BUSINESS, banks and luxury come immediately to mind when mentioning Geneva.

Throw in the additional traditions of Swiss chocolate and cheese and the cliches are alive and well.

But stepping off the plane, within the 15 minutes it takes to reach the heart of Geneva, it is immediately evident that behind the opulence is another world a million miles away from the business image it fosters.

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Amid its culture, economy, and cleanliness, lies an unspoiled openness that appeals to a different kind of tourist, like me.

Mont Salève overlooks the entirety of Geneva and its impressive lake.

Face the other way and you are staring out across the snowy peaks of Mont Blanc in the French Alps.

Take a dip in Lake Geneva or even embark on a bike ride through the vineyards of Satigny whose rolling countryside stretches for miles.

It is a health freak’s haven with sport woven not only into its landscape but its entire ethos.

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  • Picture by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Even the luxury five star Mandarin Oriental hotel in central Geneva where we stayed, sitting gloriously on the Rhone river, offered energy drinks and water for the early risers off running, or a ‘mindfulness’ colouring book for anyone less active.

I fell into the latter and planned to spend most of my trip eating my own bodyweight in local food.

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Starting right there, because although the whole hotel was luxurious from the rooms to gym and treatment rooms, the impressive food served up in its restaurants – Café Calla and gastronomic Indian Rasoi by Vineet – was a real highlight, overlooking the banks of the river Rhone against a truly breath-taking mountain backdrop.

Indeed, Geneva has clearly benefitted from being so close to neighbouring countries Italy and France, bringing together an eclectic option for diners and something that doesn’t disappoint, because every restaurant we ate in throughout the weekend proved to be a new experience for the tastebuds.

While leaving the hotel was hard, having picked up a free 80 minute public transport ticket, to help tourists get across the city, at the airport, it seemed a shame to waste it.

No longer just a destination for avid winter sports folk, heading on over to the Alps or those visiting for business trips, Geneva is attracting a new genre of tourist.

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And Geneva Tourism is eager to promote the city’s other attributes and attract a new crowd to the city, by coming up with the much loved Geneva Pass which runs for 24, 48 or 72 hours and ranges in price from €22-€38, including free entry to several tourist attractions across the city plus free public transport.

This included a mind-blowing trip on the 1,100 metre cable car journey up Mont Salève.

Just half an hour from the city centre by bus and a quick five minute climb in the cable car and you are treated to panoramic views of Geneva and afar.

Known as the balcony of Geneva for its endless vistas, it is also called “the unparalleled playground’ for its endless fitness options.

The mountains boast paragliding, climbing, mountain biking, trekking and crosscountry skiing – or for those less cardio focused, like me, the L’Observatoire restaurant is a safe bet to sit and enjoy the views.

Back on solid ground, Lake Geneva proved as enticing, boasting different places from which to launch oneself into the clear, cool water. The city’s Bains des Paquis for example is a simple water park peninsula costing around €2.

It boasts a small pebbled beach, sunbathing areas, a 10m diving board and unrivalled views for swimming in the surprisingly warm lake.

To finish off our triathlon of a day we were given an ebike tour the vineyards of Satigny with electric bike company eBiketour.

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The company has a base in Satigny as well as the heart of Geneva – proving a popular way for people to travel between the two.

We looped round the stunning village vineyards without even breaking into a sweat, thanks to the ebikes. The rolling countryside proved a hidden gem and a secret weapon that’s been overshadowed for too long behind the big banks and businesses of the city.

With much more still to offer I will be back.

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THE FACTS

Travelling from London to Geneva takes one hour and 40 minutes and flying with easyJet the prices are from £35 for a one-way ticket.

The Geneva Tourism Pass can be bought from Geneva Tourism website from 26 CHF for a one day pass and offers a host of free entry to various tourist attractions across the city, plus free travel.

Tickets include attractions such as Cable car Mont-Saleve, Geneva Beach, or walking tours through the Old Town.

For details geneve.com or call 0041 22 909 70 70