Hotel Cervo

Alpine Style

Text Claude Hervé-Bazin / Photo Gian Giovanoli
Date of publication Winter 2018-2019

As one of only two Design Hotels in Zermatt, the Cervo is the flagship facility for its local family owners who embody the essence of Valais tradition. Here, the intention is all about seamlessly blending that beloved chalet ambiance with a bold, contemporary spirit.

Daniel F. Lauber, the man behind the 5-star Cervo, the Overlook Lodge, and the Puro and Ferdinand restaurants, modestly introduces himself as “Director and Huntsman.” Truth is, he is a dynamic entrepreneur with deep local roots who shares the reigns with his ex-wife Seraina. In all of his projects, the same three ingredients take center stage: refined luxury, the Matterhorn, and the sublime surrounding mountains.
The Cervo’s story began two decades ago, high above the village, surrounded by forests and the Matterhorn, which is in full view from the property’s large terrace. The main chalet and reception area welcomes a small hamlet of six other chalets around it, for a grand total of 36 rooms and suites, ranging in size from 22-86 m2, with the addition of one exceptionally large suite- the largest in Zermatt- that’s 240 m2. Each chalet has its own spa, which means there’s no waiting in line here, as is the case at many other establishments.
The chalet ambiance is welcoming; it’s the exact opposite of the feeling that comes from staying in a large, anonymous chain hotel. Here the atmosphere is shaped by a cocktail of local materials (notably stone, wood, and felt) that are complimented by a collection of vintage mountain memorabilia (like old skis and hunting trophies). The rooms evoke this same spirit (some even come with their own Alpine-style fireplace), yet are also adapted to meet contemporary expectations of comfort.
The consistency in decor and welcoming ambiance extend to the restaurant Puro, which was given a 14 by the esteemed Gault&Millau. Here large glasses clink together, while deep plates and wooden boards colonize the tables in a ballet of flavors inspired by fresh, local ingredients- Alpine cheeses, beef filet and Swiss game, chanterelles and wild garlic, Valais apricots and mountain-style bread. The dishes are reserved yet precise, sought-after but not convoluted, confidently Swiss with subtle hints of transalpine influences. Ferdinand offers a slightly more casual ambiance, with its fondues, raclettes, and a variety of BBQ hot and cold meat dishes that exemplify both its Alpine ambiance and its hip urban influences. The slogan says it all: 100 % pure, made in Switzerland.
The latest addition to the family is the Overlook Lodge, which from a mere 300 m away shares the same stunning view of the village and the Matterhorn. This large chalet, with its impressive bay windows, is made up of five panoramic apartments, complete with a balcony and ranging in size from 51-152 m2 depending on whether one takes the studio or the penthouse. Here wide open spaces rule, with light wood, iridescent grays and taupe. The color palette is beautifully complimented by the Scandinavian-type vibes with a hint of retro- from the pastel blue dial telephone, to the schoolhouse coat rack or the portable Marshall speaker that looks like it came from the 1950s (yet has full Bluetooth capabilities)… in short, it’s a playful yet discreet throwback to former times, which still offers all of the expected modern conveniences (including a heated ski room, access to the neighboring spa, and a full concierge service).