HOLLYWOOD big-hitters and rock royalty may have holidayed in Gstaad since the 1960s but the Swiss resort’s charms reach far beyond its reputation as a glitzy A-list hangout. Angular snowy peaks in winter and wildflower-speckled valleys in spring place it among Switzerland’s most beautiful year-round resorts and – although renowned for its affluent clientele – Gstaad’s Alpine hospitality ensures a warm welcome whether eager explorer or jaded jetsetter.
Although its population numbers just 9,000, Gstaad’s rise to prominence among the elite has seen a coterie of high-end hotels emerge to cater for its well-heeled arrivals. Although its population numbers just 9,000, Gstaad’s rise to prominence among the elite has seen a coterie of high-end hotels emerge to cater for its well-heeled arrivals. The Alpina Gstaad opened its doors back in 2012 and has established itself as one of the town’s leading lights and a destination in its own right.
From a commanding setting high above the town, the five-star hotel’s design is sophisticated but sensitive to its Alpine surrounds, pairing wood upcycled from local farms with stone from the nearby village of Thurbach. Yet any sense of rusticity swiftly vanishes upon check in.
Its multimillion dollar revamp has brought with it a strong new aesthetic direction, with the hotel’s owners bringing their passion for contemporary art to the Alpina Gstaad’s walls and grounds, which act as a rotating gallery for a vivid blend of styles, from Tracey Emin’s neons to a Richard Hambleton-decorated ice cream van and video pieces that show glimpses of the hotel’s former life. Combined with a flamboyant approach to floristry, the hotel’s restrained Alpine architecture is brought to life with jolts of colour and character.
This continues in the 56 well-appointed bedrooms and suites, where rich woods, pops of Swiss red, lamps fashioned from cowbells and a proliferation of Scherenschnitthand-cut paper artworks give a strong sense of character and craftsmanship. Fireplaces add ski-lodge cosiness while balconies overlooking Gstaad’s striking valleys are the perfect setting for wistful thinking as the sun rises and falls over the mountains.
With a heated outdoor pool at the heart of the hotel’s layout, the Alpina Gstaad comes blessed with ample leisure facilities away from the ski runs. A stunning subterranean pool, gym and jacuzzi provide a cold weather alternative, while a Six Senses spa allows guests to unwind and soothe sore muscles after a day on the slopes. Elsewhere a cinema – complete with vintage popcorn machine – puts on movies throughout the year and a well-stocked Havana-inspired cigar room makes a characterful spot for tobacco aficionados.
The hotel’s three high-calibre restaurants, fronted by Michelin -starred chef Martin Göschel, serve up a diverse set of culinary options from around the world. Switzerland is well represented in the cosy ski-lodge surrounds of Stübli, where diners can enjoy hearty fondues, charcuterie and schnapps, with an occasional yodel heard on the playlist. Elsewhere there’s the French-inspired Sommet and Megu – the Gstaad outpost of New York’s acclaimed Japanese restaurant – which caused a buzz when it opened with a menu of robata grills and sushi served up in a sleek setting on split levels. All are complemented with a substantial wine cellar with beautiful options from the little-known Swiss wine regions, including white merlot from Ticino, plummy syrahs from Geneva and sauvignon blanc from Valle.
With a choice of ski runs – including the Glacier 3000, open from October to May – just a short distance away, Gstaad is a steady option for serious skiiers, while many claim that it’s spring, when the mountain flowers bloom and the hiking trails are most accessible, that the town comes into its own. With music festivals, art exhibitions and cycling tours taking place across the summer, too, there is always reason to return to Gstaad, a prospect made all the more enticing by the The Alpina Gstaad.
by Ben Olsen
Rooms at The Alpina Gstaad this summer (until September 23, 2018) start from 575 CHF (Swiss Francs) per room per night, based on two sharing a Deluxe Room. Price includes breakfast, free access to pools, saunas, steam-baths and relaxation areas at the Six Senses Spa, parking as well as service charge, all taxes and VAT.