I have been fortunate to have been able to resumed international travels from the 4th of July 2020 originating from an European Union country which handled the Covid-19 pandemic extremely well, thanks to an exceptional medical system and an infectious disease speciality at several prestigious medical universities – not only keeping stats very low and maintaining an average of 2.100 infections daily (24,5 million population) and, culminating with the highest rate of complete vaccination (both doses) of the Pfizer BioNTech, 61% of the population by February 18, 2021.
On my recent to Switzerland, I was able to travel thanks to the Pfizer vaccine certificate but that only means part of major challenges and hardships of travelling being resolved. Airlines still cancel flights last minute because of ”lack of demand” and if originating is from a non-EU country (Switzerland) they would offer no compensation or refund, not to mention rebooking.
The ”storm” Covid-19 testing conducted by Swiss authorities in January led to the unprecedented closure of ultra-luxury heritage hotel Badrutt’s Palace as well as Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski. Despite solid demand in February (0ver 80% because of school holidays) Badrutt’s Palace has not recovered and remained closed while the Kempinski St Moritz reopened now demanding all guests to present a negative Covid-19 test, taken 72 hrs before arrival, an unprecedented measure which keeps the whole almost empty.
The recently opened La Reserve Eden Au Lac Zurich (formerly known as Hotel Eden au Lac) emailed me a cancellation indicating no reason and prevailing of their arbitral unilateral right included in the Terms & Conditions which can be found on the hotel website. I was not provided any reason and I was not given any alternative. I can only suspect the hotel is experiencing Covid-19 positive infected cases among its guests or employees.
From a legal stand point the hotel has no relationship and is not related, neither with controversial and very discreet business man Michel Reybier personally or Michel Reybier Hospitality. Also, the hotel company under which it operates is Hotel Eden au Lac with no branding licensing or any other representation agreement with the so called La Reserve Hotels – with 3 properties under the same brand, in France (Paris, Ramantuelle) and Geneva. My cancellation was sent from a michelreybier.com email and the person representing ‘Michel Reybier Hospitality’.
If legendary ultra-luxury heritage resort of Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz is still closed because of the incidents in January this year and has not been unable to reopen for the remaining 3 months of the winter season, why would it not be possible for the 40 room (and suites) La Reserve Eden au Lac Zurich be possibly facing Covid-19 challenges, especially considering the company having posted a ‘summary’ of safety and hygiene measures, half of what a chain hotel would do, especially if under a protocol with a prestigious third party specialist certification company would take.
Being designed by Philippe Stark, as shown in photos, La Reserve Eden au Lac Zurich has excessive decoration elements and amenities in natural leather which are proven to facilitate Covid-19 infections – many hotel chains include the removal of such items in their regular safety and hygiene protocols. Most probably Starck submitted all designs and the execution of interiors were made before the debut of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mention must also be made that presently, the city of Zurich is under lockdown by Swiss Federal authorities, with non-essential retail stores closed (including shopping centres) as well as restaurants which are not part of a hotel are closed. Restaurants in hotels are only
Lastly, in its less than one year history under the La Reserve brand, the hotel has recently appointed a second General Manager, Thomas Machler, previously General Manager of the upscale Beau-Rivage Hotel in Neuchâtel, a very tired and dated property which has absolutely no relation with the splendid luxury hotels of Beau Rivage Geneve (privately owned and run – impeccably renovated) and Beau Rivage Lausanne – an iconic luxury property owned by the Sandoz family which underwent a multi-million dollar renovation by Pierre Yves Rochon a few years ago and is nowadays again closed for a new renovation.
CPP has formally all Swiss authorities, both cantonal (regional) and Federal, and we have been assured in writing that measures will be taken at a normal level of inspections, which are being carried out regularly at any hospitality establishments, regardless of their positioning as being budget or luxury – even more when there are suspicions or official notices.
Next time, you travel, make sure you do your own research and checks as it may prove to be very challenging to find alternate accommodation at such short notice. Also, you may check with very easily accessible and reliable information sources such as those provided for instance on Instagram. Local ”associations” such as Swiss Deluxe Hotels may only give the impression their member hotels are of a ‘higher’ luxury standard – membership is not based on any criteria and is not done on an inspection on the quality of product and the standard of service.
Lack of membership for luxury properties such as Park Hyatt Zurich, Burgenstock Resort or Wildhaus Sils. Paradoxically, Palace Lucerne remains ”by default” a member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels even if the property has been closed for extensive renovations and it will re-open in 2023 under the management of Mandarin Oriental. Since November 2020, Swiss Deluxe Hotels is headed by Michael Smithuis, General Manager Fairmont Montreux Palace (much needed renovations of its Spa) and RVP, also in charge with Fairmont Geneva (formerly known as Kempinski Geneva), which has remained open since re-branding, yet no novations have been conducted to the very dated property. It remains to be seen whether, now, with Mr Smithuis holding such an influential role, the Fairmont Geneva will become part of Swiss Deluxe Hotels.
Our recommendations as safe alternative luxury hotels in Zurich (all established properties) are: Park Hyatt Zurich (extensively renovated recently), The Widder, Baur Au Lac (recently renovated), Kameha Grand (Autograph Collection) – all reviewed by CPP-LUXURY.COM. Living Circle Group which owns The Widder is re-opening next month The Storchen upgraded as a luxury property, following extensive renovations, while the Mandarin Oriental will open and re-brand the historic Savoy Baur en Ville as a luxury hotel in 2024.
Today, Switzerland topped 10.000 people dead from Covid-19, with the E.U. surpassing 154.000 people dead from Covid-19 and the U.S. 500.000 people dead from Covid-19.
Oliver Petcu in Zurich
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