Matterhorn, coronavirus
Photograph © Zermatt Tourismus

Quarantine apartments and mountain messaging: how Switzerland’s luxury hotels and ski resorts are reacting to lockdown

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Everyone has been affected in some way by the current state of what is effectively ‘lockdown’ in Switzerland (if you haven’t noticed already, we’ve switched to Time In – read why here), but after the government’s mass closure of public establishments – including restaurants, bars, cafes, cultural institutions and sports centres – we decided to take a look at how some of those establishments are reacting.

In particular, hotels have begun introducing some innovative measures. Zurich hotel The Dolder Grand, for example, has started offering a take-out food service, after it can no longer serve food and drink within the hotel to non-guests. But in keeping with the hotel’s ethos, their takeaway offerings are about as far away from traditional pizza and burger takeaways as you could imagine – think delectable patisserie items by Christian Hümbs and ultra-fancy chocolates by acclaimed German chef Heiko Nieder.

Luxury hotel-apartment chain Le Bijou has gone a step further, offering a full ‘COVID-19 service’. The company is advertising ‘quarantine apartments’, featuring in-room coronavirus-testing, “healthcare services such as nursing, food delivery, and personal chef service” and “24/7 personal health monitoring”. Expect to pay handsomely for this level of comfort and security, with the in-room tests reportedly costing around 500CHF and the personalised health services costing far more, depending on what level of isolation luxury you’re seeking.

A blow to various sectors has been the closure of all ski resorts, therefore putting an early end to the ski season, which usually finishes around mid-April or May for most venues. While the government-enforced closure is required and understandable for safety reasons, some people are frustrated at individual resorts for not offering compensation for pre-purchased season passes. Davos Klosters, for example, states on its website that no refunds will be issued to season ticket-holders, as the closure falls under “force majeure and closure by order of the authorities,” which does not qualify for a refund under the resort’s terms and conditions.

Similarly, Matterhorn Ski Paradise/Zermatt Bergbahnen has announced that “As this is only a temporary closure, there is no refund for season and annual passes.” However, the resort is offering anyone with a pre-booked ski pass, pre-booked event or mountain experience the chance to re-book for a later date at no charge.

The best advice seems to be to check with your resort about your specific ticket or booking, as there are few hard and fast rules in such an unprecedented situation.

But while Zermatt may be closed for skiing, Matterhorn, at least, is still being utilised. Switzerland’s treasured mountain is being lit-up with exclamations of positivity, with messages like ‘#Hope’ and ‘#StayAtHome’ beamed on to the side of the mountain, as well as images of both the Swiss and Italian flags.  

It’s a useful and welcome reminder to stay positive – and stay safe – in these uncertain times. Let’s hope everyone takes it on board.

Not sure how to pass the time while stuck at home? Check our picks of the best online music for isolation.

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