Fam trips…. We have all either already organised them, hosted them or have had the pleasure of taking part in one. But please don’t call me biased if I claim that our March fam trip to Zurich and St. Moritz was one of the best ones that I have ever been involved in.
Part 1: Zurich
If you want to get an idea of what was experienced during the time in Zurich, then we wish you happy reading with this essay and summary of our journey.
To start off, I must confess that both Ana and I were slightly doubtful if a fam trip to Switzerland with participants from Brazil, Mexico and Argentina would work, especially one that was organised and conducted by a German…. What if, at some point the conversation should turn to football, how would anyone be able to manage the emotions, anger and excitement?
With no challenge being too big, we started to invite agents in all three countries to join us for a fam trip to the beautiful Baur au Lac in Zurich and the magical Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St. Moritz. What we ended up with was a group of highly motivated, hilarious and soon-to be ski-fanatics, that were all interested to see a side of Switzerland that they had not experienced before: be it the destinations, the culinary offerings, the history and city-life or the huge skiing and outdoor possibilities.
The official part of the trip already started with the arrival in Zurich of each individual participant, either by train or by plan. Each guest was met by their driver, either directly at the platform of the train or at the luggage belt of the airport. This service is just one of many that can be easily organised by the great team of Concierges at the Baur au Lac. This hotel, the Baur au Lac, was our host for the first two nights. Part of LHW, this hotel, with its 175 years of history and still privately owned by the Kracht family, is set in its own park overlooking Zurich Lake and the Alps, just a stone’s throw away from the famous Paradeplatz and Bahnhofstrasse. All 119 rooms and suites are in impeccable shape and are equipped with everything the modern traveller can ask for.
Jumping head-first into the most dangerous topic for a group of Brazilians, Argentinians and Mexicans with a German group leader, we got together a group of early-arrivers and broke the ice by visiting the FIFA World Football Museum together with the gorgeous Britta Steinkopf, Director of Sales of the Baur au Lac and probably the biggest football fan in Zurich! The museum is a short walk from the hotel along the lakefront of Zurich Lake and it really is a must for any traveller planning his stay in Zurich, especially when travelling with children.
For lunch it was decided to dive deep down into the culinary spectrum of Zurich and visited a true institution in Zurich, just on the other side of the Limat River from the Baur au Lac: Sternen Grill. This place is known by every citizen of Zurich and it is famous far beyond the borders of the Canton. If I would have known that this group was so happy with a sausage, a bread roll, some very hot mustard and a glass of cold draft beer, the organisation of this trip would have been much easier! Heloisa from Matueté puts her experience in just a few simple words: “Snacking at Sternen Grill is a must-do!”
In the evening, back at the beautiful Baur au Lac, the entire group got together for the first time. Britta used the opportunity of a few vacant rooms that night to present the newly refurbished Deluxe Corner Suites. These new suites are quite simply spectacular! Sumptuous fabrics, colours and materials are highlighted by perfectly harmonised lighting. The result? Each suite boasts inimitable elegance. Utter comfort is provided with every detail and the views from the terrace across the lake invite you to just daydream.
After the site it was aperitif-time in the vibrant Rive Gauche Bar followed by a beautiful Mediterranean influenced three-course dinner in the Rive Gauche Restaurant. To put it in the words of Lucas Lanuse from Travel 55 in Argentina: “The restaurants were superb! Not only the well-known Pavillion, but also Rive Gauche with its more relaxed and casual vibe and great food.” Since the dinner, Rive Gauche has closed its doors on 3rd May and the Baur au Lac will unveil a still top-secret new food and dining concept in autumn 2019…. So watch this space!!
After dinner, it was bedtime fairly quickly for most of the travel experts. It just proves that also a long-experienced travel-nomad need his beauty sleep at some point after a long-haul flight!
Breakfast in the Baur a Lac is probably one of the most magical but yet tranquil experiences there are: sitting in the Pavillon, surrounded by the hotel’s private park, directly next to a canal, you can watch swans during their morning swim while enjoying your cup of coffee.
To experience the city and all it has to offer, we met our tour guide, Karla Miranda Brolo, in the lobby of the hotel. Now please don’t call me ignorant, but I am normally not the most interested person in city tours or long guided sight-seeing trips. This, plus the fact that our group existed of 12 very chatty Latin Americans, did have me slightly worried beforehand. However, our guide Karla was most probably the best guide I have ever experienced in my life. She had a fantastic technique of guiding the group through the entire historic part of Zurich, both east and west of the river Limat, narrating the history, traditions and customs of past times up until the present. All within the group hung on every word that Karla was saying, every story and myth she portrayed.
Our tour with Karla finished all too soon in front of the historic house of guild of the weavers and hat makers: Zunfthaus zur Waag, now a restaurant. Here were invited for lunch by Zurich Tourism. Just outside of this historic building there is a beautiful fountain, where, like through magic, the restaurant landlord can make water into wine. If you want to know more about this spectacular you will just have to go there and see it for yourself!!
After an afternoon at leisure, we were back at the Baur au Lac in the evening and Britta as able to show us one more detail of this magnificent hotel: apart from the traditional departments within the hotel business, the Baur au Lac has one additional department of approximately 80’000 workers: in the private park of the hotel you can visit the beehives were the Baur au Lac honeybees produce the unique and creamy Baur au Lac honey.
That evening our culinary experience of our Zurich stay found its highlight with a dinner at the restaurant Pavillon. Here, Chef Laurent Eperon, who has been awarded two Michelin stars and 18 GaultMillau points, enchanted us with his seasonal and modern interpretations of classic haute-cuisine. Additional to this, the sommelier Marc Almert, who has just been voted 'Best Sommelier of the World' 2019 by the International Association of Sommeliers, chose some beautifully corresponding wines. Heloisa from Matueté summed up the evening very beautifully by saying: “The Baur au Lac is a gorgeous hotel with excellent service. The highlights were definitely the busy honey producers that exclusively work for the hotel and the sommelier Marc Almert at the star-awarded Pavillon. Besides being the number one sommelier in the world, the harmonisation of wines proposed by him added a special touch to the dishes of this 2 Michelin-star restaurant.”
Please feel free to read the second part of this fam trip summery. Happy reading!