When I first heard about the opening of The Alpina Gstaad in Switzerland, I expected that the hotel would be like many other five-star properties around the country — a gorgeous but formal, traditional affair where children and their parents feel the need to talk in their quiet voice.
After my visit this summer I learned that this assumption was wrong. Very wrong.
The Alpina Gstaad is stylish and approachable with a meaningful connection to its mountain location. The ambiance manages to be fresh and eclectic … yet elegant and luxurious. As for the need for families to tiptoe, this is a non-issue. Children are welcome — and pampered — with open arms.
Located in the jet-set village of Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland in southwestern Switzerland, The Alpina Gstaad is easy to access with no significant mountain passes to navigate from either Zurich or Geneva.
Although Gstaad is a small village, it has attracted affluent international travelers for decades and is home to a variety of upscale hotels, shops and restaurants. The opening of an award-winning five-star hotel in a town with big expectations is no small challenge.
I can’t get over the fact that The Alpina is home to just 56 guest rooms as it’s big, airy, and dramatic; it feels like a space for many guests, which means the small number of guests that actually get to stay here can always find a private corner of their own to relax.
The Alpina Gstaad is full of wonderful contrasts. The design incorporates a brilliant mix of materials — old wood, leather, natural stone, and hand-crafted fabric. Modern and traditional elements connect to create an atmosphere that is visually stunning while true to its Swiss mountain roots.
The hotel is full of surprises, from neon messages to striking art. Over the period our stay, we constantly encountered new visual treats.
Guest rooms are thoughtfully designed with big windows and wonderful lighting that isn’t overly complicated to control. Smart elements like automatic night lights for late strolls to the bathroom and in-mirror televisions make guests feel like they are in a special, state-of-the-art place, not just your average luxury room. There’s plenty of storage space, as well as places to lounge both inside rooms and on a private terrace.
Cowbell-shaped bedside lighting, fresh flowers, and plush fabrics make the guest rooms both fun and inviting. Connecting rooms and spacious suites are available for families.
The location of The Alpina Gstaad is tremendous, perched on the top of the town with wonderful mountain views. There’s a lush manicured garden, a stunning outdoor pool, an expansive terrace for dining and a playground for kids.
The idyllic resort set up makes the hotel a wonderful getaway in winter or summer. The hotel is so dreamy that it’s hard to decide if it’s better to stay put and enjoy the space or go out and do something active.
Many luxury hotels cater to children because they cater to “everyone” that walks in their door as a matter of offering exceptional service. Not so here. Children are far from an afterthought; they were included in the master plan as evident by top-notch services and amenities crafted just for them. From the beautiful kids’ club room to the playground right off the main dining room, to the kids’ menus available at each restaurant, the experience for young children at The Alpina Gstaad is extraordinary.
The star of the show is the kids’ club staff who clearly love children and go well above and beyond to ensure that they are not just cared for, but that kids have fun. The staff make themselves available around the clock, which means parents have time to enjoy the restaurants, dreamy spa, and plethora of engaging outdoor adventures available here.
Although the hotel is not ski-out, there’s an in-house shuttle that takes guests to the slopes over the winter months. The isolated nature of Gstaad means that older kids can have some independence here too.
Dining at The Alpina Gstaad is a highlight. Again, the hotel offers something unusual to guests via the three restaurants and a lounge.
MEGU, which has a flagship restaurant in New York, opened their first European outlet at The Alpina Gstaad. The Japanese inspired menu includes everything from wonderful sushi to melt-in-your-mouth US Wagyu beef grilled at the table on a River Stone Grill.
Restaurant Sommet has one Michelin star and 18/20 Gault Millau points for good reason. Sommet is their fine dining outlet with a sophisticated menu for that special meal. We had a glorious three-hour culinary extravaganza thanks to the wonderful kids’ club staff who kept our wee traveler entertained for hours. Seasonal, creative specialties are lovingly presented and served by an attentive staff.
It’s interesting to note that like all things at The Alpina Gstaad, the atmosphere at Sommet is lively and fresh, not stuffy. Kids are welcome, although parents will find that this is the kind of place where you want to linger for hours … without them.
Swiss Stübli, the traditional Swiss restaurant open in the winter months only, serves Alpine specialties like fondue and Raclette.
There’s a focus on health and wellness at The Alpina Gstaad. The Six Senses Spa is a big part of that experience, and so is the food. For those that want something diet-ready healthy, The Alpina Life Cuisine menu offers lighter fare. And for those who are there to celebrate without a care in the world, there’s an extensive wine list, sake list, and a cigar lounge, i.e. guests are left wanting for nothing!
The spa at The Alpina Gstaad is a decadent slice of 2,000-square meter heaven. Run by Six Senses, it’s the ultimate wellness retreat with a gorgeous indoor pool, whirlpools, hot and cold plunge pools, steam/sauna rooms, and “experience showers”. There’s a waterbed relaxation room and a Salt Room where guests lounge in healing Himalayan salts.
There’s an extensive spa menu offering therapeutic treatments for every part of the body. I experienced the basics — an all-body massage — with an attentive, well-trained therapist in a lovely Alpine-meets-Asia inspired treatment room. It’s the kind of spa where you can blissfully spend an hour, a day, or a week.
The focus is on wellness, not just surface beauty, and there are programs to improve energy and vitality inside and out. This is an area of differentiation and focus for The Alpina Gstaad and I was told there will be more exciting programming to come!
Although children aren’t allowed in the spa, they are allowed to use the indoor pool. In fact, like all things at The Alpina Gstaad, they aren’t just accepted, but warmly welcomed with their own divine kids’ pool and slide.
The Alpina Gstaad is one of my favorite luxury hotel experiences in any country. It’s a coveted venue for holidays, special occasions, multi-generational trips, and old-fashioned family getaways. It’s the new darling of the luxury hotel world with a long list of awards that keep coming … it’s priced accordingly, but worth every penny.
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Editor’s Note: The Alpina Gstaad offered Ciao Bambino a media rate to review the hotel. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.
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