In the first installment of our luxury travel views columns, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Hotel Crans Ambassador in Crans-Montana, Switzerland
Similarly with ski resorts. St Moritz took a yo-yoing in the cool stakes; Courchevel, always upmarket, was really made by Russian money following French fashion and may have plateaued Klosters peaked with (then) Prince Charles in the 1980s and has faded mildly ever since.
And so to Crans-Montana, a rarity in Switzerland in being a meld of traditional village and newish (late 20th century) resort. All the rage in the 1980s, it faded from the global spotlight (while keeping its loyal clientele, largely drawn from old-school European money) in the ensuing decades as Verbier, opposite and down the valley, grew in stature due to its big off-piste offering.
Now, Crans is coming back. This was evident in our first night at the Ambassador. In the soulful La Muña restaurant, looking out over snowfields to a vista of mountains glowing in the moonlight, the sommelier recommended a Swiss red wine. After sampling it – a delightful balance of spice, delicacy, savoury herbs and black fruits – we asked where was from. “Just here,” was the response, with a smile and a gesture to the snowfields. The vineyards making this magnificent wine were a few hundred metres down the slopes.
Not that have great wine estates (there are a number in the Rhône valley below) is a marker for a hot ski destination, but, as cuisine becomes more local and clients more discerning, the Ambassador is a showcase of how that should work.
The Crans Ambassador is 20th-century class remade for the 21st: a place for wealthy families to visit over time, which has refreshed itself over the years without ever becoming a slave to fashions.
Find out more: cransambassador.ch