The natural powers at the Sass da Grüm wellness retreat in Switzerland give our writer the chance to tap into a world of calm

Plus: healthy holidays in Portugal and England

"Close your eyes and begin to concentrate on your breathing," said a soft voice from across the circle. It seemed a shame to shut out the view: the sun was setting over Lake Maggiore, the chestnut woodland beneath me, and the resorts of Ascona and Locarno on the opposite bank. The wooded mountains of the Valle Maggia fell into shade beyond, while behind me a garden dripping with wisteria merged into a wildflower meadow.

The view wasn't the point, though. I was taking part in a guided meditation class at Hotel Sass da Grüm above Vairano in Switzerland's Ticino region, best-known for hiking in summer and skiing in winter. Sass da Grüm claims to be a Kraftort, or "power place", thanks to the ancient volcano it sits on, balanced with the water and oxygen-rich air. This "natural energy" would strengthen me, my instructor's voice intoned – if I could relax.

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