FALLING IN LOVE WITH GSTAAD’S LATEST LUXURY HOTEL: ULTIMA GSTAAD
October 3, 2017
There are few alpine villages in the world that are held in such high regard by luxury connoisseurs as the Swiss alpine town Gstaad. Nestled in the quintessentially Swiss Bernese Oberland mountains, Gstaad has been a gem in luxury bucket lists since Richard Burton, Liz Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Roger Moore became frequent visitors.
Among other claims to fame, the picturesque village hosts the winter campus of Institute Le Rosey, arguably the most exclusive private school in the world (where Prince Rainier III of Monaco, the last Shah of Iran and the current Aga Khan went to school), receives a disproportionately high number of top celebrity visits and accommodates jetsetters flying in on a regular basis with their private planes from Monaco, Saint Tropez and beyond where they enjoy Gstaad’s 220km ski slopes in winter, the high-end equestrian centre and golf course in summer, and the pinnacle of Swiss hospitality all year round.
What’s more, as of this year, Gstaad visitors can explore a new level of fine hospitality at the grand chalet “Ultima Gstaad” – a five-star superior boutique hotel, which is truly in a class of its own.
Designed like an oversized modern Swiss alpine chalet, Ultima Gstaad has an exterior appearance of a warm, inviting, grand private residence. When inside, guests will certainly appreciate the cosy character of a Swiss chalet, but also a level of opulence and design sense that would exceed royalty’s expectations.
In the foyer, an exceptional seven-metre high crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling and stretches all the way down to the floor, a custom-designed glass Schimmel grand piano stands out of its corner (there are only two in the world and Alicia Keys owns the other), an enormous teddy bear from Harrods sits near the concierge adding a playful touch, and the bar and lounge area exude tasteful extravagance with inviting furnishings and enormous bottles of fine champagne. The premium ambience is augmented by a colour scheme of chiefly gold and silver, while textures of warm wood and modern glass lend the spaces a contemporary edge.
Overall, it is fair to say, the hotel strikes one as a well-balanced opulent destination, but one which feels as private and welcoming as your own home.
One of the key elements of Ultima Gstaad’s unrivalled offer is the exclusive nature of the accommodation. Only eleven suites and six residences are available, making for an intimate, peaceful stay. The focus on key suites and residences also ensures a consistent level of outstanding quality. Each suite is expansive with high ceilings, ample room and stylish design touches, from the extensive use of leather (including the ceilings and furnishings) to large walk-in-wardrobes, fine Italian marble bathrooms, warm wooden beams and appropriately inspiring artwork.
Other elements which impressed us in our suite were the sun-drenched wooden balcony overlooking the garden, the enormous complimentary scented candle, the constantly replenished complimentary treats (including possibly the finest macarons on the market), the tech specs (such as a single remote function that controls everything from the curtains to the television rising out of the end of the bed), and the suite’s well-stocked mini bar and coffee station.
For guests desiring accommodation even closer to their own home setup, the six residences have much to offer. The signature residence, for example, boasts four luxuriously appointed bedrooms, a dining room for up to 10 guests, a marble self-contained kitchen (private chefs are available upon request) and inviting furnishings, including sumptuous velvet upholstered armchairs.
During our weekend at Ultima Gstaad, we were spoilt with an exceptional standard of gastronomic delights.
A typical lunch, for example, included a crème soup with asparagus de jour followed by a crispy burger with regional beef, cheese and thin homemade fries, all topped off with an elegant cheesecake dessert seasoned with fruits and meringues.
Breakfast was a set menu with options that exceeded a traditional five-star superior buffet-style menu. Fresh juices, a colossal bread basket with savoury and sweet patisserie items, bircher muesli and fruit salads were followed by smoked mackerel and salmon, poached eggs and regional smoked ham, as well as dainty pancakes with maple syrup and seasonal berries. The breakfast was simply delightful and one could taste that the limited number of guests also played a part in ensuring that the tailor-made breakfasts delivered on a standard that would be difficult to match.
While we were impressed with Ultima’s standard breakfast, the Sunday brunch that followed the next day took our breath away. This banquet, which spread over about five tables was a buffet-style offer, but the quality and attention to detail was truly extraordinary. Among the highlights were the bircher muesli table and condiment options, six local sliced meat varieties, abundant finely sliced cheeses, delicately crafted salmon finger sandwiches, a large honey comb tray, delicious gratins, Italian pesto penne, French ratatouille, chicken infused with thyme, racks of lamb and ample Swiss sweat treats, which included chocolate balls topped with gold leaf (the chocolate came from Guanaja, the island where Christopher Columbus first discovered Cocoa and brought it back to the west).
Of course, Ultima Gstaad’s offer would be incomplete without a fine dining dinner venue. But they certainly have one in the shape of their signature restaurant – Duchessa – a lavishly appointed restaurant with Italian flavours and local alpine ingredients.
Our well-presented dishes included a large tuna tartar plate (seared slightly with liquid nitrogen and dressed with Sardinian olive oil), local Emmental steak served with lightly steamed regional vegetables, and lemon meringue spheres adorned with skilfully designed sugar art.
The wine pairing experience also deserves a special mention. The sommelier was both professional and approachable. His knowledge was exceptional and his willingness to go above and beyond to ensure guest satisfaction, as well as his talent for pairing, was very much appreciated. Ultima Gstaad’s extensive wine cellar also augmented the wine pairing experience, with over CHF300,000 worth of wine available to indulge in.
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of Ultima Gstaad is the wellness offer available.
Ultima Spa is the wellness hub, consisting of an 8,600-square-foot indulgent refuge. Designed similar to a superyacht with large white extravagant pillows and fine decking, the swimming pool, infinity indoor Jacuzzi, large outdoor Jacuzzi, hammam, sauna and massage suites all exude relaxation and luxuriousness. The spa treatments also offer a large list of options, all with Swiss La Praire products, famed for their caviar anti-ageing qualities.
The privacy of Ultima Gstaad and access to top cosmetic surgeons, also places it as an ideal destination for cosmetic treatments in Switzerland. What’s more, thanks to the hotel’s partnership with Aesthetics Clinics, one of Switzerland’s premier cosmetic clinic brands, Ultima is already starting to develop a reputation as a sought after discreet cosmetic retreat. After a consultation, the appointed leading specialist offers tailor-made treatment plans, ranging from plastic surgery (upon request) to non-invasive treatments to DNA testing with dietary plans.
During our stay, our cosmetic surgeon recommended a non-invasive radiofrequency treatment. The treatment made use of state-of-the-art technology, including non-invasive heated poles, which improved blood flow and a laser technique emitted from the poles, which tightened the skin and left us looking more youthful. After this experience, we can assure guests that if Ultima Gstaad does not already make you feel youthful with the pristine environment, the unrivalled cuisine, the spa and the exceptional comfort, the cosmetic clinic certainly will!
The little touches that keep you coming back for more
Like any outstanding experience, it’s often the combination of small touches that make the greatest positive impact. This is certainly true for Ultima Gstaad.
Guests can look forward to a long list of bespoke inclusions, which are provided for extra comfort and memorable stays. Some of the touches that stood out for us were the complimentary Maybach chauffeur (available any time of the day or night), the high-quality drinks and snacks (including delightful cocktails and organic juice mixes from the three bars), the Shisha room with DJ equipment for evening events, the dog’s menu (which includes 7 mains, 7 side dishes and several desserts ranging from a menthol bone to a cupcake) and, of course, the overall service, from the personal butlers assigned to guests to the marketing and culinary staff.
There are many more extra touches to enjoy at Ultima Gstaad, but we will leave you discover them for yourself. We look forward to hearing about your stay!