By Robert Swade, CEO of Grace Hotels
Grace Hotels is a leading luxury boutique hotel group renowned for its award-wining hotels, resorts and spas in the world’s most stylish destinations from Greece and Morocco to the Americas. Our latest hotel project is Grace St Moritz, which includes 17 apartments for sale. It is our first venture in the Alps, in the exclusive resort of St Moritz in Switzerland. The resort felt like a natural evolution for us; it presented an exciting opportunity to enter the Swiss market and create a unique residential offering within a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of one of the world’s most sought-after destinations.
The 17 exclusive apartments will be serviced by the hotel, which is scheduled to open in 2019. This is a rare opportunity for non-Swiss nationals to purchase a freehold apartment, which combines the amenities of a luxury residence with the service levels associated with a well-established, award- winning hotel group. Located in the heart of the town, just moments from the famous white pistes, Grace St Moritz Apartments offer buyers direct views across the resort’s lake and valley and lies on the legendary Via Serlas, which is believed to be Europe’s top luxury shopping avenue.
Regarded as the birthplace of winter tourism, St Moritz has long been synonymous with international jet-set glamour, attracting royalty, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals for more than 150 years. It became an alpine resort in 1864, and it is now a premier destination with 217 miles of piste. It is also one of Switzerland’s highest resorts at 1,800 metres. In addition to winter sports, St Moritz offers year-round recreation, including hiking, paragliding, mountain biking, golfing, windsurfing, tennis and sailing. The town is also known for its world-class boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants, culture and iconic events, such as the annual Snow Polo World Cup, White Turf and the British Classic Car Rally.
Switzerland is largely closed to overseas purchasers due to the national Lex Weber legislation, which restricts the number of second homes to no more than 20 percent in any given commune. However, there continues to be an increasing number of investors looking to establish a foothold in the residential market. The strong performance of the Swiss franc and the country’s stable economic environment provides buyers with a sense of comfort and safety when deciding on their investments.
The Alps remain the world’s biggest ski destination, boasting large and well-established second-home markets. The latest reports highlight Switzerland as the strongest performer, with St Moritz recorded as one of the most exclusive with prices around CHF 35,000—CHF 55,000 per square metre, depending on the quality, location and whether they can be purchased by non-Swiss residents. With very limited supply, prices have held their value across several Swiss resorts, including St Moritz. This, combined with the rarity of the offering, has resulted in 50 percent of the apartments at this development being sold already.
The serviced apartments represent a rare chance for long-term investment. We’ve created a unique ownership concept that enables non-Swiss nationals to acquire a freehold apartment and earn revenue by renting all or part of it back to hotel guests when not in residence. The managed apartments are available for limited owner-occupancy for a certain period. We will take care of all the servicing, maintenance and marketing to guests when not being used.
Serviced apartments are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the hospitality industry, and this opportunity in St Moritz is a response to the growing demand from homeowners seeking additional benefits of hotel services and amenities. This is not the first time we have offered property acquisition within our hotels. In Northern Argentina, our residential villas at Grace Cafayate have demonstrated the appeal of a freehold luxury residence benefitting from the services of an international hotel brand.
Buyers will also benefit from access to Grace St Moritz’s guest facilities, including its bars and restaurants, and the hotel’s ultra-modern spa and fitness centre, which will span approximately 1,000 square metres with a full menu of treatments from relaxing pampering massages to expert therapeutic procedures. St Moritz is already renowned for its gourmet dining experiences, and this is set to be enhanced by our three new restaurants. Each of our hotels has a unique culinary experience that reflects its destination, while providing an unmistakable Grace twist. There will also be a martini and cigar bar, kids club, ski shop and 24-hour concierge, which will provide owners with bespoke services including restaurant reservations, limousine services and shopping assistance. There is also underground parking for all apartment owners.
The development will see the transformation of La Margna—one of the town’s iconic properties dating from 1906, the early days of alpine tourism—and the addition of a new, modern annex. So apartment buyers will have a choice of two architectural styles within a single development. The hotel will have 56 rooms, which includes guest accommodations within the serviced apartments that range from one to four bedrooms plus a unique two-bedroom penthouse with roof terrace.
A key aspect of our brand is that our properties seek to be wholly authentic expressions of their locality. To achieve this vision, we are working with the award-winning architects Divercity to sympathetically carry out the full restoration and refurbishment of the original building while preserving its period features from the Belle Époque and Engadin cultures. The contemporary wing will benefit from generous proportions and deep windows that capture the famed alpine light. We are also working with boutique design practice Fifth Element Design to create the interiors for the apartments and hotel suites. Fifth Element Design will combine the finest fixtures, fittings and furnishings while retaining the period charm of the building and expressing the design signature of Grace Hotels. The result will be a luxurious, comfortable and modern experience, which nonetheless will leave guests permanently conscious of the “living history” of the space.
As a destination, St Moritz appeals to high-net-worth individuals who seek personal safety, privacy and discretion, as well as a luxury lifestyle with everything they need to hand. The apartments continue to receive high levels of interest from a variety of nationalities including UK, European, Russian and more recently Chinese, Middle Eastern and US, all drawn to the luxurious lifestyle and Switzerland’s safe-haven status. A three-hour journey from Zürich International Airport or accessible by private plane, the resort is easy to reach from any major global city and an ideal weekend getaway.
Grace St Moritz Apartments range from luxury studios to four-bedroom apartments as well as a two-bedroom penthouse. Prices start from CHF 740,000 (£613,585) for a studio and CHF9,900,000 (£8,010,064) for a penthouse.
For more information, please visit www.gracestmoritzapartments.com or contact Knight Frank on +44 (0) 20 7861 1109 or visit www.KnightFrank.com.