Prime Lake Geneva destinations

View from Le Chateau de Chillon, Montreux

Michelle Chenery visits Lausanne and Montreux

After a short flight with Swiss Air, we landed at Geneva airport to be met by Philips Excursions transfers services. The first mode of transport of the many they provided during our visit was a Mercedes mini-bus, which took us to Portes Des Iris, an original 16thC farmhouse converted in 1988 by the owners of the Château de Vullierens into a prestigious banqueting venue. The main building overlooks the Iris gardens and offers a beautiful view of the Alps and Mont Blanc. The six original vaulted stone doors became a focal point of the restoration.

The glass was used to preserve the views, whilst adding natural daylight throughout the ground floor. The wrought-iron decorative elements and the original chandeliers happily combine with the new modern elements. Works of art, paintings and antique furniture from the private collection of the chateau add to the overall enchanting effect.

Portes Des Iris comprises ten event spaces, of which three are outdoor. The Terrasse de Collonges, spanning 3,200sqm, adjoins the building’s south west façade. It offers views of the chateau and the Alps and accommodates marquees for up to 1,600 people for a banquet or 2,000 at a reception. The Dorianna room, located on the first floor, boasts an ancient fireplace, a wooden vaulted 12m high ceiling and four multi-use platforms, able to host 450 for a banquet and up to 550 cocktail style. Smaller rooms include the Diana which can be used as the business support hub for larger events or can cater for up to 40 conference style.

An array of indoor team building lessons ranges from cooking for up to 150, chocolate sculpting to group drumming and sensory identification. Outdoor activities include buggy rallies, archery and F1 carton car building.

Olympic Museum, Lausanne
"I have fallen head over heels in love with this region. It is one of the most beautiful places on this earth that is only 1hr15mins away from London. The region is so clean and pristine. The hotels offer a level of luxury that rivals many of their competitors, and have perfect meeting spaces available for events of all sizes. There are so many venues and activities in the region; it will be hard to whittle it down to just a few. Local hosts are so friendly and hospitable; I feel confident that I can leave my clients in their capable hands. I am excited about future events I will hold there."
Bethany Chamberlain – TAG Global Events
It was then a 20-minute drive to Lausanne Cathedral, the start of our guided tour of the city. We had a bird’s eye view from the top of its tower and joined the nightwatchman on his calls to let the residents know that all was well.

Walking into the old town, past the Town Hall, the fountain of justice and the cafes in the cobbled stone squares we reached the metro station and hopped on a train to Ouchy and the Olympic Museum. First opened in 1993, the Olympic Museum was closed for a 2-year refurbishment in 2012. Following 2 years of renovation the museum, with an additional 1,000sqm of exhibition space, has a new outlook over Lake Geneva and the Alps. It hosts ever-changing Olympics exhibitions and has a range of facilities for corporate events. They cater for from 50 to 200 delegates.

Themed teambuilding activities are popular, as well as Tai Chi sessions, percussion lessons, archery and curling, with education on health and performance achieved through nutrition and exercise.

The museum creates a real feel for the Olympic spirit and you can even measure how good you are with a few interactive activities. The museum can also be hired out for a gala evening, where they literally roll out the red carpet and line the entrance walkway with flaming torches.

Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne
A short walk through the gardens brought us to a gate leading into the grounds of Lausanne’s Beau-Rivage Palace where we checked into impressive rooms. Since 1861 this hotel has hosted illustrious guests, including Victor Hugo, Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Nelson Mandela. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, its reputation is second to none in Europe. Nestled in 4 hectares of gardens (10 acres), the property stands on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman), just ten minutes from the centre of Lausanne. There are 168 guest rooms and suites, with more traditional styles in the older part of the building.

Two swimming pools create a very distinctive entrance to its Cinq Mondes Spa. It has 8 treatment rooms, a private spa suite, sauna, men’s and women's hammams, hairdressers and a fitness suite with views over the lake.

Beau-Rivage Palace conference and banqueting facilities include the sumptuous Salle Sandoz Ballroom, for up to 600 people at a reception, and La Rotonde, for up to 450, were built in 1908 and retain their period charm. They have hosted many notable events as different as the negotiations of the Treaty of Lausanne and the wedding of Phil Collins.

A further 15 event spaces range from the intimate Library and Salon Elysée with its own terrace, up to La Terrasse able to cater for 120 at a banquet.

From September to May, the Montreux, the oldest vessel in the Belle Époque fleet of the Compagnie Générale de la Navigation, is available cruises. In the intervening weeks it serves as the hotel’s floating restaurant.

The Beau-Rivage also boasts four restaurants, directed by two-Michelin-star Chef Anne-Sophie Pic. A relaxed atmosphere can be found in the Café Beau-Rivage, with its terrace facing the French Alps. The Lobby Lounge and The Bar offer sweet afternoon treats; traditional Japanese cuisine is served at La Miyako in a contemporary setting with sashimi and sushi prepared to order. It has a Teppan-Yaki table. "All round an absolutely wonderful trip. Sampled the nightlife, daylife and all that Lausanne and Montreux had to offer. Did not want to come home, Switzerland is wonderful, friendly people, picturesque and clean. I would highly recommend it to friends, family and clients. I do hope I get to come back as soon as possible.
"The Beau Rivage Palace accommodation was wonderful, the Jacuzzi bath in the bedroom was absolutely perfect!
Katharine Ayling – TMB Marketing & Communications
Lausanne Palace & Spa
It was another magnificent hotel, the Lausanne Palace & Spa, that was the scene for our pre-dinner drinks.

On the bar’s terrace we enjoyed views across Lake Geneva. The hotel has 138 rooms, four restaurants and 12 event spaces, the largest catering for 950 delegates. We had a quick look around in Le Cellier, where corporate groups can take part in private wine tasting surrounded by 20,000 bottle of the best. It goes down well with charcuterie and Swiss cheese.

Our dinner was taken a short walk further on at Eat Me. Here the chefs serve dishes they have collected from culinary journeying round the world, so the choice ranges over beef tartare, foie gras, tuna sashimi and even baby burgers.

We each ordered three different dishes and these arrived as soon as they were ready, so the food and the waiters were flowing non-stop and we all shared a taste of each other’s choices.

Adequately refuelled, we went on to the Flon district of Lausanne to sample some of the local nightlife at the Mad Club. Tables can be hired throughout four floors, each with its own distinctive décor and style of music from Le Bedroom, its restaurant, bar and lounge, to the Jet Lag Club reserved for over 28s to the main floor of the club where they have club dancers dotted around on raised platforms and the dance music is a little more full on.

Le Chateau de Chillon, Montreux
The following morning we climbed aboard a replica 1929 Asquith Mascot supplied by Philips Excursions and were whisked towards Montreux. Our first call was Le Chateau de Chillon virtually touching the waters of the lake. The earliest mention of it can be found in a manuscript of 1150. The Counts of Savoy controlled it until 1536, when the Bernese conquered the Pays de Vaud and occupied Chillon from 1536 to 1798, using it as a fortress, an arsenal and a prison. It then fell into the hands of the Canton de Vaud in 1803. "Lake Geneva was that hidden gem for me – only 1 hr 15 from London and transported to a magical land of shimmering lake and snowcapped mountains – the hotels and venues here are of such a high standard - quality and attention to details seems paramount – with a wealth of activities to choose from it is the perfect destination for corporate events ! "
Susan Brogan – Venue Seekers
The restoration of the Castle began at the end of the 19thC and continues to this day. Lord Byron immortalised it in ‘The Prisoner of Chillon’.

Remarkably, there are four event spaces at the castle and it is very popular for medieval evenings. Aula Magna is a large and prestigious hall, with direct access to a modern kitchen able to cater for 230 guest at a sit down dinner and up to 300 for a reception. The Castellans Dining Hall has hosted gatherings for over 700 years. Today it can sit 120 for dinner and up to 200 for concerts, and receptions. At the heart of the castle is Domus Clericorum, ideal for either cocktail receptions or pre-dinner drinks for up to 150.

Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Hotel
Our Asquith Mascot, parked outside, had been drawing almost as much attention as the castle itself. It carried us to the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Hotel. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva and close to the Montreux Music and Convention Centre, it is a jewel of La Belle Epoque. There are 236 luxurious rooms and suites with views over the lake and the Alps. The Montreux Jazz Café has been inspired by the legendary music festival and is decorated with Claude Nobs memorabilia. The flexible meetings spaces, for up to 1,200 people, have natural light, dedicated boardrooms, upscale hospitality suites, opulent ballrooms with workstations and ergonomic seating. The hotel also offers meeting planners the opportunity to lessen their meeting footprint with Eco-Meet.

Grand Hotel du Lac
We next visited the Grand Hotel du Lac, a Relais & Chateaux member, where we enjoyed lunch in Les Saisons restaurant. Dating back to 1868 it has both charm and elegance. It offers 50 rooms with views over the harbour of Vevey, Lake Geneva and the Swiss and the French Alps. Guests have complimentary access to the Swiss Bellefontaine Health & Wellness Centre. The Grand Hotel du Lac has 14 flexible event spaces, able to cater from 8 boardroom style up to 250 for cocktails inside the hotel and from 20 up to 120 utilising outdoor spaces.

We next went on board a General Navigation Company paddle steamer. The company offers mid-day and evening gourmet cruises on Lake Geneva. The entire fleet of Belle Epoque vessels are classified as historic monuments of national importance.

We went ashore in the Lavaux region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been fashioned through the ages by the cultivation of terraced vineyards and typical Swiss villages and is world famous for its wines. We were invited to visit the Domaine du Daley. It has been producing wine since 1392 and is currently divided into five appellations spanning over 15 hectares (40 acres), in which 12 different varieties of grapes are grown. They produce 18 different Grands Crus, with visitors being able to sample them in wine tasting and cellar tours. Events can be held within the winegrowers room, which has a gravel terrace with superb views of the vineyards, Lake Geneva and the Alps. Our unbelievably short but intensely fascinating trip ended on a high note: a glass of wine in our hand as we watched the sun set over Lake Geneva and saw the silhouettes of the paddle steamers picked out by the final rays of sunshine.

ITCM joined a group hosted by Lausanne Tourism & Convention Bureau and the Montreux Riviera Convention Bureau to see some of Europe’s most appealing hotels and scenery.
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