hotel mandarin
hotel mandarin

The Mandarin Oriental is in the beating banking heart in the old town of Zurich

Zurich has seen the transformation of one of its oldest hotels into a gem in the historic heart of the city

For those unacquainted with Switzerland’s largest city, a visit to Zurich always comes as a positive surprise. You may expect banks and pharmaceutical company HQs in a clinical row; instead you get a bijou medieval old town on the banks of a river filled with swans and storks, a dramatic lakeside waterfront with a view of the Alps, and plenty of olde-Europe atmosphere.

The spiritual centre of the town is the Paradeplatz, the point, a few hundred metres from the lake, where the chic Bahnhofstrasse luxury shopping street meets the edge of the old town, amid some serious-looking private banks housed in historic buildings and trams coming and going (cars are banned from this part of town). And now, for the first time in decades, the Paradeplatz has a hotel to match its stature as the world’s centre of discreet wealth management.

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The Savoy has been on the Paradeplatz for generations; it was one of Switzerland’s original luxury hotels, but until recently had slipped off the pinnacle of hotelerie and was a rather uninspiring and old-fashioned five star hostelry. Now, following a magic wand by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, it is the talk of the town.

The LUX lodgings certainly deserved to be making waves. After walking in and being recognised by the staff without saying our name (always impressive, even if pretty easy with a quick online search), we were whisked upstairs to a corner suite, beautifully and elaborately decorated, with a view over the little square and the streets around. Decor was fresh, light and airy, with thick light taupe carpets and some beautiful marquetry.

balkon

Guest can enjoy their morning coffee on their balcony overlooking the famous Paradeplatz

Read more: Visiting Ferrari Trento: The sparkling wine of Formula 1

One of the fascinating questions about the hotel was: how do you meld old Switzerland (the Savoy) with Mandarin Oriental, a luxury brand with its roots in East Asia? While there were hints and accents of contemporary Hong Kong in the design cues, this was, pleasingly, not an attempt to insert one culture inside the other.

Dinner the first night was at the Savoy Brasserie & Bar,  blending just a hint of Swiss formality (white coats for the wait staff) with an ease of spirit and sense of life. Oysters were a feature here – to go with an art deco theme – and we particularly enjoyed a main of monkfish escabeche, with bell pepper and crispy rice chips.

mandarin

Guests can have drinks and light bites in the Mandarin lounge

The culinary highlight was the next evening; Orsini is technically in the adjacent Orsini building from the 14th century,, but to reach it you stroll around the side of the building, with a historic church reminding you of where you are, and into a narrow entrance opening out into a bijou dining room. Our fellow diners included two highly wealthy finance people of international origin, quietly celebrating a deal, a couple celebrating an anniversary, and another finance person quietly making his next billion on his iPad.

The cuisine was as rarefied as the atmosphere. Artichoke with “cacio e Pepe” milk, grapefruit and Mazara red prawn tartare; potato gnocchi with grilled eel, “Giulio Ferrari” Spumante sauce (that’s a top Italian sparkling wine), fava beans and caviar; both were outstanding in their subtlety. Bravo to Mandarin Oriental for running two such brilliant but contrasting restaurants under the same roof

food

There are two superb dining options in the hotel: The casual Savoy Brasserie & Bar and the intimatefine dining restaurant Orsini

Those would have been the hotel’s public space pieces de resistance, but while LUX was staying there, the MO opened its rooftop bar. And we learned something quite spectacular about Zurich rooftops. Even if the building is not very high – the MO is just one storey higher than its neighbours – they can make for astonishing views, because as soon as you rise above the buildings around you, you are greeted not just by a view of the city’s churches and other landmarks, but the sweep of the Alps and lake on one side, and dramatic forested hills on the other. A few floors and you are in another world. So the MO is not just the most chi-chi spot in town, but one of the vibeiest also.

This is a boutique MO, not a grand one, but the company has over the years shown it can do old-world boutique (Munich) just as well as it does new and palatial (New York), the sign of a hotel brand immensely comfortable in its own skin and flexible enough not just to move with the times and spaces it operates in, but lead with them.

www.mandarinoriental.com/de/zurich/savoy/

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mountains
mountains

The hotel is located at the highest point in the village of Surlej, just 5 kilometres from St. Moritz. As a result, the hotel offers ski-in ski-out to the slopes

With a spectacular view of the Engadine Valley, and located right by one of the region’s best ski and hiking mountains, Nira Alpina is a hip hotel to inspire the soul – and palate

The Nira Alpina is not actually in St Moritz, and is all the better for it. It’s in a location that is far more dramatically connected with the landscapes of the Engadine valley, ten minutes’ drive away, in the village of Surlej.
The village is by a deep blue lake of the same name, and the hotel itself is connected to the lift station for Corvatsch, the area’s most challenging mountain. You avoid St Moritz town centre, which is not as pretty as it should be, while enjoying easy access to everything.
table

Nira Alpina offers views of untouched natural scenery and is suitable for both summer and winter adventures

We arrived there one sunny summer evening and immediately were whisked to the rooftop bar, at sunset. Sunsets at sea get a lot of love, but this mountain sunset was quite astonishing in a completely different way. The Nira Alpina is high on the valley’s eastern edge, just below the forest that coats the slope as it rises up towards the peaks.
As the sun lowered over the opposite side of the valley we had an astonishing array of colour, from rose snow on the peaks, to green-blues of the valley air, thick with forest resins but devoid of the sunshine that still lit the rocks above. The valley below became green black while the sky above the peaks was a still a brilliant late afternoon blue.
spa

The spa of the hotel offers a relaxation room with coloured mood lighting, a steam room, a sauna, a vast whirlpool, and five large treatment rooms

After a couple of Aperols it was an easy slide along the same long, light and airy floor, past the bar, to the restaurant, similarly filled with light and view. Here at Shanti, the cuisine is brilliantly and refreshingly global, from the Shanti salad, Swiss with a Southeast Asian touch, through tuna sashimi and an excellently presented hummus platter, to a very Swiss carrot and ginger soup, a very Thai (and absolutely vivid) Tom Yam Gang, various absolutely delicious varieties of dim sum, and mains varying from a schnitzel Cordon Bleu to miso cod with glass noodles and a dramatic Thai red curry.
As the Nira Alpina is a place you will likely stay several days in, the excellent execution of the different dishes meant you could eat a different cuisine every night without going out – and you wouldn’t wish to go out as the view is utterly memorable.
,mountains
Our room had doors opening directly out onto the hotel’s lawn, with a vast view in either direction down the Engadine valley. Walk onto the lawn, turn left, and you quickly reach the path that leads up through the forest on the Corvatsch mountain; from our door we could have walked up to the pass at the Fuorcola Surlej hut, high above the treelined, down the glacial Roseg valley on the other side, and then climb up the glaciers to ascend the snow-encrusted 4000 metre giant Piz Bernina, in crampons, without passing another building.
Feeling rather less adventurous, we instead walked down to Lake Silvaplana, the centre of watersports in the area, for a kitesurfing lesson, and around the lake and through the forests.
Then it was back to our room, sitting outside on the grass, and watching another memorable sunset as the mountain moon and stars (you’re that bit closer to them at an altitude of 1800 metres) came out of the aquamarine sky; before another beautiful dinner.
mountains

In the summer the hotel offers multiple outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and watersports.

Nira Alpina also has its own patisserie, where we spent the mornings choosing from a variety of buns and pastries, and a yoga class in a suite with a vast mountain view.
The Zen of the yoga class was appropriate: this is a luxury Alpine hotel that feels like a forest retreat on an island, for the sense of sheer balance and calm it creates. We visited in summer; in winter, with its connection to the Corvatsch lift station, the Nira is apparently quite a party spot in the early evening, but the views, cuisine, and uplifting nature of the place would not change. And for summer and winter sports, the connection up the mountain could not be more convenient.
chalet

During the winter guests have a wide selection of winter activities, including ice skating, winter hiking, sledding, bobsledding, horse riding, hang gliding, sky diving and Nordic walking.

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LUX checks into the Bellevue Palace, Bern, Switzerland.

Le Lobby is a true classic reborn, a convivial meeting place to exchange views and discuss weighty matters over drinks as well as sushi and sashimi.

The wow factor:

The walk from the train station in the Swiss capital of Bern, to the Bellevue Palace, takes in some traditional cobbled streets and a stretch along a hilltop, alongside some Swiss government buildings. Walking into the grand atrium of the Palace, you pass through a gin bar and onto a terrace, at the end of the same hilltop, from where the ground drops away into a pastoral Alpine view of meadows and forests. There are even cows grazing on the hillsides: all of this from the most city centre luxury hotel of a capital city. All very Swiss.

Breathtaking views from the comfort of your own room

People watching:

Smartly dressed Swiss gentility were all around us; conversing quietly behind their Chopard necklaces and Audemars Piguet watches. The hotel, which was built in 1865 and rebuilt in 1913, is a place where such people have come for generations.

overlooking the River Aare or the Bernese Alps, each room has unique features

Show me to my room:

Our suite had a view out to the Alps: from our balcony we could see the white slopes of the peaks of the Bernese Oberland, the triangular Jungfrau and frightening Eiger, in the far distance. Inside the suite, this was truly a palace of a hotel in the traditional sense: antique furniture, thickly carpeted rooms, huge marble bathrooms and acres of space.

The open kitchen at Noumi Restaurant celebrates world food ideal for combining and sharing. Taste experiences in bowls and from the grill, including vegetarian variations, which are inspired by simplicity

Come dine with me (and other things):

The lobby, with its ornate Belle époque atrium, is the place for a drink when the weather doesn’t suit the terrace with a view outside: the speciality is gin, and it’s a power broker type of place for Switzerland, with important besuited men sipping at Martinis, all in surroundings more dramatic than, say, Claridge’s. But the real surprise restaurant action is downstairs at Noumi Bar & Grill; here you walk into a different universe from the traditional elegance of the best of the hotel, with a DJ spinning tunes in a booth, open plan kitchen, speakeasy lighting and a funky atmosphere. Food is best described as modern wealthy Asian: poke, tataki, simple grilled steaks. Ingredients are of superb quality and the kitchen’s touch is light but delicate. Very vibey, if rather out of keeping with the rest of the hotel. We could eat there every night.

Find out more: bellevue-palace.ch

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lakeside hotel
lakeside hotel

The Lakeside building of La Réserve Eden au Lac Zurich which dates back to 1909

The venerable Eden au Lac, one of the landmark lakeside hotels in Zürich, was recently taken over by the flamboyant La Reserve group, and transformed into a luxe-chic destination for every destination. LUX checks in and samples the champagne on the rooftop

The Wow Factor

The rooftop terrace of the Eden. Sitting on a corner table, wearing a light gilet against a cool breeze blowing from the Alps. The rosé champagne you are drinking has a pedigree related to the hotel: this is no ordinary house fizz, but a champagne made by Michel Reybier who owns both the La Reserve hotel group which the Eden belongs to, and some of the most prestigious wineries in the world, including Châte au Cos d’Estournel, and this champagne house, Jeepers. Sitting here, you are distinctly amongst the Zürich in crowd.

People Watching

Behind us, two paper thin American women were discussing travel, plans, deals, and their yoga routine. A gentleman from southern Europe wearing a rare Patek Phillipe, who would have looked very at home in the Yacht Club of Monaco, is sipping cocktails with a young lady. The people here are international, glamorous, wealthy, and wanting to show that they are here.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine 

Show me to my room.

Our room faced out from the front of the hotel, over the lakeside road and directly onto a park and the bathing area of Lake Zürich. A small balcony was an excellent place for breakfast with a view of the forest of hills on the other side of the lake. The opera house is almost next door: this is a very centrally located hotel. The bed with the centrepiece of the room, with the bathroom behind. here it is all about high quality material finishes and details: the wood marquetry is exceptionally beautiful, reflecting the craft traditions in the nearby Alpine forests but presented in a contemporary way, with plenty of shiny metals and exquisite accessories from the glassware to the in room amenities.

green tiled kitchen, chefs

The street level Eden Kitchen which features all day dining

Come dine with me (and other things)

We loved La Muña, the rooftop Japanese Pacific restaurant and bar, which has been designed as an imaginary yacht club by Phillipe Starck. As well as the
superb quality of drinks (as one would expect from this group), the maki, sashimi and ceviches were exquisite. When the weather was less good, we dined inside: no views, but a chic cosiness and intimate style.

 

Find out more: lareserve-zurich.com

 

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 Issue of LUX

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bedroom with view of safari

LUX recommends our top hotels to check into this year. Compiled by Olivia Cavigioli

Glenmorangie House, Ross, Scotland
For a retreat into the Scottish Highlands, whisky distiller’s Glenmorangie House is the place to go. The brand just recently celebrated 180 years of craftsmanship, their single malt distilled and encompassed by the idyll of the Highlands, ‘Glenmorangie’ translating to ‘Valley of Tranquility’ in Gaelic.

Situated along the coastline on the Easter Ross Peninsula, the house is a a stone’s throw away from the distillery so guests are immersed in the whisky making process and the land from which it is crafted. Designer Russel Sage brought the brand’s protected Tarlogie Springs to the Tasting Room, and the barley fields to the guilded Morning Room, curating the hotel with the Glenmorangie story in mind.

The brand hosts an exclusive weekend, ‘A Tale of Tokyo Experience’, in collaboration with drink connoisseurs Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, where guests can experience the mythologies of two whiskey making cultures. Celebrating Glenmorangie’s new whiskey, marrying Japanese processes and flavours with the classic Highland drink, the weekend offers a cocktail masterclass and Kintsugi cup-making, a touring of the distillery, and unique dining experiences by design of Head Chef John Wilson, as guests will partake in both a Scottish Highland diner and A Tale of Tokyo inspired tasting menu.

22nd-24th March 2024, at £950 per room for a two-night stay in a Standard Room or Cottage.

colourful living room

Find out more: glenmorangie.com

 

The Lana, Dubai – Dorchester Collection

rooftop pool with view of dubai

The Lana Dubai Rooftop

For a culinary whirlwind, Dorchester Collection’s first Middle East location, The Lana Dubai, is one to watch. Set to open in February 2024, the hotel is something of a gastronomical meeting of the minds in the countless dining experiences. Celebrated chefs Martín Berasategui, Jean Imbert and Angelo Musa create four distinct concepts out of the eight restaurants The Lana hosts. Accoladed with twelve Michelin stars, Martín Berasategui develops Jara, a love letter to Basque cuisine and the first of its kind in Dubai.

For modern Mediterranean cooking and cocktails, guests can flock to Riviera by Jean Imbert, who has also created High Society, an after hours lounge located on the rooftop of the hotel. Angelo Musa’s Bonbon Café will bring French patisserie with his own avant-garde approach to The Lana.

Designed by Foster + Partners, the hotel is bound in bright vistas, positioned along the Dubai Canal, a vantage point from which guests can revel in the city’s famed sunsets. The Lana’s spa, and 225 rooms and suites, with interiors designed by Gilles & Boissier, brings together the contemporary and traditional, in Dubai’s trademark style.

The Hotel is now open as of February 1st, now taking bookings. Rates start from £735 per night.

hotel resort in Dubai

Find out more: dorchestercollection.com/dubai/the-lana

 

ROAR Africa’s ‘Greatest Safari on Earth’

beautiful landscape

ROAR Africa’s ‘Greatest Safari on Earth’, is  a pilgrimage through some of Africa’s most iconic destinations, as ten guests can become intrepid travellers over twelve days, going from Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, to Kenya’s Great Migration and ending ceremoniously in Rwanda.

The African odyssey will bring guests to the most splendent views amidst natural phenomenons, such as Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, upriver from which guests will reside at the Matetsi, where they can immerse themselves in 55,000 hectares of protected wilderness.

Along the Okavango Delta in Botswana, guests will have the  opportunity to see Africa’s ‘Big Five’; lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Guests will stay at the Xigera property, described as a ‘living gallery’, showcasing design inspired by the Delta, and works by the continent’s most celebrated creatives. After a few days in the Mara North Conservancy in Kenya, where guests will have experienced the breadth of wildlife from walking safaris to a hot air ballon ride along the Mara river, the trip ends with guests coming into intimate contact with the world’s last wild mountain gorillas at Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Two trips will be taking flight in 2024 aboard the ‘beyond first class’ Emirates A319 Executive Private Jet, with carbon credits matched to emissions.

August 10-22 2024 and August 25 – September 6 2024 are the two trip dates. Limited to 10 guests each and $148,000 per person.

bedroom with view of safari

Find out more: roarafrica.com/emirates-gsoe

 

Suvretta House, St. Moritz

snowy landscape with hotel

The Suvreta Hotel

Nestled in the valley of the Upper Engadine, St. Moritz, Suvretta House offers storybook winter-scapes and a plethora of Alpine activities to its guests. The resort sits in a natural park two kilometres west of St. Moritz, untarnished by the bustle of winter tourism, promising luxurious refuge in the snowcapped Engadine, with a private ski lift providing direct access to the slopes for guests who wish to embrace the winter sport season.

Bathed in the history and culture of the region, guests can expect elaborate horse-drawn sleighs reminiscent of Schlitteda custom, where young couples would go on rides together. Other attractions include opera and culinary festivals, horse races on the frozen St. Moritz lake, and overwhelming views to accompany a Savoyard lunch from the Suvretta House mountain restaurant ‘Trutz’.

You’d however be remiss to not take advantage of the 350km of ski runs available to guests, along with 220 km of cross country skiing trails, through sunlit valley floors or the illuminated night courses. The resort has even adopted curling, with its own unique Curling Guest Club and natural ice-curling field. Guests can also follow in the footsteps of former world champions who have skated on the Suvretta House ice rink, returning to the elegance and respite of the Alpine castle.

Winter season runs from 8th December 2023 to 1st April 2024. Rooms start at CHF 630. 

hotel living space

Find out more: suvrettahouse.ch

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A palace in the hills surrounded by gardens
A palace in the hills surrounded by gardens

The 19th-century building and Foster + Partners extension overlooking the city

Darius Sanai checks in at the Dolder Grand, Zurich, for a palatial blend of the old and the new

The wow factor

There’s no shortage of that at the Grand. Driving along a forested residential hillside above the city, you turn into the grand driveway and hotel plaza that has a view of all Switzerland, it seems, beneath you. The building, too, is all drama. A luxurious 19th-century building with a Norman Foster extension, it has some of the most original art of any hotel.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

People-watching

We bumped into friends attending a birthday lunch here. It’s a hotel where Zurich high society comes to play.

Show me to my room

We stayed twice at the Grand within a week, interspersed by a trip to a wedding in Mallorca. The first visit, we had a room in the Foster + Partners wing – all curves, glass and modernity. Next time, our room was in the old building, cleverly refreshed to the same colour scheme and cosy. Which you prefer depends on your creative makeup. The modern rooms are efficient and striking; the classical wing has more character.

A room with red wooden beams and red leather chairs on white rugs

The Maestro Suite living room at the Dolder Grand, Zurich

Come dine with me (and other things)

The Grand is a city and country hotel simultaneously. It’s a 10-minute taxi ride to pretty much any business location in the city, yet you are living on a forested mountainside with sweeping views and space. The Saltz restaurant has the biggest outdoor dining terrace of any city hotel we can recall. In the summer months, you have the smell of Alpine forests (and the sight of them in one direction; the city and lake on the other). It makes for a memorable dining experience.

Read more: The Woodward Geneva, Review

The menu was a dream for lovers of clean, contemporary food: whole artichoke à la barigoule, white asparagus (in season) with new potatoes and hollandaise sauce. Another killer factor for us was the indoor pool in the new wing – all black tiles and very Norman Foster. There’s also a terrace and garden where you can relax with a green juice, and an extensive spa.

Find out more: thedoldergrand.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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The woodward, Geneva exterior

The Woodward, Geneva, a discreet all-suite lakefront hotel in a classical building

Darius Sanai checks in at The Woodward, Geneva, where luxury meets discreet elegance

The wow factor

The Woodward is situated in a lakefront building facing the Alps, like a few other luxury Geneva hotels, but there the similarity ends. You enter via a discreet door and are shown up in a lift to a mezzanine floor, where the receptionist sits behind a small table. It is all marble, light furnishings, art and views, like arriving at a beautiful home.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

People-watching

It was as if we were at a friend’s cosmopolitan party, with expensive-looking international couples on the mezzanine floor, but the main feeling was of space and privacy.

L'Atelier Robuchon

The hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Atelier Robuchon

Show me to my room

The Woodward is an all-suite hotel and ours, one of 26, was like a private apartment. The design is by Pierre-Yves Rochon, a king of contemporary hotel and residence design. Furnishings are light, off-white and taupe; coffee-table books are artfully chosen; art is thoughtfully hung.

Read more: Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo, Review

Come dine with me (and other things)

At street level, the L’Atelier Robuchon is all dark lacquer and red leather. We sat at long bar, where we saw the chefs at work and our cocktails being mixed. The atmosphere was buzzing; a contrast to the tranquillity of the hotel above. The food was superb in the Atelier group’s weekend-gourmet style: line-caught turbot fillet poached with verbena, sea lettuce, cockles and clams had a fresh umami taste; farro wheat with mushrooms, black garlic, trompette consommé and Barolo vinegar was an all-time, all-star vegan dish. Then, a sliding door, and you disappear into your apartment and that view.

Find out more: oetkercollection.com/hotels/the-woodward

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A terrace with a fire pit in the middle surrounded by chairs with cushions and a parasol
 A terrace with a fire pit in the middle surrounded by chairs with cushions and a parasol

Alpine views from a snug Crans Ambassador terrace

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

All holiday locations go through phases of being in and out of fashion. St Tropez, so Bardot-chic in the 1960s, was not a place to boast about in the 1990s, but came back with a bang in the Zeros.

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.

orange food on a grey plate with sauce

Fresh Peruvian/Asian fusion flavours at La Muña

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.

Our room – all lavish- cosy Alpine chic, had a breathtaking view over snowfields and the Rhône valley to the high peaks of the Valais, and a broad balcony big enough to play ice on (almost).

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

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A lit up hotel at night in front of mountains covered in snow
A lit up hotel at night in front of mountains covered in snow

Badrutt’s Palace Hotel was first opened in St Moritz in 1896 by Caspar Badrutt

There’s a fairytale palace high in the Alps where everyone is a Royal – or feels like one

Hotel trends come and go. Some may remember the white cube rooms of the 1990s, the lobby-bar obsessions of the 2000s, the hotel-as-club revival of the 2010s, and the genericization of hotel bars into David Collins Blue Bar clones at some stage in between.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Yet the greatest hotels, like the greatest luxury brands, remain effortlessly eternal while never seeming old fashioned, or not to anyone except the most craven and uninformed observer, in any case.

Two grey chairs and a table facing a window overlooking mountains and trees

Views from the Tower Penthouse Apartment

We were collected from St Moritz station by Badrutt’s Palace in a 1960s Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. The two minute ride to the hotel was effortlessly majestic. It suited a palace hotel so entwined with royalty that the Shah of Iran, in his famously vainglorious attempt to recreate Darius the Great’s Persian empire at Persepolis in 1973, flew the Badrutt’s staff out to run the occasion. Nobody else would suffice for the King of Kings.

Breakfast at Badrutt’s is in some ways the encapsulation of the place. In many luxury Alpine hotels, you have a homely, nutty buffet. Here, you sweep down the stairs, past a harpist, into a vast grand dining room. The buffet stretches the length of the room on one side, with picture windows facing the lake and mountains on the other. People dress up for breakfast here, even though it’s not a requirement. The buffet itself starts with an intricacy of cut fruits, segues through a vast array of hot European foods, a forest’s worth of different seeds and berries, and finishes at the far end with “hausgemacht” miso soup, bao, and dim sum. Among all the other guests, it’s quite easy to spot the regulars and long-termers, looking like a Hollywood portrayal of European aristocracy.

A terrace with chairs covered in fur blankets looking over snow covered mountains

The terrace from the Tower Penthouse Apartment looking over St Moritz’s mountains

Our rooms at Badrutt’s were outliers: the Tower Penthouse occupies the whole of the iconic top part of the hotel, and is effectively a three floor private residence, with a huge living area, private terraces, kitchen and dining room, and more bathrooms and bedrooms than we could count. The master bedroom was by itself at the top of a spiral staircase, with views across St Moritz and the lake and mountains.

St Moritz has an appeal as broad as the Palace: in winter you can ski, cross country ski, walk or simply socialise (assuming you know the right people, darling); in summer you have some of Europe’s best hiking to hand, as well as a variety of mountain sports.

A lounge overlooking a large window with mountains covered in snow outside it

Le Grand Hall

Generations of European aristos, meanwhile, have learned how to dive, belly flop or jump from the top of the rock garden that has been built into one end of the huge indoor pool; swimming lengths in the pool involves a constant view of the next gen wealthy adapting their jumping techniques; meanwhile the outdoor spa pool has full drinks and food service, so you can sip your aperol while gazing at the mountains and having a water massage.

A living room with a long dining room table and chairs and cream couches with a black coffee table in the middle

The Tower Penthouse Apartment drawing and dining room

But while the hardware of the hotel has an eternal class, the software – the people hosting you – are even classier. This is where luxury hoteliers go to learn how to be luxury hoteliers. One efficient young chap serving at breakfast, who we vaguely recognised from our last stay four years previously, effortlessly remembered our coffee orders from last time and brought Tabasco sauce to the table unheeded, again a memory of the last stay.

Read more: Francis Sultana: The life of a leader in design

Does he have an astonishing memory or was he just very well briefed? It doesn’t really matter – and what is remarkable in this era of high staff turnover is that the staff at Badrutt’s are always there and always remember.

A terrace overlooking a lake and green mountains

Views of the lake in summer time from the Tower Penthouse Apartment

In that, they feel like they are your personal staff; unlike many hotels, it’s a place you feel like you could move into and live in, because, despite its grandeur and array of offerings – as well as the restaurants inside the hotel, Badrutt’s also owns the wonderful and iconic Chesa Veglia pizzeria across the road – each guest somehow feels like the staff are just there for them. Quite a remarkable achievement.

Rates: From £1500 per night (approx. €1725/$1850) for double room.

During the winter months, the Tower Penthouse Suite starts at £13,580 per night (approx. €15,550/$16,625) 

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com/reservations

Darius Sanai

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A blue car on a road by some trees
A blue car on a road by some trees

The Lexus NX 450 on the road

In the third part of our Great Drives series, Darius Sanai travels, in a Lexus NX 450, from the Lake Zurich, Switzerland to the Tuscany Coast, Italy, ending his trip on a bottle of Masseto 2015

What is the best vehicle for transporting a lot of clothes – the spoils of a visit and meetings in various Italian fashion houses – and a lot of wine – the result of a spontaneous drop by the vineyards of Franciacorta in northern Italy? Sitting comfortably just above the speed limit on the Italian autostrada, cruising carefully while listening to the GreenBiz 350 podcast, we were fairly sure we had the answer in our Lexus. Its full name is the NX 450h+ F Sport, but for our purposes it was the car that could just do everything.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The interior design of cars is becoming increasingly important as we do more things in them (they are effectively 3D extensions of the internet), and driving becomes more controlled and less of a sport. And here was a car with a truly beautifully designed interior. It was light, high enough off the road to give confidence – you could see everything that needed to be seen, but not so high that you felt domineering or unstable. Controls that needed to be easily touched were within sight and within reach without any fuss. Displays were clear with excellent typography. The air conditioning was a notch above the usual in terms of its ability to separate climate zones. Like any good design, it didn’t shout about itself, and it had grown on us over the previous two weeks.

A blue car next to a mountain and lake

The journey started in a small town near Lake Zurich on the northern side of the Alps. The road rose and became increasingly winding as it made its way towards the mountains we were due to cross, and we wondered briefly if we had chosen the right car. This is a hybrid SUV, efficiently powered by both electric and petrol engines, but it is also a high car, with plenty of ground clearance, excellent for driving across fields. So would it be right for twisting mountain roads?

A beach at sunset

The beach and pine forest at the Riva del Sole hotel, Tuscany

We need not have worried. This new-generation Lexus uses technology to miraculously minimise the amount the car leans when taking corners, a key consideration when driving to the Alps, as you do not want something lurching from one side to the other like an old Range Rover. The Lexus drove flat, smooth and responsive, even over the highest points of the Julier Pass, between north and south Switzerland. Sure, it wasn’t the thrill of racing a sports car to the edge of its abilities on a sinuous mountain road, but that would not have been possible anyway, given the rest of the traffic and also the strictness of Switzerland’s traffic police. Fast enough was, well, fast enough.

A bedroom with grey and gold colouring and hints of red

The Exotik Suite

Over the border in Italy, after more mountain passes and ice cream, the Alps fell into the low, hilly meadows of Franciacorta, which is where our favourite sparkling wine from Italy is produced. At its best it is creamy, complex and refreshing, like a good champagne, but with the added joie de vivre. At the main farmers’ outlet store for all the producers (and would that there were one of these in every wine-producing region), we picked from producers and cuvées impossible to find in other countries.

A sign of a well-engineered car is that it doe snot flinch when loaded up and driven hard, and this was very much the case with the Lexus. Onwards, it seemed to say, after a couple of days in Milan, as we arrowed through straight autostradas in northern Italy towards Tuscany. Here, we spent an excellent few days enjoying this car’s other attributes: its economy (fuel stations are very hard to find in rural Tuscany), its ability to deal with rough roads and unmade tracks with no fuss, and the comfort and efficiency of its interior in a hot summer. The full-length sunroof also came in for much praise, although it was mainly open at night, when it let in views of the stars and the cries of owls. A car for all reasons, indeed.

A room with a stage and a large vase in the centre of a table

Objets d’art at the Riva del Sole

Our final destination was a place well known to a certain class of intellectual Italians, roughly the equivalent of Britain’s Cotswolds set, but without the pretentions. Castiglione della Pescaia has none of the bling that has been acquired by its fellow Tuscan resort, Forte dei Marmi, but it has nature, and culture, on its side.

A swimming pool lit up a night

The hotel swimming pools by night

There is one resort hotel to stay in at Castiglione: the Riva del Sole, a resort built in the idealistic style of the mid-20th century, when Europe was thriving and confident, and nobody flew to the Maldives or Bali. You approach along a long, straight coastal road flanked on both sides by the stone pine trees that are a feature of the Italian coastline. The hotel appears amid the pineta (pine forest) on the left, between road and sea, a low-rise 20th-century modern building (Swedish owned) that, when you enter, reveals a cavalcade of original and updated modernist designs.

A wooden divider next to a bed looking out to trees

The Coral Suite

The reception area is out of a 1960s David Niven film (duly updated, of course) and our room, while compact, had a lovely aspect across the trees towards the sea. You wander from reception, past a dramatic Italian restaurant housed in another forest building, past a little newsagent shop straight out of a Jacques Tati film (magazines, beach balls, sweets) and a boutique-chic deli. A huge outdoor pool complex – several pools, really – appears on your right, with keen sports swimmers doing their lengths from the early hours. Past a hut serving snacks and drinks (there is some excellent Franciacorta on the menu), the path rises over a dune and down onto the resort’s lengthy private beach.

A restaurant with white table cloths, green chairs and plants around the room

Modern dining at Riva del Sole, Tuscany

Part of a strip of sand that stretches for 15km in a gentle arc, it is one of Italy’s most famous private beaches. The sea is warm and shallow, and the most memorable aspect is stepping out 20 metres into the sea, your feet still standing on white sand and your chosen drink in hand, looking back at the beach. The hotel and all of Castiglione have been subsumed into the pineta, such is the attention to detail of the design. All you can see is beach, forest and the mountains rising up behind. No wonder it is a haunt of the discerning Italian intelligentsia.

A blue car on a patch of grass next to a castle with a tower and turrets

The Lexus making a pit stop at the fortress of Montalcino – ancient Tuscan hilltop village and home of the celebrated wine Brunello di Montalcino

Hidden inside the pineta, the hotel also has a sophisticated Tuscan restaurant, La Palma. Sweeping interior architecture and the forest visible through windows all around combines with a wine vault of Tuscan wines – particularly from Montalcino – that a collector would die for. We chose a Masseto 2015. All savoury power and a wealth of flowing flavours, it is one of Italy’s great wines, and comes from just up the coast from Riva del Sole. In the main hotel there is also a glamorous 1960s-style piano bar, where you sit inside or out on the terrace and are served Bellinis.

Read more: Great Drive: Jura Mountains to London via Burgundy and Champagne

This is not high luxury, but it is high class; a place where the intelligent, artistic and sophisticated go to enjoy themselves with friends. And throughout, inside and out, the interior design, a subtle 21st-century take on mid-century modernism, is both playful and gorgeous. Chapeau to designer Eva Khoury. There are hotels with grander views and bigger rooms, but very few we would want to spend more time in than the Riva del Sole.

Find out more:
lexus.co.uk
rivadelsole.it
masseto.com

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Reading time: 6 min
case-study-01

Advisory / Switzerland

LUX x Deutsche Bank

As global content and marketing partner for Deutsche Bank, we create content, virtual and real life events, business, academic, institutional and individual introductions, and collaborate on ESG strategy.

andy-mann

Photo by Andy Mann

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Photo by Ben Thourad

Case Study

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Deutsche Bank x LUX ESG Strategy

The Mission

To help Deutsche Bank position themselves as the lead banking institution to be pioneering ocean conservation and the blue economy.

Execution

Sourcing and securing key leaders to participate in events and conferences around sustainability and in particular ocean conservation and the blue economy.


Thought leadership content streams created for Deutsche Bank over multiple channels.


16 page section in LUX magazine and online featuring leaders in the ocean economy, investors and philanthropists developed over several years with a special edition dedicated to the conference.


Introductions to partners who can enhance Deutsche Bank’s involvement in the ocean conservation space.


Direct Introductions to potential clients who are interested in investing in the blue economy or philanthropically towards the Deutsche Bank Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund.

Result

Created high engaging, original and successful events conference connecting ideas, entrepreneurs, thinkers and leaders.


Formed long term-partners and clients in the ocean conservation space.


Produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to ocean conservation.

Case Study

strip

Deutsche Bank x LUX ESG Strategy

The Mission

To help Deutsche Bank position themselves as the lead banking institution to be pioneering ocean conservation and the blue economy.

Execution

Sourcing and securing key leaders to participate in events and conferences around sustainability and in particular ocean conservation and the blue economy.


Thought leadership content streams created for Deutsche Bank over multiple channels.


16 page section in LUX magazine and online featuring leaders in the ocean economy, investors and philanthropists developed over several years with a special edition dedicated to the conference.


Introductions to partners who can enhance Deutsche Bank’s involvement in the ocean conservation space.


Direct Introductions to potential clients who are interested in investing in the blue economy or philanthropically towards the Deutsche Bank Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund.

Result

Created high engaging, original and successful events conference connecting ideas, entrepreneurs, thinkers and leaders.


Formed long term-partners and clients in the ocean conservation space.


Produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to ocean conservation.

ben-thourad-02b(1)

Photo by Ben Thourad

ben-thourad-02

Photo by Ben Thourad

ben-thourad-02a

Photo by Ben Thourad

Case Study

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Deutsche Bank x Frieze Art Fair x LUX

The Mission

Amplified Deutsche Bank’s leadership role as a bank in the art world, produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art, and formed partnerships and client relationships.

Execution

Year round content creation and coverage in print, online, social media
and video.


Introductions to collectors and artists.


Exclusive events at Deutsche Bank, Frieze lounge and collectors’ homes.


Interviews and interactions with artists and collectors.


Special issues of LUX devoted to Deutsche Bank x Frieze.

Result

Amplified Deutsche Bank’s leadership role as a bank in the art world.


Produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art.


Formed partnerships and client relationships.

Case Study

strip

Deutsche Bank x Frieze Art Fair x LUX

The Mission

Amplified Deutsche Bank’s leadership role as a bank in the art world, produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art, and formed partnerships and client relationships.

Execution

Year round content creation and coverage in print, online, social media
and video.


Introductions to collectors and artists.


Exclusive events at Deutsche Bank, Frieze lounge and collectors’ homes.


Interviews and interactions with artists and collectors.


Special issues of LUX devoted to Deutsche Bank x Frieze.

Result

Amplified Deutsche Bank’s leadership role as a bank in the art world.


Produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art.


Formed partnerships and client relationships.

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Read Deutsche Bank
special edition

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Read Deutsche Bank
special edition

Contact us

For partnership, event and advertising enquiries
please contact
[email protected]

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Contact us

For partnership, event and advertising enquiries
please contact
[email protected]

Follows us on Instagram

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Reading time: 19 min
A grey sports car outside a vineyard
A grey sports car outside a vineyard

The Aston takes in the Clos de la Roche vineyards in Burgundy, France

In the second part of our Great Drives series, Darius Sanai travels, in an Aston Martin DB11 V8 Coupe, from the Jura Mountains, Switzerland to London, UK via Burgundy and Champagne, France for a quick tasting of Amour de Deutz, 2008

In the Vallée de Joux in the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, signs for watch manufactures (factories) come as thick and fast as signposts for whisky distilleries on Speyside. Tempting though it was to make a stop (we at LUX know the watch manufactures well, but they require a little planning to visit), we dropped down a gear in our xenon-grey Aston Martin DB11 and zoomed out of the valley along snaking roads through deep forests. Every mile or so, the trees dropped away to reveal a lake or another valley. We opened the windows to hear the thrumming of the Aston’s V8 engine, a low, mellow but not over-loud rumble, bouncing off the slopes on either side of the road. This was a joyous drive.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The DB11 Coupe is a piece of automotive architecture, sculpted, so it seems, from a block of granite. It feels satisfying to drive, even if you are not moving. It is very satisfying, and not a little fun, to drive when you are. The empty French roads allowed us to accelerate a little faster and farther than perhaps we would have done in Switzerland, where we had started that morning, or back in England, our final destination. It’s not overly challenging, but it is nicely weighted to give you a sense of Aston Martins of old, which were slightly macho and brutish as well as beautiful, like Sean Connery as James Bond, or perhaps a young Marlon Brando. Fortunately, too, it does not succumb to the latest trend of making extremely fast cars too easy to drive.

the black leather interior of a car

A peek inside the Aston Martin DB11

You would not buy the DB11 if you just wanted a very fast car, we mused, as the road, having descended down through the north side of the mountains, straightened out along a plain lined with wheat fields. These days, almost any electric car – and there seems to be a new one every day – can be programmed to go as fast as a moon rocket, but where’s the fun in that? This Aston, with its masterpiece of an exterior and equally chiselled interior, and lovely waffles of leather all around inside, is an event to be in and to arrive in. The hotel we were staying at that night in Burgundy, Hostellerie Cèdre & Spa Beaune, gave it pride of place in its car park.

A car behind an arched gate

The Aston Martin DB11 V8 Coupe in the courtyard of the Deutz champagne house, France

The Cèdre is exactly the kind of place you want to arrive at when touring France. A little palace or big mansion (take your pick), on the edge of the old walled town of Beaune in the centre of Burgundy’s wine country, it has a driveway lined with very smart cars that show the measure of its clientele, who travel from all over the world to stay and taste wines here. There is a maze of a garden with ornamental ponds and seating dotted around the foliage. We sat there that evening and enjoyed a glass of poignant 2019 Château de Meursault, salty and nutty and balanced, from a small producer just a couple of miles away. The air smelled like the wine. Inside, the Cèdre is traditional and rich, like the home of a wealthy merchant. By the bar, an Enomatic machine, which preserves open bottles of wine, serves a selection of the great vintages of Burgundy – no need to visit a wine estate, just stay here and taste.

the outside of a white hotel with tables and parasols in a garden

Garden dining by night at the Hostellerie Cèdre & Spa Beaune, Burgundy

Our room was characterful and split-level, with bedroom and bathroom on one floor and a living area in a gallery above, big enough for a group of four to stretch out on the sofa and chairs, fine wines in front of them, and chat into the night. The room didn’t have a big view but it had an interesting one, across the outskirts of Beaune to the vineyard slopes creating its eponymous, and delicious, red wine. One of the world’s most ancient vineyard sites, its history can be traced back 1,000 years. This is a soulful hotel.

A massage chair with a brown towel on it surrounded by stone and glass walls

The stylish Nuxe Spa in the vaults of the Cèdre

Our focus the next day was a drive across the countryside of central France, from one of its great winegrowing regions, Burgundy, to another, Champagne. These are connected by an autoroute, and getting there can take fewer than three hours. But that would not do justice to a car like this, so we took the back roads instead. First, we wound our way up the low, but very definite ridge of the Côte-d’Or, where we saw the same Burgundy vineyards we had seen from our hotel room, and then through forests, glades and ancient villages on the Plateau de Langres. This is Charlemagne territory, one of the most historic but unexplored parts of France. In each village there were at least a few grand houses, hundreds of years old, that wanted to tell a story.

A lounge with a fireplace and leather brown chairs

A cosy ambience at the Cèdre Lounge Bar,

The Aston ambled happily through them, like a big dog strolling with its mistress, then roared down the empty byways when the countryside emptied out a little. After a couple of hours, wanting to make it to Champagne for our next meeting, we headed back towards the autoroute, joining it near Charles de Gaulle’s home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. On the smooth French highway, the Aston reverted to its alter ego of relaxed grand touring car, purring quietly.

Champagne bottles lined up

The sublime tasting at the Deutz champagne house, France

Deutz is not a champagne house that is familiar to so many international wine collectors. It doesn’t market itself like the region’s more famous names. Perhaps it doesn’t need to, we reflected, as our taxi dropped us at the maison’s cobbled courtyard (the Aston having been parked safely at our hotel for the night). After a tour of the massive underground cellars, we were shown into a beautiful historical house, its decor preserved as the Deutz family created it in the late 19th century. The tasting room was really a garden room, looking out onto lawns and intricately planted borders.

A window with flowers behind it

Window views from the garden room at the Deutz champagne house

Deutz is about quality more than marketing – more than anything, we thought, as we were guided through a selection of the maison’s champagnes. The vintage rosé, 2013, was delicate, balanced, floral and beautiful. They only got better. The prestige cuvée, Cuvée William Deutz, had a power, a richness and a kind of nobility to it – the sort of champagne you would serve at the coronation of a king (a shame the French got rid of theirs), or perhaps at a dinner to mark the 200th anniversary of your watch manufacture. But it was another one of their champagnes that really got into our souls.

three wine glasses on a table

Tasting of Cuvée William Deutz and Amour de Deutz

Amour de Deutz is made from 100 per cent Chardonnay, the best picks of the white grape that the maison gets its hands on every vintage. We tasted the 2013, 2009 and 2008. They were sublime: complex nutty creaminess, a savoury edge, richness yet ethereal lightness and a kind of golden flavour. Each was more powerful than the last, yet as gentle as a butterfly. Featherlight yet eternal.

Read more: Great Drive: Santa Monica to Napa Valley, Califonia

The next day, powered by memories of the Amour de Deutz, we cruised back to the UK in the beautiful, purring Aston, a case of golden champagne treasure in its (small but adequate) luggage compartment. The perfect little grand tour in the perfect grand tourer.

Find out more:

astonmartin.com

cedrebeaune.com

champagne-deutz.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 7 min
A yellow hotel with a lake and mountains behind it
A yellow hotel with a lake and mountains behind it

Summer at the Kulm Hotel, St Moritz

The hotel that invented the winter holiday also offers an escape from over-sultry summers – as well as some of the most thoughtful luxury in the world

As summers get warmer, summertime in the mountains becomes ever more attractive. At the end of July, sitting on a balcony with warm sunshine by day and cool air descending from glaciers by night seems a positively refreshing prospect – particularly if it is combined with some of the greatest hospitality the world can offer.

A man holding a mirror on a dry mountain with a town in the dsisance

Rocky mountains and a camera magna photograph of the scene at St Moritz by photographer Daniel Meuli

The Kulm Hotel, St Moritz, was the original luxury hotel in the Alps. From your balcony, you can see over the whole town, the lake and a 270-degree view around the mountains beyond.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Downstairs, you are in a subtly modernised grand dame of an hotel – the kind of place where a new generation understands and pays homage to the class and style of generations gone by.

beige and ref furniture in a living room

Modern-classic elegance in the Corvatsch Suite

If you want a break high up in the forest, you are here already – the resort is surrounded by hundreds of miles of woodland and meadow. If you want to feel you are amid the heart of the jet set, you are also in the right place, as you can stroll across to the Kulm Country Club, a restaurant and members’ club serving some of the greatest food in Switzerland.

red chairs by a window overlooking a lake and mountain covered in trees

A glorious view from a nook in the lobby

There is a large indoor pool, an open-air pool, spa with everything from steam room to saltwater grotto, and gardens with that mesmerising view.

Read more: Jean-Baptiste Jouffray on the future of the world’s oceans

An outdoor pool with steam coming out of it surrounded by grass

A breath of fresh air at the outdoor wellness pool

The Kulm may be more famous as the original and greatest of all Alpine ski hotels in winter, but for sunshine, purity of air, cuisine and some very classy encounters, summer is the time to come.

Find out more: kulm.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 1 min

CEO Guido Terreni. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX speaks to Guido Terreni, CEO of Swiss Watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier about the definition of luxury and the key values which distinguish the classic brand

LUX: What drew you to the world of horology and made you pursue a career in this industry?
Guido Terreni: My girlfriend was living in Switzerland. I decided to join her, and later she became my wife. At that time, I didn’t imagine that I was also getting married to watchmaking.

LUX: What are the core values of the Parmigiani Fleurier brand, and do you believe these have changed over time?
GT: Parmigiani Fleurier is founded on 2 very important values that are embodied in its founder, Michel Parmigiani, who is a living legend of restoration.

The first is a deep cultural knowledge of watchmaking history, and with it, its different crafts across all eras and all components. The second is discretion, because when you are a restorer, even with the highest of skills like Michel, your ego has to disappear. This is because your work is about giving a second life to the work of another creator.

These values are eternal, and our responsibility is to keep them at the heart of our Maison for the pleasure of our clients.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: In the two years since you were appointed CEO, sales at Parmigiani Fleurier have seen dramatic improvement. What is your business strategy and why has it been so successful?
GT: Indeed, we are experiencing a fantastic momentum that originated from the unveiling of the Tonda PF Collection at the end of 2021. The centre of the strategy is designing a pure and contemporary collection that respects the brand’s values of high horological content and understatement, to please the refined and non-ostentatious watch purists of tomorrow. Everything else, meaning distribution and communication, must be consistent with this desire, where quality over quantity is always respected.

Parmigiani Fleurier’s founder Michel Parmigiani in the restoration workshop. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: Your recently released Calendar Watches Trilogy reflects a number of different civilizations and cultures. Can you tell us about the importance of global or cultural approaches to watchmaking?
GT: Global and cultural approaches are part of the same game. The brand is always consistent when it expresses its creativity, whether to the world, or to a specific audience. Authenticity, deepness of the idea and excellence in the execution must always be there. When you address a different culture, what is deeper than interpreting a different way of mastering time?

It is not a commercial exercise. It is a cultural one, that starts from respect, understanding others and putting the Swiss watchmaking culture at the service of another one, while keeping the Parmigiani touch in doing so.

LUX: How can watches tell the stories of people?
GT: A timepiece is probably the most intimate object we accompany ourselves with. Apart from collectors that evidently have a watch for every occasion and every mood, the majority of watch lovers wear their watches for quite a long and continuous time. It is the only object you don’t think about when you choose your outfit in the morning. It is therefore always right for the owner, because it reflects his or her personality. That’s why you can tell a lot of things from how a watch is worn.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Manufacture. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: How do you balance honouring the history of traditional watchmaking techniques while also looking to the future and continuing to innovate?
GT: Personally, I value tradition as our roots. They forge your thinking and your craft, but if tradition becomes an obsession, it becomes a cage, a rail from which there is no escape or evolution.

Luxury, to me, is about evolving excellence. Innovation might not be technological, as the quartz watches, or more recently, the smartwatches have demonstrated in failing to supersede the traditional mechanical technology. You can innovate while respecting tradition. You can refuse to accept that everything has already been invented in watchmaking. That, to me, is interesting and creative and pushes our quest to be world premium. Luckily, there is no recipe to express an innovative luxury experience, it’s a question of sensitivity and balance.

LUX: What sets Parmigiani apart from other renowned watch brands, and how do you maintain a competitive edge?
GT: We create discrete high horology, where superior crafts and refinement must respect the non-ostentatious values of our clientele and our Maison. We maintain our competitive edge by aspiring to present innovations that are interesting, and that can become lifelong companions, like the Xiali Calendar, or reinterpreting important functions like the GMT with our GMT Rattrapante, or exploring new functions with the Minute Rattrapante.

LUX: What role does the restoration of watches and other artifacts play in shaping the brand’s philosophy?
GT: To quote Michel: “Restoration is our source of knowledge.” It is important not for the sake of replicating the past, but to acquire and keep alive that sensitivity to the mechanical art that moves us.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Maison. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: What are the key challenges facing the luxury watch industry at the moment and how should these be addressed?
GT: The luxury watch industry has become a very big market. The bigger it gets, the more mainstream it becomes. The risk for the industry is to lose contact with the true luxury experience, which has little to do with the size of the budgets at your disposal, but a lot to do with the ideas you have in mind.

Read more: Bovet’s Pascal Raffy on horological artistry and engineering

LUX: Looking to the future, what can we expect from Parmigiani Fleurier as it continues to evolve as a brand?
GT: The Tonda PF has just been born. We have to work with discipline and make the collection become iconic.

We will continue to be true to our values and we will continue to be creative, innovative and assure a supreme execution, while aiming to always being interesting.

Find out more: www.parmigiani.com

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Reading time: 5 min
a hotel amongst trees and a lake and mountains in the background
a hotel amongst trees and a lake and mountains in the background

An aerial view of Waldhaus Sils with Lake Sils behind

It has long been a source of inspiration to poets, artists and philosophers – and Sils, in the high-altitude valley of Engadine in the Swiss Alps, still proves a haven of luxury and creativity

Arrival
Waldhaus – house in the woods. To an English speaker, it sounds pretty; to a German speaker, there are centuries of myth behind the forest legend. Sitting on a bench, in the larch forest in the grounds of Waldhaus Sils, we pondered this. To one side, the hotel’s terrace restaurant – a terrace dissolved in forest – was finishing up lunch service. Immediately below us, two clay tennis courts lay empty after a family session had finished – a daughter narrowly beating a father, awash with glee; a family that looked as if they had been playing tennis in the woods for generations.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Beyond, the mountainside dropped down and you could glimpse the valley floor through the trees: a flat glacial meadow and a blue-black lake containing a couple of islands, thick with pines. Beyond, a steep, largely treeless mountainside, grass, rocks, scree, peaks.

Waldhaus Sils is at the highest point of the Engadine, the wide, high-altitude valley that carves through the east of Switzerland like a scratch in the Alps. St Moritz is 10 minutes down the road, but the village of Sils has its own character and history. Nietzsche and Hermann Hesse lived and visited here; generations of artists came here for inspiration, and some, such as Gerhard Richter, 90 years old and widely considered the greatest living artist, still do come to stay at the Waldhaus.

red and beige chairs in a room with windows

The Waldhaus interior is a triumph of 20th-century modern design

The Experience
The hotel is on a rock just above the village, and what seems at first to be another in the mould of excellent palace buildings in the mountains, turns out to be rather more special.

To walk through the Waldhaus is like walking through a living museum of 20th-century design – when we say living, we mean it’s like a home, rather than curated for the benefit of others. There is a window in one of the drawing rooms that looks directly out at a rock face a couple of metres behind: the rock looks like an artwork in the frame of the window. Everything, from the wood panelling to the chess tables to the signage and the way the keys are arranged behind the reception desk, speaks of indulgent artistry.

Take a room with a balcony and it is as if you are in a tree house, only the balcony also as dramatic views across and along the Engadine and Lake Sils. The rooms themselves continue the theme of being in a home: no nouveau-riche over design here. If you crave three tons of marble in your bathroom, a Toto automatic toilet and Jacuzzi, you would be better to look elsewhere- but as a coherent and relaxing take on classical luxury, it feels wonderful to be in.

A river in a valley between green covered mountatins

Val Fex, high above the Waldhaus, photographed by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

Eating and Drinking
Most of the residents of the Waldhaus (and it feels like a community of residents, rather than hotel guests) dine at the hotel in the evenings. The dining rooms, high-ceilinged and table-clothed, have huge windows directly into the forest, as if you are in a nest. Each evening brought us a different variation on consommé, a broth made with the stock-variously-of forest mushrooms, local vegetables, corn-fed chicken or Swiss beef; one was made with hay stock, and was sublime.

Otherwise, expect Swiss mountain cuisine, precisely prepared, and a treasury of a wine list that virtually compels you to try the wines of the Büdner Herrschaft – the warm, sunny, bijou wine-growing region in the Rhine valley of eastern Switzerland, over the mountains. There is also the terrace restaurant, overlooking the tennis courts, serving salads and grills for lunch.

A red chair on a red carpet with a painting above it and a table with flowers next to it

Activities
Woodland-walks, lakeside-walks around Lake Sils – inspiration to poets and philosophers – rock climbing, mountain hikes to the hidden Val Fex above the hotel…And that’s just the hiking and climbing, most of which begins on a path directly from the hotel’s back door.

Read more: Bittescombe Lodge and Deer Park, Somerset, Review

You can kite-surf and paraglide nearby, or stroll down to the village of Sils and see Nietzche’s house; or stay in the hotel grounds and swim (indoors), play tennis (indoors or outside in the woods), sunbathe amid the trees – or get a cavas and paint.

waldhaus-sils.ch

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX
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In the third part of our Driving Force series from the AW 2022/23 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of the Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid

Mitteleuropa (middle Europe) is a semi-mythical territory that has always fascinated us. It is decisively not the same as central Europe, the web of countries to the east of Switzerland and to the west of Romania. Its German name suggests it incorporates a part of Germany, but it cannot include the brisk North Sea coast or the Hanseatic ports, which belong to the Baltic.

And we felt we were entering Mitteleuropa when a sign on the motorway in eastern France (that’s right, France) declared that we were in Lorraine. The signs on the motorway exit boards changed tone, as did the scenery. The place names became Germanic, and the flat fields of the Champagne region gave way to forested hills and ridges.

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Here, the Porsche Panamera felt in its element, as it headed back to its homeland. The straight-line motorway that had been a feature of the route to date turned into long, beautifully engineered curves, taken at high speed in this long wheelbase, semi-electric large sports sedan. It was enormously satisfying, with subtle growls from the V8 engine upfront and the steeliness of the car’s sporting suspension making you feel like a pilot more than a chauffeur.

This is the aim of the Panamera: a comfortable, high-performance vehicle intended to be genuinely satisfying for the driver, without the compromises of a high-sided SUV.

A wheel on a red car

As we drove past one mini mountain, the clouds burst open in a Götterdämmerung of rain, which rapidly flooded the road. The four-wheel drive of the Panamera felt as if it was vacuuming up the water and spitting it out the back, wanting to go still faster, as if on a wet race track, when it would have been irresponsible to do so.

We spent the night in Phalsbourg, eating at a French restaurant on a terrace on its wide central square while being served beer brewed in the Black Forest, in neighbouring Germany, by staff who spoke French and German, as if the two territories were one.

Between Phalsbourg and the Black Forest lie the Vosges mountains. The roads here were narrow, tight, still damp and the car clung to them through the gears, the electric and petrol engines working in unison to propel us forward. The Panamera is not a sports car by any traditional definition, it is too wide, too heavy. But if you are used to driving a fast SUV and hanker after something less lumbering while still having a lot of space, this is for you.

Read more: Driving Force: Audi R8 V10 Spyder

In the Black Forest, the autobahn between Stuttgart and Lake Constance has no speed limit in many places, and its trail snakes through the mountains. At normal speed, the curves are gentle, barely noticeable, and you have the ability to admire villages pinned into the surrounding woods. But when you go much faster, on an empty road, each corner feels like a racetrack, and the car on its limit is muscular, secure, reassuring but sharp, made to maximise its capabilities on these roads not so far from its birth town of Stuttgart. At 160mph (257km/h), there is no time to admire the scenery.

We finished the day with a glass of the same beer offered to us hundreds of miles away in Phalsbourg, while sitting in a little café on Lake Constance: Switzerland, a series of green bumps across the lake in front of us; Austria, a couple of grey spikes in the distance to the left. Middle Europe, and the ideal car from which to enjoy it.

LUX Rating: 18/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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A ski village from a mountain with a cable cart
A ski village from a mountain with a cable cart

Crans-Montana sits on a south facing shelf and is one of the one of the sunniest ski resorts in Europe

Crans-Montana was one of the destinations for skiers in the 1980s looking for Swiss chic, extensive pistes, high quality dining and spectacular views. It was overtaken in the fashion stakes by the likes of Courchevel, but is now coming back with a bang into the consciousness of high-end winter sports visitors. Darius Sanai visits, and likes what he sees

7:30 am at the LeCrans hotel in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Wandering the considerable distance in our wood panelled room between the bed and the glass door to the balcony, past the living area, I draw back the curtains. A sea of white and blue floods in. We are on a south-facing shelf high above a broad valley far below. In front of me, far away on the other side of the valley, is a jagged range of peaks. The view extends for 40 km in either direction.

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I step onto the balcony. It snowed all night, before clearing at dawn. My bare feet crunch through the powder. I wonder about spending the day in the spa, pool and jacuzzi. I could admire the view, go for a walk, progress effortlessly from lunch through dinner in the classy, intimate dining spaces in this uber-chic boutique luxury hotel in a forest above Crans, the old-new (more on that shortly) swanky destination in Switzerland.

A terrace with a mountain view and sunglasses and a book on the table

Terrace with a view at the hotel, Le Crans

But that would be wrong. I order room service: some home made Bircher muesli, green juice, an oat latte, taken inside with a view onto the whole of Switzerland, so it seems. So many resorts in the Alps are buried deep in valleys: you need to take the lift up for the views. Or they have featureless views of anonymous mountainsides with endless motorway pistes. Here I am gazing from Mont Blanc to the St Bernard Pass, through the Zermatt valley and the sabre-tooth shaped Weisshorn, to the peaks above Andermatt, looking at the full range of the highest peaks in Switzerland, the focus of Alpinists through the generations, without moving from my room. Below (way below) are the vineyards of the Valais.

A winter chalet style hotel on the mountains covered in snow

Le Crans hotel sits in a forrest above a village

I have to move. I squeeze on my boots, walk out of the ski room and across a snow covered lane, and clip on my skis. There is a shuttle to the lift station in Crans, visible below through the woods. But where’s the fun in that. Skis on, I follow a track made by a couple of other skiers across the woods, gently downwards, close to the trees, and shoot down a little vertical section, turning smartly onto the piste. I am on the main run into the resort, before anyone has had the chance to explore it.

A bed with a picture of bear above it and a brown throw and cusions

Contemporary alpine chic at Le Crans 

It’s an old-fashioned piste, in the nicest way. It weaves and turns and flattens through real scenery, forests and glades and past lakes. Not a motorway with slip roads and parallel pistes leading to the same place. There’s a fun chicane near the new Six Senses Resort, and then the lift station appears.

An outdoor pool steaming

Le Crans spa has a heated outdoor pool

Crans-Montana is having a moment. Prominent in the 20th century as a ski/golf resort, a year round destination before that was fashionable, it lost social kudos to places like Verbier (across the broad Rhône valley) and Courchevel more recently. Now, it has rediscovered its own qualities. Its sunshine and views are exceptional, as it is on a high shelf above the deep Rhône valley, facing south. It has a good, if not exceptional, vertical drop for skiing and both high and tree-lined pistes. Being less than a kilometre (vertically) from some of the best vineyards in Switzerland guarantees excellent wine and, not coincidentally, some very gourmet focussed resort and mountain restaurants – it has four Michelin-starred restaurants.

An untouched snow covered mountain

The top slopes at Crans-Montana are at around 3000m altitude

It also has good snow: at 1550m, it is at a good altitude, with top station at just under 3000m. On the one hand, the south facing, sunny aspect means warm spring days create early melt, but being high above a deep valley in the west of the Alps means relatively high snowfall during the winter, when fronts come in either from the west or the southwest, as a counterpoint. When it snows in Switzerland, it really snows in Crans.

A restaurant with large windows at night

The Michelin starred restaurant Le Mont Blanc at Le Crans

The last couple of years have reflected this revival: where previously it was the domain of smart middle class families from northern Europe, Crans is now seeing more LUX-type people move in. The Six Senses opens this February, with Residences being snapped up by ultra high net worths. We hear of the Swiss elite snapping up apartments near the resort centre. It’s not as expensive to buy property in Crans as in Verbier or Gstaad, and it may lack the ski breadth of the former and the social kudos of the latter, but it is sunnier and less hectic than Verbier and higher than Gstaad. Locals say prices are heading up: but as a counterpoint, there is a lot of property in Crans and its neighbour, Montana, and parts of the resort are a bit 20th century modern for some tastes.

An outdoor pool with a sunset

Sunset with a view of Mont Blanc

I ponder all this while in the gondola up to the top station. I spend the day shooting down an array of high and low runs, all of them interesting in a classic kind of way. I don’t know enough about ski resort design to analyse why Crans, like Lech or Klosters, seems classic in the way you ski. There’s something about the shape of the pistes, shaped to the mountain rather than trying to conquer the mountain; compromised but interesting, unpredictable. It seems organic and classical, somehow, compared to skiing at Courchevel or Val d’Isere, which have bigger ski areas, but also many runs that look like each other. The runs below the tree line here are gorgeous, wide and curving through the forest.

a photo of mountains and trees covered in snow

Winter morning view from the hotel Le Crans

Getting back to the hotel from the main run down, you have to know which section of trees to turn off at, and then whiz along a flattish forest path which finishes at the hotel’s doorstep. It’s not officially a piste, but it’s a lot of fun. (You can always ski down to the end of the piste and the hotel will collect you).

Read more: The serene beauty of little-known Alpine resort Drei Zinnen

That evening, I dine at Le Crans. The hotel is snuggled in the forest above the resort. There are a few other chalets dotted around, otherwise only trees. The design, a reworking of a 1960s hotel in contemporary wood and stone, is both relaxing and striking. The restaurant, with its Michelin star, is quite minimalist and relaxed in feel, with plenty of space and broad views. The menu is poetry: dishes called They Flutter in the Light Wind (Jerusalem artichoke, fig, hay, lime and shimeji) or Like A Melancholic Garden (chestnuts, chanterelles, salsify, broccoli). The wine is also poetic: I try a Cornalin, made from a Swiss red grape, from a vineyard in the valley below. It is spicy, with autumn berries and a soft, velvet length. The best Swiss wines are worthy of shining on the international stage, but are prevented from doing so by the Swiss, who know that and have the means to buy them all themselves.

a small hut on a mountain covered in snow and trees around it

Views extend over the deep Rhône valley to the mountains above Zermatt

The next evening, after skiing the length of the resorts runs to above Montana, a considerable horizontal and vertical distance, I go for room service along with a bottle of Heida, made with another Swiss grape, from a terraced vineyard below Montana. The Heida is full of lemon-herb creaminess, and stands up to a very high quality grilled chicken salad. I sip the last glass on the balcony; the snow has melted a little during the day and now refrozen under the stars. A gentle wind blows the scent of pine cones from the woods and the silhouette of 100 kilometres of Alps stands out in the moonlight in front of me. Whether or not Crans’s new moment has truly come, I, like many others, will certainly be coming back.

Find out more: https://lecrans.com/

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massage tables in a tipi tent
massage tables in a room overlooking the turquoise seaClinique La Prairie has established itself as a leading name in longevity research, offering wellness programmes for over ninety years. For its inaugural escape far away from its traditional Alps and Lake Geneva landscape, the brand has set base on North Island Resort in the Seychelles to create a complete Clinique La Prairie experience

Clinique La Prairie’s philosophy on anti-aging grounds itself on a holistic system, balancing the body and mind with a longevity method supported by four pillars: medical science, nutrition, well-being, and movement. Curated by experts flown in from Switzerland, the week-long detoxification programme at North island is composed of heavy metal screenings, regenerative wellness, and detox nutrition to purify the body. The island’s wildlife sanctuary provides the backdrop for the physical segment of the retreat, offering a range of activities from yoga and tree planting to bike riding and snorkelling.

a wooden bed room with white and blue colourings

The resort hosts 11 hand-crafted villas, all surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Nature is a huge part of Clinique La Prairie’s philosophy, with sustainability at its core. The brand accentuates that small steps taken by individuals are the building blocks of global impact.

blue lounge chairs on a deck

Clinique La Prairie’s Sonia Spring explains “sustainability for us is making sure that when people leave, they are making the right choices; whether that’s how to live, with regards to what they eat and also how they manage stress. This is related to sustainability because if you learn how to deal with stress, you can nurture yourself properly and make good choices such as having the right quantity of food, in the right way, looking more into local foods around you. By spreading these and in turn spreading these lessons that you have learned because its made a good impact in your life. Conveying these values to others, for us, also brings in the element of longevity.”

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Internally, the brand aims to educate staff on more sustainable ways of operation, such as reducing waste, but also engraining more considerate decision-making in all areas.

yoga mats on a deck looking out to the sea

Read more: Luxury Travel Views: Brenner’s Park-Hotel & Spa, Baden-Baden

The collaboration between Clinique La Prairie and North Island is in itself an ode to nature, borne from the serendipitous meeting of both owners, whose shared vision of exquisite hospitality delivered in surroundings of natural beauty is woven into the core of the retreat.

massage tables in a tipi tent

The partnership sees a symbiotic marriage of science and nature, hosted on an island that is both exclusive and private while retaining a “barefoot luxury” approach.

Priced at €68,000 for single occupancy and €85,000 for double occupancy

Find out more:

cliniquelaprairie.com

north-island.com

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A palace surrounded by green grass, a river and mountains
A palace surrounded by green grass, a river and mountains

Exterior view of the 19th-century Grand Hotel Kronenhof in the Swiss Alps

In a high valley near St Moritz, the Kronenhof in Pontresina combines Swiss culture with a Mediterranean mountain vibe. Who needs Portofino?

One of the drawbacks of being in the mountains is that you are at the bottom of a valley, in the shade, when all around you is bathed in sun. This is not a problem that the Kronenhof, in Pontresina, will ever have. The village of Pontresina is located on a south- facing shelf, above the bottom of the valley that connects St Moritz, in Switzerland, with the Bernina Pass over to Italy.

The entrance of the Grand Hotel Kronenhof

The Kronenhof, in prime position on this shelf, feels like it is floating above the forest coating the valley floor (and dropping into a precipitous gorge, if you look closely enough). And from the lawns outside its swimming pool area in summer, you can see the Alps lined up, facing you, glowing gold-green in the sun.

A whirlpool by a window with a forest outside

The whirlpool inside the hotel’s spa

It’s a strange and wonderful feeling, being here in summer. On the one hand, you are 1,800m (about 6,000ft) up in the mountains; the air is very precise, very pure, and will leave normal people puffing if they try to run.

A whirlpool by a window with a forest outside

The whirlpool inside the hotel’s spa

But on the other hand, this is the southern side of the Alps, contiguous with northern Italy and the South of France.

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The mountains to the north hold back the wet northern European weather and this is one of the sunniest parts of the continent, meaning you can sunbathe most days during the summer, while gazing up the valley, opposite, at the glaciers of the Bernina mountain range.

a bedroom

The luxury Bellaval suite, offering the most spectacular views in the hotel

If it does rain, just step inside. The pool, possibly the best in Switzerland, has a glasshouse view of the scenery, as well as a very therapeutic series of vitality pools and spa, above.

A bar with wooden walls and ceilings and red velvet chairs

The Kronenhof Bar

Upstairs, the newly refurbished bar has brought a little urban chic to this mountain outpost, but, above all, this is a classic Alpine luxury retreat. The bars and clubs of St Moritz might be just a 10-minute drive away, round the forest, but you come to the Kronenhof, with its contemporary-chic bedrooms and light and views, to be in the centre of the high Alps, and also away from everywhere.

Read more: See The Light: Cascais, Portugal

Hike up the mountain and to the Segantini Hut with its views across half of Switzerland, visit the Alp Languard panoramic restaurant for a lunch of local roesti and meats, and be back for an apero in the bar. And then there’s the 200-year- old Kronenstübli restaurant with 16 Gault Millau points…

Find out more: kronenhof.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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mountains and an alpine lodge on the grass
mountains and an alpine lodge on the grass

Photograph of the Zermatt valley by Sheherazade Photography

The yacht’s being refurbished, you’ve done Ibiza too many times, the Hamptons are too cliquey and Bodrum is so 2021. So where to head this summer? Allow LUX to offer you some recommendations from one of our absolute favourite summer destinations (and no, this is not paid-for content): Switzerland

Switzerland in summer: panoramic views, (mostly) blue skylines, clean air, no crowds, teeming wildlife, one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, some of the best hotels in the world, and activities from kitesurfing and kayakking to glacier skiing and wine tasting. What more could you want? Perhaps, just a little guidance through the options, to get the very best out of your Helvetian experience.

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1.Zermatt
Zermatt is, in effect, the epicentre of the Alps, in a valley surrounded by more than 30 of the highest peaks in Europe, which glow white with permanent snow even on a hot summer’s day. And it’s usually warm and sunny here: the resort is on the border with Italy and if you take a telescope to the top of its highest peak, Monte Rosa, you can see the spire of Milan cathedral.

Every type of mountain activity is available, including summer skiing at the top of a Swarovski crystal-encrusted cable car. It is also a paradise for mountain dining, with more fine dining spots than St Tropez, better views, and fewer crowds. Try the Findlerhof for its beautiful local farmers’ meat and cheese platter, and epic Matterhorn views; and Restaurant Zum See for an idyllic gourmet experience in a meadow at the foot of the peaks. In the village, we had a highly memorable meal at the restaurant in the hotel Omnia, all pared-back boutique chic and astonishingly vibrant flavours.

A bathroom with a view of the Matterhorn

The view from a bathroom at The Cervo Hotel

Stay at: The Cervo is Zermatt’s eco-resort, and its owner, Daniel Lauber, is a passionate and thoughtful sustainability pioneer. One of the most thoughtful sustainable hospitality experiences, from the biodegradable slippers to the renewable energy heating system – tough, at 1600m altitude. The food, all sourced locally, is both hearty and magnificent and the staff have risen impeccably to the challenge of finding excellent wines and cocktail ingredients with a local remit.

2.Badrutt’s Palace, St Moritz

A brown grand hotel exterior with a garden in front of it

Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, St Moritz

Badrutt’s is St Moritz, or so you will probably think after staying there. The hotel dominates the valley and lake like a citadel. The service became legendary even before the former Shah of Iran flew its staff out to serve a banquet marking 2500 years of the Persian Empire at the palace of, near Shiraz, in 1972. It’s the kind of hotel where the staff know what you’re thinking, before you do.

Read more: A Tasting At One Of The World’s Great Champagne Houses

The facilities make it, effectively, a holiday in one property: huge indoor pool with picture window, lawns and gardens (in the middle of St Moritz!), fine dining in a formal banquet hall which makes you feel like Audrey Hepburn (whoever you are), and across the road, its own pizzeria at Chesa Veglia – in reality a top social spot in its own right. And the views across to the mountains are inspiring.

3.Gstaad Palace

A large palace style hotel with a pool in front of it

The piscine at Gstaad Palace

The Palace is a hotel that will whisk you into the jazz era even by thinking about it. This is a place where generations of European aristocrats have visited to stay and dine at; or to play tennis on its impeccable clay courts, or dance at its Greengo nightclub (in summer, it incorporates the indoor pool as a bar and terrace). It’s a perfect base for walking tours, or for strolls around Gstaad’s chi-chi high street, or just to exist in and take the air and dream of eternal youth.

4.The Alpina Gstaad

A palace and a garden

The Alpina Gstaad

Two luxury hotels in one place? Mais oui; the Palace and the Alpina are like Meursault and Margaux, we couldn’t live without either of them. The Alpina has contemporary style and vibrancy within the envelope of Alpine glamour (unlike some new luxury hotels in the Alps, it’s not pretending to be in Brooklyn), an outdoor pool with heart-melting views over the mountains, an equally gorgeous indoor pool and spa, and one of our favourite Japanese restaurants outside Japan.

5.Dinner at the Nira Alpina

a wooden restaurant with a panoramic view of the mountains

Nira Alpina Stars Restaurant

The Nira Alpina is a hotel and restaurant resort on the edge of the high Engadine valley, between Lake Sils, inspiration for poets and artists, and buzzy St Moritz. Its rooftop restaurant, Stars, has a dramatic view across the valley and lakes where daytime kitesurfing gives way to reflections of the moon by night, and over to the jagged mountains on the other side. It’s at the foot of the Corvatsch mountain, which makes for energetic hiking in summer; at the end of a long walk down from the Fuorcola Surlej pass, we love indulging in a glass of Franciacorta here, followed by a bottle of vibrant Chardonnay from the nearby Bündner Herrschaft wine region, accompanied by its delicate, locally-sourced mountain food, big on herbs and vegetables from the nearby high valleys. We haven’t stayed at the hotel, but the restaurant is an experience in itself.

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luxury ski hotel
luxury ski hotel

Suvretta House is surrounded by forest with sweeping views of the mountains

Why should I go now?

Seriously? Because January is the best month for winter sports in the Alps. Properly cold with powder snow, but, in the Upper Engadine valley by St Moritz where Suvretta House sits on its own forested ridge, with plenty of sun. It’s also refreshingly empty. Yes, St Moritz may be a place to socialise with the Von Opels and the Sachses, and you’ll be doing that at New Year and in March: this is a time to go and enjoy the mountains for what they are, and enjoy one of the greatest hotels in Europe when you’ll have the staff to yourself (well, not quite, but at least you won’t have the holiday season little princes and princesses underfoot in the hotel and on the pistes).

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What’s the lowdown?

A five star palace hotel with its own ski lift and piste to its garden (currently an ice skating rink) is a hard proposition to resist. But Suvretta House is much more than that. It’s a couple of hundred metres outside the limits of St Moritz, surrounded by forest, at the foot of the great Corviglia ski area, and has views across the broad, high valley to Lake Silvaplana and up to the other great mountain of the region, Corvatsch.

Unlike almost every other luxury hotel in the area, you can ski in and take a lift out; Suvretta House also has its own mountain restaurants. Trutz, high up the mountain, is a lunchtime bratwurst-and-rösti stop with broad views across to the Italian Alps. Chasselas, just above the hotel above the nursery slope, may look, with its lively and cheerful manager Livia, and its chequered-tablecloth-and-wood interior, like another cosy Alpine refuge, but it’s actually a refuge of cuisine as haute as its 1900m altitude. Essence of wild mushrooms with shiitake and agnolotti followed by lamb saddle with aubergine, Jerusalem artichoke and wild Brussels sprouts: simple but sophisticated.

Suvretta is actually a one-hotel dining itinerary. Arriving tired one lunchtime (St Moritz is quite a distance from the commercial airports if your Gulfstream has let you down) you may delightedly sink into the soft seats and jazzy ambience of the Stube – broadly translated, the cellar. But amid this gentle comfort, you will find refreshingly un-Alpine options: Endive and spinach salad with apple, walnut, dried cranberries, radish, fennel, quinoa and honey balsamic dressing; or Tuna Poke with jasmine rice, avocado, cucumber, edamame, mango, seaweed, sesame and ginger, as zingy as they sound. Did we mention the Grand Restaurant? Pack a proper frock, honey.

Then there’s the huge indoor pool and chill-out zone with picture window views to the forest, and the spa, and the very elegant and high-ceilinged lobby where you’ll imagine Lauren Bacall and Ella Fitzgerald playing poker together.

Getting horizontal

Our room was light, airy, refreshingly free of pine and frills, taupe carpets, wooden panels, light greys, a big marble bathroom.

hotel bedroom

Flipside

We loved being just out of St Moritz and having the ski lift and piste at the door. It is a taxi ride into town for the clubs and bars, although at this time of year, we recommend staying just where you are.

Rates: From CHF 630 per night for a standard double room with mountain views (approx. £500 /€600/ $700)

Book your stay: suvrettahouse.ch

Darius Sanai

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luxury living space
open plan living room

An impression of the ‘Tiger’s Eye’ bespoke decorative scheme for one of the Chedi Gems, a series of penthouses in The Chedi Andermatt hotel

A major hotel, property and infrastructure development has swept the village of Andermatt in Switzerland onto the world stage of luxury. Karen Chung speaks to some of the key shapers of the future of this still-expanding project, which has attracted real estate buyers from around the world

For such a little place, Andermatt punches well above its weight. With its seductive mix of luxury hotels and apartments, restaurants, boutiques and a chic cultural centre nestled around the historic village, it is a glamorous playground in the heart of the Swiss Alps.

This sleepy little skiing village was reawakened with the arrival of The Chedi Andermatt, the five-star hotel and residences masterminded by Jean-Michel Gathy, the lauded hotel designer behind the soaring Aman Canal Grande Venice, LVMH’s Cheval Blanc Randheli and the soon-to-open Aman New York. Launched in 2013, The Chedi Andermatt pulled off a pleasing paradox: a relaxed riff on the classic Swiss chalet with an undeniably Asian influence, ultra-aspirational yet delightfully relaxed and unstuffy. With 50 hotel rooms, 107 residences and 13 penthouses, award-winning restaurants, a first-rate fitness centre and a state-of-the-art spa, cigar and wine libraries, ski-in ski-out facilities and even a flotilla of ski butlers to warm your boots, it swiftly won a slew of awards, including Gault Millau Hotel of the Year in 2017.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Over the phone from Kuala Lumpur, where he has lived for 40 years, Gathy muses over The Chedi Andermatt’s show-stopping design interpretation of Swiss chalet heritage. “People ask me, why did you design in an Asian style, but the stone, wood, fireplace, leather, everything is Swiss! The Chedi Andermatt is totally Swiss. The window size, balustrades, materials, everything follows Swiss codes – and believe me, Switzerland has a lot of codes! There’s no one single architectural or design feature that’s Asian. What is Asian is the layering of the space and the lighting, which enhances the layering by creating depth of field.

“I’m from a traditional European background, but when you live in Asia this long you unconsciously assimilate the attitude, the culture, the habits, the values. You do it consciously at first, then you just absorb it. For me, design is an emotional expression of an inner feeling. You just feel this is the way it should be.

Jean-Michel Gathy. Courtesy Jean-Michel Gathy

“And what makes The Chedi Andermatt different is the layering. Think of Europe and how you move from room to room. In Asia, it’s not like that. You don’t have a door from one room to another, you have screens. The flow is very different. You’re always somewhere but you never know where. I don’t do this on purpose anymore. It’s the way I think. In luxury, there’s more emotion. So, when you apply that layering to the logic, you get The Chedi Andermatt. It’s dynamic, layered, pleasant, comfortable, and it serves its purpose.

“I’ve designed luxury resorts my whole life, and know my clientele very well,” he adds. “I’m very lucky. In luxury there’s room for creativity and emotion, and I know how to use the tools to translate that understanding. I design exactly the way I am and create every single project by hand. It’s very natural.”

luxury living space

A render of a living space in one of the penthouses at The Chedi Andermatt

Indeed, your first instinct as you arrive is to kick back, curl up and gaze at those expansive mountain views from the comfort of the capacious sofas. Gathy’s response to an exacting brief was an intuitive one, perfectly fitted to how we want to live now.

Read more: How to create a truly sustainable luxury hotel

The wealthy have long been attracted to Switzerland but buying here has been notoriously hard. All residences in Andermatt, however, are exempt from the Lex Koller law, which limits foreign ownership of Swiss property, while a popular scheme that manages and rents out apartments while owners are away adds to buyer appeal. It’s seriously accessible, too – just 90 minutes’ drive from Zurich, two hours from Milan and four from Munich, while private jets and helicopters can fly to Buochs Airport, a 45-minute drive away.

spa bathroom

An impression of a private penthouse spa at The Chedi Andermatt

“The past year changed everything,” says Russell Collins, the amiable British head of real estate who’s also on the Andermatt development board. “But we really didn’t envisage how busy we were going to be. We’ve sold over CHF500 millions’ [£394.5m] worth of apartments – almost everything we had available – and 2020 was a record year. There were obviously a lot of people sitting at home thinking, we could be skiing now…! Roughly half the buyers are Swiss, half are international – many from neighbouring countries such as Italy and Germany, as well as from the UK, and also Singapore, Hong Kong and Russia. We’re selling the last few remaining Chedi Andermatt penthouses now, which can be fitted out by our team of architects and interior designers, who work with the buyer to their exact spec.” Penthouses start from CHF6.2 million [£4.9m] for a 333 sq m space.”

Developers are also working with Protect Our Winters (POW) to preserve the unique microclimate that makes Andermatt a skiing paradise. Sustainability has been at the heart of the development from the start, with The Chedi Andermatt and all private residences built to stringent Minergie standards for low-energy-consumption buildings. Services run on natural resources (and, refreshingly, are hidden below ground), and in winter an electric bus zips round the car-free development.

swiss mountain village

Andermatt with the new village quarter of Andermatt Reuss to its left. Photograph by Valentin Luthiger

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Andermatt is nailing that all-important lifestyle mix as it becomes a year-round destination without losing its still relatively low-key charm. Its burgeoning mix of hotels, apartments and chalets nestle alongside traditional historic buildings and an expanding boutique retail and restaurant offering. And in summer, as well as hiking and walking, there’s the option of golf on the award-winning course. And after coming to an abrupt halt, its annual music programme is also reviving after an 18-month hiatus.

“I think residents are really encouraged by the fact that we’re so committed to making this a great place to live,” says Collins. “The danger is that we just become a ski resort for the winter months, but we’re looking hard at the year-round offer, creating life at street level and making it a joyful place to spend time.” It’s for the next wave of pioneering buyers to see how well Andermatt achieves that.

The Chedi Andermatt Spa and Health Club

There are spas, and then there is the spa at The Chedi Andermatt, a multi-award-winning, divinely decadent 2,400 sq m temple to wellness. Exclusive organic products are a key feature of the spa; particular highlights are the Tata Harper Natural Glow from Head-to-Toe Ritual and the divinely relaxing Oromovizca Golden Full Body Massage, inspired by the curative properties of Hungarian thermal waters and which includes an invigorating gold-and-sugar peel. The health club boasts the very latest TechnoGym equipment and there’s a hydrothermal spa with a seemingly endless array of baths and saunas, as well as a stunning 35m indoor pool, the longest in Switzerland.

cheese selection

The cheese tower of local Swiss cheeses at The Restaurant

The Restaurant at The Chedi Andermatt

“A sense of occasion for our guests is key,” says Armin Egli, Executive Chef at The Chedi Andermatt, “and creating great experiences is a big part of that. In our four open-plan kitchen stations in The Restaurant, guests can take a seat at the chef’s table to watch food being prepared, whether that’s Asian-inspired delicacies, traditional Swiss fare, or simply see our pastry chefs at work. We also have a five-metre-tall cheese tower, currently showcasing 43 cheeses unique to Switzerland; guests can taste and learn the story behind each one. And we often reinstate favourite dishes. Black pepper beef is a stand-out favourite from the Asian kitchen that we keep having to bring back by popular demand. If it’s not on the menu when you visit, just ask…”

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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luxury hotel bar
hotel bar with mountains in the distance

Lauber’s Hotel CERVO uses recycled materials and geothermal heat. Photograph by Darius Sanai

As COP26 brings together world leaders to discuss climate change, Daniel Lauber, owner of the CERVO Mountain Resort in Zermatt, gives us his six guiding principles on how to create a truly sustainable luxury hotel. No greenwash included

Walk into the CERVO Mountain Resort in Zermatt, Switzerland, and you know you are in game-changing sustainable luxury. All the fixtures, fittings, furniture and decorations inside and outside the main Bazaar restaurant are of found, recycled or second-hand/vintage materials, down to the cloth screens separating tables for Covid-19 security. In the rooms, there are no disposable plastic bottles, either in the bathrooms or minibar; no disposable plastic at all, in fact, as even the bedroom slippers are made of recycled felt (they are then recycled again).

And there’s no greenwashing; Lauber knows the difference between offsetting and zero carbon. His aim is for the hotel to have a zero-carbon footprint or better, an immense challenge.

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Deep boreholes mean all the hotel’s heating is geothermal; electricity is all renewable; produce in the restaurants and bars is discernibly local, sourced from within a 150km radius. All of this is even more challenging in a remote ski resort at 1650m altitude, ringed by some of the highest peaks in the Alps, than in most places.

It’s also one of the funkiest hotels in the Alps; its bar and terrace at the bottom of the Sunnegga mountain piste are the place to be seen at the end of the ski day in Zermatt.

1. Do your homework, set targets and become your own expert

The (geothermal) heating is installed. Now we are trying more and more to go zero footprint or at least a compensated footprint. That’s the next goal, and we are aiming to get to zero waste, maybe by 2024/25.

We work together with myclimate, a Swiss organisation. We are evaluating how big our footprint is. So, the first step is to evaluate and the second step, by the end of 2022, is to try and minimise it with actual plans for things we can change, and what we can’t change then definitely to compensate for it. The end goal is to be zero footprint and then even positive, so we don’t produce a negative footprint at all. As a hotel, that’s quite a challenge, especially as we take into account construction, which always has a negative impact.

2. Make your clients your ambassadors

Doing all this is sometimes (though not always!) more expensive. Then it’s up to us to tell the story to the customer. If they understand it and appreciate it, and most of them do, then we can try to compensate the higher cost of buying with a slightly higher price; and we are lucky that our customers are able to pay that.

3. Go local, but also support family business, and be realistic

The social aspect is very important, as is the economic aspect, because you can be very social and very environmental, but if the business doesn’t work you’re going to lose.

We can work with suppliers who are smaller family businesses to find new ways of being sustainable. I really like that. And I like to give those smaller companies a platform.

For example, most of our ice cream is home-made, but in the summers we have ice cream stands and we sell ice cream from Basel. We could find ice cream that’s closer, but the people producing the one from Basel have a social work space for people who have some health issues or other disabilities and I think that’s nice. It might be 100km further away than other producers, but the mindset they have is so great, it’s worth it.

Read more: Professor Peter Newell on climate responsibility

4. Make a virtue out of your ethical sourcing

Generally, we try to use furniture that also has a sustainable approach. For example, the beds are handmade with organic materials. With whatever furniture we created ourselves, we tried to use local carpenters. In the Bazaar restaurant it was a bit different, it’s more themed, so in that instance we tried to work with young designers and companies in Morocco to support emerging designers or the all-women enterprises there. The chairs, the cushions, the carpets were made for us by small enterprises and that’s nice. It’s different to just ordering a fake Moroccan-style cushion produced anywhere.

5. The hard work is on what clients can’t see

It was quite an easy change to be plastic free in the amenities and rooms. It’s good that the customers see that. The bigger challenge to being plastic free is when it comes to the supply chain. Some stuff we need to order comes shipped stupidly wrapped up. And now that’s the second goal. We can’t do it alone, but we try to talk with those companies and ask if they can ship it differently, to see if they can use multi-reusable packaging, for example.

6. Create a virtuous circle and inspire, but don’t proselytise

We have a lot of feedback when customers say, “Ah this is a good idea”, so we do what we can to inspire customers and staff. If you inspire 10 people, it’s already worth it, and if those 10 each also inspire another 10, then it quickly escalates.

To be inspiring is very important for a hotel but it should never pushy. It’s great to inspire guests but if they don’t care that’s fine, too. Inspiring people can also be a bit educational, but I don’t think it’s our job as a hotel to educate.

Find out more: cervo.swiss

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convertible sportscar
convertible sportscar

The Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet. Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism/André Meier.

In the latest iteration of our Fast & Luxurious car series, LUX’s car reviewer tries out four new versions of well-established models from Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and BMW. First up is the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet

The sequence of events that led to this story is as follows. (1) At an early age, watch the James Bond classic Goldfinger, and be entranced by the sequence where Sean Connery’s Bond drives his Aston Martin DB5 in a chase up the spectacular Furka Pass. (2) Soon after, be driven up and down said pass as a small child, with family, in quite a slow, unremarkable car, whose engine and brakes overheated. Wonder what it would be like to do the same without family, in a proper car, or a proper mission. (3) Many years later. Finish business meeting, sitting outside by the eastern shore of Lake Geneva, on a hot day, clear blue sky, mountains looming all around. Say goodbye to business contact, hit the key button of the car to open roof, sit in car, and look at map (old-fashioned fold-out Michelin map) to plot a route for the rest of the day.

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My next business meeting was at breakfast the next morning in Andermatt, the swanky new resort development in the middle of the Swiss Alps. The car’s satnav and Google on my phone told me the same way to get there. Around 90 minutes on the motorway looping around the north side of the Alps past Bern, turn right on the motorway to Lucerne, along the east side of Lake Lucerne, and up the valley to Andermatt. Around 3.5 hours all told, a simple route, a scenic one, too, as I remembered, with the Alps constantly keeping you company in a panorama on the right as you traced the semicircle.

However, for every circumference of a semicircle, there is a diameter also. A more direct route. And according to my old fashioned map, the direct looked like an even better bet. Unlike some direct routes in the Alps, it was not only navigable by helicopter or eagle. Instead, I would drive along the very good highway up the Rhône valley, past the towns of Martigny, Sion and Visp, a route that is well known to anyone skiing in the Valais region. It was the last part of the road that was more of an unknown: along the very top of the valley past the source of the Rhône, and then a quick climb up the very same Furka that had appeared in my youthful dreams, and on the other side where Andermatt was literally sitting and waiting for me, with a cold beer in its hand.

lakeside road

La-Tour-de-Peilz, with the Rhône valley in the distance. Image by Darius Sanai

Even accounting for the fact that the mountain-pass road would be slower, it all looked to be a little more than half as long as the Google and satnav route. It was a no-brainer.

What’s more, I could not have chosen a better car in the world to put to bed the memory of the old, slow, overheating family steed. I was sitting in a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S convertible, the latest generation 992 model Porsche 911, with the upgraded engine sported by the S model, a drop top and four-wheel drive. It had been a fantastic companion on my way down from the UK, sitting more happily than a sports car has any right to do on the open road and never feeling fidgety, and then being highly rewarding on the occasional detour on the twisty lanes in central France. And in Geneva, transmission in automatic mode, while taking a conference call over Bluetooth, it had been as docile and hands off as any car could be.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on why tokenisation is the art world’s new frontier

The motorway from Vevey to the eastern end of Lake Geneva stands on a viaduct high above the lake, clutching the mountain side to the left. I caught the occasional glimpse of a spectacular sunset on the other side of the lake over the Jura Mountains. The road dropped down at the end of the lake to meet the gaping mouth of the U-shaped Rhône valley – a study in primary school geography. Flanked by steep mountains either side, the motorway swept along the flat valley floor past pastures, small towns and the occasional industrial unit. Fears of rush-hour traffic proved unfounded: the only time the traffic here gets busy is winter when crowds swarm to the Alpine resorts.

Roof down, slightly chilly air pushing down from the glaciers, sun set, the 911 was in its element as I switch the heated seat on and gently cooked the heating up from its lowest setting. It had been a hot day.

I stopped for petrol just after the last town on my route, Brig. All the roads leading to Alpine resorts were behind us, and the route to the Simplon Pass and Milan had also just been passed. The road was now a simple, well-kept main road, no longer a motorway. Curiously, though, there were no signs to Andermatt, Lucerne, or points beyond. How could that be, for what must be a major Alpine pass? The Furka itself was signposted, by a small, rather apologetic sign, as if it was a destination itself. Curious. Still wondering why no destination was signposted along the route, I pressed on.

mountainous road

The sinuous road up to the Furka Pass. Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism/André Meier.

As the Rhône valley rises towards the source of the river that flows through Lake Geneva, Lyon and into the Mediterranean near Marseille, it remains relatively straight but turns into a V-shaped rather than U-shaped valley (geographers will be interested to note). The forests rushing down either side meet in the middle, and the bottom of the valley is nothing more than a fast-rushing big stream.

This meant the road became entertaining as it swept along the valley sides, occasionally entering a couple of bends as it climbed. After a couple of villages, the gradient became steeper. As there was no other traffic at all on the road, this meant the 911 was really in its element.

Read more: Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava on light and space

There are multiple improvements in this new model of Porsche 911. There is its docility in town, which makes it relaxing and effortless to drive at slow speeds – too effortless for some enthusiasts, doubtless. At the opposite end of the driving spectrum is the way it shoots its way into corners. Previous 911s, for engineering and physics reasons related to the fact that the engine is placed behind the back wheels of the car, would happily zoom along the straight part of a country lane, but then require you to brake a bit more than you would in other sports cars before turning into a corner. At that point, you could use the car’s traction and thrust to power your way out. A required technique and highly entertaining, but it also meant you needed to cramp your style a little when entering corners.

Somehow, they have engineered that out of the new model. This car lashes into corners and lashes out of them again, as I discovered as I climbed higher and higher up my road (there was nobody else there, so it was definitely my road). Tear down a straight, brake, turn and be amazed by the sharpness of the steering into the bend, and then tear out, engine howling in the open air behind you. When the car is really going, there is an intimacy of communication, balance and brilliance to it, a complete contrast to its unassuming nature at urban speeds. I found it more accessible, more entertaining and simply more competent than the 991 model that is its predecessor.

Taking a break to admire the view (I had now climbed quite high into the centre of the Alps), I sat in the car, sipping on some caffeinated energy drink. I noted that the interior of the car had also advanced considerably from the previous generation. The design has been simplified while going a couple of notches in quality, feel and sophistication. It feels like a highly grown-up sports car now, and the previous clutter of plasticky switches has disappeared in favour of a well-located touchscreen.

Car on a road above a lake

At rest above Lake Zurich. Image by Darius Sanai

Andermatt was now only 30 or so kilometres away as the crow flies (still no signs on the road) so, relishing the idea of my end-of-day beer, I tore on, expecting the road to start winding benignly downwards towards the Andermatt valley. Past a closed hotel that announced its views of the Rhône glacier now sadly so depleted it is no longer visible from the old building. And then suddenly the beautifully surfaced road turned into a narrow strip of tarmac with no barriers. And why is there a wall in front of us?

It was now dark, with no street lights, no cat’s-eyes or anything to light the way apart from the car’s headlamps. I drove gingerly towards the wall, which appeared to be in the middle of the road, only to find myself staring at a hunk of mountainside, with the road doing a 90° turn to the left. Like a cartoon character, I tilted my head backwards up the mountainside, clearly visible in front of me through the open top of the car. The road did not go around this wall; it went up it. And it never seemed to stop.

This was why it wasn’t marked as a through road. This was no longer the time to enjoy the 911’s fabulous steering, precision and cornering joy, as a little too much of that joy would result in the 911 being converted briefly into a flying car before it made a reference to another classic film, The Italian Job, which sees its Lamborghini-driving opening star end up at the bottom of an Alpine precipice, very much not alive.

Around half an hour of inching along in the blackness later, I reached the top of the Furka Pass, at nearly 2,500m as high as a top lift station in a ski resort. Here was the symbolic heart of Europe. Behind me, the rivers flowed south, to the Mediterranean. In front of me, they flowed north, to the North Sea. Peeking out of my side window for the first time, I wondered which remote huts or settlements the pinpricks of light I could see to my right belonged to, before realising that I was looking at stars.

Andermatt now beckoned, a cluster of lights clearly visible in the distance, but unnervingly far beneath me. The way down the other side was similar to the last part of the way up, down a steep wall of a mountainside, doubtless being stared at by some curious ibexes in the darkness. And then the road turned into a far better strip of tarmac at the bottom of the wall, and the car covered the last couple of kilometres in less than a couple of minutes.

There is no better car in which to relive the fantasy drive of your youth. But try and do it during daylight.

LUX rating: 19/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 9 min
Abstract portrait painting

Pablo Picasso’s painting Fillette au béret (1964) is the first artwork to be tokenised. Image by Seraina Wirz / © Succession Picasso / 2021, ProLitteris, Zürich

Have you ever dreamt of owning an invaluable piece of art history? Now is your chance. Digital asset bank Sygnum and art investment pioneer Artemundi have partnered to launch the first ever tokenisation of a work of fine art, starting with a blue chip Picasso painting. Art Security Tokens (ASTs) can be purchased and traded like shares – they mark ownership of an artwork and broadcast it onto the blockchain. artnet’s Vice President and LUX columnist Sophie Neuendorf caught up with Bigna Pfenninger, a partner in the initiative, to find out more

Sophie Neuendorf

Sophie Neuendorf: You started your career in the publishing industry. What inspired you to enter the art world?
Bigna Pfenninger: I am not sure there was a distinct moment of attraction. The publishing industry is interesting where, business aside, one nurtures a culture of knowledge that simply needs financial and administrative support. Certain aspects of the art world, too, are more scintillating where such balance applies.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Sophie Neuendorf: How do you see the industry developing post-pandemic?
Bigna Pfenninger: Perhaps the pandemic has accelerated a shift in distribution, boosted technological progress and made money change hands. At best, we will realise it has been a right of passage bringing forth a more mature, transparent and thus, growing art market.

portrait of a woman

Bigna Pfenninger

Sophie Neuendorf: Your partner bank Sygnum has been offering private and institutional clients the opportunity to invest in structured and alternative assets for several years now. How do you see art tokenisation in comparison to other investments?
Bigna Pfenninger: Tokenising a museum-grade Picasso is the start to a novel level of access to masterpieces formerly reserved to a small group of connoisseurs and collectors. With Art Security Tokens (ASTs), investors can now purchase and trade “shares” in the artwork 365 days a year, 24/7.  And yes, Sygnum was the first digital asset bank that was granted a full banking license in Switzerland in 2019. We chose Sygnum because they specialise in creating unique investment opportunities with a focus on high growth assets that are hard to access in a direct and fractional manner.

Sophie Neuendorf: Some would hazard that the public tokenisation of an artwork will depreciate the value. Is there any truth to these allegations?
Bigna Pfenninger: I don’t believe so. Especially given that the Picasso will be the first-ever tokenised artwork, I’m certain its value can only increase! Additionally, there’s governance, but of course, we will wait and observe the developments.

Sophie Neuendorf: How would you describe the main differences between Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and the tokenisation of an artwork?
Bigna Pfenninger: We created the Art Security Token (AST) as a fully fungible, safe and easy access to fine art ownership. Here, each token represents an equal, and interchangeable share in the asset with the same rights and obligations. With NFTs, each token is unique, and therefore not designed to be used in this way. ASTs are ledger-based securities issued in accordance with the Swiss Code of Obligations. They are issued through a fully regulated bank and are protected by DLT laws.

Read more: Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava on light and space

Sophie Neuendorf: You launched the first ever tokenisation of an artwork with Pablo Picasso’s Fillette au béret (1964). Valued at 3.7 Million Euros, those interested in investing in this work can buy a piece of it starting at just 4,600 Euros. It’s certainly a lucrative work to own a piece of! Are tokens still available?
Bigna Pfenninger: Yes. Subscription will open at the end of July, on a first come, first served basis. We’re very excited about the launch as it represents a large part of the future of the industry.

Sophie Neuendorf: Do you accept cryptocurrencies in terms of payment for the token?
Bigna Pfenninger: Yes, we do! We accept incoming and outgoing deliveries of cryptocurrencies to be held and used on the banking platform. Transactions for the Picasso token are settled using a digital CHF stablecoin (DCHF).

Sophie Neuendorf: Can you reveal which masterpiece you will tokenise next?
Bigna Pfenninger: We have called our first AST “PIC1”. We will reveal the next masterpiece in September, but I can assure you, it’s marvellous!

Find out more: insights.sygnum.com

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mountaintop hotel overlooking a city
mountaintop hotel overlooking a city

The Dolder Grand hotel with the city of Zurich beyond. Photograph by David Biedert

In the second edition of our four part luxury travel views column from our Summer 2021 issue, LUX editor-in-chief Darius Sanai discovers the rewards to be gained from combining business and pleasure at The Dolder Grand in Zurich

Zurich is a city to do business in, and another city with much more to offer than business. I could spend three days in the Kunsthaus museum alone, as well as (in normal times) the thoughtful shows in the Kunsthalle.

In corona times, business trips have fewer long meetings and meals (and in many cases, amen to that), meaning longer intervals in the places you’re visiting, particularly when juggling more than one client.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Anticipating this, and a lot of downtime at the hotel, I booked into The Dolder Grand. Zurich’s ‘city resort’ hotel has gained a spectacular reputation since it reopened after a long slumber, in 2008. It is located near the top of a hillside above the city, about 10 minutes by car or funicular from the city centre (though the bottom station of the funicular isn’t strictly in the centre of the city). On a golden summer’s day, arrival at the hotel is a tonic. You are in a semi-residential, semi-forested area high above the city, with dramatic views across Lake Zurich to the faraway crest of the high Alps.

The hotel itself was rebuilt by Norman Foster for its grand reopening, and the notable and spectacular are everywhere in the blend of classic and modern, particularly in the artworks literally strewn around the premises.

Contemporary art and design are in the hotel’s DNA; one of the restaurants was designed by Rolf Sachs, the artist/designer son of tycoon Gunter Sachs, both St Moritz royalty.
My junior suite deluxe was pure Norman Foster-meets-One Hyde Park (he designed that, too). Floor-to-ceiling windows with black frames, balcony with black railings with a view across the lake. Sofa the shape of an amoeba, copper bowls with flowers, Mojave sand-coloured carpets with a similar amoeba swirl effect. The bath was strategically placed by the window with a view out into the forest.

neon pink lighting in a restaurant

Restaurant Saltz at The Dolder Grand in Zurich, with the Fauteuil Direction chair, designed by Jean Prouvé in 1939

That evening I chose to dine on the hotel’s extensive terrace. Seeing the colours of the city, lake and mountains change as the day ended was quite an experience, even without the food and the crisp yet lucid chardonnay from the Bündner Herrschaft beyond the lake.

The cuisine was served from Saltz and looked suitably experimental. What, for example, were Swiss dumplings (chicken, salmon, pork belly, ratatouille and roasted cauliflower), I wondered? My waiter told me that they were a take on dim sum, not incarnations of the dumpy European versions. He was right: they were fragrant, vibrant, wonderful, a reinvention of dim sum using local ingredients but respectful of the original and their paper-thin encasing.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

Chestnut tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and tubers was earthy and genuine. It’s a casual menu, and you can pick from a variety of simple grills and add side dishes and sauces, like creamed spinach with poached quail egg, chilli soy Romanesco, chimichurri, or cognac green pepper jus. No dictatorship of the chef here.

My next day’s meeting was early, but I had to take advantage of our hotel’s pool. Clad with dark stone, it is a welcome addition to a city-centre hotel. It is rare to leave a hotel more culturally enlightened than when you arrived, but The Dolder Grand is one of those places. Not branding itself an art hotel (perish the thought), it is a contemporary cultural institution wrapped into a spectacular luxury hotel.

Find out more: thedoldergrand.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
swiss palace hotel
swiss palace hotel

Suvretta House overlooks the Upper Engadine valley. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

High in the Swiss Alps, LUX indulges in a gastronomic tour like no other, all under the auspices of one hotel

It’s summertime, and what we crave is sunshine, blue sky, space, views, freedom and a change in cuisine. All uncontroversial except for the last – why would we want to change the way we eat? Perhaps because for many of us in the fortunate minority in the world, even during the lockdown cycle, a great variety of cuisines has become the norm. Temaki and uromaki delivered tonight; Vietnamese cha cua and mi quang tomorrow; miso Chilean sea bass the next. Freed from choosing restaurants for the experience they offer, we have spent a lot of time choosing them purely for their variety of cuisine.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We reflected on this last summer, during a release from the first wave, sitting at the Chasellas restaurant above St Moritz. For generations, great European dining has been about being welcomed by a host who recognises you; typically, a besuited maitre d’ of an older generation, as comfortable giving orders to staff as he is joining favoured customers for a cognac after hours. We were welcomed by Livia Sterki, a smiling young woman ostensibly as far removed from the traditional maitre d’ image as can be imagined: her charm and efficiency were so memorable it made us want to go back every night.

fine dining

The hotel’s cuisine focuses on local ingredients. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

The Chasellas is decorated in Alpine mountain inn style, lots of pine, bare-backed wooden seats, and a terrace with a view over the rooftops of the village of Champfèr, across forests and lakes to the towering mountains of the Bernina range across the valley. The cuisine of chef Marco Kind is not only fine: it is unlike anything you will ever find in a metropolitan hub.

There’s a combination of mountain purity, local ingredients, and a local Swiss authenticity, and a lightness of touch. Beef entrecôte sous-vide, datterini tomatoes and summer truffle was both satisfying and light; essence of wild mushrooms with shiitake and agnolotti was a kind of ultimate consommé (and vegan); and even the non-vegetarians went for the variation of peas with mountain peach, radish, asparagus and macadamia. Another vibrant main course was spring chicken braised in apple with young vegetables, local potatoes and wild mushrooms.

Beef tartar with oysters, miso and caviar. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

The cuisine was like eating the Alps and went delightfully with what is commonly referred to as the “local chardonnay”. In fact, the Engadine valley is too high for growing grapes, but the modest moniker refers to chardonnay from the Bündner Herrschaft, two valleys over at lower altitude, which is in fact emerging as one of Europe’s most brilliant yet unknown fine-wine regions. The wines have the same freshness as the cuisine.

Read more: The beauty and biodiversity of Andermatt’s golf course

The Chasellas is part of the dining offering of a single-hotel resort, Suvretta House, which brings us to the second point of this story: being able to luxuriate in different dining experiences under one resort banner is not confined to swanky brands on tropical islands. Interestingly, Suvretta House’s owners and its managers, the mind-bendingly hard-working Peter and Esther Egli, have decided not to bring in outside brands, but to create all their dining themselves.

terrace

The hotel’s terrace with views over Lake Silvaplana and Lake Sils. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

It’s a five-minute walk downhill to Suvretta House from the Chasellas, past a couple of very nice chalets (or a 20-second ski in the winter season, past the hotel’s own lift). Suvretta is one of St Moritz’s original palace hotels, and everything about it suggests old money, aristocracy and a clubbish feel, in the nicest possible way. You’re more likely to see a classic Ferrari parked outside than a new one.

alpine river

horses in woodland

Idyllic paths through the meadow and woodland around the hotel bring unexpected sights. Images by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai (top) and Darius Sanai.

The hotel overlooks a wavy forest, stretching up the valley towards the Italian border; St Moritz itself is out of sight just around the corner of the mountain. Just above the swimming pool and huge lawn overlooking the view is the Stube restaurant, cosy and hearty in design, where you might expect to eat rib-thickening traditional mountain food. But not here; or not quite, anyway. Isaac Briceño Obando, the chef in charge of this culinary hotspot (each of Suvretta House’s restaurants is a destination in itself), blends simplicity (Wild Kelly flat oysters; Iranian beluga caviar) with purity (saddle of lamb smoked in hay; A4 wagyu tenderloin plain grilled) and tradition (sliced Zurich-style veal in cream) with just a touch of the exotic (Maine lobster salad, pumpkin, kalamansi and miso). So relaxing is the Stube experience that the lockdown limitations on seating times (gone soon, we hope) felt almost intrusive.

fine dining dish

Chicken with carrots and a Sauternes jus

Upstairs, the centrepiece of the hotel is the Grand Restaurant, a dining room with a Belle Époque flair whose New Year’s Eve parties are the stuff of legend (and many years of waiting lists). Watching Europe’s grand aristocracy waft back and forth there one evening was an experience in itself (at the time of going to press, the hotel is not sure whether regulations will allow the Grand to reopen for the summer season). High on the mountainside above Suvretta there is also the Trutz restaurant with a kind of rustic-Swiss chic serving air-dried beef, pastas, barley soup and salads with local cheeses – an excellent tonic after hiking up there.

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

alpine valley

The river En (Inn) beneath the hotel

There is far more to the Suvretta House than its cuisine; the rooms, fresh and Swiss-luxurious, have an eternally epic view across forests and mountains; the indoor pool-with-a-view is huge; and the gardens (and utterly charming woodland childrens’ playground) are addictive. But this summer, there is nothing that will stop us indulging in a gastronomic tour of its restaurants and the sublime service and views. Something no home delivery service will ever offer.

Find out more: suvrettahouse.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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man playing golf
man playing golf

Photograph by Valentin Luthiger

It’s not just the breathtaking alpine landscapes that are attracting visitors to Andermatt Swiss Alp’s golf course, but also its notable commitment to sustainability and biodiversity. LUX discovers more

Andermatt’s 18-hole championship golf course was designed by renowned golf course architect Kurt Rossknecht to blend seamlessly into the unique landscape of the Ursern Valley, winding around rock formations, wildflower meadows and natural streams against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

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In September 2020, the golf course became one of the first in Switzerland to achieve GEO certification from the Golf Environmental Organisation. There are now over 118 species of birds and 12 species of dragonflies living in the surrounding environment, while specially-designed drinking stations provide golfers with fresh mountain water, still and sparkling, to discourage the use of plastic bottles on the course.

alpine golf club house

The golf clubhouse. Photograph by Valentin Luthiger

The clubhouse restaurant, The Swiss House, also shows its commitment to sustainability through its broad range of local dishes and climate-friendly catering.

The golf course opened on 22nd May 2021. Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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summer in the alps
summer in the alps

Andermatt in summer

As well as making it a world-class ski resort, the development of the Swiss village of Andermatt has from the very start aimed to attract people who want to live there full-time. Karen Chung meets three residents who, in their different ways, call it home

Andermatt was born from the conviction that if you build it, they will come. With the ultra-ambitious yet sustainable mega-development of what was previously a sleepy, tucked away Alpine village, the town now offers an unparalleled lifestyle mix in a traditional setting.

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The development has since grown into so much more than simply a luxury holiday destination, with a high-low mix from its flagship hotel The Chedi Andermatt and world-beating concert hall, Michelin-starred restaurants and serviced apartments, through to cosy pizzerias, its relaxed attitude and a wish list of outdoor activities and cultural events accessible all year round.

But what is it actually like to live there? Seven years after The Chedi Andermatt hotel put it firmly on the map, three residents reveal why Andermatt has it all.

 

JOHAN GRANVIK
The serial entrepreneur

Johan Granvik grew up near Andermatt and travelled the world before ending up back in his hometown. The businessman behind Andermatt’s boutique Schwarzer Bären hotel and its delightfully cosy-modern Italian restaurant admits his career trajectory has taken him by surprise. “Usually, people tend to go to the big city and never come back,” he says. “I left for the US at the age of 16 and never imagined I would come back. But I said to myself, if a project like this is happening in my own hometown, I want to be part of it.”

hotel courtyard

The Chedi Andermatt courtyard

He joined the launch team for The Chedi Andermatt hotel in 2013, stayed a year and a half, then with a friend he set up his own bar and nightclub. “There’s a lot of opportunity here. We added a restaurant on the slopes and another nightclub, then two summer businesses a few years later.” He notes that the development has brought in more people, but also left enough space for start-ups to do their own thing. “Although Andermatt is growing at an exponential pace, for me the character of the town is pretty much the same. Some thought it would become like St Moritz, but I don’t think it will. I talk to a lot of people in our restaurants who love it here because it’s so down-to-earth, and that’s quite unique. For us the focus is on improving the business,” he says. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

Swiss village

Looking down on the Piazza Gottardo. Image by Valentin Luthiger

KAREN O’MAHONY
The working-from-home holidaymaker

“In normal times, I travel a lot in the US, UK and Europe reviewing potential investment opportunities, followed by months of intensive due diligence and analysis. When I need peace and quiet to think, I find the fresh air and light of Andermatt, and the lack of distraction, makes me really productive,” says Karen O’Mahony, a private equity investor who realised the full potential of her holiday home after London’s first lockdown. Sure enough, she swiftly joined the ranks of professionals who, forced to hit reset on their professional lives during the pandemic, swiftly saw potential upsides in the new normal. With the seismic shifts in working pattern and ties to major cities loosened, she can fit in two hours of cross-country skiing first thing in the morning, and be back at her desk before the London business day begins.

alpine golf course

The Andermatt Swiss Alps Golf Course. Image by Valentin Luthiger

“At any time of the year, Andermatt is steeped in nature with views of the mountains on all sides. From skiing, walking, golf and eating out, there’s something to do all year around, and this makes it much more of a home than a holiday property,” she says.

Man in a ski jacket

FRÄNGGI GEHRIG
The local

Folk musician and accordion player Fränggi Gehrig juggles a schedule of rehearsals and concerts during peak season with working on his own music and enjoying the mountains during quieter spells. As he appears on the screen from his home studio in Andermatt, the windows behind him reveal a tantalising view of snowcapped mountains in a stroke of unintentional Zoom one-upmanship. “I was lucky to be born here and to live in the mountains, the beautiful weather, the sun,” he says. “And we’re right in central Switzerland, so most places where I work are at most just a two-hour drive away.”

With a laugh, he recalls how he did his military service in the area where the resort now stands. “It’s hard to say how the town would have developed without this investment,” he says. “Now I might play between 80 and 120 concerts a year. In summer I might play four or five concerts a week. I also play a lot more now in Andermatt than I did a few years ago.

interiors of a concert hall

The auditorium of the Andermatt Concert Hall. Image by Anthony Brown

And, of course, for me as a musician, the most beautiful thing is the new concert hall” – which opened with an epic inaugural concert by the Berlin Philharmonic in summer 2019 that put Andermatt firmly on the cultural map. “The fact that a venue like this, with such an incredible acoustic, is right here in my hometown is amazing – and the other half of the concert-hall complex is a conference centre, so I also play private gigs for companies at dinners. It’s a good place to network, and as it grows, I think there will be even more opportunities for me as a musician. I could never imagine living anywhere else.”

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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grand swiss hotel
grand swiss hotel

The Badrutt’s Palace hotel’s grand frontage and its iconic tower.

High in St Moritz, the grandest hotel in the Alps has just been revitalised. There’s nowhere better to take the summer air with your entourage than Badrutt’s

What could be better than the Helen Badrutt Suite at Badrutt’s Palace? Yes, we know there are some pretty swanky hotel suites out there. The Abu Dhabi suite at the St Regis in the namesake emirate has its own spiral staircase and cinema. The Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental in Pudong, Shanghai, has floor-to-ceiling windows over the city and its own wine cellar and roof garden. Stay at Seven South at the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman and as well as 11 bedrooms, you get a free painting to take home.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

But still. Enter the Helen Badrutt and you don’t feel like you have arrived, or paid what it takes, so much as having been granted entry to a very exclusive club, in one of the world’s most desirable pinpoint locations. Badrutt’s Palace is the acme of palace hotels in St Moritz, the world’s most exclusive mountain resort. It’s the fact that it has been so for more than a century, despite its location 1,800m up in the Swiss Alps, that provides a clue to the exclusivity: this is where blue bloods, royals, pretenders and their circle have played for more than 100 years.

luxurious hotel drawing room

The drawing room of the Helen Badrutt Suite

When the Shah of Iran decided to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire with the grandest dinner in the history of the world in Persepolis in 1971 (an act of indulgence that ultimately contributed to his downfall in the Islamic Revolution), he flew in the staff from Badrutt’s Palace. And staying in the Helen Badrutt, you are the crème de la crème of the hotel’s guests (or perhaps the Shahanshah).

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

It might be the living room, with its grand décor, bottomless drinks cabinet refilled with spirits in decanters (no tacky miniatures here), Persian carpets and chandelier; or the balcony terrace looking out over Lake St Moritz and the mountain beyond, big enough to host a party for 20 people (we did); or the silent-quiet bedroom or marble bathroom; or that it can interconnect privately to form an entire wing of ten bedrooms.

outdoor swimming pool

The Badrutt’s Palace pool overlooking Lake St Moritz

Maybe it’s the butler service, which, unlike some more thrusting hotels, is almost entirely seen and not heard, Jeeves-style (we don’t know about you, but we don’t need butlers knocking on our door and asking what to do; they should know already, as they do at Badrutt’s).

In any case, staying in the Helen Badrutt bestows upon the visitor a sense of history, transforming the humble paying guest into a multi-suffixed European aristocrat with seats in each major city of the Holy Roman Empire and a foundation in a castled town in Westphalia from where a tweed-suited team of faithful retainers disburse philanthropic goodness to worthy institutions around the world. Or so it feels, anyway.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on Georgia O’Keeffe’s enduring influence

And even if that nuance escapes you, there is the rest of this glorious destination to enjoy. The Palace driver (there is a Rolls-Royce, of course) will whisk you to the foot of the Languard chairlift in nearby Pontresina, for example, from where you waft upwards through a magical larch forest where unknown creatures seemingly create tiny gardens in tree stumps; and from the top of which there is a view to the end of the Roseg valley where mountains live in permanent winter.

hotel suite drawing room

A newly refreshed St Moritz Suite

Or if you prefer to stay in St Moritz, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chopard, et al, are metres, or in some cases centimetres, from the Palace. And if you prefer to stay in the
hotel itself, there’s the swimming pool with its celebrated rock garden to dive from (a kind of mini Alpine Acapulco) and spa, tennis courts, adventure playground and kids’ club.

And the best thing? Well, even old money needs refreshing sometime, and during lockdown the Palace has had more than 40 of its rooms and suites redecorated – the official word is “refreshed” – by New York design studio Champalimaud, which has brought fresh blues and whites and a kind of Alpine light to the rooms. Which means that even if you’re not old-guard enough, there’s a place for you.

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 Issue.

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residential apartment
luxury apartment building

Andermatt’s newest apartment building Altera features twelve luxury residences

Andermatt Swiss Alps is the hottest destination in Switzerland right now. The sustainable ski/golf/mountain living resort in the mountains in the centre of the country achieved record property sales last year and that’s set to increase with the recent launch of two more luxury apartment buildings. Buy while you can…

A recently published report revealed that Andermatt Swiss Alps made a total of CHF 76.9 million in 2020 from its property sales, an increase of approximately 25% from 2019 and the highest figure in the resort’s history.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

While the pandemic continues to have devastating impacts on global tourism, the demand for Andermatt’s luxury alpine residential properties has continued to rise. The majority of apartments in the Frame and Alma buildings, which launched in the summer of 2020, were sold out within several weeks, and there are only a few residences left in the resort’s newest buildings, Koya and Altera, which launched in March.

alpine apartment

The open-plan living room in one Altera’s apartments

The interest is partly due to the rare investment opportunity (it’s difficult for foreigners to be able to buy apartments Switzerland), but also thanks to the resort’s development as a thriving year-round destination.

Read more: Tasting with sustainable Napa wine producer Beth Novak Milliken

Since the start of the project in 2007, a total of more than CHF 1.2 billion has been invested to transform what was once a sleepy ski village into one of the most exclusive and dynamic alpine resorts. It’s part of central Switzerland’s largest linked ski area which offers high-altitude cycling and hiking routes in the summer, and home to luxury hotels such as The Chedi Andermatt as well as slope-side Michelin-starred restaurants.

residential apartment

The interiors of Koya’s apartments are inspired by Japanese design

Andermatt’s latest residences

Located in the village’s car-free area known as Andermatt Reuss, Koya and Altera each offer a distinct atmosphere complete with sophisticated design details and luxurious owner amenities.

Koya’s stylish, Japanese-inspired, mezzanine-style apartments are already sold out, but Altera offers twelve, equally beautiful residences for contemporary Alpine living. Each room has been carefully designed to maximise natural light and highlight the staggering views of the surrounding mountains through tall, floor to ceiling windows. The building also features a communal ski room, residents’ lounge with an open fire, a spin studio, sauna, and relaxation area.

For more information, visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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lake in Switzerland
business man

Philanthropist and businessman Etienne d’Arenberg

Etienne d’Arenberg hails from one of Europe’s oldest families and is treasurer of the Arenberg Foundation, whose mission is the promotion of the understanding of European history and culture. He is a partner of family-owned Swiss private bank Mirabaud. He is also President of the Menuhin Competition Trust, and Trustee of several Swiss and UK charities. He speaks to LUX about European values, and the evolving perspectives and expectations of the next generation

LUX: Has the nature of philanthropy changed in the last two decades?
Etienne d’Arenberg: Both from my private banking experience at Mirabaud as well as from various circle of donors I belong to, I feel that there is a clear evolution in philanthropic practices. Firstly, there is an increasing involvement in philanthropic areas outside the traditional non-profit sector with growing interest from both governments and companies to partner with individual donors on specific issues. Secondly, and this is probably the consequence of the first point, there is an increasing focus on systemic change and transformative grant-making approaches that achieve greater leverage. Lastly, and this can become challenging for smaller institutions, there is a growing expectation for impact measurement and focus on KPIs.

Another trend that I see emerging in large donors’ circles – often business-owning families – is the need to align business and family platforms. The time where your company was polluting the rivers while at the same time your family foundation was giving to the WWF is over. There is a search for coherence between the different activities with a growing alignment between the business, the investment vehicle(s) and the philanthropic foundation. Interestingly, private banks in Geneva such as Mirabaud have been at the forefront of this trend with their founding families being very active in local communities, while at the same time promoting a company’s approach to addressing the most pressing social and environmental issues.

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LUX: Tell us more about your last point – are people being judged by different criteria?
Etienne d’Arenberg: We are faced with issues of huge magnitude, both on the societal and environmental front and this is especially true in times of COVID-19. If you combine this with growing access to information, I do feel that there is a real demand from the public for more sustainable business practices and generally speaking pressure for accountability. I see this pressure mounting, especially from a new generation of customers and employees.

If you run a company that is active in socially or environmentally damaging activities, the issue is that you will not be able to shift your business focus overnight. Our role as investors – and this is what we do at Mirabaud – is to accept companies that may not yet be there, but which are able to demonstrate a forward-looking vision including a clear strategy to transition to clean, circular and inclusive business models. For a family-owned or family-controlled company such as Mirabaud, this is also a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with purpose and long-holding family values.

lake in Switzerland

The Arenberg Foundation organises concerts in the remote village of Lauenen, in central Switzerland.

LUX: Is inclusion and bringing people together an important element of philanthropy?
Etienne d’Arenberg: Inclusion is about embracing people irrespective of their difference, whether that’s race, ethnicity gender, sexual orientation or identification, religion or economic circumstances, and providing them with equal opportunities. This is where philanthropy plays an important role as inclusion often starts with access to education, healthcare or basic needs.

But inclusion is also about getting rid of bias, the “us versus them” old way thinking, and embracing the fact that our difference is something positive: this goes far beyond the tropic of philanthropy. I come from quite a traditional background, but I am proud to say that I do not feel threatened by a society that changes. Quite to the contrary and under the impulsion of my daughters, we have been revisiting family values and behaviours, making sure not to pigeon-hole people and being particularly mindful not to impose suffering by raw reflexes of exclusion.

Mirabaud has also committed itself to diversity and inclusion, making sure, for example, that we create an optimal workplace for women. The fact that we were one of the first Geneva private bank to welcome a female managing partner helped us to develop a solid framework for gender equality practices. This has nothing to do with tokenism as it is based on the strong conviction that a forward-looking institution needs different perspectives and experiences.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on building a more sustainable art world

LUX: With the demands that are ever growing on the state sector, does the private sector need to step in more to support the cultural and charitable activities that were previously more supported by the state?
Etienne d’Arenberg: I don’t want to be a judge of the private sector being ‘not enough’, because whatever comes is already something and some individual donors are immensely generous. As I was mentioning before, there is an increasing need for approaches that achieve greater leverage and I believe that public-private partnership will play a greater role in addressing the need for systemic change.

The private sector can also act as a catalyst for change, raising awareness on specific issue and campaigning direct governmental support. I have been following the work of a UK charity which focuses on children food poverty: this is a very good example of an initially privately funded charity, who is actively campaigning for legislative change and working in close collaboration with government on food delivery. I am sure that we will see more on this in the future.

sailing event

The Bol d’Or Mirabaud regatta on Lake Geneva

LUX: Does the next generation of wealth owners have different priorities for philanthropy?
Etienne d’Arenberg: Traditionally, family businesses or wealth owners have been quite active in their communities, and Mirabaud is no exception, both at the bank and at the partners’ level. Ask many Geneva-based NGOs, charities, cultural or sport institutions and they will tell you about its commitment.

I feel that the type of issues Generation Z cares about are a little bit different and I see this with my daughters. Their preoccupations are centred around inclusion, mental health, environment and racial equity. They will tell you bluntly that they are not prepared to work for a company that does not match their ethics or values, even if that means foregoing a number of lucrative jobs. To my view, this is quite representative of a generation that is much open to a new set of issues.

What is also changing is the active role they are ready to take. I think that the generation of philanthropists who will just sign a check is slowly over, and we will see a new generation of individuals who will want to take a much active role, starting earlier in life as volunteers, advocates or activists, and using a wider range of engagement tools.

As I said, Mirabaud has demonstrated a 200-year-old interest in the communities in which it operates and I sense that as a bank we are particularly interested in understanding this new generation, not only because they are our future clients and employees, but also because they are shaping the future we will be operating in, as a company.

Read more: Lamberto Frescobaldi on 1000 years of tradition and wine

LUX: Do Mirabaud’s philanthropic contributions focus on culture and the arts?
Etienne d’Arenberg: First and foremost, concerning contemporary art, in recent years we’ve been sponsors of FIAC in Paris among various other renowned institutions. We’ve also sponsored the Zurich Art weekend, which is, in a way, the pre-Art Basel event, in a more intimate setting. Even if we are an institution that celebrated its 200th birthday in 2019 (so we are 202 years old now) our motto is always “to be prepared for now”. As in, immediately at your service, to sponsor and to be interested in today’s world and that’s why we are interested in contemporary art. We know the value of looking into the past, and taking lessons into the future.

The second thing to remember is that culture is not something which always pertains to art. If you look at the enthusiasm of the public, art is not always the biggest thing, sports, for example, are part of the culture of a nation. We are sponsors of the largest inland regatta competition in the world, the Bol d’Or Mirabaud on Lake Geneva, and it’s a fascinating competition, because the lake has very particular wind conditions that are ever-changing, it is not a one-sided Caribbean type wind that comes constantly from one side and doesn’t change that often. Here again our motto “prepared for now” completely makes sense.

LUX: The concept of Europe is an important one for your family foundation. Why?
Etienne d’Arenberg: When we think about Europe, our family thinks of the continent which includes Switzerland and the United Kingdom, not only the European Union. The concept of Europe is indeed very important for our family, as it includes a set of value that are dear to our heart: human dignity, rule of law, equality and democracy to name a few. This sounds wonderful and noble, but the truth is that it is quite vague in practice.

What we have been trying to do with our family foundation is to revisit these values in the light of today’s challenges and explore new ways to shape our common future.

I am personally convinced that Europe has a key role to play in shaping the post-COVID recovery, and building a new social contract based on these long-lasting European values and at a very modest level, we are trying to be part of this conversation.

Etienne d’Arenberg is limited partner of family-owned Swiss private bank Mirabaud and is Head Wealth Management United Kingdom.

Find out more: arenbergfoundation.eu, mirabaud.com

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Restaurant Markus Neff and The Japanese at the top of Gütsch in Andermatt

Two of our favourite mountain restaurants have just received Michelin stars. You can’t get in there right now because of the pandemic, though they are open for very stylish takeout, and as soon as they open up, LUX will be first in line

It’s a familiar scene. You do a couple of speedy red runs and take the gondola up from the village down in the valley, and within a few minutes you are above the tree line and the view has opened out – in this case, to a crossroads of four high valleys in central Switzerland, marking more or less the centre of the Alps.

At the top station, the sky is a deep ultramarine, and though the sun is strong, the air is chilly. It’s time for lunch.

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At the top of Gütsch in Andermatt, you have the option of two restaurants. But there is no tartiflette, fondue or rösti available here.

The dining terrace. Image by Valentin Luthiger

To your right is The Japanese, run by the team from the Chedi hotel down in the valley. You can luxuriate in a feast of salmon, tuna, hamachi, Swiss shrimp, scallop, sea bass, waghu and tamago nigiri. Or you can just sit on the terrace and nibble on teppanyaki dumplings and drink Krug.

sushi

A selection of sashimi from The Japanese menu

Next door, and reached by an interconnecting terrace, is the Restaurant Markus Neff at Gütsch. Here you have similarly haute cuisine in every sense of the word, but in a very different style: bisque of Swiss Rheinfelden shrimp; saddle of venison, brussels sprouts and chanterelles.

Read more: Juanita Ingram on empowering women in the workplace

It’s a tough choice, for which the only answer is to ensure you have two lunchtimes to sample them both – though you will need to book well in advance.

The interiors of Restaurant Markus Neff. Image by Valentin Luthiger

And as the proof of the pudding is in the awarding, we are delighted but not in the least surprised to hear that both restaurants have just been awarded a Michelin star, in their first full year of operation. Quite an achievement for restaurants where the ingredients arrive by gondola. But that’s kind of what we’ve come to expect at the swanky new development of Andermatt Swiss Alps in Switzerland.

For more information visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch/en;  thechediandermatt.com/en/Restaurants/The-Japanese-by-The-Chedi-Andermatt/;guetsch.com

 

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luxury alpine hotel

The Alpina Gstaad’s main building and gardens, which opened in 2012. © The Alpina Gstaad

Artistic, playful and utterly spoiling, The Alpina Gstaad may just be the best hotel anywhere in Europe. So why don’t you know about it?

A contemporary jazz duo is singing and playing its heart out. Your champagne bottle is emptying steadily as you look out from your sofa at the array of contemporary art around you, and the rolling mountains in the distance. It’s time for Japanese, and you and your companions wander over, just a few metres, into a different world into Megu. This is Switzerland’s highest-rated Asian restaurant, a Michelin-starred area decorated by blonde Alpine wood, antique kimonos and slatted wooden partitions.

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The vibe is lively but not raucous, stylish but not gaudy, expensive but not stuffy. Everywhere at the Alpina has a contemporary mountain chic laced with a global sensibility, a generosity of spirit and space, and a sense of future.

contemporary sculpture

Dritte Tier by Thomas Schütte, part of the hotel’s extensive collection of contemporary art. © The Alpina Gstaad

The Alpina in, or to be precise, above Gstaad, is the one example of a European resort hotel that surpasses its surroundings. Some of the great legacy hotels of Europe have been defined by the locations they sit in and need to live with the legacy. Others feel as if they might have been transported from any exotic location in the world.

asian restaurant interiors

The hotel’s Japanese restaurant Megu. © The Alpina Gstaad

The Alpina does something else: it redefines the location it is in. Given that Gstaad is the hub for some of the world’s wealthiest and most discerning people, that is quite an ask. Yet breeze in amid the local granite and reclaimed wood, walk up the sweeping staircase to the bar, lounge and outside terrace, enjoy the light and the art collection, and you know you’re in a place which is writing its own story.

Read more: Chopard’s Caroline Scheufele on versatile jewellery design

There is nothing particularly Swiss about a salt room, a cavernous underground lounge and juice bar, or a huge indoor pool and hydrotherapy area in a grotto. Or about a Japanese restaurant with 16 Gault Millau points and a ‘gastronomic’ yet contemporary informal restaurant, or Sommet, also with a Michelin star and 18 Gault Millau points. Like Schrödinger’s cat, the Alpina is, and it isn’t. Maybe it’s the owners: one is a local Swiss, one is decidedly international, together they give the Alpina its confidence.

views from a jacuzzi

luxurious hotel interiors

The duplex Panorama Suite with its outdoor jacuzzi. © The Alpina Gstaad

But this is not a place where comfort is sacrificed on the altar of credibility. The rooms have a gorgeous mix of local wood (much reclaimed from barns), stone, contemporary art and giant glass-cowbell light fittings – with perfect sheets and massive bathrooms. And huge balconies; whatever side of the building you are on you have peace, a sense of place and a magnificent view.

Gstaad is moving to its own tune, there is something of a real-estate boom in the area right now. Among the most fortunate are those who bought one of the residences within the hotel building: these are effectively buildings within the building, to match the most opulent chalets anywhere in Switzerland. Unfortunately, they have all sold, but if you know the right people, you may be able to persuade them to rent them to you or, who knows, even sell them to you, one day. Meanwhile, just check in.

Darius Sanai

Book your stay: thealpinagstaad.ch

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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cable car
cable car
October is not usually known as a ski month. But at the Andermatt Swiss Alps development, you can cruise the slopes down the 3000m Gemsstock in the morning, and be back for some witches’ brew at the Chedi in the evening.

There are many time-honoured ways to get thrills and excitement on Halloween; skiing, traditionally, has not been one of them. Yet if the fancy catches you, that is exactly what you can do this October 31, on one in Switzerland’s most serious ski mountains.

The Andermatt Swiss Alps ski region, located bang in the centre of the country, is opening this October 31 with its top run, descending from a dizzying 2955 metres, the first to open, followed by two steeper and more challenging glacier runs later in November.

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Andermatt’s Gemsstock mountain, where the action is taking place, is one of the most exciting in Switzerland. From the top you can see over to Monte Rosa, near Zermatt, on the Italian border to the southwest, and to Piz Buin, on the Austrian border, to the northeast. There is a vertical drop of more than 1500 metres from top to bottom. Many of the pistes are north facing and benefit from big snowfall caused by the “barrage effect“ of winds sweeping across north-western Europe and hitting the Alps. In simple terms: lots of snow.

ski mountain

Andermatt’s 3000m Gemsstock mountain

This year, after a hot autumn and early September, temperatures plummeted and the mountain has already seen several significant snowfalls, augmented by their own “snow farm” which preserves snow from the previous winter throughout the summer and feeds it into the slopes for the next season.

Read more: OceanX founders Ray & Mark Dalio on ocean awareness

Sadly, Halloween skiers won’t be able to take advantage of the full vertical drop down to the village at the bottom, which will only open in December. But the village of Andermatt itself is a new gem of the Alps, a tiny traditional village of cosy shops and restaurants augmented by a new luxury development.

ice rink hotel

restaurant dining room

The Chedi with its private ice-rink (above), and Japanese restaurant

Aficionados will know that its highlight is the Chedi hotel, with its Japanese at the Chedi restaurant at its heart. There is also a burgeoning new residential development village created around the Piazza San Gottardo up a little further along the road, with apartments – uniquely, open for purchase by foreigners – restaurants, shops, bars, two hotels (one already open) and even a concert hall.

luxury apartment

A rendering of Andermatt’s latest apartment building Enzian

Later in the season proper you can also sample Michelin-level fine dining on the other mountain, Gutsch. For the moment though, it’s time to put on a Halloween costume, book your place in the cable car up the mountain (a new service for coronavirus times) and whizz down from the top on your broomstick, or even the latest pair of Stöcklis.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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contemporary apartment
contemporary apartment

The penthouse apartment at Alma, one of two apartment houses to become available in Andermatt

The transformation of the village of Andermatt in the Swiss Alps into a place for permanent residence or seasonal getaways is taking more than just the rich amenities already there. It is the care and imagination with which the developers are creating the architectural environment that is drawing in investors, too, as Jenny Southan finds out

You want an escape, away from the crowds, to use year-round and as attractive in summer as it is in winter. It needs to be somewhere secure, clean, easily accessible, with excellent facilities; somewhere your family can indulge in outdoor sports on the doorstep, and then gather for a home-cooked meal, or zip out to the local high-class Asian restaurant in the evening. It should also feel like an attractive investment, in a desirable country in which property is hard for foreigners to acquire; and in a location where there is strong demand for holiday rentals, to provide income when you are not there.

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Welcome to the new apartments being developed in Andermatt in the mountains of central Switzerland. In a country where new-build apartments available for foreigners to buy are almost unheard of, the two new buildings, Frame and Alma, sit aside a central square in the brand-new development village of Andermatt Reuss. They are all part of the spectacular Andermatt Swiss Alps development, which has seen a previously sleepy and marginal ski village in a spectacular location transformed into one of the pearls of the Alps, via a $2bn investment by global place creator Samih Sawiris and his company Orascom.

mountain views

Panoramic windows in Alma’s penthouse apartment

The development starts at The Chedi Andermatt hotel and restaurant complex, on the edge of the old village, through a rebuilt railway station and gondola lift station, to the hotel, retail and residential complex at Andermatt Reuss, which features the central Piazza Gottardo around which the new apartment buildings are located. Owners have access to the huge indoor swimming pool, spa complex and concert hall at the Radisson Blu Reussen hotel next door, and Piazza Gottardo has a big sports shop, restaurant, bar and other retail to come. The 18-hole golf course, one of the most beautifully located and eco-friendly courses in Europe, is nearby. Zurich airport is just over an hour away by car or train; and speaking of cars, all the parking in Andermatt Reuss is underground, meaning there is no traffic.

Read more: British artist Hugo Wilson on creating art from chaos

The five-floor Frame apartment house has been designed by Swiss architectural firm OOS with a younger generation in mind. It features 34 apartments (one-bedroom and duplex, some with double-height ceilings) that have been designed to feel airy, generous and bright, despite being compact in size at 50–60 sq m. Bay windows, for example, provide space for sofa beds.

There are also communal areas on the ground level that include bike storage, and a ski room and workshop where you can do repairs. There is a chill-out lounge, a sauna, a courtyard with a fire pit, and the Hearth, which is an entertaining space with a kitchen where you can have drinks or dine with friends. The developer Andermatt Swiss Alps (ASA) says: “You can cook food yourself, get one of the restaurants to deliver or have one of the chefs from the local hotels come in. It’s also a place where, if you are thinking of going out for a week’s hike, you can invite your guide in for a coffee and plot your course.”

communal kitchen area

Frame features a communal dining area with a kitchen

While the exterior of Frame is based on the look of the handsome rendered buildings already in existence in the village, another apartment building called Alma draws its inspiration from local traditional wooden architecture. The developer says: “Our ambition is that in 20 or 30 years’ time the new and old parts of the village will blend together so it will look like one destination. We always ask our architects to look at the wealth of architecture here but interpret it with a more modern eye because we don’t want it to be a pastiche.”

However, the developers don’t want to create an ‘architectural zoo’ – as the developer puts it, “Everything has to have harmony”. Tasked with designing Alma, which sports dark, over-lapping timber cladding, was Dominik Herzog from the Zurich architectural firm Herzog Architekten. Located on the western edge of Andermatt Reuss, Alma has 11 two- and three-bedroom apartments (measuring 122–169 sq m) that have living rooms with fireplaces, bathrooms with freestanding tubs and large picture windows looking out on to the mountains and the Reuss river. There is a sauna on the ground floor.

facade render

Frame’s exterior has been designed to blend in with the village’s existing buildings

The developer says: “The spaces are satisfying, nurturing and enriching. They are not shouty or flashy. They are thoughtfully detailed. Every single apartment has 180-degree views, sunken corner lounges that are heavily upholstered and sheltered balconies so you can go outside even when it’s snowing or windy.” Although Frame and Alma are different from one another, both are firmly rooted in a sense of place. “Their use of materials has been informed by the existing architecture and they have been very careful about how they open up their buildings to the surrounding landscape. The windows almost become the artwork on the walls,” says the developer.

ASA also wanted a car-free environment so much of the investment (millions of dollars in fact) has gone underground to make a double-storey basement of car parking, storage and services. The result is a healthy, liveable, pedestrian-friendly village. The developer explains: “Some people live here full time and others use their property as holiday homes. We have a lot of local clients from Italy, Switzerland and Germany who come for weekends over the season in summer and winter, but also investors from China and Singapore who come and use it before it goes back into the rental pool.”

Open Season

The winter season on Gemsstock runs from 31 October to 25 April, and the Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis season runs from 19 December to 11 April. These dates are, as always, dependent upon the prevailing snow conditions.

For more information visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article features in the Autumn 2020 Issue, hitting newsstands in October.

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black and white portrait man and woman
woman by swimming pool

‘Faye Dunaway, Morning After Winning Oscar’, 1976. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

Over the course of his 60 year career, Terry O’Neill photographed the world’s most famous celebrities, but the true power of his images comes from the intimacy of his lens, his ability to see beyond the glamour to reveal the true spirit of the individual.

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Audrey Hepburn

‘Audrey Hepburn, Plays Cricket’, South of France, 1966. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

portrait of men laughing

‘Peter Sellers and Roger Moore’, Beverly Hills, 1970s. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

Born in Romford, Essex, O’Neill’s family intended him to join the Catholic priesthood, but he ended up leaving school at 15 to play drums in a band, which eventually led him to photography. He trailed behind bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and walked onto film sets in Europe and Hollywood, quickly befriending many of the stars which allowed him access to their private lives and resulted in long-lasting relationships. He photographed David Bowie over a twenty year period, capturing his artistic evolution from Space Oddity singer to Ziggy Stardust to Thin White Duke, Muhammad Ali relaxing in an arm chair reading a paper, Richard Burton wearing a shower cap in the bath, Brigitte Bardot posing with a cigar between her teeth and Audrey Hepburn playing cricket on the lawn in the South of France amongst many others.

Read more: 3 fine dining recipes by Le Clarence head chef Christophe Pelé

woman smoking cigar

‘Brigitte Bardot’, Spain, 1971. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

black and white portrait man and woman

‘Jean Shrimpton and Terence Stamp,’ London, 1964. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

The first retrospective of the British photographer’s work (he died in 2019) Every Picture Tells a Story at Maddox Gallery in Gstaad brings together a collection of these candid, photojournalistic portraits, revealing both how O’Neill pioneered the concept of behind-the-scenes reportage and captured the essence of a bygone era.

‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ runs until 29 August at Maddox Gallery, Gstaad, Switzerland. For more information visit: maddoxgallery.co.uk

 

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Render of apartment
Render of apartment

One of the luxury apartments in the Arve building with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape

Two new apartment buildings in the Swiss village of Andermatt offer the calm and luxury of contemporary Alpine living. LUX speaks to the architects behind the designs

The historic village of Andermatt is fast becoming one of Switzerland’s most desirable year-round destinations offering a variety of winter and summer sports, activities, dining options, and accommodation. Located in the village’s car-free area known as Andermatt Reuss, Arve and Enzian are the development’s latest apartment buildings, designed to harmonise with the traditional alpine setting whilst catering to a contemporary luxury lifestyle.

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Designed by CAS Architects, the Arve building comprises 17 apartments with spectacular views of the village and surrounding mountains whilst the Enzian building comprises 12 apartments designed by Swiss architecture firm Schmid Generalunternehmung. Here, Michael Häfliger of CAS Architects and Men Vital of Schmid Generalunternehmung talk us through the design concepts for each property.

What inspired the design intent for Arve and Enzian, and what differentiates the two properties?

Michael Häfliger: In the design for Arve alpine tradition meets contemporary with clear forms and natural charisma. We have combined cosy ambience, warmth and rustic security with the need for high comfort. 
These exclusive apartments are as dignified and enduring as the Swiss pine trees after which the building was named (Arve is the German name for the Swiss pine). Much like the noblest tree in the mountain landscape, the Arve Chalet Apartments offer spectacular views of the world below.

Read more: Three top gallerists on how the art world is changing

Men Vital: The Enzian Alpine Apartments are styled on modern Alpine villas. We wanted each apartment to provide the ideal place to sit back and unwind after an active day in Andermatt, with an atmosphere as calming as the Alpine herb after which the building is named (Enzian is German for “gentian”). Some of the apartments feature a fireplace and sauna, and some boast a private roof terrace or a garden terrace on the raised ground level. The private gardens are raised above the level of the adjacent paths, allowing residents to relax in privacy whilst the interiors are designed to fit all the needs of a peaceful Alpine lifestyle.

detail interior shot

Arve’s apartments combine alpine tradition with contemporary furnishings

How much of a consideration was the resort’s heritage and commitment to sustainability?

Michael Häfliger: When developing the design for Arve, we greatly considered the inclusion of the local conditions and the extraction of the resort’s identity by creating features as important prerequisites during the planning. The urban structure of the central zone of Andermatt does not follow an orthogonal grid and does not show any symmetry. Crystalline building forms, narrow and wide alleys merge into an urban density and create spatial tensions. We have taken up and adapted this atmosphere with the building structure. The interior of the building does not follow a grid either and arranges the apartments in a free structure whilst the external appearance takes up elements that are typical for the location, such as bay windows, stone plinths or wooden facades, and translates them into a contemporary form.

CAS Architects have been committed to sustainability in its mission statement for years. Conscious use of resources is a matter of course for us and has also led to efficient processes and procedures at Arve. The building materials and construction materials were procured as far as possible in the Ursern valley and the landscaping consists exclusively of local plants. Arve also meets all the criteria of the Minergie standard and is certified accordingly. High-quality external insulation and a ventilated wood cladding façade underline the sustainable energy concept.

interiors of an apartment

luxury apartment interior

Here and above: Enzian apartments feature luxurious interiors with unique detailing such as parquet flooring

Men Vital: The design of the Enzian building took the specifications from the architectural competition into account and buildings will be constructed to the Minergie standard with controlled ventilation. Mineral-insulated rock wool has been used for the façades, which is a high-quality, non-combustible material with a high sound insulation value. The use of fibre concrete is similar in quality to natural stone and the flat roof is extensively greened, which increases the outflow of water and helps to create a better ambient climate.

Can you talk us through some of the materials that were used for the interiors?

Michael Häfliger: High quality and timelessness underline the Alpine character and so precious and durable materials such as wood, natural stone, glass and steel dominate the design of Arve.

Read more: Meet the winners of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s awards

Men Vital: Durability and quality were taken into account when selecting materials. For example, we used parquet flooring and wet room panels with an oriental-style design.

open plan apartment

The open-plan living space in one of Arve’s apartments

How do the designs fit into the larger Andermatt Swiss Alps development?

Michael Häfliger: With Arve, the Alpine tradition of Andermatt is continued, and the chalet style is interpreted in a modern, self-confident way. The exclusive apartment building is strongly reminiscent of the character of the Arve; it takes up the sublimity and tranquility of the pine tree and creates a clear reference to the surroundings. The house has an unusual form that creates exciting exterior and interior spaces.

Men Vital: Enzian house is distinguished by its cubic architecture with a frescoed roof, bay window, loggias, and plinth. This is further emphasised by the window partitions in sandstone look, which are reminiscent of a traditional patrician house. It sets an extraordinary accent within the Andermatt Reuss area of the resort due to its architectural form and its lower height compared to the neighbouring properties. In terms of colour, the house is based on the wider surroundings; it is like a rock covered with lichen.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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Luxury lakeside hotel
Luxury lakeside hotel

Badrutt’s Palace overlooking Lake St Moritz

St Moritz is well known as the winter playground of Europe’s rich and aristocratic. But don’t dismiss the resort, and especially its venerable and truly grand hotel Badrutt’s Palace, as a summer destination

One single word: Badrutt’s. Among a certain crowd, it conjures up associations: dancing in King’s Club after a long day’s skiing and après-skiing; bumping into billionaires in their Moncler in the wood-panelled corridors; and probably the most desirable (in a conventional way) New Year’s Eve gala in the world. (It may also whip up associations of bedrooms looking out over the frozen lake, though that would mean you don’t actually own a place of your own to winter in St Moritz – tsk.)

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But there’s another Badrutt’s, in another St Moritz. They may be geographically identical, but the summertime town, and Palace, are a different world, and perhaps not yet as well discovered.

Our suite (declaration: we don’t own a place in St Moritz) opened out onto a balcony terrace on which we strolled on the first night, gazing across the lake, up to the mountains beyond, and along the broad Engadine valley in both directions. In summer on the mountains, myriad textures and colours replace winter’s uniform white and brown of snow and rock. A deep-green forest around the grey-blue lake; emerald meadows; high pasture the colour of a dying weeping willow; peak rockscapes in black and grey, slashed by snow, still there from the wintertime blizzards, high up. All looking back at us on our balcony.

luxury hotel room

One of the hotel’s Village Deluxe rooms

Unlike some self-proclaimed palace hotels, Badrutt’s really does feel like a palace. The grand state rooms are places to stroll through in your most formal clothes (you can wander around in hiking gear, but somehow it doesn’t feel right) and in Le Restaurant, the grand dining room, you need to dress formally to match the ambience.

And what an ambience; here it seems you are walking past le tout of Europe’s old aristocracy. The lady at the corner table wearing a gown at breakfast reading the international New York Times every morning; that cluster of teenagers who look like the Romanovs; the artist wearing a smart deep-blue blazer who doesn’t just look like X; he is X. (We wouldn’t name names.)

Read more: Fashion superstar Giorgio Armani on his global empire

And there’s much more to the dining experience than that. We spent one delightful evening in Chesa Veglia, an old house across the street that has been converted into possibly the world’s most upmarket pizzeria (they sometimes allow children to make their own pizzas here, but we’re not supposed to say that). This is relaxed Palace, informal Palace, Palace with its hair down, wearing an Italian-stallion leather bracelet, drinking Ornellaia by the gallon. The food is perfect pizza, and the staff seem to be having as much fun as the guests.

yachting on a lake

Sailing on the lake in the hotel’s yacht

St Moritz in summer is more influenced by the weather of the Mediterranean than northern Europe, so long sunny days are likely; on the one day of cloud we had in our week, we escaped into the vast indoor pool area, which has its own rock mountain off which kids can dive. The deep-tissue massages are as thorough as you would expect a mountain spa to offer.

There are rumours of more developments soon, including a Badrutt’s chalet in the mountains to escape to. Watch this space, or better still, just go.

Darius Sanai

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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glacial alpine lake
glacial alpine lake

The Göscheneralpsee reservoir west of Andermatt is fed by the Dammastock glaciers.

Climate change is creating challenges for mountain resorts the world over. In Switzerland, a new luxury resort is leading the way in incorporating ecologically sound design into every aspect of their development. Jenny Southan discovers the innovations and advances being made in Andermatt

We all know that climate change is a problem, but for ski resorts, which rely on consistently sufficient snowfall, the challenge is particularly pressing – as snow, especially at lower altitudes, decreases, many will be forced to shut down (hundreds have already been abandoned across the Alps). And as the number of ‘snow-certain’ destinations dwindle, there is the added problem that by 2050, half of Switzerland’s 4,000 glaciers are forecast to have disappeared.

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However, the good news is that humans are incredibly innovative, and if serious steps are taken now to combat carbon emissions, the negative effects of climate change could be mitigated. Leading the way in Switzerland is the Andermatt Swiss Alps (ASA) development project, which is one of just a small handful of resorts that is taking serious steps to up its eco credentials and ensure its longevity as an outpost for winter sports.

Stefan Kern, head of PR and communications for ASA, says: “The project is heavily dedicated to sustainability. This is a core value of all our activities – from energy consumption to construction and gastronomy. We are proud to be on the way to being a fully carbon-neutral holiday destination.”

Alpine views

Looking down into the Ursern valley from Schneehüenerstock. Image by Valentin Luthiger

Demonstrating its commitment to the cause, ASA teamed up last year with the Swiss branch of American NGO Protect Our Winters (POW), which is helping it to devise sweeping, longterm initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, as well as consumption of single-use plastic (none is sold at resort sites). At the beginning of 2020, ASA also launched Andermatt Responsible, a platform that “looks at the whole company’s footprint from heating to energy to water,” as Nicholas Bornstein, head and founder of POW Switzerland, explains.

Read more: Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos on the poetry of jewellery

A political scientist with a Ph.D in Swiss environmental policy, there are few people better equipped than Bornstein to discuss combatting climate change in mountainous regions. He says that POW “allows me to combine my love of the outdoors with meaningful action”. He explains that his organisation works to “mobilise our community to implement climate change protection measures” via groups of local activists, professional athletes, companies and mountain guides, who act as ambassadors.

Alpine golf course

The Andermatt golf course. Image by Martin Wabel/Bildsektor.

How is climate change affecting Alpine ski resorts? In addition to making ski seasons shorter, Bornstein says: “The snow line has risen approximately 300 metres in the past 40 years, and is predicted to go up a further 500 to 700 metres by the end of the century, and this is putting a lot of ski resorts out of business.”

He also notes that conditions are becoming more dangerous. “We have seen avalanches in mid-winter of the kind that we would expect in April and May. They are becoming harder to predict.” Why? If the ground isn’t cold enough when it starts snowing, an insulating layer is created by the snow where heat is trapped and snow can slide off more easily. “We call these ‘fish mouth’ avalanches,” says Bornstein.

Read more: Jason deCaires Taylor on underwater art & ocean conservation

ASA has identified key contributors and is taking steps to reduce their impact. Bornstein says that approximately 50 to 70 per cent of CO2 emissions in Andermatt are from people coming to the resort by car so they are putting on extra trains from Zurich at weekends, offering discounted ski passes for people who don’t drive (driving in general here is restricted and there is a good bus system for those who don’t want to walk, including an electric bus). Andermatt Reuss is for pedestrians only.

Alpine village ski lift

Andermatt seen from the Gütsch ski lift

Food production and logistics are also big polluters, especially in Switzerland which imports a lot of goods. Bornstein says that POW has been working with restaurants in ASA to
put a more regional and vegetarian cuisine on menus. Andermatt’s gourmet restaurants are also reducing the amount of plastic-wrapped ingredients they buy.

Even more impressive is the fact that the entire SkiArena of Andermatt (from homes to ski lifts) is 100 per cent powered by hydroelectric and wind-powered energy supplied by Ursern electricity works, which exclusively serves the Gotthard region. (On the Graubünden side of Andermatt, Energia Alpina also provides 100 per cent renewable energy.) Not only that but all the buildings are heated in a totally carbon-neutral way through the burning of locally sourced wood pellets and surplus heat captured from Swiss army computers buried deep in secret bases in nearby mountains.

Read more: How Gaggenau is innovating the ancient art of steam cooking

“People want to see companies stepping up to the challenge and we believe it is going to become more important to position yourself with a ski resort that cares about the future of the environment,” says Bornstein. Even during the summer when people play golf surrounded by green meadows, ASA has ensured that its 20-plus species of birds have plenty of areas to nest around the course – in fact, there are more birds here today than there were before the course was built, demonstrating that being responsible can benefit both nature and mankind.

RING IN THE NEW

architectural render

Arve Chalet Apartments

Arve Chalet Apartments
Arve is a five-floor block of 17 residences (73–116 sq m in size), each with open-plan living and dining spaces, and window seats offering views of the mountains.

Alpine apartment with mountain views

Enzian Alpine Apartments

Enzian Alpine Apartments
Enzian  is a modern, three-floor Alpine villa housing 12 apartments measuring from 62 sq m to 136 sq m. Some come with saunas, private roof terraces and gardens.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Artist working in his studio vintage photograph
Artist working in his studio vintage photograph

Picasso and ceramic (owl) by David Douglas Duncan (Spring 1957), Villa La Californie, Cannes © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate David Douglas Duncan

For a special exhibition at Vieux Chalet in Gstaad, Hauser & Wirth brings together ceramics and paintings by Picasso alongside a series of portrait photographs by David Duncan Douglas to provide a fascinating exploration of creativity, intimacy and space.

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Duncan himself was a renowned war photographer and photojournalist, who first encountered Picasso in 1956 when he  infamously rang the doorbell of La Californie, the artist’s home in Cannes. At the time, Picasso was in the bathtub and allowed Duncan to photograph him right then and there, leading onto a lasting friendship which granted the photographer unprecedented access into the artist’s creative processes. Over the course of seventeen years, Duncan took approximately 25,000 images of Picasso, documenting not just Picasso himself, but also his family and friends.

Father and son playing wrestling

Battle between Claude and his father wearing Gary Cooper’s cowboy hat by David Douglas Duncan, July 1957, Villa La Californie, Cannes © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate David Douglas Duncan

Painter and a painted portrait of a woman

Pablo Picasso with the portrait Jacqueline à l’écharpe noire (1954) by David Douglas Duncan, 1957, Villa La Californie, Cannes © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate David Douglas Duncan

Duncan’s photographs and Picasso’s artworks are displayed side by side throughout the domestic spaces of the chalet, emphasising the intimacy of the photographic perspective as well as the connection between the two distinct artistic mediums. In some of the images, Picasso is seen actively engaging with the lens whilst others are more candid, showing the artist amongst his easels, books, brushes and paints.

Read more: How Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar aims to inspire change

Ceramic vase painted with man's bearded head

Bearded man’s head (1948) by Pablo Picasso © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019Courtesy Succession Picasso

The artist’s ceramics are amongst the most captivating works on display, as everyday objects such as bowls and vases are transformed into animal-like creatures through warped swollen shapes and dynamic painted lines. Seen alongside Duncan’s photographs, Picasso’s creative energy becomes even more palpable as does the friendship between the two artists caught in subtle gestures and glances.

‘Picasso Through the Lens of David Douglas Duncan’ runs until 28 February 2020 at Le Vieux Chalet in Gstaad. For more information visit: hauserwirth.com/hauser-wirth-exhibitions/26682-pablo-picasso-lens-david-douglas-duncan

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High altitude restaurants on ski slopes
High altitude restaurants on ski slopes

The new building housing the restaurant, and its modern Swiss interior

Two of Europe’s highest restaurants have opened amid contemporary chic architecture, high above Andermatt, Switzerland

Hold onto your chopsticks. A pair of new high altitude dining outposts is open 2,300m above sea level, on top of a ski slope in the heart of Switzerland. Far from being a place for humble beer and fondue, Andermatt Swiss Alps (ASA) has brought high-level dining of another kind to the slopes by opening a pair of destination gourmet restaurants with the aim of being among the most celebrated in the Alps.

Overlooking the peaceful village of Andermatt and facing the famous Gemsstock ski mountain, they are located in a newly constructed timber building. Designed by London’s Studio Seilern Architects, the structure was pre-fabricated off-site and then lifted into place by crane, ready for its stone façade to be put in place.

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Following the success of The Chedi Andermatt’s Michelin-starred The Japanese Restaurant, a second branch has opened on the Gütsch within Studio Seilern’s building in December 2019. Complete with feature fireplaces and views of the Gotthard mountains, The Japanese by The Chedi Andermatt has 44 seats inside and 45 outside on the terrace, where diners can feast al fresco on sea scallop sashimi and Kombu-Jime mountain trout on a south-facing, high altitude sun-trap. Headed up by executive chef Dietmar Sawyere, there are high hopes that this restaurant, too, can win a Michelin star. “We don’t carry it over,” says Sawyere. “But we will certainly be the highest Japanese restaurant in Europe.”

Kitchen team and chef standing outside window

Chef Markus Neff with the team running Gütsch (at centre wearing black) and at work (below)

Chef in the kitchen

The Japanese is alongside a second restaurant called Gütsch by Markus Neff, on the ground floor of the new landmark in contemporary architecture. Welcoming skiers for lunch in the day and guests for private parties in the evening, the venue seats 66 people indoors and another 145 outdoors across two terraces. Neff is running it with a team of three other people who also worked with him at the Fletschhorn in Saas-Fee near Zermatt, which was awarded 18 Gault&Millau points until 2018. So, it’s in good hands.

“We want to make a restaurant that is unlike any of the others around here – something special, something new,” Neff says. “You won’t see sausage and rosti here, for example. It is not a mountain hut where people eat in 15 or 20 minutes. We’re a high-class, fine-dining Swiss-French restaurant where we make it all from scratch, from handmade pasta to bread. People will come for three or four courses chosen from our à-la-carte menu.” Gütsch is building on the concept of mountain-top restaurant Spielboden in Saas-Fee, where Neff and his team also worked.

Luxurious restaurant interiors alpine

Gütsch offers a Swiss-French fine dining experience

Pastry on a wooden board

Gütsch offers a Swiss-French fine dining experience

Unlike traditional Swiss lodges and cabins, Studio Seilern’s new project is something far more cutting edge and ambitious. Christina Seilern, principle of the firm, says: “Due to the extreme weather conditions in winter, there was only a short time frame that allowed for construction. For this reason, it had to be built in two summers.” Seilern says that it was also a challenge to create a design that catered for two different restaurants. Inspiration came from the idea of a Swiss hamlet, known as a hameau, “where a collection of smaller buildings creates a harmonious whole”, says Seilern. Inside, there are exposed timber beams and wood panelling, while The Japanese also has an open kitchen and sushi bar.

Read more: Francis Alÿs receives Whitechapel Gallery’s Art Icon Prize 2020

What can visitors eat when they visit The Japanese? It isn’t all raw fish. Chef Sawyere explains that people forget that Japan is a mountainous country that has a lot of snow, especially in the north, so their cuisine, which is distinctly seasonal, reflects this. “They have very hearty, warm, winter dishes, too”, he says. As a multi-course kaiseki restaurant, its diners can sample four to 12 courses, but for those who don’t want to take so long eating, there are also bento boxes that hold six to eight small dishes. Sawyere says: “There might be a couple of pieces of sushi, a piece of tempura, a braised dish, a sashimi dish and a grill. I think it will be popular.”

Chef in the kitchen of a sushi restaurant

Chef Dietmar Sawyere preparing a dish at The Japanese restaurant

Plate of sushi and soy sauce

The restaurant imports its seafood from suppliers in France, Spain and even Australia, while specialist ingredients such as Kobe beef (at £270 a kilo) need to be flown in from Japan, but they have also managed to locate a supplier in Basel that has started farming prawns. “Previously it was impossible to buy fresh prawns in Switzerland,” says Sawyere. He is also excited to be working with a local farmer who is rearing cattle for Japanese-style wagyu beef. “It’s been three years in the making and in February we will have our first taste,” he says.

Sake also plays a big part at The Japanese, benefitting from the fact that The Chedi Andermatt has the largest collection of Japanese rice wine in Switzerland. The mountain restaurant has 60 to 70 different labels on the menu – and there is even a sake glühwein (mulled wine), which makes a warming welcome for people when coming in out of the cold.

Read more: Luxury in the wilderness at SUJÁN Sher Bagh, Rajasthan, India

Thanks to developer ASA’s unprecedented transformation of the village, Andermatt has become a desirable place to visit the whole year round. Not only does it have incredible hotels such as the five-star The Chedi Andermatt but also an 18-hole, Scottish-style golf course, and the SkiArena, which is the largest and most up-to-date ski area in Central Switzerland, with 180km of pistes stretching as far as Sedrun and Disentis in the next canton. Just 90 minutes’ drive from Zurich and just over two hours from Milan, each of the buildings in ASA’s development has been designed by a top architect, thus creating a consistently beautiful resort that looks particularly magical under snow. And now, visitors can have a dining experience in the sky to match the very best in any Alpine valley or European resort.

Architectural render of alpine house

Renders of new apartment blocks Enzian (here) and Arve (below, left) to be built in Andermatt

Rare new properties for sale

Architectural renderIn 2020, the building of two new residential properties will commence for those who are looking to own in Andermatt Reuss, located between Andermatt’s Alpine golf course and the village. Apartment House Enzian has 12 high-spec apartments (from 62 to 136sq m), some featuring fireplaces and saunas, as well as private roof terraces and gardens. Apartment House Arve has 17 apartments for sale, in a building clad with horizontal wooden boards reminiscent of traditional chalets. Inside there will be common areas for skis and bikes, as well as stylish open-plan homes looking out over the mountains. All are eligible for foreign ownership.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

Jenny Southan

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue

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Reading time: 6 min
Contemporary building sitting on ski slope
Contemporary building sitting on ski slope

The new building at Gütsch-Express mountain station in Andermatt, designed by London architect Christina Seilern. Image by Roland Halbe.

Last weekend saw the opening of two new restaurant concepts at the Gütsch-Express mountain station in the Swiss ski resort of Andermatt. LUX discovers

Perched at the 2,300 metre-high Gütsch-Express mountain station in Andermatt is a sleek building home to two new fine dining concepts: The Japanese by the Chedi Andermatt and Gütsch by Markus Neff. Designed by London architect Christina Seilern, the building provides two distinct spaces for each restaurant, with panoramic views through floor to ceiling windows and spacious terraces for alfresco dining.

Ski lift station and contemporary building

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The Japanese by the Chedi Andermatt is the more intimate of the two, only seating 44 people inside with additional seating outside. The menu features the likes of shidashi bentō, omakase and kaiseke meals, as well as sushi and tempura specialities.

Interiors of a small restaurant with a fire

Here: The Japanese by The Chedi Andermatt. Below: A selection of the dishes on the menu. Image by Roland Halbe

Plates of Japanese food laid on a table

Read more: An evening of contemporary art and fine dining with Gaggenau

Meanwhile, Gütsch by Markus Neff offers a more traditional alpine ambience with a large, bright dining space, two terraces and a menu focusing on fresh, local produce. Reservations are a must for both.

Alpine restaurant with tables laid for lunch

Gütsch by Markus Neff focuses on fresh, local produce

For more information visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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Panoramic image of alpine scene
Panoramic image of alpine scene

Crans-Montana sits on a high shelf above the Rhône valley with panoramic views of the Alpine peaks. Image by Denis Emery

Looking for the perfect early-season ski break? Crans-Montana has it all, from sunny slopes to spectacular views across the Swiss Alps – and an epicure’s delight of a Christmas market as LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai discovers

Matterhorn; Mont Blanc; Weisshorn; Dent Blanche: for Alpinists these are among the superstar peaks of Europe, rising 4500m or higher above sea level. When you go skiing, you are usually tied to a vista of one or two of these celebrity peaks: think Zermatt and the Matterhorn, or Chamonix and Mont Blanc.

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In this Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, though, you are treated to a panorama of all of them, at once. The resort sits on a high, sunny, tree-lined shelf above the deep Rhône valley which runs from Lake Geneva towards central Switzerland. From the top lift station, Plaine Morte, you have in front of you a vista that encompasses the peaks of every ski resort from Saas-Fee, in the east, via Zermatt and Verbier, to Chamonix, in the west. Even the view from the village itself is exceptional, sweeping across the vineyards of the Rhône valley far below and over towards Italy.

Picturesque snowy alpine village

The ski resort is split into two main villages, Crans and Montana.

The view in itself would be a reason to visit this most established of Swiss resorts, but right now there are numerous others. The resort is split into two main villages, Crans and Montana, a kilometre or so apart on the high shelf. We visited last week when Crans had just opened its annual Etoile Bella Lui festival on its high street. Stemming from a local myth, the festival features more than a dozen restaurateurs (some of them Michelin-starred) setting up shop in wooden huts along the high street, selling one food dish each – ranging from venison burgers to foie gras, via the most delicious fillet steak/balsamic glaze/garlic chip and truffle brochettes we have ever had.

Christmas food stalls in Alpine village

Alpine festival with food stalls

The Etoile Bella Lui festival in Crans sees restaurateurs set up shop with wooden huts along the high-street

The stalls each also sell a pair of local wines by the glass. And you can dismiss your memories of gauche Alpine vino right now: the vineyards in the valley below Sion make some of Europe’s most celebrated “small producer” wines, from white grapes such as Petite Arvine and Heida, and rounded Pinot Noir based reds. Our favourite is Cornalin, a Swiss red grape variety; we were served an example suffused with spicy, plummy zinginess at one of the stalls and couldn’t bear to leave. These are wines to match the Michelin-starred food huts.

Read more: Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar opens in Monte-Carlo

Glowing ferris wheel in Alpine setting

Rides on the Ferris wheel boast 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape

Below the high street is the Lantern walk, an enchanting night-lit path illuminating the story of they local legend, and a Christmas market with a Ferris wheel with a difference: ride to the top, and you have an enhanced 360 degree view of the valley below, mountains beyond, the lakes around Crans, and the ski pistes above.

Skiier on a slope down into the valley

One of the resort’s spectacular red runs: the 4500m high Weisshorn is the razor-edge peak directly under the sun

Ah, and the skiing. The snow fell big last week, with more (hopefully) scheduled for next week. Crans-Montana is one of Switzerland’s most established ski areas, although it is better known among the Swiss and French than the international crowd that visits nearby resorts like Verbier or Gstaad. The runs are mainly a mixture of reds and blacks, and they are a delight: long, winding, interesting, starting at nearly 3000m and dropping down to resort level at 1500m, through a variety of landscapes from glacial rockscapes where mountain goats balance precariously on rock towers above you, to wide, sunny runs through the woods. The whole mountain is south facing, making ideal for now, when any sun is a welcome respite from winter temperatures. And everywhere, you have the views: from the top station you can see the three highest mountains wholly inside Switzerland (Dom, Taschhorn and Weisshorn, since you asked), the highest mountain in Europe (Mont Blanc) and the most famous (Matterhorn), all towering across distant valleys. From the village the view is hardly any worse, and there is a feeling of light and space and panorama everywhere you go.

The perfect resort for an early-season ski trip? We think so, and we are going back.

The Etoile Bella Lui festival runs until January 5. For more information visit: crans-montana.ch

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Luxurious rooftop terrace of a hotel suite
Luxury city hotel on the riverside

Mandarin Oriental Geneva sits along the banks of the River Rhône

Mandarin Oriental Geneva is now home to one of the biggest and most luxurious suites in the city

Spanning 325 square metres across the hotel’s top floor, Mandarin Oriental Geneva’s Royal Penthouse is well placed for breath-taking views. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, guests can survey the city and the winding River Rhône with snow-capped mountains looming in the distance.

Spacious luxury bathroom

The master bathroom in the Royal Penthouse Suite

Designed by BUZ Design, the suite is open-plan with a master bedroom, hammam shower, two further en-suite bedrooms and a spacious living room with a fireplace. It also features a sound-proofed entertainment room with the latest audio-visual equipment.

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The interiors take inspiration from seasonal colours; the bedroom reflects spring with bright shades of yellow, whilst the other bedrooms favour a summery palette. The living room is filled with warm, autumnal hues and the cinema room is decorated with cool, winter colours.

Luxury dining room area of a hotel suite

Luxurious living area with silver sofa and curved walls

The suite’s interiors are designed around the seasons

The terrace is one of the suite’s main draws for not just its views, but also for the laid-back ambience created by soft furnishings and flowerbeds.

Luxurious rooftop terrace of a hotel suite

The Royal Penthouse suite terrace boasts spectacular panoramic views

The Royal Penthouse can be converted into a one-bedroom suite or combined with the Royal Suite on the 6th floor, via a connecting private lift, to form the Imperial Residence, a sensational six-bedroom suite offering 577 square metres of luxurious living space.

For more information visit: mandarinoriental.com/geneva/rhone-river/luxury-hotel

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Snowy mountain village of St Mortiz
Snowy mountain village of St Mortiz

The Alpine village of St. Moritz offers more than just an exclusive social scene; the winter sports are first rate too, say Darius Sanai

With snow already falling in the Swiss Alps, LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai looks forward to another first-class ski season in St Mortiz

The first Alpine snowfall of the season has already happened – there is up to 30cm of fresh powder across Switzerland, particularly in the south of the country, due to a weather system recently pushing up from Italy. So naturally our thoughts are turning to St Moritz. Think St Moritz, and you probably think lavish New Year’s Eve parties, long evenings drinking Masseto in friends’ houses, and early evening aperitifs at Pavarotti’s.

It’s easy to overlook the winter sports when you’re so familiar with the social element – and St Moritz has such an engrossing social, cultural and artistic life that you’d be forgiven for never having snapped on a pair of Rossignols while there. Forgiven, but mistaken.

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So here’s a snapshot of what you could, and should, be doing as soon as the lifts open in a few days: it’s our perfect day in St Moritz. We started our day on the slopes at Piz Nair, the top station on the Corviglia mountain, one of three big ski mountains in the area, and the one directly above the village.

It was snowing lightly when we entered the funicular station in St Moritz; we travelled through a layer of thick cloud, fearing a whiteout day, and then, suddenly, we emerged upwards into a blue and white high mountain peaky wonderland.

Cable car on the way up a snowy mountain side

The Signal cable car is the first stage of the journey towards Piz Nair, the peak at the top of Corviglia, the most celebrated of the many ski mountains around St Moritz

At Piz Nair I shuffled over to a snow shelf to look at the view properly. In every direction, triangular peaks were poking out of a soft, uniform blanket of cloud below us. There was no end to the sea of peaks: St Moritz is famous for its “champagne air”, supposedly the purest in the Alps, as it is so well surrounded by high peaks on every side.

Read more: Why now is the time to book into the Bulgari Resort Dubai

The mountain has a superb selection of mainly red runs, suited to good intermediates; we particularly liked the long run all the way from Piz Nair down to Celerina, below St Moritz, which ran through two valleys and finally descended through the trees, with fantastic views of the Piz Bernina mountains, higher than 4000m, opposite. The clouds melted away during the morning, with more panoramas revealing themselves.

fine dining in an alpine restaurant

The White Marmot restaurant with panoramic views of the mountains

And then – lunch. Lunch on the slopes in St Moritz is almost a religion: you are judged by where you go, and where you sit, so here’s some advice: book a table, as soon as you know when you’re going, at White Marmot. This is the restaurant at the Corviglia mountain station, three quarters of the way up the slopes and directly above the town itself. You can easily access White Marmot without skis, by taking the funicular train up, and many people do. Huge picture windows give you an unremitting panorama, and the decor – bare wooden tables fully dressed with huge Riedel wine glasses, 20th century modern design elements, colourful throws, magnums of Dom Perignon sitting on ice – makes White Marmot look like there’s a party going on even before the party has started. The cuisine is beautiful too, varying from Swiss mountain specialities with a contemporary twist to modern Italian haute cuisine.

Luxury alpine hotel within a forest

The Suvretta House is a palace hotel overlooking forests and lakes, with its own ski lift

After lunch, we took a final lift up to Piz Nair to take in the view of what seemed like all of Switzerland again, and headed down, via a series of lifts, to Suvretta House. One of St Moritz’s classic luxury palace hotels, it sits amid a forest on its own ski slope, with its own ski lift. Having skied to the door, we sat in its grand drawing room, looking out over the forest and the valley, sipping on local Pinot Noir, and preparing for the second feast of the day, at Suvretta House’s celebrated Stube restaurant.

The Stube has an informal atmosphere, plenty of Alpine pine, and serves a perfected selection of Swiss, Asian and contemporary American specialities. The chicken wrap is to die for. And all you have to do after dinner is wander up to your room, with a view over the forests and frozen lakes, and prepare for a reprise the next day. Book for early December, and you’ll have fresh snow this year and no crowds.

For more information visit: engadin.ch
Book your stay: suvrettahouse.ch

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Reading time: 4 min
Interiors of a contemporary concert hall
Facade of contemporary building

Andermatt Concert Hall’s glass façade floods the venue with light

In Andermatt, the sound of music soars beautifully from a remarkable newly opened concert hall. Laura Archer discovers how the state-of-the-art venue is helping to mark the Alpine town out as a vibrant year-round cultural destination as well as a luxury skiing resort

Back when he was a student in Berlin, Samih Sawiris, the chairman of Andermatt Swiss Alps, would do anything to get his hands on tickets to the Philharmonie. He often struck lucky, recalling ending up attending “hundreds” of concerts conducted by the legendary Herbert von Karajan. This summer, decades later, the Berlin Philharmonic inaugurated Sawiris’ state-of-the-art Andermatt Concert Hall with a spectacular performance of Mozart and Shostakovich, marking the start of a world-class programme unrivalled in the Alps. For the property developer, whose passion for classical music is evangelical and who first conceived of the project many years ago, it was a particular joy. When the first notes of Mozart’s Symphony No.34 swirled around the light-filled hall, with forested mountains almost poking through the windows, Sawiris tells LUX, “It was a dream come true. Like many of my dreams, this one entailed long and hard work, but it doubled the pleasure to see the Berlin Philharmonic finally here.”

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While in the past Andermatt has struggled to escape from the shadows of its glitzier Alpine cousins – Gstaad and St. Moritz among them – it is now emerging as a glamorous destination in its own right, thanks to an impressive investment programme designed to transform the village into a year-round destination where superb skiing is just one of the many strings in its bow. At the heart of this development is the 650-seat Andermatt Concert Hall, masterminded by London-based Studio Seilern Architects.

Interiors of a contemporary concert hall

Studio Seilern Architects took every opportunity to add light to the Concert Hall’s design.

Orchestra playing in contemporary concert hall

The Berlin Philharmonic played the venue’s first concert in June this year

Founder-director Christina Seilern lived in Switzerland until she was 18 and sees the place as something of a second home. This project proved irresistible, giving her a chance to showcase her architectural prowess within an environment she loves. “It brought me back to my roots,” she says. “Given that I grew up in the mountains, it felt appropriate to connect the dramatic landscape to the music within the hall.”

Read more: Meet the Renaissance entrepreneur Kevin Xu

Stairwell interior of contemporary building flooded with light

She has done so in spectacular style, working with an existing underground concrete bunker originally intended to be a conference venue and literally raising the roof, adding a glass façade to create a soaring atrium that floods the concert space below with daylight and opens it up to stunning mountain views. In winter, audiences might find themselves listening to music while watching snow swirl outside, while in summer the green alpine pastures provide a similarly inspiring backdrop. The hall’s bijou size, with incredible acoustics courtesy of Kahle Acoustics and Ducks Scéno (the teams behind the Philharmonie de Paris) creates a sensory experience like no other in the Alps. “It felt like having the orchestra in my living room,” says Seilern of the opening performance. “The intimacy between orchestra and audience was palpable. It was completely electrifying.”

At street level, the clever design means passers-by can also see into the concert hall and enjoy the spectacle, further cementing Sawiris’ vision that classical music is for everyone.

The Andermatt Autumn Music Festival, a satellite of the Lucerne Festival, starts on 24 October 2019 andermatt-swissalps.ch

Luxurious contemporary interiors of an apartment

 

Luxury terrace of an apartment

Gotthard Lofts (here and above)

Stay in style

With so much to see and do in Andermatt, you’ll want to return time and again. And after a long day on the slopes, on the golf course, or hiking, cycling or touring, it’s nice to relax in the comfort of your own home. Gotthard Lofts, a new development of 10 spacious loft-style apartments on the sixth floor of the Radisson Blu hotel, offers your own private space with all the benefits of the hotel’s facilities, including private access to the 25-metre panoramic pool, spa and the concert hall itself. Inside, large balconies make the most of the surrounding scenery, while light woods and neutral tones evoke a modern Alpine spirit. Cook for family and friends one night; dine in the hotel restaurant the next – the flexibility and choice are what make Gotthard Lofts so appealing. Buyers receive a special exception from stringent Swiss property laws about foreign ownership, and receive a host of benefits including a three- year ski pass and the option to rent it out when you’re not there. It’s the smart way to make the most of your precious holiday time.

From CHF 990,000. For more information visit: gotthard-residences.ch

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Polo players mid match with sticks raised
Polo pitch with mountains in the background
This weekend Hublot’s high altitude polo tournament returns to the Swiss resort of Gstaad

Gstaad annually plays host to the world’s ‘highest’ polo tournament, Hublot’s prestigious Polo Gold Cup in which four world-class teams battle it out for the winning prize of Hublot’s Big Bang Steel Ceramic watches. This year will see Clinique La Prairie, Gstaad Palace and Hublot‘s teams try to overthrow last year’s victorious captain Cédric Schweri (the Swiss restaurateur) and his Banque Eric Sturdza team who have been unbeatable since 2017.

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Meanwhile, spectators will celebrate in style sipping at glasses of champagne or bottles of bottom-fermented Swiss beer against the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps. For VIPs, there’s the Gala Night dinner, and exclusive closing lunch, followed by the finale and an afternoon prize-giving ceremony hosted by LVMH watches CEO (and LUX columnist) Jean-Claude Biver.

All photography by Kathrin Gralla at the 2018 tournament

The Hublot Polo Gold Cup runs from 22 -25 August 2019. For more information visit: polo-gstaad.ch

Two polo ponies being held by a groom

 

Two polo players in conversation on their ponies

Polo players mid match with sticks raised

Polo player with his hat raised

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City of zermatt with the matterhorn mountain in the distance
City of zermatt with the matterhorn mountain in the distance

Zermatt in summer with the Matterhorn in the distance. Image by Lorenzo Riva. Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism

Summertime in the Alps is exhilarating and inspiring. The sun (usually) shines, the air is clear, temperatures aren’t too sweltering and you are surrounded by lush pastures and high peaks. The cuisine is varied and uses an array of local ingredients: Alpine herbs, vegetables and fruit, local meats and cheeses. Here, we select six of the best places to enjoy mountain cuisine and sweeping vistas

1. Restaurant Findlerhof, Zermatt

Findeln is an ancient hamlet of dark wooden huts, on a mountainside high above the resort of Zermatt, just above the treeline. On the extensive terrace of the Findlerhof, you have a view across the forests to the magnificent Matterhorn, and you are surrounded by the sounds (grasshoppers, bees), sights (butterflies, wild flowers) and smells of the Alpine high pasture in summer.

Must try: All the food is high-class, simple Alpine quality, but the chocolate fondant is worth the journey in itself.

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2. Hotel Walther, Pontresina

This grand hotel at the end of the pretty high street in Pontresina, across the valley from St Moritz, has a grand dining room that is both grandiose and fun. A modern take on a traditional Alpine palace, it has an engaging holiday dinner ambience and superb wine list.

Must try: the traditional Swiss speciality of veal cooked sous-vide with roesti potatoes and local vegetables.

Interiors of a grand restaurant

Hotel Walther, Pontresina

Plate of food with lettuce garnish

Swiss speciality of roesti, potatoes cooked with bacon and herbs

3. Berghaus Wispile, Gstaad

Wispile is the big, forested green hill that rises above Gstaad, and in summer the restaurant at the top is transformed from a ski lodge to a family-friendly casual diner and farm with petting zoo, with beautiful views over the surrounding region. Kids can be taken on personalised goat petting tours by the local farmer in the neighbouring pasture; some regular human kid visitors have grown up with the kid goat residents over the years.

Must try: the special of the day, often local sausages with a rich gravy and vegetables

Chalet style restaurant pictured in the alps at summertime

Berghaus Wispile in Gstaad

Read more: Geoffrey Kent on the influence of top-earning millennials

4. Avenue Montaigne, Hotel Park Gstaad

Contemporary Swiss chic abounds at the Montaigne, which brings a touch of Paris to Gstaad. This is a place for a long, relaxed dinner, followed by a cigar in the cigar lounge, over cocktails, blending city sophistication with Alpine feel.

Must try: The Swiss quinoa tabbouleh, combining parsley, goji berries, tomato and avocado.

luxury rustic interiors of an alpine restaurant with an open fire

Avenue Montaigne at Hotel Park Gstaad

5. Fuorcla Surlej, St Moritz

The wildest type of mountain hut, Fuorcla Surlej sits atop a mountain pass accessible only by foot, above St Moritz. To one side is a lake and a view over the glaciers, to the other is the deep valley of the Engadine. Hardy mountain food is served here, amid stunning views, on a basic terrace.

Must try: Whatever’s on offer that day – the kitchen makes it up according to the ingredients they can get.

Couple eating by the mountainside

Fuorcla Surlej in St Moritz. Image by Christof Sonderegger. Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism

6. Hornli Hut, Zermatt

Matterhorn mountain

Matterhorn viewed from the Hörnli hut. Image by Isabella Sanai

The Hörnli hut is the base camp for the Matterhorn; climbers arrive the afternoon before their climb, are subject to a strict curfew, and awaken well before dawn to start an ascent that some never return from. Ordinary people can also visit for lunch: it involves a rather vertiginous two-hour climb from the top lift station at Schwarzsee, but no actual climbing. After lunch, walk five minutes up from the hut to the point at which the wall of the Matterhorn starts: a vertical piece of rock with fixed ropes. The views are literally breathtaking. Not a place for the fainthearted.

Must try: The surprisingly excellent (for a place accessible only on foot) pasta al ragu, with rich local ingredients.

Discover more: myswitzerland.com

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Reading time: 3 min
Two men sniffing a glass of white wine in a restaurant
Two men sniffing a glass of white wine in a restaurant

Sommelier Marc Almert (right) perfume training

Marc Almert was recently named Best Sommelier in the World at the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) championships in Antwerp. Originally from Cologne, the 27-year-old is currently the Head Sommelier at luxury hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich. Here, he gives us an insight into the work and passions of a top sommelier 

Young man wearing a shirt standing in front of an orange wall

Marc Almert

1. Where did your passion for wine come from?

What initially got me interested into wines was a question. I started training as a hotel specialist in my home city of Cologne and I wasn’t drinking any alcohol at the time, because I did not like it. During my training, I noticed I liked some wines and some spirits, however only on certain occasions or paired with certain foods. This intrigued me, and I wanted to understand why certain wines and beverages differ so greatly. And by asking questions and diving deeper into the topic the passion was aroused.

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2. What is more important for a great sommelier: knowledge of wine, or the ability to deal with customers?

A mix of several features makes a good sommelier. Of course, a profound knowledge of wine and other beverages is crucial. However, having an encyclopaedic knowledge and not being able to apply can be done by books to. A sommelier is a host, entertainer, coach and of course also a waiter – he or she needs to adapt to different kind of guests and their needs and tastes within mere seconds and then ensure they have a great experience throughout the entire evening.

Young man standing in front of a black wall at the Gaggenau sommelier awards

Marc Almert was also the winner of the prestigious Gaggenau Sommelier Awards in 2016

3. What is the most pleasurable part of your job? And the most frustrating?

As a sommelier you should be intimately familiar with most wine growing regions, with their geographic features, their cities, their people, their food, language and of course their wines. This is a most pleasurable and informative way to learn. Taking these new learning points back to your team and then sharing them in trainings with the Baur au Lac staff but even more so with curious guests in the restaurant is one of the most satisfying parts of my job; enhancing the guest experience at the Pavillon [restaurant] by being the vintners’ ambassador.

Wine is a natural product. Many wines are also sealed with a natural product: cork. It is often disappointing when a lot of work has gone into a great bottle of wine on behalf of the vintner, it has been stored in perfect conditions over years or even decades, the guests and myself are excited to open and try it – and then it’s tainted by its cork. That can be quite frustrating, hence I am very happy for the cork industry to keep minimising this problem with new technologies and developments.

4. Are the world’s great wines worth the price?

What do you expect from a bottle of wine you buy or open? Essentially to me it is this question that defines its worth. If it is from a legendary winemaker, a highly rated vintage and a coveted provenance, which has made it quite rare, it can well be worth its price. The price of such bottles does not necessarily reflect the mere production costs, but much more the special moments they create when sharing such a bottle amongst fellow wine lovers, the memories they bring back to trips, countries or even challenging years of history. And of course, then pairing it with intriguing food, such as from our two star chef Laurent Eperon.

Read more: Savills’ selection of luxury chalets in St. Mortiz

5. How has your job changed with the rise of wine bloggers and comparison sites?

The wine world has become a lot more transparent. This has especially led to trends evolving much faster, and quickly becoming more global than it used to be. Due to many crowd sourced comparison sites the industry has also become a little more democratic in its ratings. Furthermore, we see more and more guests coming to the restaurant that are very well informed about the wine world in general and current trends and upcoming winemakers and regions in particular.

6. You are allowed to drink only one wine (or champagne) for the rest of your life. What is it?

For a sommelier it is almost impossible to choose one single wine. If I had to though, it would probably be a well matured Riesling Kabinett from the Mosel. These wines have a great structure and depth to them, vibrant acidity, low alcohol and just the right amount of sweetness – an eternal pleasure.

For more information visit: aupavillon.ch/en/marcalmert.html

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Nighttime view of ski resort village St Moritz
Nighttime view of ski resort village St Moritz

St Moritz at night

St Moritz, in Switzerland’s Engadin, is an Alpine paradise in winter, with some of Europe’s best hotels for your skiing vacation. But it could be yours all year round with exclusive chalets for sale. Emma Love reports on the latest Savills offerings and the virtues of Alpine living

It’s hard to imagine that the celebrated ski resort St Moritz was once better known as a summer destination. That was until Johannes Badrutt, the founder of the legendary Kulm hotel, won a bet. The story goes that in the autumn of 1864, he was enthusing about St Moritz as a winter destination to four sceptical English holiday guests. Badrutt suggested that they return in December and if they didn’t enjoy their stay, he would not charge them. The four ended up staying until Easter, marking the beginning of winter tourism in the Engadin valley.

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Facade of a modern style chalet

Luxury chalet Chesa Lumpaz

Of course, these days St Moritz is globally renowned as the glamorous go-to, year-round Alpine resort where everyone from Claudia Schiffer and Robert de Niro to the Swedish royal family has been spotted. It has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, popularised sports such as ice cricket and snow polo and is home to the Cresta Run, a world-championship bobsled run made of natural ice – not to mention it being home to Michelin-star restaurants, Bond Street-style designer fashion boutiques, and  glitzy bars, clubs and hotels. “Historically and geographically, St Moritz has long attracted a crowd with a heavy Italian influence, but in the past couple of decades there has been a steady flow of international billionaires buying chalets here. They are attracted to the sophistication of the resort,” says Jeremy Rollason, head of Savills Ski, who specialises in the sale of chalets and developments in super-prime Alpine locations.

luxury interiors of a double bedroom with wooden chalet walls

One of the four master bedrooms, all fitted out in contemporary style but with traditional materials

Luxurious open plan living area with alpine views from double windowsWhile many of the top one per cent choose to base themselves in traditional ski-in, ski-out Suvretta (where a car is needed to get into town), the latest Savills property on the market offers something rather different – the rare chance to own (and rent) a seven-bedroom lakeside house right in the heart of St Moritz, next door to the Badrutt’s Palace hotel and just ten minutes’ drive from Samedan, the private-jet airport. “Chalet Chesa Lumpaz is one of those rare propositions; it’s contemporary rather than futuristic, quiet yet close to the main shopping precinct and has extraordinary views,” Rollason says of the property, which is for sale POA. “The designer Nico Rensch has expertly combined modern design with St Moritz flair.”

Read more: Why Blue Palace in Crete is a springtime paradise

Spread over five floors, the 890m2 house has a private wellness area (which includes a gym, hot tub, steam room, sauna and massage room), a ski room (with boot, helmet and clothes heaters) and an open-plan living area designed for socialising. “The house was built to entertain, with the living room at the top because you want to have the view when you’re awake not when you’re asleep,” explains Oli Stastny, whose company PPM Exclusive Services manages fully serviced private villas in St Moritz. “The aim with the design was to fuse local materials such as stone and wood in a modern way while keeping a cosy, Alpine feel. For instance, the bedrooms have wood-clad walls.”

There is not one master bedroom but four, all at the front to take advantage of the views of the lake. They are fitted with sliding walls so the configuration can change depending on the guests staying. Yet Stastny echoes Rollason in stating that it is the uniqueness of the property and its location that makes it truly special. “This is one of the only single standing houses in the centre of town, the rest are apartments. It’s also connected by an escalator that goes down to the lake and up to the shops and Badrutt’s Palace.”

Luxury interiors of a sitting room with a wall of book shelves

Luxury terrace with views over the mountains

The living room (above) and view from the living room on the top floor of the Chesa Lumpaz chalet

This feature could be especially handy for anyone attending the annual New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel, which is one of the hottest events of the winter social calendar. Other unmissable dates for the diary include the long- established St Moritz Gourmet Festival every January, which is known for attracting star chefs from around the world (this year the line- up included Guillaume Galliot from Caprice at the Four Seasons Hong Kong and Nicolai Nørregaard from Kadeau in Copenhagen). And, in the summer, a jazz festival held in the Dracula Club (Norah Jones, Nigel Kennedy and Curtis Stigers were highlights in 2018); the annual gathering of vintage cars, the British Classic Car Meet; the Engadin Festival featuring ten high-calibre classical concerts and the Tavolata weekend, a celebration of food and music.

All of which proves that while winter sports might be one of the biggest draws to St Moritz – the resort is at 1,850 metres which means an excellent snow record and world-class skiing – there is plenty to entertain visitors in the summer months too. “These summer festivals are a great way of getting property owners back into the resorts as an alternative to the French Riviera which, especially last year, was extremely hot,” says Rollason. “In the summer you can windsurf on the lake and cycle the mountain trails. St Moritz is a genuine dual- season resort.” Exactly as Johannes Badrutt suggested all those years ago.

Find out more: chesalumpaz.com and savills.com/countries/savills-ski

This article was originally published in the Summer 19 Issue

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Alpine village of Andermatt in winter
Switzerland's remote alpine village of andermatt

The Swiss alpine village of Andermatt. Image by Laureen Missaire

The fairy-tale village of Andermatt is fast becoming one of Switzerland’s most desirable destinations with the recent opening of a new ski region as well as a scattering of luxury hotels and holiday homes. But what’s it like to live and work in the region? A new documentary series investigates

The Swiss village of Andermatt sits nestled amid the towering peaks and forested slopes of Switzerland’s Saint-Gotthard Massif, some of the world’s most dramatic  scenery. The recently launched twelve part YouTube documentary series, aptly named Mystic Mountains is an ode to the region’s beauty, nature’s captivating power and an investigation into living remotely.

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Filled with panoramic images of drifting clouds and snow-covered mountains, each episode runs for approximately ten minutes and features interviews with locals, guests, historians, artists, free-riders, farmers and business people. The final script was the result of discussion-led workshops with director Benoit Pensivy of 3W, during which mysticism became the overarching theme as way of describing the individuals’ experience of the Andermatt landscape.

Watch the first episode below:

Find the full series here: andermatt-swissalps.ch/en/andermatt/mystic-mountains/

 

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the rolling mountains of the swiss engadine in summertime
the rolling mountains of the swiss engadine in summertime

A view across the Engadine valley from Muottas Muragl, above St Mortiz

Switzerland’s Engadine region has been the enchanted holiday home of the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, Gerhard Richter and some of the world’s most discerning wealthy. LUX takes a summertime tour of this romantic paradise

Landscape photography: Isabella Sheherazade Sanai (@sheherazade_photography)

There was a moment in the evening, a point in the flow of time each day, when the colour on the mountain was perfectly balanced. Just below my balcony, the larch forest rising out of the lawn was an almost vanishing green, turning to black. The same forest was a dark emerald high up the mountainside. The high pastures above, a thin carpet of melded brown and dry, light, green. And the peak of the mountain, that minute, was just straining to catch the last of the day’s sun, emanating from behind the hotel, on the west side of the valley. It was the colour of a tarnished gold ring, glowing with the pride of being in daylight, today, while the rest of us had fallen into tonight.

Out of the trees and grass around me, the image was accompanied by a rising smell of damp, green, earthy life, its textures matching those in the glass of wine that would always accompany this ritual, a glass of pinot noir from two valleys away, in what the Swiss call the Bündner Herrschaft.

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The Waldhaus Sils, where my room and balcony were, is known for its magic. Artists, writers, musicians and poets are guests there, sometimes invited by the hotel for the inspiration they bring. Gerhard Richter, arguably the greatest living artist, unarguably one of the most expensive, was staying while I was there;  as were others from these worlds, whom I won’t identify as I didn’t spot them personally (the Waldhaus is very discreet about its guests).

The hotel sits on a forested ridge (thus the name Waldhaus – ‘Forest House’) above the village of Sils, once home to Friedrich Nietzsche, and overlooking Lake Sils, considered by many in the art world to be the most beautiful lake in Switzerland. The lake is at the southern end of the Engadine, a broad, flat, high-altitude valley making a slash through the most mountainous part of the country, its southeast corner, from Austria to Italy.

Sils Lake in Switzerland pictured in the summer

The Waldhaus Sils sits in a forest above the mystical Lake Sils, which has inspired poets, artists and writers since the 19th century

There is something about the Waldhaus Sils that no amount of money could create in a new hotel. The furnishings, from light fittings to tables, chairs, cabinets and even the signposts, look like they have come from a mid 20th-century Modernist sale at Phillips auction house. They are so perfectly positioned, as if everything has been looked at with aesthetic sight-lines in mind, and yet none of it feels Designed (with a capital D); this is just the aesthetic of the family who own the hotel. No wonder Richter and others love it so.

The Waldhaus mixes old, in the sense of mid-20th century, with a very up-to-date cuisine and wine list. Most guests take the half-board option, with dinners in a broad gallery of a dining room, with picture windows looking into the forest. Most memorable were the variations on a consommé, each night made with a different base stock; and the choucroute and pork fillet served by a visiting farmer-chef one evening.

Luxury hotel bar decorated in maroon colours

One of the bars at the Waldhaus Sils

One day, we walked out of the hotel down through the trees until we reached the floodplain of the lake, a flat meadow between the shore and the village. It was a summer day of intense mountain sunshine – you burn much more quickly here at altitude than down on the Mediterranean – but a flapping, chilly wind reminded us of exactly where we were. Along the lakeshore, a child and a dog were paddling in the water, on a tiny beach sprouting out of the path. The path itself curved past a tiny jetty housing a couple of rowing boats, and onto a forested promontory. Dipping and rising between larch trees and the water’s edge, it offered a different perspective every minute, with changes of light and in the colour of the water on the lake. The mountains beyond emerged bigger with every step we took away from them; my own mountain, which I had watched from the balcony, was revealed to be no more than the leading ridge of a much larger cluster of peaks at the end of what was a hidden valley.

Read more: Welcome to the age of internet art

We walked along that valley the next day. To get there, we first took a cable car from Sils up to a station above the treeline, from where we looked down at a string of lakes extended all the way down the Engadine past St Moritz, and were greeted by a pack of manic, crested chickens sprinting around a coop with a view most humans would crave. We walked along a path skirting the edge of the mountainside, past uncurious cows, until a luscious green valley, alternating meadows, streams, forest and hamlets, appeared beneath us. Invisible from the Engadine, this is Val Fex, home to some of the most ancient communities in Switzerland, who used the secret nature of the place (its entrance is sheathed in a deep, forested gorge which looks impassable from below) to shelter from invaders from Italy and the Germanic lands.

Along a woodland path at the bottom of the little valley, home to thousands of butterflies, we reached the Hotel Fex, where we had a fantastic lunch made of foraged and farmed local ingredients – young beef, herbs, grasses and flowers – while gazing at the high end of the valley. It was an hour’s walk, down past the butterflies and the meadow and through the gorge, to the Waldhaus and a balcony view back up to the sunset peak.

Idyllic forest scene with a river running through

The forested peninsula on Lake Sils, nearly 2km above sea level

St Moritz is fifteen minutes’ drive down the Engadine valley from Sils, and it has a roster of legendary palace hotels. Our destination was just outside the town of St Moritz, on a hillside. Suvretta House, one of the oldest grande dame hotels of Switzerland, surveys the surrounding scenery like a majestic ocean liner atop a wave. As we approached from Lake Silvaplana, it was almost as if nature had bent to the grand hotel, according it its centre-stage position, with nothing around it except forest and lakes, on a ledge in this long, high valley.

That was an illusion; within a couple of kilometres of Suvretta House lies one of the highest concentrations of (vacation) wealth in the world, but part of this area’s appeal is that it doesn’t look like it.

Luxury five star hotel Suvretta in Switzerland

The facade of the historic Suvretta House hotel

Our junior suite at Suvretta House had six windows opening out onto a carpet of forest below, the lakes ahead, and the peaks of the Bernina range on the east side of the valley beyond. The décor was clean and crisp, a kind of safe contemporary Swiss, with plenty of rich fabrics to please luxury’s traditionalists.

The Bernina mountains are one reason for the particularly attractive climate here; they protect the area from storms sailing up from the Adriatic beyond, while to the north and west, several ranges of high mountains stand as a kind of climatic Berlin Wall to prevent the moist Atlantic air of northern Europe arriving. The result is that this is the sunniest spot in Switzerland; and Suvretta House itself lies on a sun-trap of a ridge. We discovered this the next morning, on a pre-breakfast frolic in what must be the most picturesque children’s playground in the world, carpeted in lush grass, banked on three sides by Alpine forest and on a fourth by a slope leading down to the hotel.

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At the front of Suvretta House, the 25-metre indoor pool stretches through a conservatory alongside a broad lawn, on which sun-loungers, a giant chess set, and other leisure accoutrements are set (in summer, anyway; in winter, it would be under several metres of snow).

Luxury indoor swimming pool surrounded by glass windows

Suvretta House’s swimming pool

High mountain restaurant in the swiss alps

The Fuorcola Surlej restaurant above St Mortiz

Breakfast was served at the Arvenstube restaurant, and featured about 36 different types of bread, cooked (and shaped) in their own in-kitchen bakery every day from three in the morning. The buffet seemed lavish enough, until we found it extended around the corner with dozens of combinations of freshly cut fruit, more permutations of gluten-free cereal than would fit on the biggest yoga mat, an array of nuts, seeds and other health-giving items that would embarrass a health food store, and still plenty of indulgences on the pancake/ chocolate/Nutella/cooked bacon front.

We returned to the Arvenstube for dinner, at first a little apprehensive. Almost every hotel in the German-speaking Alps has a restaurant called a stube; in humble hotels these are often beer-cellar-type places serving humble food (sausages, dumplings) and good beer. Luxury hotels sometimes persist in the belief (mistaken, in our views) that a luxury stube ought to be a play on these dishes, with lashings of old- fashioned Michelin-chasing creams, foams and drizzles, and tiny portions that make you wish you had gone out for some fondue instead.

What we found instead was a revelation. In the beautiful evening light as the valley turns to night – the Arvenstube faces south – there was a menu based on the concept of ‘Switzerland  meets Latin America’ from chef Isaac Briceño Obando, and it really worked. Examples: Puschlaver lamb, baby corn, roasted spring onions, tortilla powder and mountain honey; or Swiss cheese, guava jelly, tamarind jelly and paprika coulis; or tepid char with grilled peach, palm hearts and pine nuts. It was the distinctive, balanced, vivid cuisine of someone with a real ability to understand how and by whom his dishes would be consumed. We returned there three times and always had clear, crisp options.

Landscape photograph in the Swiss Engadine valleys at summer

On the path to the aptly-named Paradise hut, above Pontresina

Food image of a goats cheese salad with rocket and truffle shavings

Goat’s cheese with rocket and truffle at Chasselas

The Suvretta House also owns the Gault Milau-celebrated restaurant just up the road, the Chasselas. At the bottom of a piste, with its own chairlift linking it to the main Corviglia ski area of St Moritz, the Chasselas tries hard to look like a pristine, immaculate but humble mountain hut; however, the cuisine and wine list are anything but humble. We loved the medium-grilled saddle and braised cheeks of Iberico pork with artichokes, balsamic onions and plain in pigna, and Irish highland lamb racks with salsa verde, grilled vegetables and barley risotto. Different chef, but the Suvretta principles remained: there was nothing on the menu to weigh you down and make you feel, like many mountain restaurants do, that you need to climb the nearest peak to burn everything off.

It’s tempting never to leave Suvretta House (either during your stay, or when it’s time to depart) but we did, one day taking a cable car up the opposite side of the valley, towards Piz Corvatsch, and walking along a rocky, dramatic, high altitude trail until we reached a restaurant in a little mountain hut on a ridge. The other side of the ridge revealed a little lake, and a flabbergasting view down to a glacier and up to a range of high, snowy, rocky peaks. Fuorcula Surlej, the restaurant, really is a humble mountain hut. The owner told us she lives there, with only her dog for company, all summer and all winter; when she returns after her autumn break to open up for the ski season, all the available water is frozen in blocks of ice and she curls up with her dog to keep warm.

A small staff in her kitchen were making dishes off a short menu; we tried the barley soup, which tasted of fields and mountains together as we ate it on the terrace, looking out at the high peaks framed by dreamy deep blue; followed by a spaghetti with ragu, flavoursome home-made food by someone whose home is a ridge at the top of nowhere, towering above the Engadine.

Darius Sanai

For more information and to book your stay visit: waldhaus-sils.ch; suvrettahouse.ch

This article was first published in the Winter 19 issue.

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Luxury hotel complex on top of a hill overlooking Lake Lucerne in Swtizerland
Luxury hotel complex on top of a hill overlooking Lake Lucerne in Swtizerland

The Bürgenstock resort complex sits atop a mountain ridge overlooking Lake Lucerne

At the new Bürgenstock resort in Switzerland, medical science meets luxury indulgence. Darius Sanai gets checked out at the spectacular retreat with high-end dining as well as top doctors and testing facilities

Medical spa. Two words to strike fear into the  mind of any traveller; or into my mind, at least.  For in my experience, such places fall into one of two categories. One follows the pseudo- scientific line: where you are ushered into a world of energy types, detox, alkaline cures and naturopathy. That’s not to denigrate mystical and ancient health rites, many of which might have a positive psychological effect in these stressed-out times, but if I want to know if there’s something wrong with me, I want to really know, not be treated by someone who tells me I need to eat spinach to increase my body’s pH and therefore its alkalinity (if our stomachs were not highly acidic, we would be dead).

The other type of medical spa historically employs real doctors, but in a joyless, alcohol-free environment more akin to a prison camp than a luxury retreat, so, while you may emerge genuinely more healthy and with a good idea of what’s gone wrong with you, you’re also likely to decide you’d rather die young than return.

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So it was with fascination that I approached the Waldhotel at Bürgenstock, in Switzerland. Bürgenstock has a place in European history, as a hotel, once beloved of Hollywood stars (Audrey Hepburn lived here), high up overlooking Lake Lucerne. It was recently developed into a series of super-luxe hotels, including what claims to be one of Switzerland’s best medical hotels, and restaurants, by its new owners from Qatar. I decided to check in for a couple of days for a full checkout; like many men, I have no qualms about spending thousands maintaining my collection of classic cars in perfect shape, but have never even had so much as a spark-plug examination on my own body.

Bürgenstock sent me a very thorough, and beautifully presented, programme. I would stay at the five-star Waldhotel for three days; after my blood was taken on the first day, I would mingle a series of tests and scans (the most important one being a full examination by a cardiologist) with feel-good spa treatments, relaxation in the pools, and some dining in their restaurants.

Luxury indoor spa swimming pool

The pool at the Waldhotel, where medical and spa facilities are combined

The resort is a series of buildings, built out and along from the original Palace hotel, along a ridge some 500m above Lake Lucerne. The sharpness of the ridge means you have two completely different perspectives, as if you are on a movie set. In one direction, the mountain drops away almost vertically, through vertiginous forests, into the lake; from the café terrace of the Palace hotel, you can see boats, quays and summer houses far below, like dolls house parts. The lake spreads out with Lucerne itself sprawling at one end, and beyond, numerous ridges of hills behind which other lakes alternate with forest and meadow, all the way to Germany in the distance.

In the other direction, there is almost no drop at all: just a gentle bowl of high Alpine pasture, fluorescent green, cows tinkling their bells, giving way to forest beyond, and then neck-strainingly high peaks, covered with snow even in mid-summer, in the far distance.

Read more: A VIP ferry ride from Dover to Calais with DFDS

My hotel room had the latter view, which was very relaxing. The room was large, modern and coolly decorated in blonde woods and taupe furnishings, with a big balcony on which you could relax with a cigar at night (having done your lung function test already, of course) and feel the sounds and smells of the meadows.

The medical centre was just a few floors down. My blood was taken efficiently in a lab-like room, and I went off for breakfast on a roof terrace with a wider view of the meadow and mountain side of the resort. There are no hints here that you are in a place where you must deny yourself; the breakfast provided everything from pancakes and omelettes à la carte to home-made cornflakes. I spent the rest of the day swimming in the main pool in the Bürgenstock hotel, a five-minute walk away through the resort, and gaping at the quite astonishing view from its wraparound spa pool which overhangs the cliff face down to Lake Lucerne. Dinner at Sharq, along the ridge, had equally magnetic views, as day turned to dusk and the lights of one of the world’s richest areas popped up all around below us. Sharq serves Persian and Lebanese cuisine, and its khoresh dishes and marinaded grills were as good as any Persian restaurant’s, anywhere. The wine list focuses on Lebanese wine, but you can also order from the main restaurant list.

Luxury contemporary facade to Waldhotel, Switzerland

The entrance to the Waldhotel, newly built in 2017

The next day, Dr Verena Briner, head of the medical centre and one of the country’s most prominent physicians, went through my blood test results with me. Page after page of measurements revealed – nothing at all. I was fine. I didn’t even need an oil change. But that was just the beginning. She handed me over to a consultant cardiologist, who put me through a variety of physical exertions while examining my heart with an echocardiogram. All fine. Next, I was scanned for bone density, and body fat vs body muscle. All fine, despite the Persian meal the previous night. A lung function test was OK also, meaning the cigar was on the cards that night. A full pass, with no red flags, or even yellow lights. After all that effort, I was almost disappointed – but not, of course, and no medical can test for absolutely everything that could be wrong with you – but Bürgenstock did well, all while I was having a fabulous holiday.

On the last night, I celebrated at Spices, the Bürgenstock’s flagship restaurant, which is cantilevered over the cliff’s edge. You could pick between Cantonese and Japanese, and all the lights below added to a Hong Kong vibe. It was astonishing, but true: one of Europe’s most spectacular contemporary luxury experiences is also home to a brilliant medical spa.

Vital Statistics

Dr Verena Briner, Medical Director of the Bürgenstock Resort, on the key elements you have to be aware of to ensure a long and healthy life, and how they are tested

The basic check-up focuses on the most common diseases. The programme includes taking the patient’s history and conducting a clinical examination. We screen for diseases that affect the blood  (eg. anaemia), the liver and kidney, metabolism (such as diabetes and atherosclerosis), and vitamin deficiency. We measure blood pressure, run an ECG, use bone densitometry to identify any risk for osteoporosis and carry out an ultrasound scan of the abdomen. For anyone over 45, a colonoscopy is recommended as carcinoma of the gut becomes more likely as we get older. The lung function test may show signs of smoking-induced damage. Measuring body mass index and body composition is important, too, as obesity often leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, impaired lipid metabolism, sleep apnea (snoring) and arthrosis in the joints.

We check also for cardio-vascular diseases, of which the majority of the population of the Western world die. Since the development of interventional cardiology, people rarely die from a sudden heart attack but are much more likely to have a chronic condition such as atherosclerosis of the blood vessels, which may be treated with drugs, angioplasty, stents or bypass operation. The risk factors that accelerate atherosclerosis include high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight, smoking, high cholesterol, and little or no physical activity. A history of coronary artery disease in the family increases the chance that the patient will develop it as well. The cardiologist supervises a stress test and uses echocardiography to spot any impaired heart muscle function. If there are signs of reduced blood flow in the coronary arteries, we recommend a coronarography or a heart CT scan.

The Waldhotel works with the Lucerne central hospital where this can be done. Anyone short of time may prefer to come to the Waldhotel Medical Centre where we can organise all the tests during their stay.

Book your stay: buergenstock.ch

This article was originally published in the Winter 19 issue.

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Ski slopes lit by lights at night in St. Mortiz
Ski slopes lit by lights at night in St. Mortiz

Night time skiing on Corvatsch Mountain, St. Mortiz

It’s been another winter of fantastic snowfall, and Darius Sanai is dreaming of his favourite location in the Alps, and the vibe at the Kulm hotel in St Moritz

It’s been another early winter of record snowfalls in the Alps, particularly in the eastern and northern tranches of the range. So it’s a perfect time to plan your impromptu visit to the mountains, and January and early February will be beyond perfect this year, with excellent snow and the customary lack of crowds that this part of the season brings, before the school holidays in mid-February change the tone.

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One of the saddest sights is to see couples and families split for ski weekends, with non-skiers staying at home. If you’re going heli-skiing in Canada, there may be nothing for your other half to do, but take a trip to one of our favourite hotels in one of the most wonderful parts of the Alps, and it might be that, at this time of year, as the events diary bristles, it’s the non-skier who makes the skier in the party jealous.

a snow polo game in St. Mortiz

St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow, 2013

The hotel is the Kulm, the fabulous contemporary-classic grande dame of St Moritz’s. The area is famed for its range of activities for both skiers and non-skiers. This weekend sees the legendary Snow Polo on the lake of St Moritz (where the Kulm, has its own special stand where you can graze on gourmet delicacies and sip champagne all day). Happening simultaneously nearby are the Engadin Art Talks and the Snow Golf Championships, followed next week by the horse races in the snow, and the Grand National Cresta Run

Read more: The history of TAG Heuer’s motorsport romance

All of that combined with the usual glories of the St Moritz-Pontresina area, including several challenging ski mountains, and the fur-lined nightlife.

Alpine luxury spa with views of snow topped mountains and an indoor pool

The indoor pool at Kulm’s spa

A luxury ski hotel bedroom with natural colour palette and wooden roof

Kulm’s style is old-world elegance meets contemporary

But what we love particularly about staying at the Kulm is its sense of old-world grace – and its facilities. The spectacular pool has picture windows looking out over the forest and valley, rooms have a similar view. The classic restaurant and bar areas make you convinced that David Niven is going to pop out from around the corner. The rooms, meanwhile, have a very contemporary vibe, while not letting up on the rich Swiss luxe. You feel like a traveller in the mountains, taken care of at a real grand hotel, with options of everything from cross-country skiing to spectacular black runs, from watching the horses to chilling in the vast spa. The hotel is just a whisker above the crowded part of St Moritz (and a three minute walk from Pavarotti’s, our favourite spot for an après-ski Franciacorta) …and did we mention, the snow is fantastic this year?

Book your stay: kulm.com

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