Congratulations to Switzerland, awarded the “Favourite European Country” title at the recent Guardian/Observer Travel Awards 2011!
In my eyes, Switzerland’s been a winner ever since I first visited as a 15-year-old school girl and vowed that one day I would live in Switzerland; I’ve since fulfilled that aim and am grateful that a clutch of Swiss clients still enables me to visit on a regular basis.
All of these clients are now busy preparing for the 2011/12 ski season and, with snow having already fallen in the Alps last weekend, it looks like it good be a great winter.
Here’s a quick rundown of my Swiss clients:
Kulm Hotel St Moritz (www.kulmhotel-stmoritz.ch) is the oldest hotel in St Moritz, having opened its doors in 1856, and remains a haven for old-fashioned glamour on a grand scale, frequented by both the European jet set and Hollywood A-listers. It is also responsible for starting the trend for winter sports holidays, the result of a bet laid by the then owner in 1864. Some of the first British guests to winter at the hotel created the Cresta Run to entertain themselves and the Kulm Hotel is home to the Cresta Run crew to this day; when they’re not throwing themselves down their icy shute, they can be found in their “clubhouse”, the hotel’s Sunny Bar.
Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina (www.kronenhof.com) is a sister hotel to the Kulm in St Moritz, both being owned by the Niarchos family of Greek shipping fame. Located just 6kms from St Moritz, the Kronenhof offers the best of both worlds: the chance to enjoy the glitz of St Moritz while staying in the tranquillity of a peaceful mountain village. The hotel has “the best Alpine spa” (according to Tyler Brule, writing in the Financial Times) and it is certainly a highlight, including a 20m indoor infinity pool, a hydrotherapy pool, a flotation room, a luxurious private suite for couples and a crackling log fire in the relaxation room. In fact, half of the hotel’s winter guests come purely to spa, ignoring winter sports altogether. The hotel also has fantastic family facilities, including a play room zoned for different ages, a children’s dining room, an old wooden bowling alley for all-round family entertainment and, in winter, a natural private ice rink.
The Cambrian, Adelboden (www.thecambrianadelboden.com), a member of Design Hotels, is the only Mr&Mrs Smith hotel in Switzerland with chic contemporary interiors housed in a characterful early 20th century building. This 71-room property is perfect for couples outside peak times and families during school holidays; think outdoor breaks in summer and ski holidays in winter, with the added bonus of a fantastic spa that has great Alpine views. Proof of its active holiday credentials comes from the fact that The Cambrian has just been independently voted among the ‘50 Best Luxury Adventure Holidays in the World’ for 2012 by AdventureTemples™, an exciting new luxury adventure travel service and online community, with members worldwide. As a four-star-superior hotel, The Cambrian represents great value for money, with rates starting from around £210 per night, for two people sharing a double room, including breakfast.
Adelboden, for which I also do the UK PR, is the most picture perfect mountain resort, filled to the rafters with traditional wooden chalets. It was one of the resorts name-checked in The Guardian as a reason for falling for Switzerland. Rupert Mellor wrote, “ If you like your pistes crowd-free and your powder plentiful, the inexplicably under-celebrated resort cluster of Adelboden (adelboden.ch), Andermatt and Val D’Anniviers in the Bernese Oberland is where you should point your ski tips. Quaint weathered chalets and barns are the norm here, rather than shiny hotels and busy bars, and while the marked runs are mainly in the intermediate range, there’s a wealth of off-piste action in trees, powder fields and long, north-facing valleys which hold their snow beautifully”. See the full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/oct/07/switzerland-hotels-culture-architecture-zermatt.
This season, Adelboden is more accessible than ever, with Swiss airline Skywork (www.flyskywork.com) flying from London City to Berne-Belp, just a 45-minute drive from The Cambrian, one-way tickets cost from Euros 59 (approx £52); this is one of the fastest commercial routes into a Swiss ski resort and even makes a weekend break possible.