“The Alpina Gstaad is in a privileged position to be able to act as a platform for the exchange of creative thoughts and innovative ideas. At the same time, we are passionate about using this platform to shed light on all matters relating to sustainability, environmental awareness and community development.”— Tim Weiland of The Alpina Gstaad, Switzerland
The word ‘luxury’ when defining a hotel is often used too loosely, don’t you think?
An inconsistent rating system in the hospitality industry has seen many awards being awarded to 5-star ‘luxury’ hotels. Was your LinkedIN feed also flooded with C-suite messages congratulating teams on being voted CN Travellers ‘Best’ Hotel?
How do you define luxury? Service? Friendly Smile? Branded Products? Comfy Beds?
Tim Weiland: If travel is in your blood you will surely have traveled to some of the world’s greatest hotels with all of the above – branded cosmetics, exceptional service and culinary offerings which make it very difficult for guests to leave their rooms – even in the lush surroundings an Alpine region like Gstaad in Switzerland, there is a hotel that does just that.
The Alpina Gstaad is well and truly one of those hotels commanding your attention as a guest or admire from afar. No matter where you stand in Gstaad you can’t miss The Alpina Gstaad. A million-dollar landmark that perhaps is responsible for Gstaad’s reputation as the premier Alpine resort in Switzerland, if not the world.
Rumour has it the hotel renovation a few years ago set the bar very high for luxury hotels. Apparently, each room is worth US$5 million?
Step inside one of the junior or the panoramic suite at The Alpina Gstaad and you may not question that number.
During the Summer season in Gstaad, I sat down with The Alpina Gstaad’s General Manager, Tim Weiland and chatted about strategies for the upcoming Winter season, what it means for luxury hotels post-covid and how messages like sustainability really matter in our new age of ultra-luxury-travel.
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How have you navigated the Covid-situation for your hotel?
Tim Weiland: At The Alpina Gstaad, we have been in a very privileged situation. The main European lockdown happened during the time that the hotel had originally scheduled its inter-season closure on 15th March 2020. Due to this new situation, we decided to postpone our reopening by just a few weeks. The rural surrounding with beautiful mountains, clean air, fresh mountain spring water, and plenty of outdoor activities certainly became even more appealing to many European guests after having spent several weeks in confinement.
How has the rhythm or routine of your day changed since Covid opening?
Tim Weiland: I have spent much more time watching the news, not so much the hype regarding the number of cases, the economics or the political aspects, but very much the travel restrictions, border situations and quarantine rules. We have constantly had to change itineraries for guests, adjust cancellation policies, cancel last-minute or reinstate a cancelled booking after guests were able to travel after all.
Have you noticed any change in consumer habits?
Tim Weiland: We have seen a significant increase in demand for our fine dining outlets. It may be because most guests are actually taking the time to savor a dining experience with all its aspects relating to regionality, cooking techniques and overall philosophy, as opposed to just consuming it. In general I feel positive about this in a larger sense as well. Maybe travelling and holidays will focus more on the experience and the meaning of it, while in the past it seemed to be much more of an obligation or a hassle. The current situation may very well revive the romance of travel. Less but better!
Have strategies changed or projects been put on hold because of the Virus?
Tim Weiland: As the source markets have become more regional and less international, there is certainly a shift in strategy by focusing more on the domestic European traveler for the upcoming months. At the same time, I still believe that Swiss guests are eager to travel internationally again once they have the possibility, and also that American guests are keen on travelling to Switzerland again. Our strategy towards the long-haul markets has not changed for the long term.
What can we look forward to for your hotel?
Tim Weiland: The Alpina Gstaad is in a privileged position to be able to act as a platform for the exchange of creative thoughts and innovative ideas. At the same time, we are passionate about using this platform to shed light on all matters relating to sustainability, environmental awareness and community development. Our chefs have been working on new and exciting recipes, which not only focus on the abundance of the local region, but also on what effect some of these dishes might have on us and the environment. Food waste has been a central topic, and we are thrilled to share more innovative “zero-waste” dishes, which reinvent otherwise discarded ingredients to dazzling dishes that raise awareness on food waste, and thereby offer the option to our guests of joining us on this journey of rethinking how we eat, while ultimately contributing to a healthier planet.
Originally published on Forbes.com