When author Johanna Spyri stayed in the village of Bad Ragaz in 1881 she wrote a story about a little girl named Heidi and her grandfather. In it, the mountain air and simple lifestyle cured Heidi’s wheelchairbound friend. After a few hours here, you can see why: the air is pure, the mountains spectacular and the food grown locally in the valleys.
Despite its natural setting, The Bad Ragaz Grand Resort is by no means small, with three hotels, 11 pools and seven restaurants, as well as a well-regarded medical health centre. We stayed at the Quellenhof Hotel and Spa Suites where rooms have their own sauna, steam/shower room and large balcony affording mountain views – perfect for early morning yoga sessions (or yodelling, should you wish).
What’s on offer
There are two main spa areas in the resort: the public Tamina Therma and the Hotel Quellenhof Thermal Spa. The water for both is sourced from the local Tamina Springs where natural warm spring waters, heated to 36.5 degrees and accumulating natural minerals along the way, have bubbled up here since 1242. Rumour has it that the waters act like ‘liquid botox’ on the skin – after three days of vigilant testing, I can’t say my wrinkles disappeared, but my skin certainly looked smoother.
The public Tamina Therma has several pools with waters at varying temperatures, from a chilly 17 degrees (for the brave) to a very hot 36 degrees (for the very brave). There’s also a sauna and steam area which is ‘textile free’ – it wasn’t long before we discovered that this means sans clothes; we did the very British thing and stayed in the pool area where our ‘textiles’ could remain politely intact.
The Hotel Quellenhof Thermal Spa, meanwhile, has a large pool containing wonderfully warm thermal water and massage jets, as well as a sauna and steam room. Down one level is another textile free sauna and steam area and a delightful ‘spa walk’ built to look like a gorge with huge slabs of local granite; guests walk along a river bed of pebbles and through waterfalls. Here, too, is a separate children’s spa area with three pools: get your little ones to try the 'mermaid swimming lessons' before enjoying a massage, manicure or pedicure.
Tell us about your treatment(s)
With the early morning sun peeping above the mountains, and the valley still draped in velvety darkness, I was the only guest at the Tamina Therma Spa when I walked in for my Haki Flow treatment.
My therapist, Patrizia, led me into the bright white area filled with water and began by asking me to take a quick dip in the cold pool. At 17 degrees, this was a huge shock to the system and I was soon wide awake. In the warmer pool afterwards (heated to 32 degrees), Patrizia tethered my ankles to the edge of the pool to anchor my body in preparation for some stretching; while a floatation device under my knees enabled me to lie back in the water. Patrizia gently moved me around, stretching my limbs and my spine to realign them. The effect was soporific, and some people do, indeed, fall asleep.
Nearly drifting off – but not quite snoring – I remember thinking that this must be how a baby feels in the uterus: warm, safe and gently floating. I was surprised when Patrizia took my hand and placed it on the edge of the pool, signalling the end of the treatment.
Patrizia then led me to a bed to relax on for 10 minutes before showing me some stretching exercises to do at home. My neck and shoulders felt relaxed, while my back felt longer and stronger.
I also tried a full body massage, with a wonderful orange oil, and a stimulating water crystal experience which consisted of scrub using sea salt and mountain crystals, followed by a foam massage with mountain herb soap, washed off with thermal water. Just as I was completely relaxed, my therapist advanced with a bowl of crushed ice which she rubbed all over my body. I gasped at first, but then my circulation went into overdrive and my skin began to glow.
You can tuck into traditional Swiss cuisine in the Swiss Kitchen where rosti with bacon and eggs and local beer hit the spot. We also ate outdoors at Restaurant Olives which offers a healthy ‘Cuisine Équilibrée’, perfect for spa goers.
At the other extreme is the Michelin starred IGNIV restaurant, where dinner is served with a side of theatre. Our waiter explained that IGNIV is a local dialect word for nest and – like a bird bringing treats for its young – we could choose how many courses we wanted. The team would then select a range of sharing plates to try.
We chose three courses, each small, perfectly formed portions of carefully balanced flavours and textures. Our starter of leeks with creamy potatoes was even served in a hollowed-out hen’s egg. Our duck pate with chocolate and plums was a triumph as was the IGNIV version of chicken nuggets, moist chicken in crispy batter served on a small cake stand with a glass dome on top filled with smoke – KFC eat your heart out!
The finale was an invitation to the ‘sweetie bar’ where you collect a goody bag of homemade sweets, from fruity jellies to chocolate truffles or nutty chocolate slabs: lecker, as they say in German.
Who do you think would like it?
Anyone wishing to breathe in pure mountain air: The Bad Ragaz Grand Resort has been voted Switzerland’s Best Wellness Hotel time and time again.
Wine lovers: The area is known for its vineyards, with several good varieties produced here.
Would-be mermaids: The children's spa offers mermaid swimming lessons for your budding swimmers.
The train journey from Zurich to Bad Ragaz: Sit upstairs on the double decker train and take in the wonderful views of the lakes and mountains.
The sculptures: The impressive collection is eclectic, and provides the perfect excuse for a walk around the grounds and the village.
Prices at Bad Ragaz start at £275 per night, based on two sharing.