24-Hour Room Service: Chalet RoyAlp, Switzerland
Saturday 14 March 2009
Perched on a lofty, sun-baked shelf in the Swiss Alps is the tiny town of Villars-sur-Ollon. With its proximity to Geneva, the area's popularity has soared since the advent of cheap flights from the UK. But Villars-sur-Ollon has long been popular with plucky Brits, who came here in the late 19th century in search of jolly mountain japes armed only with tweed jackets and Kendal mint cake.
Nowadays, it's a town with a year-round soul, rather than a seasonal playground. It is an agreeable place in which to live, with no high-rise blocks and quiet, pine-sheltered residential streets concealing the mountain retreats of the rich and not-wishing-to-be famous. Within the town are a couple of nursery slopes which are perfect for pint-sized learners, and other niceties include tennis courts and pool, an ice rink and plenty of good restaurants.
Now there is a newcomer: Chalet RoyAlp, which opened in December. It is the first new hotel to be built in the town in years and represents a step forward in terms of luxury accommodation, more Vermont Ski Lodge than darkened Alpine retreat. As you walk into the roomy reception, a massive log fireplace is encircled by suitably large Chesterfield sofas. The hall opens up to the main stairwell and then gives in to a double-height ceiling bar with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing for a sweeping view of the Dents du Midi peak. Beyond lies a smoking room and a games room complete with pool table. However, the management insists it is very much a family place. Indeed, it has already hosted a family from Spain – the royal family.
Chalet RoyAlp Hotel & Spa, Domaine de Rochegrise, Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland (00 41 24 495 9090; royalp.ch). The hotel occupies its own site, with plenty of outdoor space, and is walking distance from the town centre (although a shuttle bus will whisk you there in no time). It's also adjacent to the train station from where it's a 20-minute, picturesque ride up to the lifts.
Time from international airport: Geneva is 1hr 15mins away by car, or get the train direct from the airport to Aigle (1hr 45mins), from where it's a 20-minute bus ride to Villars, which is included in the train ticket (SFr42/£26 one way).
The building comprises three five-storey blocks set at an angle to each other, guaranteeing privacy on every balcony. The bedrooms are finished to a high standard with bespoke sofas and armchairs, and the walls are clad in new Swiss fir; alpine, but still fresh and modern. Bathrooms are equally high-spec: grey slate and wet rooms abound.
If you're unhappy with the flat screen TVs in your room, there is a 30-seat cinema that screens current movies and has a special children's programme. Speaking of children, they are made to feel very welcome with their own soft games room and a funky den with iPod docks, sofas and a Nintendo Wii.
The RoyAlp is aimed at those after an indulgent break, whether enjoying the snow sports, or rejuvenating in the superb spa, which has its own 20m pool and a voluminous hot tub. For now, there are two restaurants – one decked out like a mountain lodge serving fondu and other variants on the melted cheese thing that the Swiss do so well; and one with a more international flavour and an excellent wine list. A fine-dining restaurant is set to follow.
Freebies: Swiss sweets, Jardin Des Alpes toiletries.
Keeping in touch: All rooms come with complimentary Wi-Fi and direct-dial phones.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Doubles from SFr407 (£255), room only. Seven-night packages are available via Carrier (0161 491 7670; carrier.co.uk) from £1,970 per person, including flights.
I'm not paying that: Chalet Balthazar offers apartments in the centre of town (00 41 24 495 4586; villarsapartments. com). Rental starts at SFr720 (£451) per week, self-catering.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
The 50 Best spas
Thailand tourism video Love En Route criticised for featuring Instagram stalker
The Atlas of Beauty: Photographer travels around the world to capture cultural diversity through stunning portraits of women
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
Chief executive of Malaysia Airlines: The toughest job in travel?
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
£12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...
£23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...
£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...
£18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...