Apart from the environs of London, the Alps have the highest density of Bond locations in the world. Parts of the films Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only, Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough were filmed here. One of them is the Bürgenstock Resort, perched on top of the eponymous mountain. Mostly surrounded by Lake Lucerne and spanning over 60 acres, the resort is a luxury destination with a list of celebrity guests as long as my arm. From Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti, who resided in one of its chalets for seven years, to Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer, who were married in the little chapel at Bürgenstock, which dates back to 1892.
Spanning over 60 acres, the Bürgenstock Resort majestically sits on a mountain above the beautiful Lake Lucerne.
The place is simply stunning, with views to die for, both of the valley and the lake. It comprises three hotels: the Bürgenstock, the Palace and Waldhotel, the latter being a health and medical centre with the comforts of a luxury hotel. Basically, if you are a rock & roll star on the verge of a nervous breakdown, this is the place to come to; same if you want some time off after a clinical procedure, or if you simply need a break from the stresses of everyday life. Access to the resort is gained by car on the valley side or by the steepest funicular you could imagine from the lake shore. I recommend the latter, as you first cross Lake Lucerne in a catamaran, which offers unparalleled views of the medieval town.
Sean Connery and Tania Mallet (Tilly Masterson) in 1964 at the Furka Pass, one of the most impressive Alpine crossings in Switzerland and where James Bond, in his DB5 pursues Goldfinger.
Sean Connery and the Goldfinger crew lived at the mountain-top resort’s Palace Hotel for a month in 1964, shooting scenes in nearby Stans and on the Furka Pass, among other Swiss locations. Between shoots, Connery headed to the Bürgenstock golf course, where he worked on perfecting his swing, needed for an upcoming scene with Bond nemesis Auric Goldfinger (played by German actor Gert Fröbe). The 1950s Hollywood-style pool and Bull’s Eye bar at the Bürgenstock hotel were chosen as the location for the opening scenes in this film, after the initial credits – which were supposed to take place in Miami. Goldfinger is playing cards at a table located between the pool and the bar as Bond saunters by and assesses the way Goldfinger is cheating at cards because, as his accomplice notes, he always wants to win.
The hotel’s Hollywood style pool was the location for the opening scenes in Goldfinger.
Although the whole resort was renovated a few years ago after Katara Hospitality Group acquired it, all building work and refurbishments have been made with a really sympathetic eye and respect for the heritage of the place. Opened in 1873 under the name Hotel Kurhaus, Bürgenstock it is one of the oldest resorts in the world and the largest in Switzerland. The Bürgenstock hotel itself is a wonder of modern architecture, every room faces the lake and its 10,000m2 Alpine Spa has a heated outdoors pool from which to enjoy the extraordinary views. It offers treatments to cater for every need and preference.
The interior of the BMW M850 xDrive comes with every comfort you could possibly imagine, including Merino leather upholstery and multifunction seats with lumbar and thigh support.
Despite the lumbar support and integrated headrests on the seats, which can be adjusted in both height and depth, the truth is that, after eight hours at the steering wheel, I was ready for a massage, so I opted for a KOS Paris full-body invigorating massage. It consists of 60 minutes of stretching movements to release stress and tension through soft kneading motions, leaving my body and mind fully revitalised. Delicately scented oils are applied throughout to take you on this special wellbeing experience.
The panoramic climatised infinity pool is just one of the available at the Bürgenstock Alpine Spa.
Feeling completely renewed, it was time to eat. There are three wonderful restaurants at the Bürgenstock hotel plus an all-day snack bar with enviable views of the lake. No wonder Connery and his crew chose to stay here! On the first night we went to Spices, an Asian fusion restaurant that brings authentic flavours from Japan, China, India and Thailand to the heart of Switzerland. Maître d’ Tomas and his team – among them the brilliant Nelson – will make your dining experience unforgettable. For me, the fried dumplings and the octopus with yuzu sauce are two dishes my tastebuds will keep in their memory for ever. On the second night, we tried Brasserie Ritzcoffier, named after two of the most memorable names in French cuisine: César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier.
Ritzcoffier celebrates the classics of French gastronomy in the grand brasserie style. The restaurant is framed by panoramic windows above Lake Lucerne.
Its classic French-inspired menu would delight even the most demanding guests. From its foie gras terrine to its lobster cocktail or bouillabaisse, all the dishes are beautifully executed and bring out a smile to your face, including the Crêpes Suzette, which are masterly prepared in front of you by General Manager Andrea Tozzi. A Bond martini at their bar and cigar lounge, expertly prepared by waiter Praveen, and a game of cards – where I cleared the table – completed my evening.
All good things come to an end in the morning, it was time to move to our third and last Bond destination in this trip, the Schweizerhof Hotel in Bern (also available in our Travel section).
Tel. +41 41 612 60 00
Words: Julia Pasarón