Having stayed in many beautiful 5-star properties across Switzerland you notice some common themes, mostly, that while stunning and packed with facilities, they tend to be large and formal. However, whilst staying in the world-renowned ski resort of Saas Fee recently, I came across a new breed of Swiss hospitality. The Capra is an intimate and unpretentious alpine lodge combining the cosiness of a chalet with the comforts and pampering of a luxury hotel. With just 17 suites and 7 rooms, The Capra genuinely feels like a private hideaway.
What makes The Capra unique compared to other five-star hotels is its intimacy. The hotel’s intelligent design, with high quality materials and attention to detail, is one of understated luxury that promotes a feeling of warmth, relaxation, and comfort. The service at The Capra is similarly unpretentious and warm and the management prides itself on offering a personalised and genuine service, rather than the more customary style which can be formal and sometimes stuffy. This allows The Capra guests to enjoy a relaxed and genuine experience and feel like they are in a home rather than in a hotel. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, The Capra is in harmony with the ambience of Saas Fee, an authentic and traditional village, nestled high in the Swiss Alps
You may or may not know but Saas Fee has been “eco” for some time, with no cars or traditional fuel vehicles within the village. Each shop, restaurant and hotel instead have their own mini electric vehicles that whizz around dropping off guests to and from the slopes to various destinations. So, having arrived in Saas Fee in our Landrover, which was now safely parked in the village’s municipal car park, we were picked up by The Capra in their eclectic vehicle and taken through the winding streets to the hotel. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly by Natalia, who was on internship at the hotel. She showed us to the bar come lounge for a glass of bubbles while we filled out the necessary paperwork before showing us to our suite.
Our suite was located in the roof and as such had incredible design features like the sloping ceiling and little nooks along with dual balconies overlooking the looming glaciers above. Now do not let it being on the top floor and thus in the roof fool you into thinking that this suite is small! It was extremely spacious with a lounge and office area, huge king size bedroom, large family bathroom with bath and separate rainshower and a separate guest WC. Our suite also included High-speed WIFI, 2x 42 inch HD TV’s with movies on demand and interactive news, a Bluetooth entertainment system, a Nespresso coffee machine, tea and refreshments in the minibar, bathrobes and slippers and a shuttle to the ski locker and parking. The design of the suite was so homely, elegant, well appointed and cosy, it certainly felt like a home away from home. The owners of The Capra had their own interior design team, which worked alongside a team of local and international contractors to create this look. You can certainly see this expertise and craftsmanship resonate in all parts of the hotel from the rooms to the spa and brasserie.
After unpacking Adam and I headed to the Spa. The Spa of The Capra is run and managed by Peak Health, whose philosophy is based on the research of a team of medical and wellness experts from around the globe, taking a holistic approach to resetting health. We checked out the outdoor hydrotherapy pool, which is heated. The juxtaposition of the snow surrounding the pool and the warm water makes for a very cosy (and romantic) setting as you snuggle under the warm water with the fresh cold on your face. Getting out is less cosy as you dash for the protection of the spa but it’s great for your circulation and immune system so make sure you give this a go. Inside the spa, facilities range from saunas to steam rooms to a salt therapy room. There is also foot hydrotherapy, specialised showers, an indoor pool, a fully-equipped gym, a mind-body studio for yoga and other classes, three treatment rooms, and a relaxation area. We spent a lot of time in this spa after skiing, the lighting here as well is some of the best I have ever seen in a spa, perfect for unwinding after a hard day on the slopes in a warm cocoon hiding away from the outside world.
That night we headed for dinner in The Capra Brasserie. The Capra’s main restaurant is The Brasserie which is a destination in its own right. They offer a range of fresh home cooked dishes, showcasing the finest Swiss ingredients with Italian influences. We had a particularly fresh and tasty salmon tartare followed by Arctic Char on a bed of wild black rice with pumpkin that was a super hearty winter dish. The wine menu at the brasserie is focused on locally produced wines from the Valais region, allowing guests to taste some of the best wines in the world which remain a hidden gem to the outside. We certainly were spoiled rotten the next evening when Jonathan Mettler, Operations Manager and wine aficionado, and Florian Leven, General Manager, invited us for a wine tasting. From elegant roses, to bold red wines to an absolute corker of a Ambassadeur Fumé Gros Rhin de Chamoson from the Valais, we obtained a better education in Swiss wine, which has been invaluable when buying wine to bring back home! Our particular favourite I think though was the Blanc de Noirs by Gilbert Devayes, made traditional style, this elegant sparkling wine could certainly give its French cousin a run for its money!
After breakfast each morning, which is buffet style in the brasserie, we would collect up our things and by electric vehicle be taken to The Capra’s private ski cabin. The Capra’s private ski cabin is beside the cable car meaning no trudging through the village carrying boots and skis. Individual lockers are kitted out with glove, boot and helmet warmers, so we could hit the slopes warm and dry each day. We also headed back here to enjoy the odd cup of coffee or to grab a water to go. What is also great about this feature is that whenever you are ready to return to the hotel you only have to call the driver on the phone located in the cabin and they will come and pick you up. Adam and I loved this feature, such a clever little bonus to your stay!
So The Capra hotel is certainly unique in terms of Swiss hospitality. By focusing on providing less offerings but of exceptional quality, the hotel leaves you with a truly effortlessly memorable experience. The Capra really felt like the ultimate place to relax, recharge, and reconnect with nature whilst being surrounded by staff that feel more like long lost friends. Ironic then that the name ‘Capra’ in Latin means mountain goat and this name was inspired by the black and white goats that roam the valleys and peaks around Saas-Fee which are unique to the Valais region. The Capra hotel is also rather unique. The hotel really does embody these adventurous little creatures; reflected in the hotel’s authentic sense of place and respect for the natural environment.
Also, as we all worry about climate change and what that means for our winters in The Alps, The Capra is making every effort to neutralise its carbon footprint. The Capra uses predominantly renewable energy sources to power and heat its premises. The electricity and energy used are produced from renewable sources originating 100% from the Valais Area. The hotel reduces electricity consumption by using energy saving lamps that have Class A energy efficiency. Additionally, the hotel uses eco-friendly cleaning products that are highly biodegradable and environmentally friendly. The hotel’s waste, (residual waste, paper, plastic, metal/aluminium, organic waste) 75% of which is recycled, is separated and disposed of in an appropriate manner according to the hotel’s rules and the Saas Fee community regulations. Finally, the hotel aims to change the guest linen twice a week, thus reducing the energy and environmental impact of the detergents used. So with all that in mind: a beautifully designed hotel, with staff that feel more like family, great local food & wine, the cutest ski cabin ever AND a hotel committed to neutralising its carbon footprint, The Capra should be at the top of anyone’s list when heading to Saas Fee. Adam and I will certainly be returning, the question will be this time if they can make us leave!