EVIAN, France Have you ever wondered whether Evian water really
percolates down from Alpine glaciers for as long as 35 years, then
bubbles up out of the ground, pure enough to drink? Indeed it does.
A highlight of my trip to Evian, a sleepy village in the
foothills of the Alps on the south shore of Lake Geneva, was a
visit to the centuries-old fountain where the water pours forth at
53 degrees. You can drink your fill or cart away as many gallons as
you can lift.
But don’t take my word for it. Instead, send your clients to the
Royal Parc Evian resort to savor the bracing country air,
1,650-foot elevation and lakeside views. A 42-acre vacation retreat
near Evian’s famous springs, the resort has two recently remodeled
luxury hotels, lush gardens and a world-class golf course.
During my five-day stay, divided among two hotels the Ermitage
and the Hotel Royal guests included parents with toddlers, fashion
mavens in Chanel suits, hikers in jeans, Americans on tour, tennis
players in shorts and business travelers attending a BMW sales
Treatments and meals at the spa and the Better Living Institute
are priced separately.
The resort also offers such activities as golf, archery,
sailing, paragliding, mountain biking, skiing and horseback riding.
On-property activities, including five indoor and outdoor pools, a
children’s center, tennis and squash courts and a climbing wall are
free to guests. The redesigned Evian Masters golf course has 18
holes, par 72, a clubhouse, a lavish golf shop, a restaurant and a
The Children’s Club has a play yard with sports equipment.
Indoors, there’s a crafts corner packed with art materials, a
reading room, a science center, a stage and a costume room equipped
with gowns, feathers, clown suits, pirate coats and princess
The Fun Club, for teenagers, offers rollerblading, volleyball,
basketball, tennis, pingpong, computers and music.
Both hotels share romantic hillside settings above Lake Geneva,
with views of the twinkling lights of Lausanne. They also have
24-hour room service, televisions, minibars, electronic safes,
telephones with dataports and bath amenities. Each has an elevator
to the first-floor spa, allowing guests to bypass the lobby.
The 91-room Ermitage Hotel is more modest, with a manor house
ambience: plush furniture upholstered in reds and blues and a
sporty billiard room. Some of the bedrooms are very small.
However, the Ermitage has better views of the church steeple
below and of the pool and acres of lush gardens.
The Hotel Royal is palatial. Built to receive England’s King
Edward VII, no expense was spared.
The interior is a symphony of Beaux-Arts shapes and designs.
Soaring, vaulted neo-Gothic ceilings bloom with sylvan scenes and
floral scrolling; arched doorways and windows invite the eye.
Spacious bedrooms and suites feature doors and closets disguised
as framed matching mirrors, textured walls, window fabrics hung in
great loops and gathered with silk tiebacks and honey-colored
Le Cafe Royal, one of eight restaurants on the property, has a
one-star Michelin rating. Travel agents earn 10% commission.
Rates: Ermitage $115 to $355; the Hotel Royal, $195 to $420.
Contacts: 800-223-6800; www.royalparcevian.com;