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The lure of luxury

Chalet Les Anges

19 July 2021

7 minute read

After officially being named ‘World’s Best Ski Chalet’ three years running, the owner Michael Tunney spoke to us about how he achieved this title. He’s an Irish serial entrepreneur who’s been highly active in private equity and property for three decades. Tunney was drawn to invest in the beautiful village of Zermatt 12 years ago and his property, Chalet Les Anges, is operated by Elysian Collection, a firm that offers luxury chalet stays.

Not only was Chalet Les Anges named ‘World’s Best Ski Chalet’ at the World Ski Awards in 2017, 2018 and 2019, but it also recently featured in Switzerland Tourism’s new advertising campaign, featuring Roger Federer and Robert de Niro.

Michael, Chalet Les Anges looks superb. What attracted you to Zermatt and gave you the idea of building a chalet there?

It was the same thing that draws most visitors to the village – the spectacular scenery, amazing mountain restaurants, wide range of après-ski options and of course the world-class skiing – what more could you want? Zermatt’s reputation as one of the world’s leading ski resorts precedes it. I found it just as incredible as I’d been told it would be. I could immediately see the investment potential.

This was also a great reason for being in the village more often. Having spent more and more time there over the years, Zermatt remains a great escape  from day-to-day life. I look forward to coming to this beautiful mountain idyll many more times over the years ahead.

Why do you think more and more people prefer the kind of experience provided by Chalet Les Anges to staying in a 5-star hotel?

Exclusive-use luxury chalets have had a quiet but loyal following among those who prefer the privacy, security and space afforded by such properties for a number of decades. For obvious reasons, the pandemic has prompted an increase in demand for private chalets such as Chalet Les Anges relative to more public hotel settings.

COVID-19 aside, more and more travellers are seeking memorable, bespoke experiences, and with properties such as Chalet Les Anges. We can offer one-of-a-kind trips that are uniquely tailored to the individual needs of our guests. Our team at Elysian Collection in Zermatt has a wealth of experience in the luxury hospitality sector and delights in helping our guests enjoy everything the chalet and village have to offer.

On a more practical note, our chalet provides more space for families holidaying together, groups of friends celebrating special occasions or for those who simply prefer to spread out a little more. Its large living and dining area, spacious TV room and dedicated wellness area, means children have plenty of space to play while adults can disappear for a post-ski massage or simply to find a quiet corner to read a book.

What’s more, the inclusive nature of the package we offer removes all stress from the experience. We offer breakfast, afternoon tea and supper menus that are devised according to our guests’ dietary requirements, an excellent in-house wine list, masseuses on call and a personal concierge to arrange activities. With only one group staying in the chalet at a time, our guests can be assured they will receive attentive service whenever they need it, rather than simply being one guest among many in a hotel.

How has your business adapted to the challenges presented by COVID-19?

Obviously, the past year has posed a number of challenges for the hospitality industry due to travel restrictions and health concerns. As such, flexibility has been vital for companies such as ours over the past 12 months as we’ve needed to adapt quickly as circumstances have changed.

In the past, our guests have tended to plan their stays with us many months in advance, but due to the rapidly changing backdrop we’ve noticed a surge in last-minute bookings as guests look to travel as soon as the chance arises. This has necessitated a slight adjustment to our normal operating process, but we’ve been delighted to adapt our approach to accommodate our guests’ new requirements and help them enjoy COVID-friendly holidays.

It goes without saying that we have been proactive in implementing strict hygiene measures throughout our properties to protect our staff and guests. We’ve also worked hard to provide alternative arrangements so that our guests can enjoy their ski trips with as little risk as possible. For example, some of the things we’ve implemented have been helicopter drops instead of ski lifts, ‘VIP’ gondola bookings, private mountain picnics, and ‘après-at-home.’

Due to travel restrictions we’ve also seen an increase in travellers from closer to home, with more guests from Switzerland and neighbouring countries than our traditional clientele from the US, Middle East and UK. We’ve been delighted to welcome more Swiss guests and hope to continue to do so after the pandemic.

Finally, Michael how do you see the future of property in Zermatt and the Swiss Alps in general?

Based on the increase in demand for luxury chalet purchases over the past year, I would say that it’s buoyant. Lockdowns have, I feel, led people to think more about what they want from their home and surroundings, while home- working has opened up greater flexibility for people to base themselves where they wish to live rather than be dictated by business needs.

Recent events have also perhaps prompted a more ‘live for the moment’ approach to life. That has created unprecedented demand for properties in the Swiss Alps. Zermatt, and Alpine resorts in general that offer space and sanctuary, tie in with current wellness trends and, with prices burgeoning, also provide a secure investment.

Zermatt in particular is investing heavily in its mountain and ski infrastructure, ensuring its long-term appeal as a snow-sure, luxury resort for the future. What’s more, with the opening of the final ‘Alpine X’ link of the new Matterhorn Glacier Ride system, pedestrians will be able to access the Aosta Valley in Italy for the first time, increasing access to the village in a sympathetic manner. This will only boost Zermatt’s attractiveness to those looking for a bolt-hole in the mountains.

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In Switzerland

We wanted to celebrate our 35 years in Switzerland by publishing a collection of interesting stories from some of our clients and partners with whom we work.