Boutique Swiss Retreats – We Check In to Ultima Gstaad
I’m going to start with two cliched adjectives to describe Ultima Gstaad: jet set and flashy. Which, at the risk of making me sound a bit old fashioned, hit the nail on the head in summing a chalet hotel that is the ultima(te) in Gstaad resort opulence. With the crystal chandelier in the entrance by Baccarat, the Schimmel glass grand piano, customised by street artist Alec Monopoly – is one of two, the other owned by Alicia Keys. A piece that, along with the giant Harrods teddy bear in a corridor, and most of the other art on display in the hotel, is available for the international and monied guests to buy at whim.
A swanky glass elevator takes us up a level to our room on the first floor. Which is a hugely proportioned, expensively fitted and furnished suite. With a marble bathroom, walk-in wardrobes and state-of-the-art technology. Including a swivelling surround sound TV that pops-up and down at the end of the bed, a mesmerising steam vapour fireplace, and double balcony with epic views over the peaks of Eiggle.
The hotel’s dining room is intimate (read: surprisingly small), with a hip ‘Blah blah blah’ neon art installation and crushed velvet chairs, it somehow feels like you are in a nightclub. Albeit one with incredible food. Where we enjoyed melt-in-the-mouth sea bass served with a rich-tasting wholesome beluga lentils in a dashi broth. Followed by a fluffy smoked chocolate pudding.
The a la carte breakfast is equally worth writing home about. Especially when ordered in-room, to be enjoyed with views of the mountains. Our trolly was filled with delights such as fresh juice and coffee, runny poached eggs on creamy avocado toast and fresh pancakes with tangy berries and yoghurt. Just the thing to set you up before a day on the slopes.
Ski followed by spa has got to be a partnership made in wellness heaven. And after a day on the slopes of Gstaad, my weary body craved the jets of the largest hot ‘tub’ I’ve had the pleasure of languishing in. Tucked away in an alfresco wooden decked enclave, over 20 square meters of steaming water bubbles away so powerfully I found myself gripping on to the strategically placed railings on the submerged loungers.
The spa is super yacht-style glossy – all moody black Sahara marble and perforated bronze offset against teak decking. With mirrored console tables hosting an abundance of white orchids, sumptuous white loungers and decorative mirrored balls bobbing in the emerald water of the pool. The sauna and steam rooms are in spacious glass boxes, with tiled recliners in the steam room making the experience even more relaxing than usual.
Naturally the spa features a La Prairie counter, and there is an aesthetic doctor on site for everything from state-of-the-art non-invasive anti-ageing treatments to a cheeky nip and tuck. I just went for a massage though. And even as my slippered feet sunk into the sumptuous white carpet of the treatment room, I knew this was going to be a decadent experience. The hydraulic bed melding with the curves of my body, as the therapist began with an aromatherapy inhalation. My treatment was a signature medium tissue all over body massage using Comfort Zone oils. With a focus on ski weary legs, and gentle cupping on the back to oxygenate the lactic acid build up in my shoulders and dissolve the feeling of tightness.
At the end of the blissful session, my therapist took the time to talk me through what she noticed – which was water retention in my legs. She went to explain that it is like a bubble wrap under the surface of the skin, with micro buckets of water that my body is holding on to water as a protective layer. Probably caused by stress. And the solution? Regular massage. Oh, if I must…