearing that from your doctor.
But then the results from your sleep test...
You wake up 18 times during the night -
what's more than usual.
-Yeah, and what's not normal is...
We know that there are a couple of things that are not good
for a deep and healthy sleep,
so one thing is too much alcohol.
I think, in your case, that was evident.
-In that sleep?
-Yes. Too much food.
And what we know is that the blue light from the iPad,
the iPhone and whatever is definitely not good.
How is my life expectancy compared to normal?
I think all the results I've got, it's at least normal -
maybe a little bit higher than normal.
I hope you'll keep going strong with daily exercise and...
Hope? Hope isn't enough!
The consultation over, there is plenty to ponder.
That's strange to be told in a hotel, isn't it?
When you going to the doctor and he says, "Your sleep is dodgy
"and you're not going to live an especially long time,"
that...that could be said to put a bit of a downer on a holiday.
But that is an incentive to do something,
and it makes me absolutely resolved -
not just in the moment, going to forget about it -
to try and do exercise every day,
because if you can do something about your health,
it's sort of stupid not to.
Has it changed what you think about what a hotel ought to be?
I have been pleasantly surprised to discover such a hotel
I never knew you could go into a hotel and get your teeth done,
get your face done, have a detox and recover.
I mean, you go on holiday and you want it to be all about "me" things.
"And I want to go to the beach and I want to have that avocado."
And here it's the same thing, it's me, me, me, me, me,
but it's just slightly different.
You know, you get to have a doctor on you all the time.
You get to have nurses. You get to have massages.
It's another way of being waited on hand and foot
which is just a bit healthier.
You know, you also have the option to sit back,
enjoy a glass of wine,
and go and have a burger if you want,
and they don't judge anybody by it.
Do you feel healthier after spending a week here?
I do, and I'm looking forward to moving on to our next hotel
and making a bit of a mess of myself.
Shall we go and have a burger for dinner?
That sounds ideal. Maybe two.
Monica Galetti and Giles Coren head to the foothills of the Swiss Alps to experience a very different type of travel - health and wellness tourism. This luxury hotel houses not only multiple restaurants, spas and golf courses but also Olympic-standard sports facilities - and a high-spec clinic boasting 80 medical staff, who offer guests everything from sleep therapy to dietary advice and surgery.
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz lies in the shadow of an ancient gorge, the thermal waters of which have lured visitors for centuries. Giles and Monica discover that these days the mineral-rich H2O, known locally as 'blue gold', is piped down to the hotel grounds to fill pools, pour out of drinking fountains and even to appear in the hotel's own beer. Monica becomes 'chief hugger' in the spa, Giles sees the nerve centre of the thermal water system and the hotel's water sommelier gives both presenters a master class in 30 varieties of mineral water. Monica has a stint as a pillow butler, offering 14 different types of pillow, fishes with three Michelin-starred chef Andreas Caminata, and creates one of the hotel's carefully-balanced menus, a 3-course meal containing less than 600 calories.
Giles heads across the valley to pick grapes and paint wine bottles at the Donatsch winery, scrapes through service as a waiter at Andreas's theatrical plate-sharing hotel restaurant, and has his first stint as a hotel nurse.