Destination Switzerland

Brimming with alpine beauty, Switzerland continues to appeal to visitors around the world, with its refined form of luxury. Natalie Hami investigates.

A destination that cannot help but boast a most enviable landscape and natural beauty, Switzerland is not only known for its incredible chocolates and cheeses, but for a very classic and unique form of luxury, which distinctly draws from its surroundings.

It is only logical then that the destination’s hospitality arm, Switzerland Tourism, aims to continually build on the country’s tourism product by highlighting its natural charm.

Travel Forward 20

Director GCC, Switzerland Tourism, Matthias Albrecht commented to TTG on Switzerland’s inherent appeal.
“Switzerland is the original alpine destination. We are not a copy. We are authentic; our hotels and products have a glamorous history, and are surrounded by wonderful green nature, deep-blue lakes and snow-capped mountains.”

He further noted: “Every year hotels and destinations are investing billions to ensure state-of-the-art facilities in their premises and products (such as cable cars, railways, boats, plus more) without destroying the classy and relaxing atmosphere.”

Commenting on this authenticity was hotel manager, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Thomas Bechtold who toldTTG: “Our resort is not a classic winter or ski destination compared to most of the other Swiss luxury destinations, so we can differ easily due to where the resort is situated. The region is very authentic, and this is an important characteristic for our resort – we want to be, and we are, authentic.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by general manager, Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, St. Moritz, Reto Stöckenius, who commented that the property ‘is a grand building with a rich tradition which has at the same time a unique and uncomplicated atmosphere’.

Meanwhile, Engadin St. Moritz tourism organisation told TTG that in an effort to retain the destination’s unique luxury characteristics, every year the five-star hotels in the area refurbish their properties, some of which have been operating for more than 100 years.

However, it informed that alongside these landmark properties there are also new hotels that have opened in the last three years and are very modern in style and design, creating a good mix of well-preserved historic grand hotels as well as modern alpine chic hotels.

With the motto ‘loving the past and living the modernity’, general manager, Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, Thomas Kleber (who is also the area general manager of all three Steigenberger Hotels in Switzerland) highlighted the significance of skilfully combining the old with the new. “Due to several renovations in recent years – the last huge renovation took place in 2013 – the Grandhotel combines modern elements and historic treasures in a one-time symbiosis.”

A number of iconic Swiss properties are also undergoing extensive works in a bid to combine the class and richness of history with modernity, creating The B?rgenstock Resort, a 140-year-old property, set to re-open in 2017.

Sales and marketing director, The Bürgenstock Selection, Steve Nikolov explained the significance of the development to TTG: “The 140-year-old Bürgenstock Resort which re-opens in 2017 is one of the largest, if not the largest, resort re-development project in Switzerland with an investment of over $545 million.”

Director of sales and marketing, Hotel Royal Savoy, Jean-Michel Berner explained to TTG that the property, constructed in 1906, has always been a symbol of prestige via its architectural splendour and traditional hospitality.

“With an investment of nearly $107 million and after four years of renovation, the hotel will revive its former glory and open a new chapter of the Lausanne hotel history,” he said, adding that it will open its doors this summer.

MIDDLE EASTERN APPEAL

And as these iconic properties ensure that they are not only embracing their Swiss culture but also the modern needs of any given guest, they are also turning their gaze to the MENA market, more specifically, the GCC market.

This is an especially important market for the destination, as expressed by Albrecht, who said that the GCC source market has been growing rapidly over the last three years and the destination has enjoyed more than 20 per cent growth every year.

The need to cater adequately to this market was reiterated by Berner who noted that once the property opens, the hotel will be reaching out to the GCC guests with a number of advantages on offer.

“The property will offer a number of services specifically dedicated to the needs of these [GCC] travellers, including Arabic-speaking staff and Arabic cultural amenities designed to make their stay as comfortable as possible,” said Berner.

This eagerness to provide for this market was expressed by Nikolov, who commented that the property will continue to build on its relationships with the travel trade in the GCC, putting emphasis on showcasing and explaining the resort’s future facilities and services which will cater specifically to discerning guests from the Gulf region.

“We will be featuring a large selection of suites in various sizes for families, halal dining, Lebanese and Asian restau¬rants (plus 10 other outlets with Swiss, French and international cuisine), Arabic-speaking staff and amenities and services catering specifically to the needs of guests from the region. Likewise we are ramping up sales and marketing activities in other important feeder markets around the world.”

With its reputation well-established on the global tourism map, Switzerland continues to charm visitors with its own classic Swiss luxury.