Glamour, culture and history are the heart of picturesque Geneva, Switzerland. This cosmopolitan city is a mix of spectacular scenery, gastronomy, leisure and hospitality. Right in the centre of Europe—bordering France, Germany, Italy and Austria—Geneva is among the top three cities in the world for its quality of life. The World Capital of Peace is home to the United Nations, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The kids will love the chocolate, and you’ll love all those beautiful watches. It can’t hurt, either, that this place is a shopper’s paradise of exclusive jewelers, boutiques and fine art, should you fancy a luxurious breakaway from skiing, hiking, water sports and sightseeing.
*Lakeside, the 18th century Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues (“palace”) with encompassing snowcapped mountains, provides cinematic views of Lake Leman and Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain.
*Perfectly situated 15 minutes from the Geneva airport and a 10-minute postcard-esque walk to the Old Town, a family sightseeing hot spot.
*The Geneva Pass: free public transport (tram, bus, boat).
*More than 50 parks, plus galleries, shops, restaurants and cafés, not forgetting the beach.
*Some 40 museums, and a plethora of special events and festivals throughout the year.
*A huge range of European and international cuisine, including 30 chocolatiers and the highest number of award-winning restaurants in a European country.
*A “night in” at Four Seasons with fruit kebabs, chocolate lollipops ready to be dipped in milk, movies, Wii and room service (an experience in itself) after a busy day of sightseeing. They never wanted to leave the hotel!
*Their own interconnecting room or “home” with games galore; watching TV in the bath.
*A walk along Lake Leman’s south bank jetty under the Jet D’Eau, Geneva’s symbolic 140-metre high fountain shooting a plume of water into the air at a rate of 500 litres (13 gallons) per second. Spectacular!
*A morning at Les Bains des Pacquis beach, followed by a boat taxi (les mouette) over to the eastern shore for a paddle boat ride (Pedalo) and ice cream.
*A tour of the Patek Philippe Museum to learn about Geneva’s history of watch making and enameling, with treasure dating back to the 16th century.
*A 30-minute lakeside tour of Lake Leman aboard a mini electric solar train, departing from the nearby Jardin Anglais (English Garden) with famous floral clock.
*Four Seasons Geneva’s outstanding hospitality and warmth to families, enhanced by your very own guest Personal Assistant.
*A unique hotel banquet of an East Meets West breakfast—from English and Alpine to Asian and healthy.
*A guided tour of Geneva’s Old Town, dotted with historical residences, galleries, narrow cobbled streets and St. Peter’s cathedral. Then coffee in the atmospheric Place du Bourg-de-Four pedestrian square.
*A blissful swim in the hotel’s infinity pool, followed by the spa’s Jet Lag Flight Reviver aromatherapy body treatment.
*Four Seasons Geneva’s oasis-like bathroom, with hamam and sleek, integrated mirror-TV. Unwind in the most soothing bath and relax with indulgent thoughts of room service…
The Jet D’Eau. Its emblematic prominence can be seen from almost anywhere in Geneva.
*Customised dining: One glance of Four Seasons’ elegant Il Lago restaurant, adorned with bright frescos and sumptuous ambience, is enough to experience the exceptional gastronomy of Northern Italy, not forgetting the selection of Swiss, French and Italian wines.
*Room service offers the best club sandwich ever, and the children adored the presentation of their meals: extras such as flowers, homemade cookies and chocolate muffins. They recommend the refined penne with tomato sauce and fish nuggets with French fries and vegetables.
*Right in Old Town, Restaurant Les Armures serves refined Swiss and French cuisine. A cheese-and-mushroom fondue, and “Dole” Swiss wine, in this historically charming 17th century building made for an authentic start to our holiday.
*Brasserie LIPP Restaurant is a charming family eatery with French and Swiss on the menu.
*We also liked Restaurant Edelweiss: typical Swiss cuisine to the sound of live yodeling! Set in the city centre near the Lake, this alpine chalet- like spot serves cheese/meat fondues, raclette, émincés and chocolate fondue. Have a hot chocolate in the cosy lobby, too.
1. Lake cruise – Take the kids on a two-hour “alpine” paddle-wheel steamboat cruise and admire the panoramic Alps and Riviera beauties of Montreux, Chillon Castle and Dents du Midi mountains.
2. Tour the United Nations – Take a 20-minute tram ride to the UN’s European headquarters for an illuminating tour of the magnificent 20th century palais and grounds overlooking Lake Leman. The kids will love the “Broken Chair” monumental sculpture and outdoor water fountains.
3. A trip to the Martel chocolatier – In true Swiss spirit, spend a morning or afternoon sampling the famous Martel chocolate in the most delectable café in Geneva’s Old Town.
4. A Cablecar excursion to Mont Salève – Situated in neighbouring France, the cableway lifts visitors to an altitude of 1,100 metres in less than five minutes, offering stunning panoramic vistas of Geneva, Lake Geneva city, the Alps, Jura and Montblanc.
5. GoldenPass Line Railway – Take the train from Montreux; tour the famous cheese dairy of Gruyères and visit the Maison Cailler-Nestlé for a chocolate tasting.
*Babies: Promenade, Bastions Park, the Botanical Gardens or Baby Plage provide a central oasis of colour and leisure from the seat of the buggy or pram—all within easy walking distance of the hotel.
*Toddlers: Beach time—the resort has beach toys and kites available. Pool time. Wandering around the Natural History Museum of Switzerland (closed Mondays) or taking a mini boat ride on the lake at Port Miniature. Signal de Bougy Park for hours of fun with playgrounds, animals, animals, live music, children shows and picnic area (40 minutes from Geneva).
*Kids 5-10: Visit a watch or chocolate factory. Sightsee from the lake on a boat cruise. The concierge has four bikes available for a cycling tour. Snorkelling. Swimming: pool and beach time. Try Yatouland, an indoor amusement park with bouncy castle, trampolines and video games. Accrobranche is a four-hectare park adventure forest with a variety of outdoor leisure activities (40 minutes from Geneva).
*Tweens & teens: Visit a watch or chocolate factory. Sightsee from the lake on a boat cruise. The concierge has four bikes available for a cycling tour. Bowling, laser games, karting nearby or visit the Food Museum Alimentarium: interactive workshops, exhibitions and fun activities. The Aqua Parc, 75 minutes from Geneva, guarantees endless family fun with its outdoor-indoor and wave pool and rides; private beach access to Lake Leman and water sports.
*Not forgetting the hotel’s selection of in-house games and supplies: Wii, PlayStation, DVDs, board games and colouring books. Further details can be found in the hotel’s “Kids in Geneva” booklet.
Read more on Geneva in Four Seasons Magazine.
Emma Bumpus has spent her career in travel and education. She is a career adviser, mum and freelance travel writer, travelling and writing about her experiences at Career Traveller. Keen to traverse the world and pursue her writing career, Emma takes her family on travel adventures in search of unique sensory experiences. A lover of food, culture, history and unique hospitality, she can otherwise be found on Twitter (@careertraveller).
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