Tag Archives: Switzerland

Michelin Reaffirms Violier Restaurant Stars

Michelin Reaffirms Violier Restaurant Stars

The legacy of chef Benoît Violier survives intact as the Michelin Guide awards his restaurant, now run by former sous-chef Franck Giovannini, the same three-star rating as it held under Violier. The Michelin Guide revealed the full line-up of starred restaurants in Switzerland last week .

On January 31 – the eve of the announcement of France’s Michelin-starred establishments – the food world was shocked and saddened at news of Benoît Violier’s death. Critics, chefs and food fans struggled to understand the 44-year-old’s suicide, as the head chef at Switzerland’s Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, near Lausanne, appeared to be at the height of his culinary career. He was freshly crowned “World’s Best Chef” and held the top spot in the “La Liste” ranking of best restaurants worldwide.

Ten days after the tragic event, the chef’s wife and business partner, Brigitte Violier, announced that the restaurant’s sous-chef, Giovannini, would take over from his late Franco-Swiss superior, who, at the time, already faced the challenge of maintaining gastronomic quality at the emblematic Swiss establishment. For its 2017 selection, The Michelin Guide will be maintaining its previous Swiss line-up of triple-starred restaurants: the Schauenstein in Fürstenau, the Cheval Blanc by Peter Knogl in Basel, and the Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Crissier.

The 2017 Michelin Guide to Switzerland is out October 7.

The 2017 Michelin Guide to Switzerland is out October 7.

A land of Michelin stars

Switzerland has the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants per resident. And while there are no new additions to the three-star category this year, the country has a vibrant food scene with new entries in the two- and one-star categories. Last year, there were no two-star restaurants at all in the country, but this year there are three, including Silver, located in a chic hotel in the spa town of Vals. Head chef Sven Wassmer is a rising star of the Swiss food scene who scooped his first star last year. His natural cuisine, with flavors inspired by the surrounding Swiss valley and the Alpine mountain range, is reminiscent of the Danish chef René Redzepi.

The Ecco Zürich restaurant in Zürich and After Seven in Zermatt also join the two-star category.

The current gastronomic revival can also be seen in the one-star category, with 12 restaurants now holding single Michelin stars. The Guide’s inspectors seemed particularly impressed with Switzerland’s Asian cuisine, awarding stars to Chinese restaurant Tsé Fung in Geneva and Japanese restaurant Megu in Gstaad.

Michelin Reaffirms Violier Restaurant Stars

Chef Sven Wassmer was awarded two Michelin stars in the updated guide. © Courtesy of 7132 Hotel

 

Huus Hotel, Switzerland Opens December 2016

Some hotels may boast the finest amenities with luxurious interiors but few can truly feel like a home away from home. At the Huus Hotel in Switzerland, slated to open at the end of this year, the concept is what makes the hotel so special. Even its name stems from the Swiss-German word for ‘home’.Huus-Hotel-Switzerland-room

This hotel combines themes that focus on comfort, adventure and taste to give guests a stay that will simply have them torn between snuggling up on that oh-so-inviting bed and exploring the areas around the hotel. Situated between Schönried and Saanen, the 131-room hotel will offer views of the Alpine peaks, waterfalls and high moors. “At the heart of Huus Hotel is our sentiment “come up, slow down””, says Günter Weilguni, CEO of Huus Hotel. “Guests will find themselves back to serenity, back to an active immersion in nature, and firmly rooted in the unparalleled spectacle of the alpine mountain region.”Huus-Hotel-Switzerland-Spring

For those who love all things sporty, the luxurious retreat away from the hustle and bustle of urban living boasts numerous expertly guided outdoor activities. Adrenaline junkies can look forward to 250km of slopes and trails in the winter. Come spring to fall, The Huus Hotel entertains guests with biking, hiking and rafting. Like any perfect vacation, there are also options that allow guests to wind down and relax and the hotel does not disappoint.

Huus-Hotel-Switzerland-PoolFine restaurants, a spa that is steeped in both comfort and luxury, and adventure lounge along with a fully fledged family area ensure that the amenities cater to all. With the award-winning Swedish design firm Stylt Trampoli behind the interiors, the hotel blends nature with contemporary elements. The rich, organic tones are coupled with natural and locally sourced materials that bring that feeling of nature into each room.

Huus Hotel, Gstaad-Saanen Schönriedstrasse 74 3792 Sanen-Gstaad – +41 33 748 04 04

3 Highlights of Art Basel 2016

Touted as the “Olympics of the art world”, the Art Basel has come a long way since being founded by three Swiss gallery owners, and is now one of the most internationally-recognized art fairs in the world, with sister events that now also take place in Miami and Hong Kong.

The Art Basel is typically divided into eight sectors: Galleries, Feature, Statement, Edition, Unlimited, Parcours, Film and Magazines. 287 art dealers will head to the German-Swiss border city of Basel to showcase their works. Here, some of the highlights to look forward to at the event, running June 16 – 19, 2016.

Parcours

The site-specific sector will welcome 19 artworks under the curation of Basel native Samuel Leuenberger this year. On display around the city and neighboring districts, highlights of the popular Parcours sector will include American artist Sam Durant’s steel chain maze “Labyrinth”, and Chilean sculptor Ivan Navarro’s “Traffic”, set in a disused sewage tunnel.

The Bâloise Art Prize

Two emerging contemporary artists from the Statement section will not only have their works exhibited in solo shows around Europe, but also receive more than $30,000 in this prestigious art accolade.

Anticipated Showings

Celebrated American performance artist Alison Knowles will prove age isn’t a limit with her interactive piece “Make a Salad”. The 82-year-old often blurs the line between high art and daily life for her performances. Rare works by the late Robert Smithson – an American artist famous for his use of photography in relation to land art – will also be on show, together with Jim Dine’s immersive installation “Muscle and Salt”. Those interested in engineering and architecture will enjoy Los Angeles-based Oscar Tuazon’s new installation “Alloy”, in which a series of talks will be held throughout the week.

Find out more about the artists and showcases at Art Basel 2016 here.

8 Most Eco-Friendly Luxury Hotels

From collecting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificates to managing water resources wisely, and serving own-garden produce, hotels are balancing luxury with eco-responsibility. We journey across four continents to explore several luxury accommodations and learn more about how what makes them different from other luxury hotels and how they do their part in protecting the environment.

ENDEMICO

Baja California, MexicoEndemico-Mexico-Form

With a name that is Spanish for endemic, or native to a specific region or environment, this hotel was designed to highlight the isolation of the desert and thus single out the area’s indigenous qualities. Situated just one and a half hours from San Diego, Baja California is home to some of Mexico’s largest wineries and offers a blend of Mexican culture and artisanal activity.

The hotel has 20 chic and eco-friendly cabins arrayed on a hill overlooking the valley, interspersed by natural boulders, and raised off the ground to minimise impact on the landscape. Built with Corten steel and wood, the cabins are designed to weather over time and eventually blend seamlessly into valleys.

The cabins were created by Gracia Studio, a firm with a passion for creating economical architecture, with a particular interest in using modular and flexible buildings. Each cabin is furnished minimally with simple yet sleek furnishings, featuring a king-size bed, wireless Internet, and private terrace with a clay kiva. Concealed among the rocky slope is a pool, restaurant and bar, which all have views out over the seemingly infinite valley.

www.hotelendemico.com

 

ROCKSRESORT

Laax, SwitzerlandRockresort-Switzerland-Form
The 122-room Rocksresort and its immediate environment run on sustainable energy consisting of hydroelectricity, solar power and more. The resort, which takes its name and design identity from the surrounding landscape, is situated adjacent to the base station in Laax. The property is an environmentally sensitive and a bold architectural concept.

www.rockresort.com

 

ROCKHOUSE RESORT

Negril, JamaicaRockhouse-Resort-Jamacia-Form
The rainy season in Negril sees Rockhouse Resort collecting rainwater in five catchment tanks placed across the property. The collected water irrigates the gardens in the property’s eight-acre grounds. These gardens are fertilised with compost made from the resort’s kitchen and bar wastes mixed with shredded garden refuse.

The property’s Environmental Management System (EMS) promotes sustainability and overall reduction of carbon footprint. The resort itself adapts environmentally friendly building material and design expressed in local wood, thatch and open-air restaurants. A preventive maintenance schedule ensures optimum performance of equipment, while a weekly  haul of plastic, glass and cardboard waste is dispatched to the local recycling centre.

Guest rooms are fitted with low-flow showerheads and taps, and low-flush toilets, and equipped with recycle bins for plastic and glass bottles. They are also encouraged to reuse linen whenever possible.

www.rockhouse.com

 

HOTEL KITZHOF MOUNTAIN DESIGN

Kitzbühel, AustriaHotel-Kitzhof-Austria-Form
Guests at the 172-room mountain retreat, Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort, savour the essence of Austrian alpine living while the establishment pursues soft environmental impact and community integration from spa to table. The building itself boasts a solar-heated pool while the spa program uses products from the organic line Just Pure. On its breakfast table is served milk from just six cows from a small, exclusive farm that processes its milk the old-fashioned way.

www.hotel-kitzhof.com.en

 

HUMBLE HOUSE TAIPEI

Taipei, TaiwanHumblehouse-Taipei-Form
Located on the top floors of a LEED Diamond-rated Green Building, in the heart of Xinyi, Humble House Taipei is focused on giving back to society. Thoughtful design and actionable measures guide the management of the 235-room glass and aluminum skyscraper. Its water and energy conservation has implemented systems to cut down usage and bring guests on board with recycling and linen reuse programs. Its Sky Garden is a rare urban oasis planted with species that were chosen to encourage biodiversity and help reduce air impurities.

www.humblehousehotels.com

 

HOTEL TOPAZZ

Vienna, AustriaHotel-Topazz-Austria-Form

Located in Vienna’s historic 1st district is Hotel Topazz, a prime example of eco-friendly hospitality. Surrounded by the city’s most acclaimed attractions, the hotel pays tribute to Vienna’s artistic heritage. The remarkable façade is inspired by a cylindrical silver vase embellished with oval amber stones by artist Koloman Moser. The interiors also pay homage to iconic Austrian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The combination of design and low-energy initiatives is unique for a hotel in the centre of the Imperial City. Heating and cooling is secured by a groundwater well and a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery, and LED technology provides a near-natural light spectrum throughout the hotel. The green approach is manifested in daily hotel operations: the Topazz Salon serves organic products from Austrian producers, including their own range of eco-friendly award-winning wine.

www.hoteltopazz.com

 

ANAYELA

Marrakech, MoroccoAnayela-Morocco-Form

From the time it was brought back to life, AnaYela has followed sustainable design. The five-room riad, a 300-year-old city palace in the heart of Marrakech, was restored by hand—absolutely no electric tools were employed—by over 100 Moroccan artisans.

Hotelier Andrea Kolb set out to create experiences “that truly touch the people” with the project, a mission that found expression in the support and preservation of traditional craftsmanship. In a bid to improve access to education through fair working wages, Kolb connected young international designers with local craftspeople, giving the latter global exposure and a successful sustainable model that saw 50 per cent of profits being reinvested into the community.

www.anayela.com

 

CROSBY STREET HOTEL

New York City, New York, USACrosby-Street-Hotel-New-York-City-Form2


Kit Kemp’s signature style is reflected throughout the 11-floor, 86-bedroom and suite Crosby Street Hotel. The hotel is the first in New York to receive a Gold Certification under LEED. During construction, hazardous site material was disposed of and all demolished material was recycled. Besides energy-efficient lighting, green power, and water use reduction, it has an array of integrated green features, from an urban vegetable patch on the rooftop supplying the hotel with seasonal produce, to a woodland meadow with 50 varieties of native plants. Inside, the furniture, fabrics and finishes are largely American-made, sourced regionally from home-bred designers like Philadelphian artisans Galbraith & Paul.

www.firmdalehotels.com/hotels/new-york/crosby-street-hotel

Story Credits

This story first appeared in FORM Magazine.

 

Guide: Hermès Watch Straps

There are the typical parts of a watch where watchmakers show the world what they are made of (and capable of doing): the movement, complications and beyond, the case, be it jeweled or not, and the dial – the more artistic, the better. These days, in a bid to outperform each other, manufacturers are less prone to giving anything beyond the lugs of a ticker more attention than what is on or within. Not many brands would say as much about a bracelet as opposed to a retrograde hour, 600 snow-set diamonds on a pink gold case, or a dial decked out in sculpted gems. Our friends at L’Officiel Singapore take a look at one brand that does.

Every artisan at Hermes’ workshop in Bienne oversees the making of a strap from scratch to finish.

Every artisan at Hermes’ workshop in Bienne oversees the making of a strap from scratch to finish.

Hermès, on the other hand, has a lot to say about its straps. These are, of course, famous (see Apple, for example) which begs the question, why exactly is that?

The French house would credit its expertise with leather bracelets to its beginnings as a saddler, and as wristwatches progressively replaced pocket timepieces in the early 1900s, it would highlight its role as the brand with a know-how for making exquisite straps. Straps are what make saddles and stirrups work, as this Wikipedia entry illustrates.

In 2006, Hermès opened a workshop in Bienne, Switzerland dedicated to this craft (watch straps that is). Under this roof is an array of supple, precious leathers – spanning from goat and calf to ostrich and alligator – cut, stitched and finished by a team of skilful artisans (where consistency matters, Hermès shares that each employee works on an entire bracelet by himself or herself).

Indents on the strap indicate the exact position of each stitch and the distance between them.

Indents on the strap indicate the exact position of each stitch and the distance between them.

An Hermès watch strap goes through four stages of work. For starters, the leather selection process is rigorous, with scratches, wrinkles and veins strictly avoided. Using a single flaxen thread and two hand-held needles, an artisan creates the brand’s signature saddle stitch on the skins before applying a careful treatment process to ensure all areas on a single strap look perfectly uniform. A furrow is then pressed between the sewing line and the edge of the leather to make the strap suppler than it already is. After loops are meticulously fixed, a finishing stitch (with great attention to detail given despite being invisible to the wearer) forms Hermès’ iconic ‘H’.

As a finishing touch, each strap is authenticated using a letter that shows the year of the leather’s manufacture.

As a finishing touch, each strap is authenticated using a letter that shows the year of the leather’s manufacture.

Chaplin Museum to Open in April

Charlie Chaplin’s manor in the Swiss Village of Corsier-Sur-Vevey, overlooking Lake Geneva, will be open to the public in April. Refurbished as a museum by its French operator- Grevin – the project to open ‘Chaplin’s World’ went through 15 years of difficulties before bearing proper fruit. Yet, finally, an announcement was made Monday by its organizers. Fans of the famous Hollywood comedian can expect to get an inside-out look of Chaplin’s life and his whole career when the exhibition opens – just a day after the star’s 127th Birthday.

The manor, where Chaplin lived for the last 25 years of his life with his wife Oona and their eight children, will form half of the museum. Chaplin fled from the USA, and Hollywood, after being accused of being a communist with the advent of Cold-War Paranoia. Highly ironic given that one of his most famous roles was in The Great Dictator, where he parodied Hitler and carried out a strong satirical attack on authoritarian governments as a whole.

The other half of the museum consists of a mocked-up Hollywood studio, focusing more on the comedian’s countless on-screen roles. Visitors can discover how, from humble beginnings in London, Chaplin rose spectacularly to dazzle the world with his multiple characters and personas, the most iconic being the cane-wielding bowler hat-wearing Tramp.

Coming back to that 15-year struggle, the project went through several stumbling blocks. These included seven years to get a building permit, and five years to settle a lawsuit involving a worried neighbor (no doubt worried about the impact of large numbers of visitors on the general surroundings). Furthermore, the manor, empty since 2008, required major renovation work before being in any condition to be open to the general public.

Chaplin, who died in 1977, is buried in the nearby Corsier-Sur-Vevey cemetery alongside his wife. Of course Chaplin’s work endures till today, even in the current age of 3D movies and CGI. The opening of the museum only serves as a sign of the interest and mystique that the legendary filmmaker has somehow retained.

Le Cheval Blanc restaurant Basel

Switzerland gets new three-starred restaurant

Le Cheval Blanc restaurant Basel

Michelin inspectors have given Switzerland a new three-starred restaurant, bestowing their highest honor on Le Cheval Blanc in Basel.

Located in the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois, the restaurant helmed by chef Peter Knogl was given its third star in the 2016 edition of the Michelin Guide to Switzerland.

“From a classic basis, Peter Knogl has developed a real personality that is brilliantly reflected in his cuisine,” said Michelin’s international director Michael Ellis in a statement. “His refined, gourmet dishes have subtle aromas that offer a burst of flavor and a unique richness. A meal at Le Cheval Blanc is a unique experience, worth the trip.”

Cheval Blanc restaurant Basel

Thirteen new restaurants were also awarded their first star in the latest guide. In total, Switzerland now has three triple-Michelin-starred restaurants; 18 two-star restaurants, and 95 one-star restaurants.

The guide also expanded the Bib Gourmand section — good value eats — to 119, up 18 from last year.

The 2016 Michelin Guide Switzerland goes on sale Oct. 8.

Saint Bernard dogs

Swiss ski resort bans selfies with iconic Saint Bernards

Saint Bernard dogs

The popular ski resort of Zermatt has banned tourists from posing for photos with the famed search and rescue dog, following complaints that some of the Saint Bernards were kept in miserable conditions.

Swiss animal protection group PSA had called for the ban, saying that some dogs used in Zermatt were not taken for walks and were left “for long periods without food or water”.

“They are made to wait long hours in the cold outdoors for photographs,” said PSA in a report.

Five of the Saint Bernards were also kept in a decrepit house “in miserable conditions and against animal protection laws,” added PSA, which filed a formal complaint against the owners of one such business offering photo-ops with the emblematic animals.

The head of Zermatt commune Christoph Burgin, told AFP that the ban took immediate effect, although some contracts with Japanese visitors “may involve one or more photo shoots this summer”.

PSA has volunteered to take in any ill-treated dogs and a foundation which breeds Saint Bernards in a nearby monastery too has made a similar offer.

Saint Bernards, which are often depicted with a barrel of rum under the neck, were bred for mountain rescue.

Even though lighter and nimbler dogs like Alsatians are now used more often in search and rescue missions, Saint Bernards, which can weigh up to 85 kilograms, are still regularly given avalanche rescue training.

Switzerland has one of the world’s toughest animal protection laws.

Social animals such as budgies have to be kept in pairs and those wanting to get rid of a goldfish cannot simply flush it down the toilet — it must be knocked out, killed and then properly disposed of.

Morphosis 7132 Hotel

World’s tallest hotel to be constructed in the Swiss Alps

Morphosis 7132 Hotel

Plans to build Europe’s tallest hotel structure smack dab in the middle of a quiet, bucolic village in the Swiss Alps are being panned by critics as an architectural insult on the senses.

It was supposed to be a badge of honor. Bragging rights that would make the ‘7132’ Tower overtake The Shard in London as the tallest building in Europe, at 381 meters tall (1,250 feet).

But the reception for the 7132 Tower in Vals, Switzerland has been a cold and hostile one, with critics describing the slim, shiny monolith towering over the otherwise sleepy Alpine valley as an esthetic offense.

To be developed by Los Angeles-based Morphosis Architects, the renderings call for a podium that would link the building with neighboring buildings; a cantilever comprised of a restaurant, café, spa and bar; and main hotel tower housing a sky bar, restaurant and 107 guest rooms.

The resort will serve as luxury accommodations for the spa town, which draws visitors to its thermal baths and Alpine scenery.

And while architect Thom Mayne says the project was designed to “harmonize” the hotel’s natural surroundings, critics have a decidedly different point of view.

“It is a gigantic mirror-clad middle finger aimed at the region; indeed, it’s hard to imagine a more obnoxious gesture to inflict on a sleepy spa town,” reads a scathing piece in The Guardian which describes the tower as a “design statement that verges on farce.”

Writer Oliver Wainwright also takes aim at the design’s overriding principle — namely that the tower’s reflective, mirrored surface and slender profile will serve to dissolve itself into the landscape, “…abstracting and displacing the valley and sky.”

“Will his gargantuan stack of 107 guest rooms and suites…really disappear in a shimmering apparition? More likely they’ll cast a long shadow over the region, standing as an omnipresent overblown monument to the hoteliers’ greed.”

In an interview in the Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten, Vittorio Lampugnani, an architecture professor at the Federal Institute of Technology also called the idea of skyscrapers in the Alps “an absurdity.”

The 7132 Tower is slated to open in 2019.

employee of Swiss watchmaker Piaget

Swiss watchmakers to raise prices after franc increase

employee of Swiss watchmaker Piaget

Switzerland’s luxury watchmakers are considering raising prices on their timepieces in the eurozone by up to seven percent due to the ballooning franc, but they are in no rush, industry insiders hinted Tuesday.

Watchmakers gathered at a luxury watch show in Geneva this week were eager in public to put on a strong face after the Swiss central bank’s shock decision on Thursday to let the franc float.

“We will find a way to adapt,” said Swiss luxury group Richemont, which counts Cartier and Piaget among its 16 luxury watch brands.

The industry, which exports nearly 95 percent of its pricey products to areas where they are paid for in euros or dollars, is especially exposed to the impact of the swelling franc.

The Swiss central bank stunned the world Thursday by abandoning its bid to hold down the value of the Swiss franc, scrapping the minimum rate of 1.20 francs against the euro. On Tuesday the franc was trading around parity with the European common currency.

If watchmakers adjust their prices to the new reality, the price tag on their goods in countries using the euro would leap 15-20 percent overnight.

Executives from the big brands were reluctant to talk about the issue or to discuss what measures they might be forced to take.

Behind the cover of anonymity, some however acknowledged estimates that prices in the neighbouring eurozone should be raised 5.0-7.0 percent.

But all insisted it was too early to act, and that they would wait and see how the exchange rate evolved.

Raymond Weil

Swiss watchmaker Raymond Weil dies at 87

Raymond Weil, one of the great innovators of the Swiss watch industry and founder of the watch brand of the same name, has died at 87.

Raymond Weil

He made his name by putting the luxury watch within reach of the pockets of people with style without fortunes.

Weil, who retired from the company’s board only last September and who remained honorary president, died “peacefully” on Sunday, the company said in a statement, without providing further details.

The company remains a family business, with Weil’s son-in-law Olivier Bernheim and two of his grandsons, Elie and Pierre Bernheim, at the helm.

Born in Geneva in 1926, Weil first made his foray into the watch industry at Camy Watch, of which he soon took the reins.

Raymond Weil Ad Campaign 2013

In 1976, in the midst of an industry-wide crisis, he created his own company focused on putting into practice his vision that timepieces should be high-quality and with superior design, but at affordable prices.

Raymond Weil has become one of the jewels of the Swiss watchmaking industry, counting 200 employees and 4 branches outside of Switzerland.

The brand’s watches, which generally cost between 800 and 4,000 Swiss francs ($900-4,500), are sold in about 3,500 outlets across 95 countries.

Grand Hotel Kronenhof

TripAdvisor’s Top 10 hotels of 2014

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina, Switzerland, tops TripAdvisor’s list of the top 10 hotels in the world for 2014.

Grand Hotel Kronenhof

In the site’s latest Travelers’ Choice Awards, Italy boasted the most unique hotel winners with 152 properties given top marks by TripAdvisor travelers.

The UK followed close behind with 145 accommodations listed, while the US and France tied with 144 award-winners.

More than 7,120 properties were given honors across seven categories spanning top hotels, bargain hotels, bed and breakfasts, family, luxury, romantic and small hotels.

The Grand Kronenhof hotel lobby

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is a five-star, ultra-luxurious property located 1,800 meters above sea level near the resort town of St. Moritz in Switzerland. The hotel received a 97 percent approval rating among guests.

“Few grand hotels seamlessly blend old-world charm and modern conveniences as well as the Kronenhof. The property is as impressive as the surrounding mountains,” wrote one enamored guest.

grand hotel kronenhof spa

Registered as an historic landmark, the Kronenhof dates back to 1848 and rises spectacularly from within a forest of pine and larch trees.

In lavish, neo-baroque style, gold-gilded rooms at the palatial property offer panoramic views of the mountains as well as the Bernina and Roseg glaciers.

Top 10 Hotels in the World

1. Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina, Switzerland
2. The Upper House, Hong Kong, China
3. Gili Lankanfushi Maldives, Lankanfushi, Maldives
4. Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
5. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
6. Casa Gangotena, Quito, Ecuador
7. Lindos Blu, Lindos, Greece
8. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Punta de Mita, Mexico
9. The Oberoi, Mumbai, Mumbai, India
10. Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, Toronto, Canada

The Grand Kronenhof

And the winners in select categories also include:

Top Luxury Hotel in the World
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guesthouse, Franschhoek, S. Africa

Top Luxury Hotel in the U.S.
The Grand Del Mar, San Diego, California

Best Bargain Hotel in the World
Castlewood House, Dingle, Ireland

Best Bargain Hotel in the U.S.
Desert Riviera Hotel, Palm Springs, California

Best Hotel for Families in the World
Cavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel, Ortisei, Italy

Best Hotel for Families in the U.S.
Floridays Resort Orlando, Orlando, Florida

Best Hotel for Romance in the World
The Place Luxury Boutique Villas, Koh Tao, Thailand

Best Hotel for Romance in the U.S.
Honor Mansion, A Wine Country Resort, Healdsburg, California

Top Small Hotel in the World
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guesthouse, Franschhoek, S. Africa

Top Small Hotel in the U.S.
La Maison Hotel, Palm Springs, California

Best B&B and Inn in the World
Bindon Bottom B&B, West Lulworth, England

Best B&B and Inn in the U.S.
Historic Oak Hill Inn, Natchez, Mississippi

SIHH 2014

SIHH 2014 is coming

With each new year comes a new season in the world of high-end watches. In 2014, this season will open on January 20 at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva, Switzerland.

SIHH 2014

The 24th edition of this exclusive event will exhibit the trends expected to leave their mark on the world of fine watchmaking in 2014, in terms of techniques and know-how as well as in terms of design.

Sixteen of the world’s most prestigious watchmakers will unveil their latest creations across 30,000 square meters of exhibition space (around 320,000 square feet). Watch industry insiders will become acquainted with the newest timepieces from Van Cleef & Arpels, Vacheron Constantin, Richard Mille, Ralph Lauren, Piaget, Montblanc, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier and Audemars Piguet, among others.

SIHH Geneva 2014

Astronomy and horology: a match made in heaven

Each year, SIHH presents a special exhibit highlighting the cultural and historical significance of haute horlogerie through time. This year’s exhibit, entitled “Horology, a child of astronomy,” highlights a selection of remarkable pieces with astronomical complications.

SIHH 2014 will be held January 20-24, 2014 at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland.

The top 10 chocoholic countries

Swiss Chocolate

Switzerland is home to the most devoted chocoholics in the world, where per capita consumption averaged about 12 kg in 2012, according to Confectionerynews.com. Rounding out the list of top chocolate-consuming countries are Ireland, the UK, Austria and Belgium. The US falls in at No. 15.

Given that chocolate is considered a small luxury, it’s no wonder that the majority of the top 20 countries boast a large middle class population with higher disposable incomes than the rest of the developing world, the report points out.

Meanwhile, though it doesn’t come close to cracking the top 20 list, India has emerged as the fastest-growing market for chocolate, with sales doubling from $418 million in 2008 to $857 million in 2011.

Per capita consumption in India was 70 g in 2011. But as pointed out by market research group Mintel, that just means potential for growth is high in this booming economy, where the appetite for premium, luxury goods shows strong growth.

Where the sweet stuff is having difficulty making inroads, however, is China, a country where palates are more accustomed to salty, savory foods over sweets.

The average Chinese eats a modest 100 g of chocolate a year — or the equivalent of two chocolate bars. Growth in the market is also projected to increase a lukewarm 10 percent to 2015.

While chocolate is an everyday treat in the Western world, chocolate makers like Italy’s Ferrero Rocher and Belgian brand Godiva are pitching the confectionery as a premium product ideal for gift giving.

Here are the Top 10 chocolate-consuming countries in 2012 – based on per capita consumption

1. Switzerland 11.9 kg
2. Ireland 9.9 kg
3. UK 9.5 kg
4. Austria 8.8 kg
5. Belgium 8.3 kg
6. Germany 8.2 kg
7. Norway 8 kg
8. Denmark 7.5 kg
9. Canada 6.4 kg
10. France 6.3 kg

melted chocolate

Zurich Switzerland

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities In The World – 2012

Zurich Switzerland

For the first time in at least two decades of reporting the worldwide cost of living survey Zurich sits atop the ranking as the world’s most expensive city.

An index swing of 34 percentage points pushed the Swiss city up 4 places compared to last year to overtake Tokyo which remains in 2nd place.

Geneva, the other Swiss city surveyed saw a 30 percentage point rise in the cost of living to move up six places into joint third alongside Osaka.
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engelberg switzerland

Rent a village in Europe!

engelberg switzerland

Planning a conference and want something a bit more personal? In the midst of negotiations and want to find the perfect private hideaway?

Instead of a five star resort, what about renting out an entire village in central Europe, rebranding the street names after your top executives, etching your logo into the snow and hiring the villagers as entertainment?

Rentavillage.com offers their wealthy clientele the ability to rent an entire town for roughly $60,000 a night. Yes, that’s right, for the right price you can have an entire village at your disposal for however long you can afford.
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Maison Cailler chocolate

Nestle launches bespoke luxury chocolate bonbons

Maison Cailler chocolate

Chocolate giant Nestlé has created a brand of luxury, bespoke chocolates that cater to consumers’ individual tastes and delivers the customized box within 48 hours.

The new brand will be sold under Maison Cailler and begins with a chocolate tasting where consumers rate their preferred flavors in an online questionnaire.

Within 48 hours, they’ll receive a luxury box-set of chocolate bonbons that have been selected according to their preferences.

“Maison Cailler is a response to the changing times we live in,” said Cédric Lacroix, director of Nestlé’s Chocolate Centre of Excellence in Switzerland.
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Franck Muller Only Watch 2011

Franck Muller Totally Switzerland – Only Watch 2011

Franck Muller Only Watch 2011

Here’s a look at Franck Muller’s contribution for the 2011 ONLY Watch charity auction.

The unique watch designed for this occasion is dubbed “Totally Switzerland” and painted in a distinctive vibrant shade of red, characteristic for the Swiss flag.

This model is a variation of the Franck Muller Crazy Hours design, which offers an innovative approach to the concept of time.
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Zurich Airport

Zurich’s airport most pleasant in Europe

Zurich Airport

A report released last week by the French airports group Aeroports de Paris has suggested that Zurich’s airport boasts the highest customer satisfaction in Europe.

Nearly 90 percent of travelers said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their travel experience through Zurich International in Switzerland, by far the highest score of the 16 airports surveyed by BVA on behalf of Aeroports de Paris.

In second place, with 87 percent, was Paris Orly, the smaller of the French capital’s airports, while Schiphol in Amsterdam took third place with 86 percent.
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