Bristol Business News Travel – 72:00 hours in Geneva

October 10, 2014

With direct flights from Bristol Airport to Geneva, it couldn’t be easier to combine a business trip to Switzerland's second city with some leisure time with attractions ranging from helping make wine, competing in a marathon or relaxing at a spa.  Bristol Business News travel editor Anne Gorringe put away her laptop to explore the resorts around Lake Geneva.

Geneva's famouse Jet D'eau, photo copyright Keystone

CITY FACTS: Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland and, as a global financial centre with links to top technology companies, a regular destination for business travelers. On the border with France, some 40% of the 196,000 popular come from outside Switzerland and it’s a great tourist destination and gateway to the Alps. The best way make the most of a business trip is to arrange a meeting for a Thursday then add on a day’s holiday to extend your stay. It’s a great place to spend the weekend. The quick and efficient train service from the airport opens up an amazing selection of destinations along the northern shores of the lake, all within an hour or so of Geneva city. The lake itself , which is 60 miles long, has a regular boat transport system, offering a picturesque alternative to driving from one resort to another. Weekend destinations include Lausanne, where locals flock for the Saturday night club scene. Further along the lake you’ll find the Lavaux vineyards in Cully (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Montreux.

Melanie Weber in her vineyard above Cully. October is wine-making time

GETTING THERE: The flight time from Bristol to Geneva is an hour and 40 minutes with easyJet. From Geneva airport, Lausanne, is a simple 45 minute train ride and a great place to explore. From here, it’s easy to catch the steamboat from the lakeside to Cully – a great place to try winetasting. Alternatively, travel further on to Vevey where you’ll find a stunning luxury spa hotel with stunning views in the heart of the vineyards just above the town. You’ll spot it on the hillside at Mont-Perlerin and it can be reached from Vevey by an amazing 15-minute ride up a funicular railway. Alternatively, continue on to Montreux, famous as the place that Freddie Mercury made his home – there’s a statue of him here on the lakeside. A regular service operates from here back to the airport. To make the most of a weekend break on Lake Geneva, you can catch the last Sunday evening easyJet flight back to Bristol at 9.50pm, arriving in the UK just after 10.30pm. The Swiss offer a number of special train deals, including the ‘Swiss Pass’ which is only available to tourists and includes travel on trains, the beautiful steamboats on the lake which visit different destinations, and some buses. Flight details from or discover more about train deals at For an new interactive video to tour Lausanne, see

WHERE TO STAY DAY – Day 1. Lausanne: is just 55k from Geneva. For a short stay, The Lausanne Palace & Spa is an ideal luxury hotel – within walking distance of the trendy Flon area, where you’ll find great bars, restaurants and a huge nightclub, the Mad Club – if you’ve got the staying power. The hotel is just a few hundred yards away but has a great position the top of the hill above – plus a lift from the square below which you can jump into for the journey home. This ensures you’re away from the noise of the bars, but central for most of the attractions. The hotel has a fantastic swimming pool with a terrace in front of the gym.

Lausanne: The only Swiss city with a metro system

A good, nearby restaurant is the Nomade  with contemporary dishes, including a lovely duck breast pan-fried with strawberries for 40 Swiss Francs (£26). On a nice evening, ask for an outdoor table and watch the world go by.

Like all three hotels I tried, the Lausanne Palace is a five-star and current deals (for October 10) are showing at 510 Swiss Francs (£330) for a double room on the Swiss tourist website  Or, check out the hotel site at

Worth a visit while you’re there is the stunning cathedral on the top of the hill in the medieval old town. Lausanne is the only Swiss city with a metro so getting around is easy – and free as the hotel supplies a free travel card for guests to use the local transport during your stay. If you’re in Lausanne on a Saturday, hunt for bargains in the Saturday morning.

The running track in the gardens of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne

MUST FOR SPORTS FANS: Keen runners can test their skills against an international field of athletes at the annual Lausanne Marathon, on October 26 – or try the 10k on the same day.
Relive some of the best moments of the Olympic Games of the past at the Olympic Museum on the lakeside at the Ouchy Metro stop. You’ll discover some great footage and memorabilia while in the grounds there’s a chance to test out the running track. Entrance is 18 Swiss Francs (£11.60). It's closed on Mondays. Nearby, you’ll find the stop for the paddlesteamer ride to Cully and the vineyards.

The boat ride from Lausanne along to Cully

DON’T MISS: Sampling the local wine. The vineyards that stretch east from Lausanne are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Monks started growing grapes on the slopes above Lake Geneva in the 11th century. Today the winegrowing region covers 40km along the lake shore through 14 villages. The boat ride on a paddlesteamer to Cully from Lausanne takes just 40 minutes.

The view from Anne's room at The Mirrador Kempinski

WHERE TO STAY DAY – Day 2: Stay in the vineyards above Vevey. For breath-taking views you can’t do better than The Mirador Kempinski – built on the hillside amongst the Lavaux vineyards. Even the swimming pool, with its huge glass windows, makes you feel you’re outdoors. This five-star spa hotel has 61 lakeview rooms – each with its own balcony. To get there, take the 15-minute funicular up from Vevey to Le Mont-Pelerin. Or make like a millionaire and fly in to land at the hotel helipad. Current deals listed for the hotel on the visit Switzerland website show a double room price, with this stunning view, for 385 Swiss Francs (£250) a night (for October 10). That’s room only but still a good deal compared to the cost of a five-star hotel in London. See for hotel details and deals, or check it out on

View from the top of the funicular railway back to Vevey from The Mirrador Kempinski

DON’T MISS: A swim in the hotel pool. Or for a real taste of Switzerland, try the hotel ‘chalet-style’ restaurant. It’s a 100 metres from the main building and serves up a wonderful, traditional cheese fondue.

WHERE TO STAY DAY – Day 3: For the chance to play golf on what becomes a major ski run in the winter, stay at the Chalet RoyAlp & Spa, just above Villars-sur-Ollon – a short train journey on from Vevey. The hotel is in a great location with direct access to the Villars Golf Club. It also has two restaurants and an exclusive spa area which includes an indoor swimming pool with open fireplace. Don’t miss the hot tub, sauna, steam room, a fitness centre and relaxation area.

Villars Golf Course – it transforms into a ski run in winter

DON’T MISS: A fascinating trip to the cheese farm on the mountainside above the hotel where you can taste – and see – wonderful cheeses being made

TOP TIP: BARGAIN OF THE WEEKEND: Pick up a ‘Free Access Card’ from reception at the Chalet Royalp & Spa. It’s given to all tourists who book into any hotel in the region between May and October 26 and will save an absolute fortune. But plan in advance for the best deals. The card allows you to try stand-up-paddleboarding with a free, 30-minute session on Lac Retaud on a Friday afternoon, a free cable car journey up the mountain or – best yet – a beginner’s golf lesson at Villars Golf Club including an hour’s tuition that would normally cost 100 Swiss Francs (£65 ). For a couple, that’s a saving of £130 alone.

BARGAIN TRAVEL: The Swiss tourist board organise special ‘Swiss Pass’ train tickets which you must buy in advance. Alternatively, they also sell regional passes – it all depends how far you want to go. Two days unlimited travel on local trains and boats in the Lake Geneva area will cost 105 Swiss Francs (£67). See

MORE INFO: And, if you’re a Queen fan, don’t miss a trip to Montreux. Since Dec 2013 there’s been a permanent, free exhibition called Queen – The Studio Experience at the Casino Barrier in Montreux. Visitors can see a reconstruction of the control room where the band made history in the Mountain Studio and even have a go at mixing music themselves.

Direct and frequent trains run to Geneva Airport from Montreux, Vevey and Lausanne

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