I Lived Like a Swiss Girl for a Week, and It Changed Everything

Updated 05/01/19

Traveling used to overwhelm me: the idea of spending a lot of money, stressing out over an itinerary, figuring out transportation—the works. But now all those things thrill me; I feel genuinely electrified each time I board a plane, riveted at the possibilities of what each new place will have in store. Such was the case when I recently went to Switzerland, a place I'd visited only once in passing during my six months abroad.

Due to its position directly in between France, Italy, and Germany, the geography of the country itself keeps Switzerland super unique. All three neighboring countries influence the culture there, allowing its residents to glide from language to language without missing a beat. It was a really beautiful thing to watch, and it made me painfully aware of my status as a monoglot. That multinational influence also lends itself to the Swiss skincare and wellness philosophies.

According to Jacqueline Hill, director of strategic innovation and science for La Prairie, "The Swiss Germans tend to be more Germanic in their habits, the Suisses Romands tend to be more Frenchified, and the people in Ticino more Italian style. But if we have to characterize the Swiss as a nation, I would say that they're both pragmatic and interested in high-quality products."

quiet and quaint swiss town in switzerland
@gouldhallie

That was immediately apparent when I rolled up to the Burgenstock Resort, an unbelievable hotel situated above Lake Lucerne, seemingly in the clouds. The view from every spot on the property was breathtaking—every twist and turn was more striking than the last. I was there with La Prairie to learn about the company's newest launch (which is a secret until August, I'm afraid).

While there was a ton of work on the agenda, there was also a lot of pampering and Swiss indulgences to take in. Which isn't rare in Switzerland: As model Lisa Parigi told our features editor, "wellness weekends" are built into Swiss culture (which makes sense, given the country's incredible spas and thermal baths). Self-care and skincare treatments rank high on the list of priorities, and the Swiss are happy to spend money on these things.

view of switzerland water
@gouldhallie

The Creme de la Creme of Facials

As soon as I checked in, I felt a palpable wash of calm roll over me. Not because I was on vacation—far from it, as I had more deadlines than usual looming—but the atmosphere allowed for me to let a bit of stress go upon contact. Everything was quiet and clean. Everyone was fresh-faced. This is certainly something I could get used to, I thought, though it was practically alien behavior to a New Yorker on deadline.

I had an appointment for La Prairie's signature caviar lifting and firming gesicht, or facial, at the hotel's spa. The aesthetician worked on my skin's tone and texture using caviar-infused products and a face-and-eye massage. The key products were La Prairie's Cellular 3-Minute Peel ($235), Skin Caviar Essence-in-Lotion ($255), Essence of Skin Caviar Eye Complex ($170), Skin Caviar Liquid Lift ($560), and Skin Caviar Crystalline Concentre ($460).

classic swiss breakfast of pomegranate
@gouldhallie

Enjoying Switzerland

Afterward, I felt like melted butter, having fallen asleep for the majority of the treatment. I reveled in my post-facial lift and glow. I spent the rest of the afternoon working, something that usually causes lower back pain, headaches, and a steady flow of stress (especially when I'm out of the office)—but nothing. I was comfortable, properly moisturized, and felt really, well… well. How's that for self-care?

For the rest of the trip, we had incredibly decadent meals, though they were all portion-controlled and made with healthy, fresh ingredients. While that type of thing is certainly available in the U.S., it's not usually my first choice. Unfortunate but true. But in Switzerland, I was eating fish, vegetables, and fruit for every meal. Then, when I was back in the room and decided to order room service, I found myself craving those same feel-good foods.

Previously, I'd go straight to the pasta menu and add a dessert on the order for good measure. But there was something about the fresh Swiss air and feeling of wellness surrounding me that unconsciously changed my eating patterns. I felt really, really good (and not at all bloated) the entire time. I even went for a hike at the end of the week to take in those insane mountain views.

Which, by the way, is another habit indicative of the Swiss: "So many Swiss women are into outdoor sports and activities—walking and skiing in the mountains," Hill told us. It's ingrained in their culture that physical health is just as helpful to your overall wellness as expensive skincare.

view of airplane wing on swiss air
Hallie Gould

Bidding Adieu to Switzerland

On the last day, right before our flight home and my subsequent Switzerland withdrawal, we drove to Zurich to spend time at the Dolder Grand's spa. Now, I've been to a lot of spas in my day, but I can confidently say this was the most out-of-this-world experience of my life.

There was a snow room for cryo-esque therapy. There was a hibiscus-infused steam room. There was a stone-lined meditation room to imbue nature into your practice. There was an infinity pool, a pod filled with warm stones for napping, and even a library. La Prairie had booked us all body treatments—a 90-minute massage that worked every kink, pain, and bump from my body.

"One of the biggest differences we see between skincare in Switzerland and the USA is the attention and care to the body skin," says Gisela Steffan of natural luxury brand Skincare Suisse. So rather than just skincare, this trip taught me about body care and body treatments.

hallie gould enjoying red wine in switzerland
@gouldhallie

In the end, I left my week in Switzerland feeling properly pampered, cultured, and fed. But I also brought something back with me to the U.S.—a better sense of balance and self-care. I kept eating clean foods even after I landed, and I've been giving myself facial massages each morning and night.

I've walked more, spent more time outside, and even put my phone down in an effort to be more in the moment. I've always taken good care of my skin, but now I do so in a way that feels decidedly decadent. It's allowed me to slow down my mornings (as well as my anxiety). My body feels better, and so does my mind. I'll thank La Prairie and the country of Switzerland for my newfound happy feelings.

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