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Review: Park Hotel Vitznau – very, very good but not perfect

Review: Park Hotel Vitznau – very, very good but not perfect

Old May 3, 19, 7:48 am
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Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 103
Review: Park Hotel Vitznau – very, very good but not perfect

Review: Park Hotel Vitznau – very, very good but not perfect

To celebrate our sixth anniversary together my girlfriend and I escaped for the long weekend (3 nights) to PHV.

As I’ve explained before I’m not much of a photographer as I think it detracts from the experience, but will insert pictures where I have them.

We flew with BA from LHR to ZRH, and connected by train to Rotkreuz station (ca. 1 hour) where we were picked up by the hotel’s complementary limousine service (S-Class) for the ca. 25-minute journey to the hotel. We were greeted at the doors of the hotel and given a brief tour of the hotel, before being taken up to our room for in room check in.

We had booked into a Junior Suite, but were received an upgrade to the Neue Welt suite with a mountain view on the first floor of the hotel. All rooms have individually designed décor – which can be viewed on their website.

In room check-in was flawless, and the roses ordered for my girlfriend were already in the room, alongside some complementary snacks. Shortly after the in-room check in was completed, a complementary glass of champagne for each of us was brought to our room. Macarons I had requested were missing, but were comped the following day.

The hard-product in the room is outstanding, and furnishings are to a very high standard, as one would expect. There were four flaws to an otherwise perfect room:

1. The AV set-up is a little clumsy, we could not work out how to use Netflix with the non-standard bespoke TV remote, and instead opted to unplug the in-room blu-ray player’s HDMI and plug into my laptop to watch movies and listen to music through the Bose speaker system in the room (which came with an ancient Apple iPhone 5 style adapter). No biggie, but something that could easily be updated with minimal effort

2. The AC in the room was weak. We phoned to ask about this and someone was sent to the room to show us how to operate it, but said it was fully functional. We ended up sleeping with the room door open to the balcony every night, not a problem with secure metal roll-down shutters; but this might be an issue in peak summer months – and is something that might actually preclude me coming in hotter periods, if it was indeed fully functional

3. The door between the living room and bedroom appears to be power assisted as its so heavy, but that wasn’t working. We shut the door with no issues in the evening before bed, but in the morning it took me all my effort as a 6”4 rugby player to open it, and it required multiple efforts nudging it six inches at a time, my girlfriend – if alone - would no doubt have been stuck in the room and needed to call for help.

4. The electricity sockets are cleverly designed so three things can be plugged into one socket location, however the design also means that many adapters (particularly UK to EU) don’t have the clearance needed to be inserted fully, we therefore were reliant on a loaner we had to request from the hotel that would fit.

The soft-furnishings in the room are also very strong, with a complementary mini-bar (incl. two interesting half bottles of red and white – though these are not replenished daily like the other items) and assorted snacks offered. Toiletries are Molton Brown (50 / 80ml size) which will make for useful HBO shower gels going forward 😉. Glassware is either by Riedel or Zalto.

After check-in, we went to use the gym and spa facilities. The gym is very small, with a small selection of cardio machines and dumbbells, but no bar or other weights to use. The gym had a single treadmill and Concept 2, which for this weekend was all I needed, and given how quiet the gym always seemed to be (only encountering one other guest in 3 uses) it will probably be enough to tide most people over.

After our gym session we headed down to the spa. It has everything one would expect from a luxury Swiss retreat: pool, jacuzzi (both inside and outside) steam room, sauna, Finnish sauna, ice bath and a few other forward-thinking contraptions that I won’t pretend to understand. Everything was immaculately maintained by the spa attendant, and a good selection of teas, juices, and nut / fruit snacks were available in the spa to enjoy whilst watching the fish in the large tank in the spa itself. My only gripe with the spa, the button controls for the Jacuzzis are touch operated and useless, the outdoor one seemed to work, but the indoor one was temperamental; and we could not get it to work at all on our final day.

After this we went back to relax in the room and called reception to ask them to deliver a crate of wine to our room that I had ordered from a Swiss merchant to the hotel. We also asked for a decanter and Bordeaux glasses, which were provided. However, we did have to chase this request, as it seemed to have been forgotten the first time.

After enjoying some wine and relaxing a little we headed down to the hotel’s in house 2* restaurant Focus. We elected to dine from a la carte, with my girlfriend selecting the Tuna and then the beef, myself the Ravioli and then the Veal, this was paired with a bottle of 2005 Chasse Spleen, and finished off with an espresso for myself, a number of other snacks / treats were provided throughout the meal as one would expect at such a restaurant. Food, drink, and service were all flawless and we would happily dine here again.

We awakened the following morning at 10am and headed down to Focus again, which is the restaurant in which the complimentary breakfast is hosted. Most dishes were ordered off menu, with a small selection of fruits, mueslis, breads etc. available buffet style. I ordered the scrambled eggs, whilst my girlfriend had an egg-white omelette (sorry no pictures). Standard was high as to be expected. The only thing I would say about breakfast is that the selection of juices was somewhat disappointing, and greater variety would be welcomed.

We spent the day much as the day before – working out, relaxing, enjoying the spa, and generally trying to do as little as possible. We ordered a mini dim sum snack during the day from room service that was a promptly delivered, high quality dish.

Before dinner I asked for a champagne bucket and flutes to be sent to the room, again these had to be chased; as they did not turn up in suitable time when first requested. I also asked for a copy of the wine menu to be sent to our room, so that I could browse through ahead of dinner. I selected a rather young Gaja (Ca’ Marcanda Magari 2014) which I knew would need decanting. I arranged for this to be done ahead of our reservation at the 1* Prisma.

Upon arrival at Prisma, the wine had been placed next to our table, but much to our dismay had not been decanted. The wine was poured straight from the bottle and as expected our first taste was of a very closed wine. We had to proactively ask for the wine to be decanted, which given our initial effort to have this done ahead of time irritated. The rest of the meal however was fantastic, I myself ordered the Tuna and then the Omaha beef, with my girlfriend also selecting the tuna and then scallops. We also shared a veal tartar. The food here was exquisite, and in some ways, we preferred it to the 2* Focus, with the starters and chef’s experiments going to Prisma, and the mains narrowly to Prisma.

After our meal at Prisma, we retired to the room to watch a movie on the sofa and set about ordering breakfast for in-room dining in the morning before going to bed.

Breakfast arrived bang on 9.30am as requested, I myself going for the eggs benedict and a green smoothie, my girlfriend some poached eggs with spinach and mushrooms with grapefruit juice. We also shared a bircher muesli and a pot of black coffee. Suffice to say, the quality of in room dining at the hotel is very high. I could not tell the eggs benedict I had in room from the one I had in the restaurant.

We then leisurely read for a couple of hours before, again heading to the spa before our much-anticipated tour of the hotel’s wine cellar. We had arranged for a 90-minute tour of the cellars, which was led by one of the (fantastic) sommeliers, Sebastian. The cellars are split into Old Word (excl. France), France, New World, D’YQuem, Champagne, and Rarities. The tour started in the bar, where we were offered a glass of the hotel’s house champagne, before being led down one floor with the history of the hotel and its wine collection being explained to us.

The hotel’s owner works in Finance (hence the bear and bull statue at the hotel), and built the wine collection initially through auctions, whilst building relationships with wineries and négociants – through which wine is now procured. The wine is actually the hotel owner’s collection, and the restaurants Prisma and Focus buy bottles from the owner as they are ordered in the restaurants. The wines chosen for specific pairings with the tasting menus, however, remain entirely at the discretion of the sommeliers, of which Focus has five.

We began in the Old-World cellar (housing Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Germany, Switzerland etc.) Sebastian explained how the cellars were organised (or not), we joked owing to a recent breakage of one of the racks, which fortunately only caused losses of c. 15k CHF; which pales in comparison to the c. 25m CHF worth of wine in the cellars (excl. rarities). We then browsed the racks, with Sebastian pointing out some of the more interesting bottles, and discussing his personal wine tastes.

We then moved into the French cellar where we had our first tasting (Louis Moreau Chablis, 2016) with some canapes, a speck Flammkuchen and also some croquettes. Sebastian helped my girlfriend narrow in on some new grape types that might be to her palette, and we discussed the 2018 Bordeaux vintage – tip, St Emilion seems to have fared best.

Sebastian pointed out several rarities, including first growth verticals, DRCs, Petrus’s and anything else you could possibly imagine. Apparently last year only 6 bottles of Petrus were sold in the restaurants, one of which was a magnum. I was surprised to hear it was quite such a low number. We then moved into the very artistic shipping container housing the New World wines; and then into the D’YQuem cellar, which is the largest private collection of the chateau worldwide. It houses n extremely rare bottle of the 1811 vintage, and verticals of every vintage since 1890.

We then went down a level into the Champagne cellar, where we were particularly taken by the Taittinger Collection artworks on the bottles, interestingly made of plastic. We also discussed some of the less well known, but equally special champagne houses stored in the cellar, rather than focussing on the more widely known houses.

Finally, we then entered into the rarities cellar, which is indeed, deserving of the name. In the other cellars I had felt comfortable pulling bottles out from the racks occasionally, which Sebastian was comfortable with; but in here I was not. Sebastian picked up on this, and kindly pulled out some of the highlights on my behalf. These included things such as the 1985 Sassicaia, 1870 Lafite, 1945 Mouton, and a 1795 Madeira. I noticed a 2015 Fontodi and teased Sebastian about its presence in the rarities cellar, he explained temporarily they also were storing some wines in this cellar until the rack in the Old-World cellar is fixed.

After touring the rarities cellar, we returned to the private tasting bar where we sampled four different reds. All of which were interesting and designed to keep guests guessing on their toes.

1. Ridge East Bench Zinfandel, 2015

2. Weingut Lenz Cuvee 1844 Noir, 2017

3. Terroir Al Limit Soc. LDA Arbossar, 2014

4. Chateau Joanin Becot Castillion – Cotes de Bordeaux, 2010

The tour went on for around 2 hours, a good degree longer than the 90 minutes scheduled, we thanked Sebastian greatly for his time and were led back up to the bar to end the tour. We then elected to have another glass of wine each; before retiring to the room.

1. Graben Gritsch Wachau Gruener Veltliner Smaragd, 2013

2. Gernot Heinrich, Pannobile, Zweigelt, 2015

For the Sunday evening, we decided to have room service and ordered burgers to the room to enjoy with a movie. My girlfriend had not seen Argo before, so we elected to watch this. After the movie had finished, we wanted to get out of the room and relax a bit, so we headed down to the cigar lounge adjoining the bar. I ordered a Louis XIII cognac (something I have been wanting to try for years) and my girlfriend a Hugo, which we enjoyed with a nice Cuban to share. After we finished, we retired to the room; where I requested a glass of Hennessy Paradis and some chocolates be sent to the room, where we watched another movie (Beirut) before going to bed.

We awoke on Monday morning a little heavy headed, and went down to breakfast at around 10am. I asked the front-desk if we could do a late check out before our transfer to the station at around 2pm, but unfortunately the room was booked, and we were asked to vacate for 12.30. We had breakfast and then went back up to the room to pack. After this we enjoyed the spa facilities one last time, and checked out of the property at 2pm, enjoying one last coffee by the lake before we left.

Our transfer was booked for 2.20pm, for a 2.49pm train. It seemed a little tight at the time, but I figured the hotel knew best. We didn’t get away until 2.25pm and we only made it to the platform one minute before the train departed. With the amount of luggage, we had, if we had not been young and fit, we’d have missed our train, so I’d advice anyone using the transfer to make sure you have a bit more time than we did in future. Given the hotel knew our timings, I was a little irritated they made the transfer so tight we had to run to the platform. But nevertheless, we made it, and the complimentary transfer is a very nice amenity for the hotel to offer to guests as standard.

We made it to ZRH airport in good time, and beside one of the most ‘attitudey’ check-in agent, who seemed hell bent on making our experience as painful as possible, and being wrong with every statement she made, our trip back to LHR was pain free.

On reading this report back, at times it appears a bit critical, but I think that speaks to the quality of the hotel that I am nitpicking. It really is very, very good and we would happily return. Save for the at times, slightly tardy service, and minor hard product niggles, our experience was very nearly flawless. I’d strongly recommend anyone reading this report gives it a go themselves.
lb8001, thekfc and roadwarrier like this.
BW0807 is offline  
Old May 3, 19, 8:15 am
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What a great detailed report. Thanks for sharing
roadwarriorafrica is offline  
Old May 3, 19, 2:32 pm
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Thanks for a very interesting TR with extremely yummy-looking food photos
lb8001 is offline  
Old May 3, 19, 11:26 pm
Join Date: May 2006
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Thank you for the detailed write up and lovely photos - especially the food pictures!

We stayed there about ten years ago (before the renovation) and I have to say it was excellent then as well. But quite a bit less expensive (perhaps one third to one half the price).

If if you do return, you owe it to yourself to get out and about - lovely hikes and runs and biking in every direction from Vitznau - and great swimming in the lake when it’s a bit warmer out.
CarlTheWebmaster is offline  

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