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Switzerland Slim

In the Swiss Alps, the secret to beauty is in the water

Stepping into my chalet-inspired suite, the first thing I notice is the green smoothie sitting delicately in a bucket of ice, presented in similar fashion as a bottle of Champagne. The expansive wine cabinet is wiped clean and the espresso maker is noticeably lacking espresso. The mini bar is just as free of temptation, a basket of fruit replacing the typical chocolate and chips. I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering I was about to embark on my first “slimming” retreat.

Located in the tiny town of Andermatt in the Swiss Alps, about an hour’s drive from Zurich, the five-star Chedi Andermatt couldn’t be a more perfect place to hit the “reset” button. Inspired by Asian healing traditions, the Chedi’s spa weaves elements of its alpine exterior into rejuvenating treatments, with oils crafted from plants and fruits found in the surrounding mountains. The spa is also looking to the nearby peaks as a natural playground, converting old military bunkers into boot camps and bringing Buddhist monks from Tibet to lead mindfulness meditations—followed by spa sessions, of course.

In the spring the spa will host another kind of alpine experience as French-based wellness icon Les Thermes de Brides-les-Bains resort heads to the Swiss hideaway with the ultimate detox program. One of the main highlights: pure Swiss Gotthard water weaved into massages and aqua rituals designed to not only remove cellulite, but also leave your skin looking smooth. While massages take inches off your waist, diet and fitness help with weight loss, creating the perfect trifecta for the Swiss slim-down.

“We want to implement the same program we have in France here in Switzerland without altering it,” explains Les Thermes’s dietician, Nathalie Négro, who is working with Chedi’s culinary team to create a balanced menu that stays true to the heart of Swiss cuisine.

Menus start with a velouté of peas and grapefruit, topped with just the right amount of foam, microgreens and orange pansy petals. Twin chili-roasted langoustines lie on a bed of vanilla-infused celery cream next to health-food favorite forbidden rice. Even dessert is cleverly disguised and deceivingly sweet, like the slow-baked meringue floating in strawberry and balsamic vinegar sauce, crowned with yellow flower petals.

“After guests try their first meal here, they’re surprised by this type of ‘healthy’ cuisine because they imagined dishes like steamed vegetables without sauce,” explains Sébastien Roux, executive chef of the Golf Hotel’s restaurant in Brides-les-Bains.

For the Brides team, balance is more important than calories. Restriction is not a word you’ll find in their vocabulary. The retreat may place a glam squad of top-notch dieticians, personal trainers and chefs at your disposal, but it’s the Chedi’s tucked-away locale—and water-infused treatments—that’s the main draw.

As you cruise through Andermatt some of the stunning mountain passes may seem slightly familiar. In 1964, this is the spot where James Bond zipped in his Aston Martin after Goldfinger—in the film’s famous chase scene along the Furka Pass. Besides Bond, Andermatt was once home to the Swiss Federal Army headquarters and known more for its bunkers than boutique hotels. That is, until the five-star Chedi Andermatt moved into town four years ago.

Boasting more fireplaces than rooms, the Chedi Andermatt is a nod to the village in its heyday when the pre-jetset crowd would flee Switzerland’s cities for these mountains come summer. Tourism slowly shifted to cater more to the military crowd, but now the village is stepping up once again as the understated alternative to flashy Zermatt or St. Moritz. You won’t find a Chanel lining the village’s main street—but that’s not the point.

Once you take a glance at the lit-up hotel come nightfall, you’ll see why the Chedi lives up to its name, which means “alpine temple” in Thai. The apartment-style suites are certainly relaxing enough—and feature the world’s most expensive bed, the $50,000 Swedish Hästens mattress—but it’s the 26,000-square-foot spa that’s worth the international flight alone.

After days of triple spa treatments and meals better than some Michelin-starred restaurants, I barely missed my morning espresso. I could give up coffee and sweets, but to celebrate the end of a successful detox, I indulged in the best way possible: curled up with a glass of wine in front of my fireplace, staring out at the picture-perfect view of the Urseren Valley unfolding below.