Miss the Swiss? Don’t be neutral. Ski season may be over but this spring and summer, there are fresh old reasons to yodel across the Alps.
Timing is everything, so start in the northern clock tower city of Zürich.
In the hills above the medieval town along the Limmat, the Dolder Grand, one of Switzerland’s most storied be-turreted palace hotels, is showing off with ultra-modern design and contemporary art.
Originally built in 1899 by architect Jacques Gros, known for his romantic chalet-style builds, the old front of the hotel is big on 19th-century whimsy. But in 2004, fairytale fun was introduced to James Bond-esque sophistication.
The hotel’s owner, UK-based, Swiss financier Urs Schwarzenbach tapped British starchitect and Baron of Thames Bank, Lord Norman Foster, to build a modern extension to the hotel, which now boasts 175 rooms and apartment-sized suites. Rates start at $744 per night.
The new wings integrate minimalist materials like steel, iPhone-like black gloss finishes and stencil-cut aluminum with an organic, fluid geometry and forest motifs.
Circular floating catwalks flow through the airy hotel to an amenity wing that includes a 43,000-square-foot-plus spa featuring a massive pool, a stunning meditation room with a reflective mosaic dome and saunas.
At only one point do the Gros and Foster buildings kiss.
For Americans used to seeing idiotically executed old-meets-new renovations, fear not. No crimes against art or beauty have been committed here.
And speaking of art, the Dolder is lousy with it. The historic potions of the hotel are brought to life with originals from Salvador Dalí, Jani Leinonen and Takashi Murakami to name very few.
Art tends to rotate here as pieces are bought, sold or moved to other properties giving the hotel an ever-evolving je ne sais quoi.
Even when it’s time to check out, wonders never cease. As the next palace on the agenda is accessed via Switzerland’s famed Rhaetian Railway, a ride that weaves via tunnels and valleys through a UNESCO World Heritage Site to arrive in the legendary resort town of St. Mortiz. You could fly private, but you’d miss out.
The springtime’s slushy snow is known to snap the knees of intrepid skiers in St. Moritz. So skip the slopes after the winter high season and enjoy the luxury hotel life at 6,000 feet.
The views are just as good.
Badrutt’s Palace — the historic hotel known for hosting polo matches on its frozen lake and housing generations of who’s who — opens fresh for the season June 24 and its hottest suite is on the market for the first time in recent memory.
Looming large on the town’s skyline, the hotel’s iconic wooden tower was occupied by a well-heeled but regretfully anonymous individual for the past 30 years and this season marked the first time that the multi-bedroom, multi-story palace within a palace was up for grabs.
Summer rates for the most baller pad in Switzerland’s richest city are negotiable, according to the hotel, but it was most recently asking $30,000 per night.
But if that’s a little rich for your taste there are plenty of other options, with 157 rooms, including 43 suites, up for grabs. Summer prices from $485 per night.
The hotel’s main attraction in the summer is the social scene, which rivals Le Bilboquet’s Sag Harbor outpost on a Saturday night.
Its massive old-world lobby is effervescent with champagne sippers. Its cigar room and cocktail lounge is where be-turtlenecked individuals ruminate over the art market. Couples sneak away to the hotel’s vast 50,000-bottle wine cellar — home to its hidden Krug Stübli restaurant.
There are 10 buzzy restaurants in the hotel, burgundy and beluga caviar flowing in all, but in the evenings, ballers blow off steam over Dom and funky beats in the hotel’s King’s Social House, Switzerland’s first nightclub.
Another new addition to the hotel this season was Paradiso, the mountain’s most picturesque slope-side fondue and champagne après-ski escape.
It’s a chairlift ride away, but all the more lovely in the greener months sans skis.
After all, St. Mortiz in the summer is all about schmooze, booze and views.