When it comes to the mingling of high French and Swiss cultures, dignified Geneva is often what comes to mind for experienced Switzerland travelers, especially as you can see France from the terraces of many of the 5-star properties lining Lake Geneva. Lausanne, on the other hand, makes that delicious blend of French joie de vivre and Switzerland’s progressive. lifestyle-driven mindset accessible for people of all ages. It’s telling, after all, this city of 139,000 is sometimes known as the “San Francisco” of Switzerland. Sister grand hotels Beau Rivage and The Lausanne Palace epitomize this reputation in their own special ways.
Lausanne’s Beau-Rivage Palace, located at the shore of Lake Geneva, is tailor-made for a family vacation as it has been for decades among celebrities, dignitaries and, most notably, Coco Chanel. Founded in 1861, added to in 1908 with a magnificent Art Nouveau rotunda and appointments, and renovated 2012–2014 by noted designer Pierre-Yves Rochon to inject a 21st-century demand for well-being. The expansive 10-acre landscaped garden flows into a festive pool area that feels like a travel poster from its earlier heyday. The D’Ouchy district is steps beyond the Beau-Rivage, lining the waterfront and featuring a variety of pleasant local restaurants as well as the excellent modern restaurant 57 Degrees, serving en pointe meat dishes as well as locally caught perch and eclectic share plates and side dishes reflecting the global and cosmopolitan tastes of residents.
While the adventure for a young guest begins with an orientation to specialized amenities and menus, the Beau Rivage Palace brings the culture alive for kids in a relatable and interactive way through unique opportunities to be part of the hotel’s crew. Kids who enjoy playing with their food can get a bit more serious about culinary skills when they join the hotel chef in the pastry kitchen to learn how to make chocolates and sweets. The hotel’s in-house florists, meanwhile, provide the basics about the art of flower arranging.
Other activities include a scavenger hunt, during which kids (along with parents) can discover fun facts about local history as they follow clues to various parts of the hotel and, perhaps, are rewarded for their curiosity by winning a prize. The more entrepreneurial among young guests can also participate in the Be our Concierge experience, where they join the concierge behind the desk for an hour, participating in small activities such as giving out room keys. As this program is extended for teens up to age 17 as well, the college-bound will receive exclusive insight into what goes on behind the reception desk firsthand.
In the summer, kids can enjoy boating and swimming in Lake Geneva, as well as picnics, croquet and “reading corners” set up below trees in the hotel’s garden while their parents are being enchanted by the various museums and shops around town. In the winter, children can get into the holiday spirit with a ride on an enchanted carousel, cook outdoor s’mores and take in the area’s uniquely Swiss-French flavor. Speaking of which, some of Switzerland’s most iconic, family-friendly attractions are just minutes away on foot or street car, including the dynamic, hands-on Olympics Museum (Olympic.or), as the International Olympic Committee is based in Lausanne, and numerous self-guided historic architecture, history and culture walking and bike tours detailed on Lausanne’s tourism website.
While the Lausanne Palace is a business hotel with its own dignified history and architecture, it is a particularly good choice for those with teenagers beginning their independent wanderlust phase. The hotel is not only located in the city’s prime shopping district, but also short walk away from Quartier du Flon, a converted warehouse district with a mix of cafés, movie theaters, art installations, and one-off vintage clothing and skateboard/streetwear retailers. The weekend farmers market is staged a short distance from this area as well. The straightforward and spotless subway stations, minutes from the front door, effectively whisks visitors to key destinations from the waterfront to some hidden gem galleries and historic sites in the residential areas.
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