Visiting Switzerland is always special so I was so excited to be offered the opportunity to stay in Gstaad. One of the most beautiful places in the country. In this small town with six 5* luxury hotels, I stayed in the ultimate, the Ultima Gstaad.
The Ultima Gstaad has only been open since December 2016 and already has a reputation for superior luxury which keeps bringing guests back. It is part of the Ultima Collection, a brand formed by the partnership of two very like-minded businessmen. Byron Baciocchi and Max-Hervé George share a passion for luxury, art and great service. They had the vision to combine these in hotels, chalets and private residences.
I was met at the Geneva airport by Gustavo the Concierge driver who was immaculately dressed. He drove us the two hours from Geneva airport to the hotel in a lovely Mercedes people carrier. The hotel can collect you and drop you back at the airport. You can easily rent a car and make the easy drive yourself if this suits you better. Gstaad also has a train station if you prefer to let the excellent Swiss railway system take the strain for you.
Gstaad is situated in Saanenland region of Switzerland, in the Canton of Bern. Julie Andrews once said: “Gstaad is the last paradise in a crazy world”. Travellers described the beauty of the valley as far back as the 18th century. The region has increasingly become a holiday destination in the 19th century. The completion of the Montreux-Oberland railway in 1905 secured Gstaad’s link to the outside world. The foundations had been laid for the development of tourism. The region’s first tourist associations were founded in Gstaad and Saanen in 1906.
The hotel is formed around three huge wooden chalets which blend traditional styles with modern architectural designs. From the three chalets, the hotel provides eleven luxury suites and six residences. These options allow guests to choose from a full hotel service or a much more private stay. Ultima Gstaad was awarded five-star superior recognition by Hotelleriesuisse after just two months of opening.
Entering the Ultima Gstaad it exudes luxury with a beautiful lobby decorated each day with fresh flowers. To one side there is a see-through piano, painted on by world-famous artist Alec Monopoly, as he is known. A gorgeous chandelier hangs the height of the building in a centralised surrounded by the staircase. The lobby opens up to the cocktail bar where the elegantly dressed mixologists are waiting to tend to your needs.
Kevin the cocktail waiter greeted us and prepared one of his daily specials. He is a world-class mixologist who has entered competitions over the last ten years. Most of the staff have worked previously at other five star hotels in Gstaad so they have good knowledge of the town. They cater for every need twenty-four hours a day, and the hotel can handle any request such as special diets, or pillows with prior arrangement. I was very impressed with how friendly and attentive they were.
After my delicious cocktail, the Duty Manager Alex showed me to my suite and led me around pointing out everything within. I at this stage had a large smile on my face as the suite was vast and full of gadgets, along with a walk-in wardrobe. A massive flat-screen TV adorned one wall opposite a super king size bed which is my idea of heaven. The TV can be linked to your own personal mobile devices and you can sign into Netflix and Amazon. In between the space from the TV to the bed was a large sitting area with stylish leather furniture and coffee table. To the side of the bed is an office area with desk, USB charging etc.
Alex kindly showed me the stocked fridge and refreshments area, then I saw my luggage had already been placed in the wardrobe where robes and slippers were there for me. Every room has its own balcony with fantastic views which surround the hotel. All rooms are decorated with unique pieces of art that can be bought. The owners have a great love of art in every form, and they enjoy planning the interiors of each location.
The standard room rate for one night is 800CHF and this includes full use of the fantastic Ultima Spa, by La Prairie. The spa offers a wide range of treatments up to full medical procedures. It can also be used as a rehabilitation facility post-cosmetic surgery in connected clinics in Geneva. Patients can have surgery in the clinic and be flown just twenty minutes to Gstaad, where they can recuperate in the hotel under professional care. I opted for a relaxing massage rather than any surgery and thoroughly enjoyed it. I made use of the 15 metre Pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, the Hammam and Sauna.
The gym was impressive but I ran out of time to use it. There are six treatment rooms for massage, pedicures or procedures such as Cryolipolysis or what we know in the UK as CoolSculpting. This is fat removal without surgery and starts at 2000CHF per area of the body. I could do with this after dining so well in the fantastic hotel restaurant.
During my stay, I ate delicious cuisine mostly in the beautiful Duchessa restaurant and also in the lobby lounge which is less formal and has a different menu, but again if you want something prepared the staff will do the best they can to make it. The dishes in Duchessa are fine dining of the quality you will find in Michelin starred establishments. The ingredients are all sourced from the best suppliers and these details are evident in the tasting. The Ultima has a signature dish of pasta in a cream sauce, served with black truffle. This is prepared in front of the guests with the waiters doing flambè when adding the vodka.
The lunches I had in the lobby lounge were superb too, with the huge veal Schnitzel being one of the standout dishes. I also experienced one of the best meals of my life when we were entertained in one of the residences. To experience what guests who book the self-contained apartments enjoy, our hosts treated us to a magnificent dining event. Residences have fully equipped kitchens guests can prepare their own meals but they can also have the hotel chefs cook for them. We had a sublime meal cooked by the chefs which included Beef Wellington with truffle mash potato, then liberally topped at the table with more truffle by the ever-attentive waiters. Truly an experience to retell to as many people as possible.
Touching on the residences, the six available vary in size and of course price. They range from two to four bedrooms with prices starting from approximately £8k per night. Guests can enter their accommodation from their own entrance or from the main hotel and connect via a secure underground tunnel. Full hotel services are available to the residents.
Guests can also bring their own staff if they wish, who can be accommodated within the hotel property or locally in Gstaad. The Ultima Gstaad can bring in extra staff as required also, but generally, they have two staff for every one guest staying in the complex. The chefs can also source special dietary requirements and cook anything required.
Other facilities at the hotel include two further bars for guests and the general public. The Shisha is a smoking area and intimate place for guests who enjoy their cigars along with a very fine selection of drinks. The bar can be booked for private use and bands regularly play here. The Detox Bar is completely opposite and encourages healthy living with fresh juices and herbal teas the order of the day. It is situated on the same level as the spa. Perfect to relax in after pampering yourself with a treatment or time in the gym.
Talking of relaxing, you can take yourself off to the private cinema where a huge screen sits in front of sumptuous chairs. You can choose from a large selection of movies, tv shows and much more. The technology can be linked to your own iPad to play games or Youtube on the cinema screen. Food and drinks can be brought to you while you watch in comfort. It is open 24/7 and can be booked if required.
What to do around Gstaad:
Service to the guest is what lays at the heart of Ultima Gstaad and they can provide activities outside the hotel to augment your stay. They have a dedicated ski school with their own coaches all qualified in Switzerland. The concierge can arrange the hotel to transport you to the town for shopping, or local attractions. One nearby must-see place is Glacier 3000, which is a snow mass at 10,000 feet reached by a series of cable cars.
At the summit camp, you can participate in many activities or just relax with a warm drink and take in the awe-inspiring views. You can ski at the top with a number of runs leading off from the main complex. Popular in the town itself is eating Fondue outside in one of the various sites that have been set up in scenic locations. Cheese shops in Gstaad will hire you the equipment to do your own Fondue, and you trek to the location you desire. Set yourself up and enjoy an alfresco cheese experience with stunning surroundings. You also have many leisure activities in both summer and winter and the staff can advise you of where to hike, cycle or even white water raft.
The Ultima Collection is expanding their portfolio of luxury properties and the latest two are beautiful chalets in Crans- Montana, Switzerland. Opened December 2018 the properties allow guests to stay in their own residence while having full 5* hotel services available. The ultra-luxurious properties form a private hamlet within Crans-Montana offering the ultimate intimacy.
Ultima Crans-Montana offers a Bespoke service with a butler 24/7 at your services to make your stay even more memorable. The service also includes daily cleaning, private chef, drivers for your transfers, and a helicopter from Zurich or Geneva.
Ultima Gstaad celebrated its third birthday in December 2018 and from what I experienced during my stay, it will be celebrating many many more. It is indeed a superior hotel and the ultimate in Gstaad. For me, it was a delightful experience and I must thank all the staff there for such an amazing time.
To find out more about the Ultima Collection Brand please follow this link:
Ultima Gstaad article was written by and submitted by Jeremy Webb.