THE Middle East, in particular Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, have long been attracted to Switzerland and its glorious nature and world-class wellness clinics.
But there is more this country offers, in particular, in the canton of Vaud, a region situated just 40 minutes’ drive from Geneva International Airport and nestled between Lake Leman and the mountains.
Often dubbed ‘the Swiss Riviera’ thanks to its microclimate, the magnificent landscapes are a fairytale backdrop for a host of iconic events and festivals namely, he Montreux Jazz Festival, which has helped put the region on the global map.
Montreux Jazz Festival
Famous for its gorgeous belle époque buildings, flower-lined quays and the intimate and steep alleyways of its historic centre, in summer, Montreux vibrates to the sounds of the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Created in 1967 by Claude Nobs, the iconic event rapidly became a major international cultural affair and is now noted as the second largest annual jazz festival in the world, after Canada’s, Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Originally held at the Montreux Casino, which burned down in December 1971 during Frank Zappa’s performance (as referenced in the song ‘smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple), the Montreux Jazz Festival is now a city wide July event, housed along the lakefront, under open air stages plus additional themed shows held on traditional belle époque paddle steamers and train cars travelling the region. montreuxjazzfestival.com No time to be bored Host to a collection of other renowned events, Lake Geneva Region Tourist Office, vice-president, François Michel comments: “between concerts and popular festivals, we all have one single aim: to create a great atmosphere in our region”.
With the GCC regarded as one of the top ten inbound markets for Vaud, Michel says: “Switzerland has always been known for its nature, wellness and, of course, chocolate. Despite this, it is important for us to differentiate our offering and provide our markets with an experience they cannot get anywhere else in Switzerland.”
Offering a continual stream of must-attend festivals throughout 2017, events not to be missed include: Cully Jazz Festival – offering nine days of music through the local streets and the Unesco landscapes of Lavaux. Lausanne Estivale – a summer spectacular providing hundreds of cultural and free outdoor activities. Montreux Grand Prix – a prestigious event exhibiting more than 120 cars: race, sport and classic (from pre-war years to the 80s). Montreux Christmas Market – ranked one of the most beautiful in Switzerland and the Montreux Comedy Festival – an event that brings together high-profile comedians showcasing the funniest of acts. region-du-leman.ch
Hotels with fairy-tale pasts
Home to grand hotels with fairy-tale pasts, Vaud’s selection of five-star luxury properties all enjoy magnificent views of the lake and Alps: The Fairmont Le Montreux Palace prides itself on being located directly opposite the main hub of the Montreux Jazz Festival. Its Funky Claude's Bar is also a partner of the Montreux Jazz Festival where its members can enjoy jam sessions until the early hours of the morning (during the festival).
Shining like a jewel on the shores of Lake Geneva is the Grand Hotel du Lac, which has been entirely renovated by world-renowned, award-winning interior designer, Pierre-Yves Rochon.
After a $100 million renovation, the grande dame, Hotel Royal Savoy, in Lausanne, is now even grander, thanks to Katara Hospitality. Built in 1906 and originally serving as a haven for the Spanish royal family and King Bhumibol of Thailand and later for rock royalties like Joe Cocker and Phil Collins headlining at the Montreux Jazz Festival in the 1990’s, its massive reconstruction, paved the way for dramatic modern interiors by Maria Vafiadis of MKV Design, London.
Beau Rivage Palace, one of Switzerland’s original palace hotels, opened in Lausanne’s lakefront district of Ouchy in 1861 and has hosted royalty, celebrities and famous local residents ever since, from Charlie Chaplin to Nelson Mandela, Coco Chanel to Tina Turner.
Boasting seamless connectivity from the GCC to Geneva, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Saudi Air all service a minimum of daily flights with Emirates Airlines servicing twice daily.
By Laura Snook
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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