Endless natural beauty, legendary service and true luxury lifestyle in the Swiss Alps
As part of a series dedicated to the Swiss Alps, LUXURY IN THE SWISS ALPS 2014, on my first ever trip, I had the privilege to review several outstanding properties, including The Alpina in Gstaad, Guarda Golf Hotel in Crans-Montana and The Chedi in Andermatt, Carlton Hotel in St Moritz as well as city breaks Montreux Palace Fairmont and Lausanne Palace, respectively.
Whether in a classic chalet-style hotel – Guarda Golf, a contemporary luxury resort - The Alpina, a sleek modern destination resort - The Chedi in Andermatt, a grand palace city hotel – the Montreux Palace or Lausanne Palace, or an exquisitely restored heritage resort palace – Carlton St Moritz, I was truly impressive by the consistency in the standard of luxury hospitality. From the personalized, genuine warm and attentive service to the quality of food and the impeccable upkeeping of the facilities. With no exception, Swiss heritage is inherently present in the architecture and interior design, whether it is a century old palace or a brand new property. The quality of locally sourced materials and finishes is outstanding.
The versatility of the offerings is endless, each destination providing, according to the season, a wealth of activities and lifestyle entertainment – sports (ski, golf, skating) adventure trips (snow polo, bird-watching, mountain hikes, horse or huski driven sledges, full moon picnics and fires) music festivals (jazz, classic, country), art (exhibitions, galleries, museums), shopping (top international luxury fahion and accessories brands, watches, jewelry), Spa (indoor-outdoor swimming, hammam, fitness, ayurveda, anti-aging skincare, detox), local experiences (cultural villages, botanic tours, authentic farms, wine tastings and harvesting traditions, family owned chocolateries), night clubs (discos, lounges), fine dining (local and almost all international cuisines).
It almost felt like places and people would make you pause and reflect, with no intention of making you fall in love with each and every city or village. You will love the historic train mountain-top ride from Montreux to Gstaad, as well as any car journey which is equally charming, allowing you to experience even futher. You will feel utterly pampered within a resort such as The Chedi in Andermatt which makes it a difficult choice whether to experice the interiors or the outdoors. A paradise snow wonderland journey on the way to St Moritz will leave memories to cherish for the rest of your life.
Unlike many other places I visited and loved, Switzerland did not make me feel sad when leaving, rather it made me plan future trips. I have promissed myself I shall be back in the summer, for several once in a lifetime opportunities such as the almost 60 year old Menuhin Festival and the Summer Polo Cup in Gstaad; the Snow Polo World Cup and the White Turf Horse Races in St Moritz; the Montreux Jazz Festival and the world class golf courses in Crans Montana – Omega European Golf Masters.
As in any corner of the world, people do make a difference and genuine service cannot be taught. Even if from abroad, Switzerland also has this magic effect in people rediscovering themselves and what makes them happy. The traditional Swiss warmth and welcoming spirit is forever present in the hospitality industry too.
Major international luxury hotel operators such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts have perfectly adapted to the local culture, in a way complementing new or family owned and run hotels but also properties which are carefully planned and conceived as a long term feasible business such as The Alpina. Singapore based GHM Hotels is actually a pioneer in establishing Andermatt as a luxury destination in Switzerland, with a destination resort such as The Chedi which also features a lavish luxury Spa (2,500 sqm and a 35 m heated pool) as well as serviced luxury residences. Equally impressive is the rebirth of the legendary all-suite CARLTON in St Moritz, which commands the most spectacular views of the destination.
Business opportunities are thriving at each and every corner – spectacular luxury serviced residences, luxury retail, organic beauty products (locally made and sourced), private schools (parents from around the world take their children to Swiss schools, considered the best) and medical services (some of the world’s finest hospitals) as well as infrastructure (sports facilities, transportation) and suppliers to luxury businesses such as architects, interior designers, events organizers (weddings, private events, corporate events, conferences and conventions) etc.
A comprehensive review article on each hotel is coming up this month in our REVIEW section, as well as destination guides in our CONCIERGE section
Montreux / Gstaad / Andermatt / St Moritz / Crans-Montana / Lausanne