An elegantly designed place in the fresh mountain air ! If Switzerland is often synonymous with traditional spirit, it is here that these traditions are dusted off and given a modern edge: exposed wood, design lines, architectural igloos, high altitude and clear open spaces – the Swiss mountains peaks are the winter destination to discover.
Altitude : Switzerland is the 32nd highest country in the world and the 5th in Europe (after Russia, Georgia, France and Italy).
Highest point: 4634m (Pointe Dufour)
Number of ski stations: 57
Most frequented stations: Davos, Grindelwald, St Moritz and Zermatt
The largest ski areas: Champery, Champoussin and Les Croset (650 km of slopes)
Text : Marie Le Fort
Inhabitants : 8 million
Area : 41,284 km²
Capital : Berne
Official languages : German, French, Italian and Romansh
Located at 1400m altitudes at the foot of the Dents du Midi in the Swiss Alps, the Domaine de Whitepod is an authentic refuge in the heart of an undeveloped mountain. It is a concept that offers a new way to experience the mountain: awarded the world prize for responsible tourism in 2005, the Whitepods revealed themselves as “igloos with views”, symbolizing the perfect balance between comfort and eco-tourism with Scandinavian-inspired furniture, soft carpets, stoves, and private terraces. Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, dog sledding, tobogganing, paragliding, hiking…anything is possible in the heart of this White Eden, ran by a team of professionals inspired by a love of the outdoors.
In the Swiss Valais, at the heart of Val d’Entremont, Mountagne Alternative has set up camp in Commeire, a small Swiss hamlet that is hidden away from the world and is currently enoying an exceptional reception in the face the Swiss giant that is Mont Blanc. Here, this agency founded by two men who are passionate about peaks – Benedict Greindl and Ludovic Orts – offers serene getaways based on a different approach to the mountains: they re-establish mankind in the heart of nature, in the face the mountains. Stop, listen to the silence, sit back and admire the serenity of the scenery. It is from within these old barns – restored in the purest of traditions – that one is able to experience the new definition of an authentic and contemporary mountain lodge. Open to the surrounding nature, each place incites healing, spirituality and contemplation. A real return to the Slow Life.
51° Spa Residences, Leukerbad
Clinging to the cliffs in the mountains of the Valais, at the bottom of a breathtaking corrie, Leukerbad – a thermal spa known for the quality of its hot springs – will soon be home to a residential development that is nothing like anything the region has ever seen: 51° Spa Residences. Led by Swiss Development Group, this project is the ultimate of what can be expected from an Alpine residence: an architecture – designed by American firm Michael Graves & Associates – that is both respectful of the environment and of local traditions, whilst incorporating itself as a part of the village in a contemporary manner. An innovative approach that enables its residents to benefit from the virtues of the hot thermal springs as an extension of their homes: known for its 51°C temperatures, Leukerbad offer its residents the luxury of benefitting from private – and privileged – access to these healing waters, from the comfort of their suite, on their very own balcony (open in summer but protected by a glass wall in winter).
Cervo Mountain Boutique Resort, Zermatt
Opposite the Matterhorn, in the chic resort of Zermatt, the Cervo Mountain Boutique Resort boasts an Alpine architecture with a wooden exterior that contrasts with its modern interiors. A Chalet dating from the 1950s that has been tastefully converted by the Roman architect Mooser, with spaces conjoined by felt, green loden, stone and Scandinavian blond wood furniture in a retro-chic style that infuses a family atmosphere. It was also the vision of Daniel Ferdinand Lauber and Seraina Müller for this small hotel of 33 rooms, to be a haven of contemporary tranquillity, whilst also remaining respectful of its Alpine roots.
Reto Gurtner is one of the ‘Originals’ supported by Design Hotels for his free spirit and unbridled creativity. A Swiss visionary, he has been leading the way for Laax ski resorts since 1995 and recently designed one of his most emblematic buildings: the RockResorts. 500 tonnes of dark gray quartzite and 8 cubic volumes make-up the avant-garde architecture of the resort that consists of many sleek rooms and family apartments. With natural materials, local products, a comforting atmosphere and breathtaking views of the slopes and the Alps, the RockResorts doubles as a ski resort that is accessible to all, with its room keys providing access to the ski-lifts.
“The most important thing is to surround oneself with a strong team: even the greatest soloist is nothing without the power of the symphony orchestra that accompanies it,” says Reto Gurtner.
The Cambrian, Adelboden
A traditional chalet built in the last century, The Cambrian was beautifully renovated in 2007 to make way for its essential panoramic terraces and 71 rooms furnished and decorated in the “alpine-chic” spirit. The luxurious spa, with its Finnish sauna, steam bath, tropical shower, Kneipp pool, relaxation area, and indoor and outdoor pools, is among the 20 most prestigious ‘wellness’ hotels in Switzerland. In addition, for the fitness enthusiasts among you, the hotel offers a tailor-made body-forming program, coupled with a complete list of “Just Pure” care regimens.
Hotel Nevaï, Verbier
In the local dialect, Nevaï means
‘snow’. Surrounded by 400km
of slopes, the hotel perched on
the slopes of Verbier is a credit
to its origins. Both by day and
by night. With its two bars and
resultely designer spaces conceived
by architect Yasmine Mahmoudieh,
the 33-room hotel makes the snow
crystals sparkle. By choosing
to make the reception desk
in Hi-Macs (a surface similar to Corian)
and backlighting the snowflakes,
the magic of the pistes invites
one inside for a glass of
champagne or some apres-ski
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