If you are planning a vacation in Europe, a visit to Switzerland in summer or winter can turn into a vacation of perfection with a stay at the precious new Ultima Gstaad, which opened in December. Take in the shades of the Bernese Alps in glistening whites or calming greens from your terrace in one of 17 suites and residences to be found at this complex of over-the-top chalets. There is no best time to visit Switzerland. Gstaad is open all year and each season has its reason.
The exquisite scenery of the alpine foothills matches the stunning interiors of Ultima Gstaad. The Ultima is actually three expansive wooden chalets that combine contemporary elegance with traditional alpine design. No reception desks here as all admin is done privately and personally, as can be said about all of the amenities and services at the property. Rather guests will find a cascading seven-foot crystal Chandelier and a glass Schimmel piano customized by Alec Monopoly, a reproduction of one owned by singer Alicia Keys.
Where Roger Moore Parks his Car
Tones here are all whites and silvers and the sheen of glass against warm blond woods, soft beige textiles and some velvety reds. Nothing is loud; nothing offends. It’s quiet and discreet charm here as it has been through the decades as Gstaad became the winter playland of the uberclass vacationing in Europe: Louis Armstrong and the Aga Kahn, Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Andrews, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Peter Sellers and Roger Moore were frequent visitors. Today one might see John Travolta, Roman Polanski, George Soros, Madonna or Steve Wynn. Roger Moore was once quoted as saying, “the locals are more interested in my car than they are in me.”
Gstaad Meets Call of the Alps
Gstaad, a German-speaking alpine village of around 10,000 some 3,400 feet above sea level, is an easily accessible place from major European cities and marvelously walkable along its traffic-free mile district with plenty of luxury brand shopping to entertain. Find a medley of known stores there, including Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chopard, Brunello Cucinelli, Prada, Moncler, Ralph Lauren, and Cartier and smaller boutiques stocking such labels as Chloe, Dolce & Gabbana, Tod’s, Burberry, Dior, Oscar de la Renta, and Marc Jacobs.
The hotel concierge can arrange a car for guests arriving in Geneva, and car transport to Saanen for guests arriving by private plane. As a vacation in Europe, a trip to the Ultima Gstaad is incredibly easy and smooth.
Skiers will be looking at cable cars that connect surrounding ski areas such as Wispile and Rinderberg, with hundreds of miles of all-level mountains and cross-country trails. Elevations on these mountains run around 6,500 feet. But the cables work year ‘round and offer summer guests wide vistas of open verdant meadows with ambling goats and sheep in scenes that might be plucked right out of Heidi. The weather in this part of Switzerland averages from January lows of 34 degrees to July highs of 73 degrees.
Ultima Gstaad: Ultimate Retreat to Luxury
Ultima Gstaad’s guests can content themselves at the chalets as well as the mountains and village. There the emphasis is on food, service, aesthetics and wellness.
Guest quarters may be suites or multi-bedroom residences that spread out from 700 to 2,100 square feet for families or a group of friends. Both options offer ample space and comforts. Even the smallest of options amid the six generous configurations offers plush furnishings with design driven-amenities: fireplace, desk area, living area, walk-in closet, marble bathroom – a veritable cocoon in an ice palace much of the year with the warm wood walls and ceilings.
Dining is about candlelight and crystal at Duchessa. In the living room style setting guests will be treated to Italian fare and fine wines in a country known for providing the finest chefs to the grand restaurants and kitchens of the world. Three bars provide cocktails and top shelf spirits or organic juices and teas.
And then there is the Ultima Spa. The 8,600-square-foot oasis that guests have all to themselves with an indoor swimming pool, hammam for luxuriating, sauna and massage suites where guests are rubbed and smoothed in La Prairie anti-aging products. Through the spa’s collaboration with Aesthetics Clinics® guests can have their DNA tested for strengths and weakness and create individually tailored treatments to match desired goals.
Rates start at $562 per night in low season. A Wellness Package, available now, is a three-day retreat with a medically supervised detox treatment based on personal DNA. The package includes three nights in a Deluxe Suite and three specially designed detox dinners at Duchessa for $11,516.
New Luxury Hotel in Barcelona City Center
For those vacationing in Europe this summer a new exciting option for vacations in Spain may be the Almanac Hotel Barcelona, which will be Barcelona’s latest luxury hotel when it opens late summer. And its location, in Barcelona’s city center, could not be more inviting. The new 91-room property along Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes is practically within throwing distance of some of Barcelona’s iconic draws.
This new hotel in the center of Barcelona is steps away from Paseo de Gracia and Plaza Cataluña and in easy walking distance to Las Ramblas and buildings designed by Modernist master architect, Antonio Gaudi. Almanac Barcelona will be the first of a series of Almanac properties in a new luxury chain that is also targeting locations in Vienna, Prague, Budapest and Zagreb.
Decor at the Almanac Hotel Barcelona is richly imaginative: a blend of modernist simplicity with unpredictable touches for the senses — a hotel that is meant to be seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched. Expect gray, beige, and gold tones with accents of oak and walnut and the use of antique mirrors that complement the copious use of Ibiza marble.
Guest rooms will measure 366 square feet and suites will range from 484 square feet to 1,345 square feet. Watch for unusual details such as bowed windows overlooking the city in the hotel’s “Cube Rooms,” complemented by a comfy sofa nook. The Almanac will debut a “Connect & Collect” app to give guests access to a personal concierge and area guides, and provides international calling free of charge, even when outside the hotel.
The hotel’s rooftop will become a sun sanctuary by day with a pool and sun lounge and a nightlife magnet by night with inventive cocktails served on a terrace overlooking the lights of Barcelona. Dining will be done at Linia, the Almanac’s Mediterranean brasserie in an upscale but casual setting that opens onto the avenue.
The Almanac Hotel Barcelona mezzanine will become the business hub of the hotel with a 10-person conference space and two private dining rooms illuminated by natural light. And, of course, the hotel will welcome guests to its fitness and wellness center that will have a treatment area, steam sauna and relaxation lounge.
Rooms will start at around $476.
A summer vacation in Europe with all the amenities, would be well spent with nights at the Almanac Hotel Barcelona.