Guests feel in harmony with the vines at this wine spa

La Vigne-Spa in Chexbres is all about the vine: in the glass, in various treatments and thanks to the view of the Lavaux vineyards. Co-founder Christian Jacot-Descombes reveals what makes the offer so special.

©Swiss Wine Promotion
Thursday 20 Jun 2024 Wine Tourism

Drinking Swiss wine with a view: the ‘La Vigne - Swiss Wine Therapy’ spa is on the road to success. The award for innovation in wine tourism from the canton of Vaud in 2020 was followed by the Global Best of Wine Tourism award from the Great Wine Capitals in 2022. This recognised the spa as the best wine tourism offer in Switzerland.

Christian Jacot-Descombes, what was the catalyst for La Vigne Spa in Lavaux?

The coronavirus pandemic! We spent a year travelling, including to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina. On our return, we had the idea of setting up a wine tourism business, as this is not yet so well-developed in Switzerland. We thought of a travel agency specialising in wine tours. However, when we returned, it was March 2020…

Not the best time to open a travel agency.

So we thought of creating an offer for Swiss people in their own country. Here in Lavaux, we saw a lot of people coming to hike at the weekend. Finally, we came up with the idea of combining this exceptional geographical location with wellness. Why not set up a bathtub in the middle of the vineyards and also offer vinotherapy treatments?

How did things get rolling?

We applied for and won the Vaud Prize for Innovation in Wine Tourism, which was awarded for the first time in 2020. We used the CHF 20,000 prize money to buy the bathtubs and other equipment. We then looked for a winemaker who could take us on.

And that's when you came across Eric Bovy from Domaine Bovy?

Eric is one of the most progressive winegrowers in the canton of Vaud when it comes to wine tourism. He listened to us very favourably and thought it was a good idea.

La Vigne-Spa is located on his estate, in the middle of the vineyards. What is so special about this place?

You're surrounded by nature, and then there's the exceptional view. Guests have the feeling of being connected to the vineyards when they drink a glass of wine in the bath. The treatments are also special: we have a peeling made from dried grape marc and body wraps made from grape skins. As these residues are normally thrown away, we promote the circular economy.

La Vigne Spa, Chexbres

Aren't guests disappointed because they can't bathe in wine?

There are actually some who expect that (laughs). We explain to them that a bathtub holds 150 litres, and it's better to drink the wine than to bathe in it!

You mentioned that wine tourism is more developed in other parts of the world. What is missing in Switzerland?

Before we met Eric, many winegrowers said: I sell wine - I don't have the time or inclination to do anything else. But there are probably still many places where you could open a terrace and create wonderful experiences.

So there is a lack of will to focus on wine tourism?

Viticulture is often still very much characterised by agriculture. The winegrowers produce wine, sell it and work on the quality. The result: exceptional wines are now being produced in Switzerland. But in terms of hotel infrastructure and catering, some places still don't have much to offer.

Does this require a generational change?

That's more a question of culture than generation. There are many young people today who go abroad to do an internship in viticulture. They discover wineries in Australia or New Zealand, for example, which also have a luxury restaurant, hotel or bed and breakfast attached. Even locals spend the weekend in the wine regions because it is so beautiful there. Our future winegrowers then realise what potential they have.

Christian Jacot-DescombesChristian Jacot-Descombes

Switzerland. Naturally.