Six Senses, Alpina Gstaad | The Times Spa Guide
The Times Good Spa Guide | 14 August 2013
The Alpina Gstaad, Switzerland
This state-of-the-art spa brings a contemporary flavour to the Swiss, chocolate-box village. By Laura Ivill
USP: Devotees of the Six Senses spa concept of organic, flowing architectural curves and natural wood and stone, will be elated that the brand has found a new home in Switzerland. And what a home. Encompassing 2,000 sq metres of the CHF 300 million (£210 million) Alpina Gstaad, the new hotel and private apartments have injected tasteful contemporary living into this famously chocolate-box alpine village, whose picturesque wooden chalets date back 250 years. So perfectly trad is the setting that no new luxury hotel has been permitted to be built here in more than a century. It’s been worth the wait.
Ambience: Stepping into the spa, it’s not tiling but warm, solid stone underfoot, and the vast, softly lit indoor pool is bathed in natural light from a lightwell in the landscaped gardens above. Acres of space mean you can pad around in Zen-like calm past waterfall walls. So spacious is it that men and women have separate wet zones - steam, sauna and hydrotherapy, and a swim at sunrise in the heated outdoor pool surrounded by pine trees and mountains is magical. The hotel itself is cosy for winter and airy for summer – it has been built entirely from wood recycled from old alpine farmhouses, so feels instantly lived in. The timeless and tactile interior decor of crystal, stone, leather and suede is offset by a multi-million-pound contemporary art collection, including Tracey Emin’s And I Said I Love You.
Quality of experience: Such is the pulling power of the Alpina that not one, but three of the world’s leading spa brands are here to contribute to a range of more than 60 treatments. Ila, whose products are all-natural, ethically sourced and hand-blended in the Cotswolds, brings powerful organic rituals, wraps and rhythms to revitalise the international jet-set flying in for winter ski or a summer health kick in the alpine meadows. QMS MediCosmetics from Germany is a specialist in the use of collagen in its skincare collection, so expect a choice of rejuvenating non-invasive treatments to cleanse, tone and plump using the power of science. Biologique Recherche, from Paris, brings pure botanicals and biomarine extracts to pamper and polish.
Food and drink: The spa’s juice bar is the place to meet, pre or post-treatment, as you chill in the lounge surrounded by books, living “green walls” and candles. Upstairs, the three restaurants have been designed to feel intimate and comfortable at both busy and quieter times of the year. Megu serves precise Japanese cuisine, the Stübli has a traditional Swiss menu where you will always find fondue, or there’s all-day dining in Sommet, where you can sit on the terraces and breathe in the scenery.
In-crowd: The word in the Gstaad Yacht Club – yes, there is one – is that the old-money is wary that the swanky new hotel might bring in brash new money and shatter the peace. Certainly the hotel’s Panorama Suite at CHF 22,000 (£15,000) per night is proving popular. Spa guests are a mix of minted nationalities, from Swiss to Russian, French, English, Americans and Greeks. Villagers include Julie Andrews, no doubt still enjoying the sound of music in the meadows, and the late Elizabeth Taylor. And Madonna holidayed in the village last winter, although they are so used to celebrity faces no-one bats an eyelid.
Wallet watch: Ila: 90 mins Vital Energy Massage, CHF 320 (£220); QMS: 90 mins Alpina Collagen Facial, CHF 320 (£220); Biologique Recherche: 90 mins Oxygenating VIP O2 Treatment, CHF 280 (£195); Six Senses Deep Tissue Massage: 90 mins, CHF 320 (£220)
Need to know: Doubles from CHF 850 (£590), including breakfast and a credit of CHF100 (£70) pp per day to spend in any of the three restaurants, the bar and room service (+ 41 33 888 9888, thealpinagstaad.ch).