When a recent business trip took me to Liechtenstein, I decided to stay a few extra days and explore the tiny principality between Switzerland and Austria. I’m already planning a return visit. The scenery is breathtaking, outdoor activity opportunities abound, and the food and spas are among the best in all of Europe.
My first night was spent at Hotel Turna in Malbun, a ski village near the Austrian border. It was homey and charming, and it serves the best muesli I’ve ever tasted. The hotel offers access to exceptional hiking trails that meander up the Alps, and is a quick drive away from a restaurant at an even higher elevation: Berggasthaus Masescha, founded in 1877. I had been told that it serves the best apple pie (they call it cake) in Liechtenstein, and it, indeed, was fantastic. So were its house classics: Sliced Veal Masescha with homemade rösti (potato cake), Veal Cordon Bleu, and, of course, Wiener Schnitzel.
Residents of Liechtenstein often make the short trip across the Rhine River to Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in eastern Switzerland and its famous Tamina Therme spa. The region birthed spa tourism in the 1700s due to the healing thermal waters coming from Tamina Gorge, naturally heated to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Soaking experiences at Tamina Therme range from an outdoor garden pool with underwater massaging recliners and views of the mountains to a striking Kneipp (hydrotherapy) zone that is made of natural stone and mimics the gorge.
The first spa treatment on my itinerary was a Haki massage, which uses tension, pressure, and stretching movements to relax muscles and “free your mind.” It was transformative. From there, it was off to the spa’s sauna “village,” home to the largest infusion sauna made of Nordic kelo wood in Switzerland. Be sure to try one of the infusion experiences, where water mixed with essential oils is poured onto the hot stones by an aufgussmeister (steam master) who uses a giant towel and rhythmic movements (choreographed to music) to direct the steam to bathers.
Afterward, feeling fully revitalized, I headed to dinner at Verve by Sven, one of the Bad Ragaz’s seven restaurants. I decided to splurge on the five-course “Pure Passion” meal, which started with Angus Beef Tartar and Cauliflower, then moved on to Asparagus Cream Soup, Sauteed Char From Brueggli, Braised Onion Roast (flat iron steak), and Spring Iced-Cup Verve, a refreshing concoction of rhubarb (a personal favorite), yogurt, oat crumble, and honey.
The rest of the week I stayed at the boutique Park Hotel Sonnenhof in Vaduz, which offers exquisite rooms and views of Castle Vaduz. At its Marée restaurant, try the Raviolini with spinach and veal or Veal Scallop a la Sonnenhof with potato salad, and save room for its specialty dessert: 10 colorful scoops of homemade Fruit Sorbet. I also dined one night at Hofkellerei, the wine cellars of the Prince of Liechtenstein. The venue was an obvious choice as our small group included Prince Philip, chairman of LGT, the world’s largest family-owned bank.
In between it all, I took a tour of Läderach Chocolate in Bilten, about 40 minutes from Zurich. Läderach is a “bean-to-bark” producer, a rarity among chocolatiers. Good news: It recently opened a store at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco and has more North Texas shops in the works. Be sure to sample treats at its signature FrischSchoggi counters, including a bark of white chocolate with pistachios, caramelized almonds, and candied orange pieces. I don’t know what else they put in this chocolate crack, but it’s addicting.