Casa Bellavista is the ultimate destination for adventurous couples or families seeking a comfortable and charming private escape to one of the most exquisite natural mountain communities in the world. The location itself is truly unique – a small operational farming hamlet called Isola in Switzerland’s St. Moritz area, aptly named as during the summer the green pastoral field in this idyllic corner of Lake Sils protrudes into the turquoise-emerald water, giving the impression of an island.
Shining like a jewel from the sun’s reflection on oversized panoramic windows sits Casa Bellavista – a luxury villa among a handful of small traditional stone and wood dwellings blessed to be a part of Isola’s farming community, which will likely be forever restricted to these buildings given the local government’s strict regulations.
It is thanks to these regulations for preservation and the landlord’s desire to follow tradition, that the exterior of Casa Bellavista still retains its traditional stone and wood structure. However, following a 3-year renovation, guests have been invited since 2016 to step inside and enjoy the modern comforts of open-plan living across 4 stories with near full-wall windows overlooking the enzian and dandelion fields, which lead to the pristine lake and snow-capped mountains in summer or the snow-blanketed frozen lake that turns into one of the most sought-after cross-country skiing playgrounds in winter.
Casa Bellavista is a place that is easy to fall in love with. As the landlord Gabriela Giacometti-Meier mentioned, who like the other landlords of real estate here belong to the traditional farming families who still come up to Isola in the summer with their cattle, “This small farming community is built on tradition and Casa Bellavista is really too special a place to ever sell. It’s priceless. But we’re very happy to be able to share the experience”.
As a result, we invite our readers to embark upon what we believe to be Switzerland’s best kept secret, but warn them not to fall too deeply in love with a place they will likely never be able to call their own. However, thanks to Gabriela and her family, those who do fall in love are able to enjoy extended stays in Casa Bellavista as temporary residents of the exclusive Isola community and make the most of the extraordinary natural environment– whether it’s a gentle sail or the many adventurous summer or winter options along the mountain trail.
Suffice to say, we cannot recommend Casa Bellavista highly enough to those luxury guests who chose starlight over city light, authenticity over opulence and the next level of privacy over the desire to be seen. We personally extended our original stay and look forward to returning to Isola and Casa Bellavista.
GUEST EXPERIENCE HIGHLIGHTS:
§ Getting to Isola is an experience in itself. Guests can enjoy spectacular road passes beside the Rhaetian railway– one of three UNESCO railways in the world. The road winds its way from Switzerland’s interior to St. Moritz (30 mins from Isola), offering the ideal twists, turns and vistas for a vintage or sports car ride. Alternatively, the drive from Lake Como is approximately 2 hours to Isola and also offers driving enthusiasts with splendid views and adventurous roads. In summer, guests have the opportunity to get permission to drive directly to the Isola community beside the lake. In winter, guests will need to park in a nearby settlement and take a 30-minute winter hike or much shorter cross-country ski to Casa Bellavista.
§ Nature: The highlight of Isola is the unique location and the extraordinary scenery at your doorstep. It is the ideal destination to switch off and disconnect from working and city life and return to nature.
~ Wildlife is abundant in Isola and the surrounds. We saw a wild chamois coming down to the Isola community as well as marmots. There was also a wide variety of fish in the lake and we were frequently visited by cuckoos and other diverse land and water birds.
~ The local farm animals also add to the natural charm of Isola as it is an operational farm, with goats, cows and other farm animals.
~ Pristine alpine air with scents of Swiss stone pine surround Isola.
~ A river flows down from the cliffs above the hamlet, providing a soothing ambient sound that completes the idyllic retreat location.
§ Accommodation Design: Renovated traditional farmer’s barn transformed into a luxury house with 4 stories – the most iconic and luxurious holiday house in exclusive Isola. Modern architectural features along with local materials are used, while still in line with traditional forms. Premium stone with the signature rare sparkling Engadin alpine stones have been used, along with other natural Engadin stone floors and local woods.
~ The large windows and unique style of the establishment offers sweeping and uninterrupted lake and mountain views from every room (except the underground ski room).
~ The lowest level includes a ski room (useful for winter) and large bathroom and stone shower.
~ The underground level has an independent entry leading to an expansive children’s room with two single beds.
~ The ground floor contains an open-plan lounge, dining and self-catering kitchen area with thick Fexer stone slabs with natural patterns and light brown hues. A bathroom also leads off from the main room.
~ The top floor features the master double bed in a spacious loft-like setup as well as a shower capsule and bathroom.
§ Accommodation Comforts: Despite the relatively remote location, Casa Bellavista still suits the luxury seeker by ensuring a comfortable stay with modern Swiss comforts.
~ Underfloor heating throughout in summer and winter
~ Thick Swiss-made duck-down blankets and luxurious mattresses
~ Fully equipped self-catering kitchen with dishwasher, Nespresso machine and all modern conveniences
~ Fast internet and cable TV with a large flatscreen television
§ Privacy: Given the small community living in Isola, the nature of the location is exceptionally private. Day tourists, hikers, bikers and the participants of the famous Engadin Skimarathon do pass through the village (and look enviably at guests of Casa Bellavista), however it remains tranquil and largely untouched.
§ Service: Gabriela and her family have terrific service. They are very professional, efficient, reliable and, perhaps most importantly, authentic. Guests will be welcomed with fresh farm eggs from Gabriela’s farm and organic meat waiting for their first meal in the fridge.
§ Winter is a wonderful time to visit to enjoy a traditional Swiss alpine experience with ice skating, ice-fishing, snow-shoe hikes, cross-country skiing and the nearby 364km of slopes (including famous Corviglia, Corvatsch, Diavolezza). January is a good time to visit and if guests stay during the first three weeks of February, they will be able to attend the White Turf horse racing competition on snow in St. Moritz, also featured by The Luxologist in collaboration with Longines.
§ Summer is also a popular time to visit – we recommend the month of May for the tranquillity as the area is considered “off season”. Alternatively, September is a prime time that is still shoulder-season, yet with the advantage that all of the shops and tourist attractions are still open. Summer hiking recommendations include the trail from Sils-Grevasalvas-Maloja (spectacular views to Lake Sils and Isola) as well as the trail in the direction to Val Fedoz to Sils (directly above Isola).
§ Experience the highest ship cruise in Europe on Lake Sils.
§ Hire e-bikes from Skiservice Corvatsch (they hire winter gear as well, as the name implies). This stylish venue offers a wide selection of luxury alpine apparel as well as rental gear, including both high-end manual and electric mountain bikes. The bike ride from the shop to Isola is a picturesque 30-minute ride along the lake.
§ Hire a rowing or sailing boat from Plaun da Lej, on the opposite side of the lake to Isola. Here you will also be able to dine at a well-known restaurant (Murtaröl) with produce from the famous Milanese markets (as well as from the lake itself, which has been known to cultivate wild trout up to 14kg).
§ Visit Valley Fex by traditional horse and cart (or bikes for the more adventurous), which starts from the charming town of Sils – a favourite holiday destination of Friedrich Nietzsche. At the end of the valley, it is common to see wildlife, including marmots and chamois and if you’re lucky, Steinbock.
§ Unwind at the Sils peninsula near the dock Chasté, which offers a national park environment with exceptional views and romantic picnic areas.
§ Take the gondola up to the top of Corvatsch, where you have views over the alps all the way to the Matterhorn on a clear day.
§ For a memorable culinary experience, we recommend Talvo by Dalsas (a Michelin-starred restaurant in nearby Champfér which has also been featured in The Luxologist). For those wishing to cook at Casa Bellavista, you can visit the local grocery in Sils (10-minute drive from Isola) as well as buy produce from the local farmers and fisherman.
§ Judging from the bookings on Casa Bellavista’s booking platform, reservations fill up fast, so we recommend booking well in advance rather than spontaneously (it is already booked out for the Summer of 2020). Also considering that some guests stay for over a month (one guest stayed there for 5 weeks in March/April 2020), it can suddenly be booked out for months at a time.
§ We recommend staying for two weeks or longer to completely unwind and experience everything the region has to offer. Note that there is a minimum 7 day stay requirement. You can book directly with the landlord Gabriela Giacometti-Meier: firstname.lastname@example.org