Once in paradise, I never thought it would be possible to return home.
But this summer, the impossible came true. After a weekend at Hotel Paradies, I had to give up all the otherworldly beauty and luxury of paradise, just to return to my everyday life.
The experience started when we pulled into a long driveway near the alpine hamlet of Ftan, population 500. With the hotel being a hideaway in the truest sense of the word, we are glad that a massive ibex statue made of aluminum points out the entrance.
Why Hotel Paradies Ftan is unlike any other
One thing about Hotel Paradies Ftan upfront: this hotel has a unique concept for Switzerland in that it is for members only. By now, about 100 individuals have purchased a stake in paradise, allowing them to spend one week per year in an all-paid suite. The membership fee also includes fine dining, special events, yoga teachers and even ski passes or green fees.
For the co-owners, Hotel Paradies is essentially a home away from home. Many arrive from places like Munich, New York or Zürich, but there are also several locals who own day memberships. Members can leave ski gear or any other amenities they need during their stays in storage. Stephan Schmitz, Deputy Manager, and his permanent staff will make sure everything is ready when the guests return home.
While our car is parked and our luggage brought to the suite, we have a first opportunity to experience the stylish lobby. It is a designer’s heaven and I can feel something akin to a heartbeat. It is easy to imagine that the lobby with its central fireplace, Italian espresso machine and kitchen island is the members’ favorite hang-out spot.
Mr. Schmitz lets us in on the philosophy behind Hotel Paradies: "What all our members have in common is their quest for privacy and safety. And as world citizens, they treasure the kind of authentic local experience we can offer."
Only the best five-star hotels truly want to know their guests, and the Paradies is one of them. "At Hotel Paradies, guests are like family members. As we get to know one another over the years, our staff keeps track of some important - or random - details. Be it their favorite cake or the shoe size, this intricate know-how has already created many surprising moments for the guests," Schmitz explains.
Bauhaus meets alpine warmth
The hotel with its concrete exterior screams Bauhaus. As we would find out the next day during a short walk, the puristic exterior really does fit into this setting of pristine nature. The building shows different faces depending on your perspective.
On the inside, the designers have carefully blended the antique and the modern. Furniture made of fancy fabrics, artwork and sculptures adorn the suites and hallways. Our corner suite has a warm feel to it - and not just because of the fireplace.
Flooring and furniture are made of locally sourced Swiss pine which not only looks beautiful but smells like heaven... Even my specially ordered pillow is stuffed with arve wood.
When it comes to the best suite views, it is a toss-up between the bathroom and the balcony. Here is the nearby village of Ftan as seen from the bathtub:
And from our balcony, we have sweeping views of the Lower Engadine valley with its majestic peaks:
Dinner by culinary artist Chef Thomas Hayungs
As we are about to find out, the in-house fine dining restaurant Cucagna Alpina turns out to be a paradise within the Paradies. Tonight, Executive Chef Thomas Hayungs has put together a dinner menu especially for us. The chef is known for his artistic and creative cuisine.
For starters, a cappuccino! Can you imagine our surprise? At second glance, it turns out that this is a beef soup of Boeuf Assoluto from prestigious HATECKE meat in Scuol. Paired with a glass of white 2018 Quintner from the Wegelin vineyards, this is quite a start to the evening.
After a mushroom consommé with ravioli of ibex, the main dish is served: a medley of grilled vegetables, from aubergine to tomato, on veal. Chef Hayungs tells us that he treasures local Engadine ingredients, giving them a new spin.
At this point, we have no space for dessert, a fact that we let the kind waiter know. But Paradies would not be paradise without a sweet treat. And so, before we know it, the pastry chef has rolled up his dessert cart. Each of the dessert options is finger sized, so we break down and try a few...
That limey cream cheese gooseberry tart in a chocolate biscuit, though... It's heavenly!
The following morning, breakfast in paradise!
There is fog moving across the valley floor but the sun is warm enough for breakfast on the terrace. The buffet leaves no wishes unanswered, and it is pure eye-candy how all the selections have been arranged. Note the butter croissants carefully placed on a piece of wood.
I cannot decide between sweet and savory, so I end up with a bowl of homemade granola and a selection of cheese and HATECKE dried meats.
As for Mamiko, she has ordered avocado toast and sunny side up quail eggs:
I will never forget how Stephan Schmitz has gone out of the way for me. I might have mentioned my passion for printed papers despite being a blogger... But I would have never imagined that he would actually organize the day's newspapers for me. The excitement on my face is 100 percent real!
A warm thanks goes out to the entire team who has hosted us at Hotel Paradies. They have treated us like members of the family.
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