Tuesday, October 26, 2010

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO: Gstaad Palace

FAIRYTALE IN THE SWISS ALPS…

Gstaad Palace is one of our favourite alpine ski resorts. We checked out the hotel in October when all rooms were empty and waiting like Sleeping Beauties for the winter season.

Looking up from the fashionable shopping street you can see the towers, like an enchanted fairytale palace. And indeed, you imagine the princess living “happily ever after” in the Penthouse suite…

The Penthouse suite is high magic. Surrounded on all sides by private terrace and fairytale views, pampered Penthouse guests have the bewitching towers all to themselves. Perhaps relaxing in the terrace Jacuzzi while a feast is being delivered...


Feasting all senses in the lavishly romantic master bedroom…

The three Penthouse bedrooms have the flounce and finesse of a Princess boudoir. Each one is different, with a mix of luxury and alpine tradition.

Penthouse bedroom 2 (above).

Penthouse bedroom 3

The third bedroom is for the kids or a nanny, explained the Director of Sales, Michael Lehnort. Still, not lacking in luxury …

The Penthouse parlour is designed for togetherness around a blazing fire, creating a cosy mountain chalet feel with exquisite traditional furniture and stag horns above the hearth. But maybe something a little smaller?

Tower suites with two bedrooms on the 6th or 7th floor make use of the space inside the towers, with a round bathroom sporting a Jacuzzi, and a private smoking nook leading off one of the bedrooms. Plus generous balconies and large living room.
Tower suite with a smoking nook in the round tower (above).

We found the deluxe one-bedroom suites inviting and very romantic in “alpine Princess” style, with great views from the balcony.

Deluxe Suite (above & below)



Refurbishments were in process. The newly done rooms we were shown had a more earthy or alpine chalet feel – for example the Junior Suite Deluxe and the Deluxe room. It seems the delicate rosy period might be over…


Junior Suite Deluxe (above)


View from a Deluxe Room (above).

Gstaad Palace was built in 1913 and is family owned. Hence the appealing sense of individuality in its 104 rooms and suites.

Apart from the buffet restaurant currently under total renovation, the hotel offers Swiss restaurant, Italian restaurant under the chef of Il Pellicano, gourmet restaurant, 2 bars and nightclub. The hotel is famous for its warm après ski ambiance.

But this year there was high occupancy in summer too. The image (below) shows the Olympic pool and four red clay tennis courts where training is given during the Roy Emerson tennis weeks. The spa windows gaze out at fantastic views, and its heated outdoor pool is a treat in winter too. The absolute must is a Hammam experience with 7 rituals in 7 rooms.
Activities nearby include golf, heli-skiing, hot-air-ballooning, white water rafting – and designer shopping. Lifts go up to nearby mountains even in summer. We took a cable car up to Wispile top station and dined on the deck of the chalet restaurant in warm sunshine – ringed by mountains with the first autumn snows. Very child-friendly – with playparks and miniature goats.



Seat at the Top of Wispile (1991 m). Gstaad way below in the valley.
From lift up to Mt Wispile (1991m), Gstaad Palace visible in the valley

How to get to Gstaad? Car from Geneva or train straight out of Geneva airport to Montreux, and then a divine mountain train ride to Gstaad – 2 comfortable scenic hours from Geneva.

For winter images see our web page on Gstaad Palace.

· Note: image of the feast in the master bedroom provided by Gstaad Palace, rest “Select” snaps

















Thursday, October 14, 2010

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO: Evian, France


Hôtel Royal, Evian, France. Select has taken the waters...

Evian is one of the most celebrated spa resorts in the world, known for its mineral rich waters and divine setting. We arrived in hot October sunshine, the old romantic way – by train and steamboat over Lake Geneva. The mood by the water was lazy Mediterranean, though surrounding alpine peaks were dusted in snow.

Hôtel Royal stands on the mountainside in a sweeping green park, looking down over the lake, with Lausanne and Switzerland on the opposite bank. The views mesmerize, whether sitting at breakfast, gazing over the infinity pool, standing on your balcony…or lying in bed.


Mesmerizing view from a Lakeview room.

All rooms have balconies. We recommend a Lakeview room for light and water magic: standard Lakeview room (33 sqm) or Residence Lakeview room (47 sqm). There are also a few special suites - 8 Presidential suites, a Royal suite, Edward VII suite and Rotunde suite (110 sqm).

In the lounges and restaurants, past glamour lingers under cupolas and frescoes. This grandiose old hotel is not for a minimalist. An aura of nostalgia and lust for pleasure invites you to sit in deep chairs, watch people go by, enjoy the terraces. Or forget all at the spa…


La Suite restaurant – past grandeur and comfort.


Spa is still the soul of Evian, even though its Evian Masters Golf Course and academy are world renowned. Spa Evian Source at Hotel Royal is huge with 30 treatment rooms, hair salon, Jacuzzis, steam room, sauna, gym and fitness and three pools. Its main indoor pool looks out through picture windows into the woods, and warm water bubbles into an outdoor pool surrounded by greenery.

These waters are not from the mineral springs that fill bottles exported worldwide, but we did get a chance to “take the waters…” A choice of mineral waters is proffered at Spa Evian Source, laced with herbs offering health properties. After that we tried a truly bewitching reflexology massage. You can plunge into Evian mineral water at Thermes spa down by the harbour – but it is not the same class as the hotel spa.

Verdant views from pool at exclusive Spa Evian Source
Hôtel Royal is part of Evian Royal Resort which offers 10 restaurants, a family hotel, excellent kid’s club up to 16 years - and a casino.

The shortest way to arrive is by helicopter or car straight from Geneva airport . We continued by boat, tram and train up into the alps (more on that to come)…

Alps and lake from boat Evian-Lausanne

Evian harbour – art nouveau waterfront

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

HOTEL CHECK: Lydmar Hotel Stockholm

Art sets the tone. Lydmar lies beside National art gallery, between two waterways
Stockholm’s growing reputation as a cool-chic destination is partly due to hotels like Lydmar. Arty and playful, yet homely; luxurious and exclusive, yet understated, the hotel has won rave reviews for its ambience. But it also enjoys a fabulous setting facing water, boats, old town and Royal Palace.

So what is Lydmar’s secret? Owner Per (Pelle) Lydmar has followed his own tastes to create an atmosphere of home away from home.

“At home you mix old and new,” explains market & sales manager Emma Nordström – so that is what Pelle has done to make a homely, relaxed feeling in the grand old building. In the lobby is a lustrously purple Oriental mat –threadbare – along with ultra-modern white leather and brocade art nouveau. Haphazard piles of books invite reading. Art photographs, playful and provocative, adorn the walls, as if by impulse.

The lack of ostentation goes through to the naming of the 46 rooms. There are three room types. “Small”, “Medium”, “Large”, X-Large and then the Full Security Suite for world leaders and celebrities. The large room we saw was actually a suite, one of the medium rooms was really a junior suite, and the small room – simply chic.

The restaurant attracts the beautiful people and smart execs from town and elsewhere. In summer there are two outdoor terraces for food and café life. But you have to be in the know … typical of its laid back style, the hotel has no sign outside…
Old and new, careless chic: Lydmar lobby



Lounge of “Large Room” no. 415: suite with views in 3 directions


Bedroom of “Large Room” no. 415: also has lounge, brownstone bathroom & guest toilet



Medium Room” no. 501, cosy attic style with views


Another “medium” room – L-shaped with sleeping and lounge areas

Small Room” no. 405: simple earthy chic