Flüeli-Ranft, with Gasthaus in the foreground

Creative writing retreats

in idyllic Switzerland

28 May – 3 June 2023 in Central Switzerland

24 – 30 September 2023 in the Bernese Oberland

Make time and space for yourself: gain focus, find inspiration and hone your craft through daily workshops, independent writing time and feedback sessions. Enjoy writing in unforgettable surroundings in the supportive company of like-minded people and enhance your day with a walk. Your tutor will guide you through workshops and discussions on key elements of writing, such as characterisation, story structure and plot development, point of view, voice, sense of place and dialogue. The final session will offer you an invaluable practical approach to various stages of editing.  

Want to learn more about how and why writing retreats enable leaps forward? This article in Writing.ie Magazine should help.

You can click on this page for a summary (lots of photos!) of the October 2022 retreat, which will give you a flavour of the experience. Here, a couple of testimonials:

Why these retreats?

  • For participants at any level of writing experience, from beginners to advanced
  • Small groups, to guarantee individual attention
  • On the global list of 25 Incredible Writing Retreats to Attend in 2022 published by The Write Life
  • Hosted by an author with solid credentials: a published novelist; creative-writing tutor with years of experience (teaching all age groups and levels since 2013: from secondary-school pupils to students on Creative Writing undergraduate and Masters degrees); reviewer; Literary Director of a long-established festival. A tutor’s experience and skills in teaching creative writing distinguish the best retreats, enabling your individual goals to be addressed, irrespective of whether you’re multi-published or on your first project.

Retreat in the Bernese Oberland

(next: 24-30 September 2023)

This retreat in the spectacular Bernese Oberland is restricted to a maximum of three participants. It’s in the unspoilt Hasliberg area of the Jungfrau Region that inspired Goethe, Turner, Conan-Doyle and Tolkien, amongst others. A vast choice of well-maintained paths (even in winter!) will allow you to enhance the day with a walk to stimulate your creativity. The village is easily reached by public transport from Zurich or Basel airports. A tip: travel via Luzern to catch the Luzern-to-Interlaken Express until Brünig – it’s deservedly one of Switzerland’s most famous panoramic routes!

You’ll be staying at a luxury apartment in a modern chalet, in a village at approx. 1070 metres above sea-level. It’s an easy walk (c. 200 meters) from the flat to the local cafes, shop and public transport. You’ll have your own space: a double room put to single-occupancy use, with stunning views of the mountains (including Wetterhorn, Wellhorn, Engelhörner and Eiger) and high in natural light; there are three bath/shower-rooms. A generous lounge with a log burner, and a large kitchen-diner, offer the perfect atmosphere for relaxing and chatting. Breakfast, a light lunch and a hearty dinner will be provided.

The chalet and the apartment:

Notable attractions are only a short drive away (though some are open only from April to November). They include the Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame, the Aare Gorge, the Rosenlaui Glacier gorge, the Giessbach Falls, the lakeside towns of Brienz and Interlaken, the historic Ballenberg open-air museum…

Timing:

6 nights, from Sunday 24 to Saturday 30 September 2023

  • Arrival between 15:00 and 18:30 on Sunday, for dinner at 19:00 
  • Departure by 11:00 after breakfast on Saturday

Price:

  • CHF 1,200 inclusive of workshops, accommodation, meals and tourist taxes. (At the time of writing, CHF 1,200 are equivalent to approx. US$ 1,272 / Euros 1,222 / GBP 1,050.)  
  • A 25% deposit will be payable upon acceptance of a place on the retreat; and the balance 60 days before the start date.
  • Accommodation for additional days to enable you to tour the area can be arranged upon request.  

Retreat in Flüeli-Ranft, Central Switzerland

(next: 28 May – 3 June 2023)

This retreat is for a maximum of ten participants, who will have their own rooms (each with en-suite WC and shower or bath) in the charming Gasthaus Paxmontana.

Built in 1617, the intimate Gasthaus (only 16 rooms) belongs to the nearby Jugendstil-Hotel Paxmontana, an icon of Art Nouveau, listed in the Swiss Historic Hotels directory. A breakfast buffet rich in regional specialities will be provided at the Jugendstil-Hotel. A three-course dinner will be served Sunday to Friday, mostly at the Gasthaus Restaurant, and on some nights in the Veranda Restaurant of the main hotel. A sandwich-lunch will be provided Monday to Friday in either of the two restaurants. Workshops will take place in a dedicated seminar room annexed to the Gasthaus. The retreat fee includes the workshops, accommodation, tourist taxes and the above meals; drinks are excluded and charged individually.

Accommodation is in the historic village of Flüeli-Ranft, famous as the home of Saint Nicholas of Flüe (1417-1487), Switzerland’s patron saint. A mystic, hermit, political councillor and judge, he is celebrated – by the religious and non-religious alike – for preventing a civil war. The pretty village sits in an enchanting peaceful landscape conducive to creativity. It’s easily reached by public transport from Zurich or Basel airports. On the way, you might want to stop over in historic Luzern, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful cities.

Timing:

6 nights, from Sunday 28 May to Saturday 3 June 2023

  • Arrival between 15:00 and 18:30 on Sunday, for dinner at 19:00 
  • Departure by 11:00 after breakfast on Saturday

Price:

  • CHF 1,600 inclusive of workshops, accommodation, meals and tourist taxes; exclusive of drinks. (At the time of writing, CHF 1,600 are equivalent to approx. US$ 1,698 / Euros 1,629 / GBP 1,398.)  
  • A 25% deposit will be payable upon acceptance of a place on the retreat; and the balance 60 days before the start date.
  • Accommodation for additional days to enable you to tour the area can be arranged upon request, provided the hotel still has availability.
  • In the event of fewer than three registrations, this retreat will be held at the chalet in the Berner Oberland and applicants will be refunded the difference in price.

FURTHER INFORMATION and BOOKINGS:

  • Email Valeria on mvaleriavw@outlook.com 
  • Or contact her by clicking here.

Transportation / How to get there:

Switzerland is a major flights hub. You’ll therefore be able to shop around for inexpensive offers, especially if booked with some notice. Tariffs to Basel Mulhouse airport (BSL) are often even cheaper than to Zurich (ZRH). From either airport, you can easily reach Flüeli-Ranft or the Hasliberg along a scenic route by SBB public transport (famously super-efficient) or by car if you prefer to rent one. Flights to Geneva (GVA) can be less expensive, but it’s more distant from either destination.

Measures against Covid-19:

Although the world is presently coping better with Covid-19, it is best to remain cautious. Anyone showing signs of Covid-19 infection should therefore take a PCR test; if confirmed positive to the virus, they should refrain from attending the retreat. All participants are asked to take a lateral-flow test on the day of arrival, in the interest of their own health and to protect others. Any measures adopted by the Swiss Government and the Canton at the time of the retreat are to be respected.

If you can’t make these two retreats…

… Please email Valeria, stating your preferred dates. If at all possible, she will reconcile your request with other applicants’.

… And if you live in Switzerland, take a look at the 3 one-day masterclasses Valeria will be holding for and at the Literaturhaus Zentralschweiz in Stans on Saturdays: 3 December, 14 January and 18 March. See here or directly on the Lit.Z website.

switzerland-4-smaller
Ken Howard OBE RA, Wellhorn and Wetterhorn, 2016, oil on canvas, private collection

‘Every now and then you find a subject so perfect that were you to stay in that one place for the rest of your life you would find enough to keep you painting for all time.’

Ken Howard OBE RA, from Ken Howard’s Switzerland – In the Footsteps of Turner, Royal Academy of Arts, 2013

Credits:

Photos © the author.

The Write Life image reproduced with the kind permission of The Write Life‘s Jessica Lawlor and Susan Shain. Photo freely available from Shutterstock.

Wellhorn and Wetterhorn, by Prof. Ken Howard OBE RA, reproduced with his kind permission.

Quote from Ken Howard’s Switzerland – In the Footsteps of Turner, reproduced with Prof. Ken Howard’s kind permission.