There once was a man who built a chalet, and it grew and grew. No, says the gal. that a is distortion of the facts. In 2012 developer Marcel Bach bought the 4.5-acre Gstaad site of the old Grand Hotel Alpina and hoped to put up a residential block, but thank goodness for the Gstaad burghers, who said no, another hotel was needed. Now, it seems every new building in the area has to have a cuckoo-clock exterior, so Marcel Back, with the help of Senegal’s sugar king, Jean-Claude Mimran, has put up a wood chalet, with three floors below ground and six above. And the resulting 56-room luxury hotel is absolutely gorgeous.As you see from the picture up-left, the entire interior is lined with fir planks, 80% of them old and re-used.
Complement this with outrageously large fresh flower arrangements which beautifully complement some painted ceilings, and great furnishings (designers HBA of London have created what should be an award-winning design, in this their first alpine concept). Outside each bedroom hangs a ceiling-high embroidered leather strap with the room number on it. Inside, either side of the bed, more straps support cowbell-shaped reading lights that do, admittedly to my surprise, work. All rooms have balconies and look, at the top of this story, at the cloud-tonsure view I had in the morning.
Several of us gathered for dinner the night I was there. Onno Poortier and his wife Alexa, who had both helped Marcel Bach get the hotel right – it was they who also negotiated it cleverly becoming part of Preferred – were talking about how their new home, finished nearby a couple of years ago similarly had to have a chalet exterior (it is covered extensively in Chalets mit Stil: Alpine Interiors in Gstaad). Claudia Favre, a Brazilian married to local-boy GM, Eric Favre, the detail- and luxury-oriented director of the hotel, made up the party. The always-popular MEGU was taken up by a private birthday party and actually, already knowing MEGU, in Delhi and New York, I was thrilled to dine instead in Sommet, which extends out into the terrace of the lush manicured gardens, designed by Jean Mus. We talked about events – there is always so much happening in Gstaad (this month, alone, Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra play August 12-13, with Milan’s Teatro alla Scala orchestra and Riccardo Chailly scheduled for August 21st, and Lang Lang August 26-27).
Gosh I ate so well at this luxury hotel, starting with chef Marcus Lindner’s Life Cuisine ayurvedic salad with lightly cooked organic summer vegetables, and then a dry-aged Simmental T-bone with pesto. We drank Ch Fombrauge 2009 St-Emilion GC Bernard Magrez. In the morning, I headed down to the superb gym, which has a window skylight that is apparently even more magical under snow – I admired, but did not have time to try, the Six Senses spa, but it is always an advantage to have a plausible reason to return to a really outstanding hotel. Just a few of the many memories of my stay here include dinner’s silver napkin rings, around apricot Ingrid Lesage Creations linens, and butter coming with small dishes of duck foie gras cream, and oil, and parsley, and, sign of real luxury, a stack of linen-lined silver trays to hold your do-it-yourself toast. Oh dear, I have not mentioned the 18-seat screening room, ideal for parties, or the facilities for kids, namely an exciting supervised club room and, to one side of the full-size adult pool, a water-chute down into their own little-ones’ pool. NOW WATCH A VIDEO ON THE DINING CHOICES HERE