Above Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland stands the elegant boutique hotel The Alpina Gstaad. With its 20,000 m2(!) of park-like grounds, luxurious premises and rooms, three extraordinary restaurants, a spa with indoor and outdoor pools and breathtaking view this establishment offers an Alpine hotel encounter of the superior kind! This is how we tested it…
Just the approach through the picturesque Saanenland in Switzerland’s Bernese Highlands is an experience all of its own: Life in all its facets here is still idyllic and authentic; Simmental cows graze on the pastures, the Swiss flag flies from the front of wooden houses and laundry hung out to dry flutters from the clotheslines.
Those in the know take the GoldenPass panorama train to here. In the company of troops of Japanese tourists taking pictures, the Saanenland couldn’t be MORE beautiful!
No sooner arrived in the chic and car-free Gstaad, you realize once again why the chalet village enjoys international renown: With its pretty luxury chalets and elegant shopping mile it could be a scene out of a picture book.
Flagship brand names vie brilliantly from the discreet chalet shops. Because of the compact length of the “Gstaad Promenade” shopping mile, even the likes of Prada or Hermés must be content to hang out their shop signs on side streets…
Still, Prada and Hermés are on the street leading to the Gstaad Palace. Also not bad! Especially, since this Palacestrasse after one more curve turns into Alpinastrasse. The interested reader knows what lies ahead…
The Alpina Gstaad Boutique Hotel
Unexpectedly, said Alpinastrasse then heads into a “tunnel“: It was part of the original plan to let the hotel grounds Alpina Gstaad be experienced as a park by not running an access road through them. Instead, a covered drive takes you directly to the spacious drive-up area and the hotel’s «Galerie Entrée» main entrance, its artistry heightened by a water wall.
No sooner do we pull up in the car, and already the friendly doorman Nevelin Prodanov waves welcome into our GoPro camera ;-)
On entering the lobby of the boutique hotel you can’t help staring around in wonderment.
You try not to show it of course; after all, this isn’t the first time you’ve slept away from home – but it really is impressive: Color-coordinated flower arrangements, not small; ornate paintings, quite evocative; noble materials and a lot of wood grace the interior and make it a total work of art.
For anyone not quite up to speed on this point: They brought us the hover board in “Back to the Future.” You know – the wheel-less skateboard that hovers instead?
Well, whatever: At some point you do regain your composure. On with the text! I should probably not let myself be distracted so easily…
Wood plays a key role in staging the alpine chic throughout the hotel. This mostly involves the artful use of recycled pine wood boards that formerly adorned ancient Swiss farm houses – a perfect symbiosis of Swiss tradition and discreet luxury.
Delicacies in the “Sommet” or “Megu” restaurants
Expect to be served meals of the highest standard in The Alpina Gstaad – be it in the Sommet gourmet restaurant (18 Gault Millau points, 1 Michelin star) or in the MEGU Japanese restaurant (16 Gault Millau points). In addition, during the winter season the Swiss Stübli serves traditional Swiss cuisine.
It bears mentioning that MEGU is the first European foothold of the successful New York gourmet concept. The Japanese restaurant was an instant hit on the Gstaad scene, and it has ushered in a new culinary era in the tranquil Bernese Highlands. Demand is correspondingly high. Depending on the season, be sure to book well in advance if you want a taste of this exclusivity!
Star chef Marcus G. Lindner as executive chef is in charge of guest gastronomic wellbeing. The eloquent Austrian is known for combining supposedly incompatible aromas and ingredients with precision and sensitivity.
We were keen with anticipation…
We started in on the brilliant menu they served us in the Sommet Restaurant with an amuse bouche of salmon on carrot puree with orange zest.
Then came the first (of three!) appetizers, Coho salmon on cream cheese, cucumber and wasabi. Particularly the “meringue wasabi sticks” (what a combination!) not only had a surprising and unfamiliar effect visually but on the palate as well.
What a promising beginning…
Then on it went: pork belly cubes on lobster (say again?!) with pumpkin and saffron. The subtle lime taste rarefied with soy sauce rounded it out exquisitely.
For the main act, Marcus G. Lindner had decided on a veal tenderloin, seconded by asparagus, morel, and spinach. The meat had a buttery tenderness and the vegetables were crispy-soft.
No idea really how to describe it any better. In any event, the taste was exceptional!
As it turned out, this was revealed to be only a “pre-dessert,” to get us in the mood for the “main dessert course: a lime sorbet with raspberries and elderberry gelée.
Words fail at this point…
Maybe just a few are left: each menu course was accompanied by the right wines as poured and professionally expounded on by sommelier Luca Padovani.
And one more thing: The exquisite menu is served with outstanding service! Friendly, attentive and personable describes the team that revolves around Chef de Service Franco Paloschi in the pleasant restaurant ambiance. But caution is advisable: no detail escapes this man, and he has a different story for every table! If need be, he will get down on one knee before the lady of the table to “sell” us the New Zealand Pinot Blanc for a Swiss one.
What a performance!
That they were able to entice him to The Alpina Gstaad is a masterly, unparalleled coup: Along with the hotel, the restaurants and all the other amenities, Franco Paloschi alone is worth “the price of admission”! The amount of stories he dished out in several languages was simply unbelievable…
We preferred to parley Italian with him, but could just as easily have chosen any number of other languages.
Anyone who cares to indulge in a cigar after such a fantastic gourmet menu can dot that “i” in the Havana-themed Smokers Lounge. A chance to choose from more than 50 cigar types is sure to make any cigar aficionado’s heart beat faster.
Especially in the company of a charming gorilla…
Rooms and Suites
The 56 individual rooms and suites embody the chalet charm of the Saanenland. Plain fir wood covers the walls and on the ceilings classical carvings capture the attention.
Swiss chalet style wardrobes and trunks also add to the homey atmosphere of the rooms, while noble materials, leather, and earth color natural tones impart elegance. Red color accents lend the rooms that certain extra touch.
Just about everything in the room is operated from a single control panel: Lights, curtains, sun blinds and…even the fire in the fire place can be ignited at the touch of a button.
Like James Bond… Doesn’t he also live in the area?
From the large balconies and decks you enjoy a direct view of the superbly landscaped and cared-for garden with pool area. Beyond, the vista extends far past Gstaad to the splendid Bernese Oberland Alpine panorama. Provided the weather is good.
While we are on the subject of panorama…the hotel’s most luxurious suite is located on the top floor; its evocative name Panorama Suite is suggested by the view.
Okay, for this you need to have enough “pocket change” on you. But then here we go:
The Panorama Suite features an impressive 400(!) square meters with a large living room area, three bedrooms, a private fitness room, its own spa on the top floor with fireplace, hamam steam bath, sauna and Jacuzzi on the deck. And a few other small details like that.
Any other questions?
The giant Grohe rain shower can conveniently be used together with the shower. This is one place where the usual either-or does not apply…
Six Senses Spa
The 2,000 m2 Six Senses Spa unites both Alpine and Asian ambiance in an unpretentious aesthetic. Beside five luxurious treatment rooms, ensuring the utmost in modern spa comfort are: a hamam steam bath, a flotation room, a color therapy and Ayurveda room, an Oriental treatment room, a Himalayan salt grotto, a detox room and relaxation areas.
Available in the spa are various body treatments, aromatherapy massages, fitness, rejuvenation, and detox programs and it offers weight reduction as well as acupuncture, chi gong and tai chi. There is also a mountain detox program…
Well, how could you possibly not leave here in better shape? Especially, since the food by the way – in spite of the numerous courses – is astonishingly light!
The only drawback perhaps is that the wet area is segregated by men and women. Perhaps a concession to Arab guests?
The spa also includes an indoor pool, an outside pool in the garden, two whirlpools and a yoga studio. Oh, yes, there would of course also have to be a modern fitness room.
But we didn’t want to overdo it during our short stay ;-)
The Alpina Gstaad Hotel is managed by hotel director Eric Favre who has more than thirty years’ experience in the hotel business. He discreetly remains in the background in the public areas of the hotel and cultivates contact with his guests in his charming French accent.
He may have grown up in the neighboring Château d’Oex, but he is a star hotelier to the core: Eric Favre, besides having managed Kempinski Hotels, also managed the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok that was ranked the best hotel in the world for ten years running …
This five star luxury hotel opened its doors in December, 2012 and has already been singled out for numerous awards. These include, among others, having been chosen by Gault Millau Switzerland as the «Hotel of the Year» 2013 and, with the GALA SPA AWARD, it was named «Best Luxury Hotel – City/Resort».
If you insist on finding out more about prices and availability you will find the relevant information here.
Our thanks go to…
“Merci beaucoup” to Eric Favre, director of The Alpina Gstaad Hotel for the generous invitation!
A big thank you also to Esther Beck, owner of ESTHER BECK PR for coordinating the visit and to Jenny Dean, Marketing & Sales Executive, for the very informative tour of the hotel.
Also, the highly personable Chef de Service Franco Paloschi and his team are due a big “Grazie mille”!
And last but not least, we owe our thanks to doorman Nevelin Prodanov: He supported us in word and deed during our filming. He also did the stunt with our Audi pulling up to the hotel ;-)
The Alpina Gstaad, Alpinastrasse 23, 3780 Gstaad, Switzerland
Phone: +41 (0)33 888 98 88