New destination to see autumn leaves
North America and Asia may be famous for their fall leaves, but there is somewhere much closer to home where the trees are equally striking in the autumn and that is Switzerland. Nothing - not the need to pull on a cashmere jumper, nor the smell of the first log fire - announces the arrival of the new season quite as dramatically as the striking red, glimmering gold and burnt orange leaves of the Engadine trees.
Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina, which is located in the heavily wooded Upper Engadine Valley, has put together a special package, valid from 9 September and 20 October, to make it possible to witness this phenomenon. The package includes dinner, bed and breakfast, complimentary use of the hotel's stunning spa facilities, a 10% discount on spa treatments and unlimited use of all the mountain railways in the Engadine/St Moritz area, so that guests can easily get out into wooded areas. Prices start from CHF 415 (approx £275) per night for two people sharing a beautiful double room; guests must stay a minimum of two nights.
The Engadine, protected by high Alpine mountains on all sides, is famous for its sunny climate and beautiful landscapes (Engadine in local Romantsch dialect means The Garden of the Inn River, as the valley is a veritable treasure trove of greenery), making it the perfect European destination to witness autumn colours set against clear blue skies.
Visits to the Engadine at this time of year are particularly popular among hikers and artists; the light in the valley is so magical it led the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to believe that he had found "the cradle of all silver tones".
For more details and to book, please visit the Grand Hotel Kronenhof website kronenhof.com.
Grand Hotel Kronenhof, located in Pontresina, six miles from St. Moritz, offers the best of both worlds: the chance to enjoy the glitz of St. Moritz, while staying in a peaceful mountain village.
Grand Hotel Kronenhof has a rich and interesting history, having first opened its doors in the first half of the 19th century as a guesthouse. However, the main part of the current building, which is a registered historical landmark, was built at the very end of the 19th century in neo-Baroque style. The latest addition, completed in November 2007 and costing CHF 50 million (approximately £30 million), consists of 28 new guest rooms and a stunning spa complex covering more than 2000 square metres.
The spa is certainly one of the hotel's highlights and has been named "the best Alpine spa". Facilities include a 20m indoor infinity pool with counter-current system, a flotation pool with underwater music, a wide range of saunas and steam rooms, a luxurious private suite for couples to enjoy wraps and massages together, and - for the perfect final touch - a crackling log fire in the relaxation room.
Gourmet cuisine is also a speciality at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof. Awarded the title of GaultMillau Hotel of the Year in 2009, it has four restaurants (the formal Grand dining room in an elegant neo-baroque vaulted room, Kronenstübli - awarded a Michelin star in November 2011 - serving local Engadine specialities, the traditional bowling lanes where Swiss raclette is served and an informal pavilion for light lunches).
Finally, Grand Hotel Kronenhof is renowned for its extensive children's activities and facilities (a kids' playroom and Rondelle, a restaurant just for younger members of the family).
Recent awards for the Grand Hotel Kronenhof include the HolidayCheck Award 2011 & 2012 (99 most popular hotels of the world), first place in the Best Of Swiss Gastro (gourmet category), GaultMillau Hotel of the Year 2008, the `Bilanz' hoteliers of the year award presented to Heinz E. and Jenny Hunkeler in 2008, and a Michelin star for the à la carte restaurant 'Kronenstübli'.
Grand Hotel Kronenhof and its sister property Kulm Hotel St Moritz are owned by the Niarchos family.