There’s a battle brewing in the usually serene Swiss Alps as glitzy young guns take on the grand old guard in the world’s most high-rolling hotel wars. By Julian Allason.
This season’s dazzling constellation of new hotels across the Swiss Alps has served notice on the region’s old-school appreciation for alpenhorn and lederhosen.
Leading the slalom is L’Apogée, an amazing new ski lodge just across the French border in Courchevel 1850. Here massive bedrooms push the boundaries of lounge-lizard sensuality, with plenty of suede and fur; there’s underfloor heating on the balconies, food by top chef Yannick Franques and a Sisley spa. Regulars of sister property Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes will recognise some familiar faces, including that of managing director Philippe Perd. Other key staff have been drawn from Le Bristol Paris, helping make sure L’Apogée hits the snow at schussing speed.
This is no flash in the flambé pan. Over in French-speaking Switzerland, W Verbier exploded onto the hotel scene like a pre-Christmas firecracker, with daring design and a Spanish/Swiss menu from Sergi Arola whose restaurant in Madrid won two Michelin stars.
And in Andermatt the new Chedi has introduced a note of oriental serenity from that master of tranquility, Jean-Michel Gathy, the Kuala Lumpur-based architect whose recent refurbishment of the Aman Canal Grande is a triumph over Venetian bureaucracy. Gstaad, long the Swiss capital of chalet fun, has seen its second significant hotel opening in a year, the boutique Le Grand Bellevue right in the heart of the village.
It’s no wonder the great ski palaces are upping their game, with battle lines drawn in the four grand resorts of the Swiss Alps – St Moritz, Klosters, Zermatt and Gstaad – between revamped traditional outposts and the new contemporary contenders. In everyone’s sights is a youthful elite with more than skiing on their minds. For racy Brits, chic Italians and tax émigré French, the sky’s the limit as ballooning and hang-gliding join heli-skiing and ice polo as alternatives to the more established winter sports. The big question is how all this will change the atmosphere in these much-loved spots.
- Coffee machine
- DVD player