It’s no secret that Abercrombie & Kent is one of the most coveted brands in the world when it comes to luxury travel, with or without children. Known as A&K, this premium tour operator runs both independent and group trips all over the world.
What people don’t always realize is that A&K has a fast-growing villa business offering luxury villa and chalet rentals throughout Europe. I had an opportunity to give one of their chalets a test drive in Zermatt, Switzerland, this summer and discovered just what makes their villa offering a compelling choice for luxury-seeking families.
Renting a chalet or villa for a vacation can be the optimal way to experience a destination as a family, particularly when staying in a destination for more than just a few days. Despite this situation, we only feature hotels in the CB! Hotel Collection; this is in part due to the fact that villa/chalet rentals are a different animal with a vast inventory of hard-to-qualify options. But this doesn’t change the fact that there are times when renting a standalone accommodation is the way to go.
My big challenge with this category of accommodation is that there’s no reliable Trip Advisor for villas, so there is always a risk that a discerning traveler will be disappointed with average options or worse.
A&K Villas/Chalets makes this a non-issue as they offer the same exceptional and thoroughly vetted inventory as they do in the rest of their service offering. Moreover, they offer a Hosted Villa service where A&K resources provide hotel-like services including breakfast, daily maid service, transportation, and top notch concierge services. Private in-villa chefs for dinners, as well as additional resources for special celebrations are available on request.
I knew we were in for a serious treat when we booked The Heinz Julen Loft given that the photos on the A & K website are stunning. However, I was still in shock when we walked into this celebrity-ready accommodation perched above the town of Zermatt with floor-ceiling windows of the valley below. This chalet was built to impress. Mission accomplished.
Glass, steel, concrete and wood are paired together in an eclectic, industrial-like space, which really isn’t that because it’s filled with unique art, photos, and one-of-a-kind furnishings conceived by the owner, Heinz Julen, an artist and designer from a prominent local family.
The loft seems to float above the village and provides a surreal close look at the surrounding scenery; the view is astounding from practically every vantage point within the space. There’s an indoor hot tub and an illuminated suspended table that can be raised when guests want to throw a party, which I understand is often.
The Heinz Julen Loft is unlike any other accommodation — rented or otherwise — I’ve ever seen. This is exactly the point. This unique accommodation offers something truly extraordinary to guests and this is exactly what A&K Villas/Chalets aims to deliver — something special, not just another generic villa experience.
I should note that The Heinz Julen Loft is not a place to stay with children. I knew this going into our stay, but opted to check it out anyway. Who wouldn’t?!
I had an opportunity to tour six other A&K chalets in Zermatt and found an astounding variety of options within a relatively small area from modern, newly constructed chalets, to cozy spaces with Matterhorn views, to a traditional, wooden Swiss chalet with quirky, old-world charm right off the river running in the heart of town.
The accommodations are all lovely but the icing on the cake comes with their Hosted Villa program. I met the Michelin-trained chef who runs their catering department. They aren’t just offering meals for sustenance to their guests. The opposite! The aim is to offer a culinary experience that rivals that of the restaurants in Zermatt. Less hassle paired with high-quality cuisine in the comfort of your accommodation. Zermatt is a tourist haven and any opportunity to escape the crowds is welcome.
Self-Catering: £5,600 – £13,400 per week, depending on the date (quoted in Pounds, A&K Villas/Chalets HQ is in the UK).
> Full concierge service
> Complimentary arrival and departure pickup from Zermatt train station
> 1 day free slope guiding
Catered Chalet: £8,000 – £17,500
All that is included on self catered basis plus the following:
> Dedicated service from the chalet staff and welcome assistance
> Champagne Reception
> Tea and coffee in bed each morning
> Daily breakfast and afternoon tea
> Children’s supper as requested
> An open spirits bar and range of soft drinks
> Champagne and canapés each night
> Evening meal on six nights
> Housekeeping on 6 days per week
> Carefully selected house wines
> Mid-week towel change
> Pre-arrival menu consultation
> Fresh flowers
> Newspapers on request
Zermatt is one of the most popular destinations in Switzerland. Like all Swiss goodies, there are few things that are inexpensive and fine accommodations are one of them so it’s important to choose wisely. A&K’s villa pricing doesn’t suit all budgets, but it will certainly suit discerning tastes and is a solid value for a quality, truly special experience in Zermatt (winter or summer).
A&K’s Media Relations Manager, Jean Fawcett, offers this sage advice:
“Every villa is different from the next, however, I always feel that there is a perfect villa out there for everyone, it is just a case of speaking with the experts to help them find it for you! The longer in advance you plan, the better chance you will have of finding that perfect villa for the dates you require.”
Head to the A&K Villas Enquiry Page for more information.
We can help! Ciao Bambino’s Family Vacation Consulting Team can help with everything from accommodation bookings to planning comprehensive itineraries. Request assistance on our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.
Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino received a media rate to review A&K Villas/Chalets. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy except where noted.
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