Offering a plenitude of options for families in a paradisiac setting, guests of Ascona’s elegant Hotel Eden Roc enjoy culinary delights, lakefront entertainment and the highest level of five-star hospitality. Earthly pleasures abound await guests both big and small.
When destinations boldly lure us with claims such as being ‘paradise on earth’, one could be forgiven for entertaining expectations of truly biblical proportions. As we find ourselves on a train bound for Ticino one lazy summer afternoon, my children and I keep busy daydreaming about the heavenly days that lay ahead of us in Switzerland’s most Mediterranean of cantons. While daddy pictures himself sipping a cocktail or two on the shores of Lake Maggiore without a care in the world, the kids feverishly express their expectations of our destination, a place called Eden Roc. ‘I expect there to be drawing paper and coloured pencils in every room’, I hear my son saying, his younger sister nodding in unconditional agreement.
I can’t help but smile; if their happiness depends on nothing else than a set of crayons, this weekend should be a breeze. Fast forward a few hours and we find ourselves sitting at a table under the soft light of a bright full moon. While somewhere someone plays the piano, swaying leaves of palm trees perform a natural ballet, welcoming us to this most perfect of summer evenings. Everyone present, many guests very obviously regulars, is sporting a content smile. Meanwhile my son, sipping away at his syrupy beverage, mutters, more to himself than to anyone in particular: ‘It really does feel like we have arrived in paradise, dad.’ This time, it is me who can’t help but to nod in absolute approval, just an inch away from shedding a sentimental tear into my sparkling rosé nightcap.
Early the next morning we discuss itinerary options on the patio of Eden Roc’s restaurant over sweet pancakes, freshly squeezed juices, and perfect eggs Benedict on my plate. The food is outshone only by the stunning view to the south across the majestic lake. But since the lake is missing jacuzzi jets, the pool area is where we decide to spend most of our day. This is fine by me because ever since my daughter ditched her floaties earlier this summer, there is little she enjoys more than submerging herself in anything larger than a kitchen sink. Actually, it is a mystery to me there still isn’t any webbing growing between her toes. Following a delightful seafood lunch at La Casetta, an idyllic lakefront spot, I decide to add some extra sprinkle to today’s fun activities that will certainly put their bravery to the test. We are expected down at the hotel’s private harbour where a giant banana is waiting for dessert. My son’s face lightens up as soon as he realizes the fruit in question is inedible – but rather inflatable! What ensues is a wet, wild, and tumultuous adventure.
The happy shrieks and terrified screams of a pack of adventurous children, the sound of their bodies skidding off the banana boat and splashing into the cool lake, the howling engine of our captain’s speed boat – this action-packed afternoon will forever remain embedded in our memories. Next up is waffle-making at the Kids Club. Not for me, however, since I am saving room for tonight’s dinner. Strolling past the romantic stone building that houses La Casetta, I run into Michael Lehnort, general manager of the Carlton Hotel in St. Moritz. He’s standing at a makeshift patio bar wearing an apron and mixing non-alcoholic beverages. We chit-chat for a bit until my children run up to me. With the corners of her mouth still sporting evidence of the recent chocolaty experience, my daughter tells me about this girl she has met who apparently owns 24 hairbands: ‘That way she has one for every hour of the day’, she explains. It’s nice to see that we are all making new friends so easily around here.
The following days are packed with the building blocks of the magical stuff unforgettable memories are made of: a fantastic dinner at the Michelin-starred La Brezza featuring chef Marco Campanella’s culinary marvels; long chats until late into the evening; watching the bats circling around in the balmy summer breeze; visits to the kitchen where we were gifted a chef’s toque as a souvenir et cetera. The list of small but meaningful moments is endless: bedtime stories placed on the kids’ pillows every night, excursions to the Verzasca Valley, hikes through the woods and yet more Banana Boat rides. In hindsight, during our return home, the kids inform me of only one regret: not having had a chance to take a bubble bath in our suite’s gigantic tub. I think it’s safe to say that after a few summer days spent here, we can all agree that Eden Roc is, in fact, a little piece of paradise on earth. Ticino’s beautiful natural landscapes, the shores of Lake Maggiore, the picturesque town of Ascona and its charming broadwalk, not to mention the mountains, valleys, rivers and forests make up this region’s appeal. Combined with Eden Roc’s world-class service and amenities, our weekend may have been ephemeral in measurable hours – but it created memories that will undoubtedly live on for a lifetime.
Words and Photos
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