In the five years since it opened, The Alpina Gstaad has become an iconic European hotel, featuring award-winning restaurants and spa, spectacular indoor and outdoor pools, a gallery-worthy art collection, and an ambience of relaxed chic that epitomises modern luxury at its best. Here, Eric Favre, its Managing Director, talks about how it’s done as part of our ongoing Luxury Leaders series.
LUX: The Alpina Gstaad opened into a market, Gstaad, with plenty of choice at the luxury end. Why did it succeed?
Eric Favre: Since it opened in 2012, our property has offered an entirely different experience than Gstaad has seen in the past 100 years. Our owners, architects and consultants had a clear vision of today’s discerning guests, who seek a chic but casual, authentic but refined hideaway in the mountains. So yes, the hardware is still important and we are fortunate to be offering outstanding facilities, but it’s really about meeting the exacting needs of our guests which is at the crux of our success. More and more, hotel and spa clients are looking to connect with a 360 degree lifestyle brand, which offers a compelling combination of art, fashion, wellness and personality. We make it our mission at The Alpina Gstaad to deliver this in a truly exceptional way.
LUX: What were the greatest challenges?
EF: Finding the right people that are able to transport your philosophy has always been a challenge. Your biggest assets are the people behind your brand and who are willing to go the extra-mile for the satisfaction of your guests. We are fortunate enough to have built a team which goes above and beyond in achieving that task. Another challenge we were facing at the beginning was to build up a loyal clientele given the competition in the area. Today we are thrilled to welcome a strong percentage of returning guests year after year.
LUX: What are your clients like?
EF: Our guests are looking for a sophisticated hideaway to unwind from their busy schedules and responsibilities. It is a wide and international audience that we attract, from high profile celebrities to active couples and families seeking some quality time. What they appreciate is the casual but classy environment at The Alpina Gstaad – not needing to oblige to any dress code, for example. They appreciate the discretion and natural beauty that Gstaad is so famous for.
LUX: Why is Gstaad thriving when many Alpine destinations struggle at the top end?
EF: I believe that it’s a mix of Gstaad’s world-class events, alpine authenticity, breath-taking landscapes and lively social scene, not only during peak seasons. We keep reinventing ourselves without compromising on the local traditions. The world has always met in Gstaad and I am confident that this will remain a hot-spot for many generations to come.
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LUX: Are you “new luxury” and what does that mean?
Eric Favre: We go beyond what you would expect from a luxury hotel. Yes there is a Michelin starred restaurant and an award-winning Spa, however we are not celebrating the opulence in it. The idea of luxury is much more simpler than it was 20 years ago and today it evolves around re-connecting with yourself, your loved ones and a piece of heaven that we believe is Gstaad.
LUX: What are the most important elements of your offering?
EF: High-end accommodation, interesting gastronomical experiences, a holistic wellness area and a personalised service from our 170 employees. Moreover, it is also the high level of discretion and Alpine authenticity in a stylish and contemporary setting.
LUX: Is The Alpina Gstaad old money or new money?
EF: I’d say we are well-invested money.
LUX: How is running a very exclusive hotel different from the rest of the hospitality industry?
EF: It is highly labour intensive and there is no room for error. It is also important to tread carefully the fine line between being exclusive and inclusive – while we wish to offer the utmost in discretion and privacy, it’s important for all of our guests to feel welcome.
LUX: How important is PR and how do you generate it at the high level?
EF: We consider PR to be very important, but it needs to be well managed with a strategic approach. We are very selective with the opportunities we pursue and the media we work with, to ensure the results generated are the most effective. It’s important for us to have exposure in the right lifestyle magazines, newspapers and supplements, as well as niche websites, in order to reach our target demographic. Part of this comes from working with the right journalists who have a clear understanding of our offering, and of our audience.
LUX: Is The Alpina Gstaad a brand, to roll out?
EF: The beauty of our hotel is that we are completely independent from any international hotel chain.
LUX:If you were a guest in your own hotel, what would you enjoy most about it?
EF: The ability to be myself in a beautiful environment, which feels like its a million miles from anywhere in the mountains, yet is just minutes from all that Gstaad has to offer.