Travel

A Luxurious New Hideaway to Open in Gstaad

Sunday Nov 4, 2012
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GSTAAD, Switzerland - In a village with more than its share of elegant and cozy chalets, The Alpina Gstaad stands out. In envisioning the first totally new luxury hotel to open in this Alpine village in 100 years, Hirsch Bedner & Associates (HBA) began with the principles of traditional Swiss chalet architecture and fashioned a contemporary interpretation using local materials from the Bernese Oberland, stone from the surrounding Alps and weathered timber from centuries-old farmhouses in Saanenland.

Windowed towers crown four sides of the roof and, on the hotel’s main floor, huge windows allow for plenty of natural light. Inside, guests can sit in front of a crackling fire, enveloped in soft furs and smooth leather, and gaze out to the stunning mountain views.

On schedule to open December 1, The Alpina Gstaad will have 56 luxurious rooms and suites as well as three restaurants, including the first European outpost of MEGU; a traditional Swiss stübli and Restaurant Sommet with Michelin-star chef Marcus Lindner. A 21,500-square-foot Six Senses Spa, a Havana-inspired cigar lounge, a wine room and a private cinema are among the special features of this five-star property.

HBA even unearthed a back story for The Alpina Gstaad. According to local legend, God, wanting to rest during the final days of creation, laid his hand down on the last piece of untouched land and created Saanenland. Much much later in 1868, A.W. Moore, a British hiker and a central figure in the golden age of Alpinism made his first ascent in Saanenland and his reports began the attraction of visitors to the area.


Today, the region retains the charm that has been a draw for more than 100 years. In picturesque villages, 500-year-old wooden chalets line winding cobble stone streets. Horse-drawn carriages carry visitors and residents through snowy landscapes. Cozy, fire-lit stübli restaurants welcome diners. You hear the bells before you see the cows ambling down the lanes.

"Thanks in part to strict preservation laws and stringent building codes, Gstaad has maintained its charm and authenticity. There is a reverence for tradition and a concern for preserving the region’s architecture and customs," said Onno Poortier, the Owner’s Representative and Advisor. "With HBA, we are bringing a modern sensibility to Gstaad in keeping with the tastes of today’s discerning travelers," he explained.

The Alpina Gstaad experience begins before guests even enter the hotel. Approaching through an underground gallery lined with hand-chiseled Ringgenberg stone, they pass a waterfall before arriving at a subterranean porte cochère with a large oculus that brings in natural light. Weathered timber lines the walls and the beamed ceiling of the entrance and reception. A fire burns cheerily in the huge stone hearth made of massive boulders from local rivers.


Columns are clad in Moore & Giles leather and embossed with a marquetry pattern. A large asymmetrical slab of polished wood hewn from a single fir tree serves as the reception desk. The contemporary furniture includes a B&B Italia piece, side tables by Lindley and black wooden stumps from Gervasoni.

Rugs are of hand-tufted unbleached wool. Lighting is from Pinto Paris and floor lamps by Lorenzo Tondelli. A grand wood staircase with anthracite steel railings leads up to the lounge and public areas. Soft hand-stitched leather covers the glass balustrade. The intricately painted ceiling recalls those of Gstaad’s traditional chalets. Behind the staircase, a wooden screen in the style of Saanenland farms diffuses light in lattice patterns.

After an invigorating day on the slopes, guests will head to The Alpina Gstaad’s lounge. Its open fireplace, comfortable seating nooks, deep armchairs and inviting leather sofas make it a particularly appealing and cozy place for après-ski gatherings. Throughout the reception and lounge areas, lanterns cast soft atmospheric light.


HBA designers have referenced many of the local customs and crafts from hand-painted wooden doors for the ballrooms to intricate embroidery on the armchairs. Quartz mined from Alpine crevasses has been transformed into bases for lamps, decanters and beer taps. Glass pendant lights resemble classic Swiss cowbells. Rugs and throws are fashioned from Saanenland goat hair and columns are sheathed in saddle leather.

Crafted of hammered bronze, the front of the bar reflects light and contrasts with the natural texture of the pine forming the top of the bar. The palette is in natural shades with accents of burnt crimson. Furnishings and fabrics are from Etro, Holland and Sherry and Casamance while furniture and fabrics are by Ralph Lauren, Zimmer & Rhode and Clarence House.

"We are taking the beautiful natural elements that surround The Alpina Gstaad to create a design which is unique and timeless and will resonate for many years to come, "said Inge Moore, Principal with Hirsch Bedner & Associates. "Every season in Saanenland has its own beauty. In our design for the hotel, we wanted to celebrate all the seasons making The Alpina Gstaad cozy in winter and fresh and airy in summer," she explained.


Guestrooms: Luxurious and High Tech

All 56 rooms and suites of The Alpina Gstaad are spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows leading to large terraces and magnificent views of the Alps. And no two rooms or suites are alike. With walls lined in rough fir wood and ceilings carved in traditional Swiss style, the bedrooms convey a warmth and authenticity. Contardi Italia re-fashioned the traditional leather straps that hold the cowbells into bedside lamps. An antique wooden chest sits at the end of the bed and a hand-painted wooden armoire holds the plasma TV and bar.

Original artworks are by Emily Hesse, Ian Turnock and Sonja Aeschlimann. All rooms have the latest in intuitive technology including Wi-Fi, iPads, nail dryers and floor sensors that illuminate at night. The marble baths have showers and oversize tubs and TVs. Ranging from 610 to 1,020 square feet, 30 suites have stone fireplaces and 40-inch plasma TVs. At 4,300 square feet, the two-story Panorama Suite has three bedrooms, two wood-burning fireplaces, a huge veranda, its own private spa, sauna, exercise room and an outdoor Jacuzzi.


Comfort Food, Swiss Style

A traditional Swiss stübli serving fondue and raclette is as homey as an alpine farmhouse with rough hewn walls and wooden tables, chairs and cupboards with checked curtains at the windows. A communal buffet recalls the large kitchen tables in traditional Swiss alpine homes.

Serving meals throughout the day, Restaurant Sommet is flooded on two sides with natural light thanks to its corner location. HBA designers have struck a fine balance showcasing Saanenland culture and traditions with a fresh contemporary vibe. The magnificent ceiling is intricately carved from antique timber. Large timber beams line the walls and hand-tufted rugs made of New Zealand wool cover the wood planked-floor. Wrought iron chandeliers, custom-designed leather chairs by Giorgetti and fabrics by Pierre Frey and Knowles & Christou add modern style. Handmade local crockery and crafts decorate the shelves making this "heart of the home" even more welcoming. Outside, guests can dine on the stone terrace while a fire pit keeps them snug and warm as they take in the stunning mountain scenery.

From Havana to Hollywood: Cigars and Cinema

A cigar lounge, as if transported from pre-Castro Havana, is authentic right down to the Montecristos. The dark wood and leather decor has glamorous accents from the 1930’s and fabrics from Loro Paina and De La Cuona. The Wine Room displays 1,000 bottles, and an antique cheese table accommodates eight for wine tastings. In the Private Cinema, guests can enjoy 3D movies in 14 oversized leather armchairs. The Children’s Playroom has a tree house as well as a slide and a media center to keep the young ones occupied.

"We want to ensure that guests experience luxury that is truly Swiss in flavour and which reveals the refined and sophisticated character of Gstaad," noted Nathan Hutchins of HBA London. "We are creating a hotel that will be synonymous with a real sense of place, redefined to captivate the next generation," he explained.

Hand Crafted By Architects and Artisans

One of the most respected architecture and interior design firms in the Swiss Alps, Jaggi & Partner AG, was the first to be hired for the luxury development which includes The Alpina Gstaad, private apartments within the hotel and three chalets. For more than 30 years, its architects have specialized in designing luxury hotels and private chalets marrying tradition and craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology.

Part of a $337 million luxury development which includes private chalets and apartments, The Alpina Gstaad is set on five acres in Oberbort, the exclusive hilltop area of the village in the heart of the Bernese Alps. Blocks of Ringgenberg limestone, the rich brown stone from local quarries; hundred-year-old fir wood, gathered from old Alpine farm houses, and natural slate have been used in the construction.

The Alpina Gstaad will have a ballroom and several boardrooms. A fitness center and an 82-foot lap pool are included in the spa. A large outdoor swimming pool will be set in the gardens.

HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates is one of the world’s most highly regarded interior design companies specialising in hotel, spa and luxury residential work. Founded in 1965 by Howard Hirsch, the firm was soon joined by Michael Bedner who went on to become a partner and is today Chairman of the company.

A growing reputation for excellent design, combined with the increased need of an expanding client base, prompted the Los Angeles-based company to expand into an international corporation, establishing new offices in Hong Kong (1978), London (1987) and Dubai (2000), as well as in several cities across the US.

For further information, please visit The Alpina Gstaad at www.thealpinagstaad.ch/

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This article is part of our "Winter 2013" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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