When Samy Lama, a hotelier of the third generation in his family, decided to open a luxury eco-hotel in the Swiss Alps, everybody knew that this would be something unusual. For him, traditional wooden beams and roofs in the luxury Crans-Montana, were out of the question. Therefore, he chose an old, deserted building of a former cable car station, at 2.112 meters above sea-level and transformed it into hotel Chetzeron.
With the great support of the local community, it took six years for Samy Lama, a hotelier of the third generation in the Lama family, to get a license to transform a deserted building of the old Swiss cable car station into hotel Chetzeron. The detailed plan was prepared by the town of Lens, in charge of a permit to change the purpose of the building, provided that its volume does not change.
Unlike other hotels in this part of Switzerland, it is almost impossible to get to hotel Chetzeron, surrounded by the thick wood of conifers, at least not in the usual ways – by car or bus. However, to the delight of those adventurous, the hotel can be reached by foot, bike, skies or snow motor vehicles. For them, this is the right way to access the sanctuary of winter sports.
Together with architects of the "Actescollectifs" office in Lausanne, Lama created a place that, one might say, honours industrial gloss of the original structure, at the same time giving a feeling of warmth and comfort along with the surrounding wild landscape. It is indeed a true pleasure to watch the purity of straight lines and stone as opposed to mountain houses built long time ago in Crans-Montana, which facades have become very gloomy. They have closed blinds, and their recognizable narrow terraces are without flowers. Local residents explained to me that many mountain lodges and hotels here were bought by foreigners from the east, who rarely visit them. Whether because they are busy doing business or because the houses were just a good opportunity to invest money – who would know… They just don’t come.
That is why new hotels in Switzerland are built or adapted in the geometric style of straight lines, and stone is mostly being used. It should be known that once, according to the law, every mountain house in this country was built by using two-thirds of wood and only a third of stone.
Whatever the case, the former part of the cable car station, has become a central place of the hotel and now it is completely covered by glass, so the day light penetrates deep into the space and provides a great view of the River Rhône valley and mighty tops of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
Large openings are made of concrete and original wall of local stone. Public spaces are big and spacious. The principals of Feng Shui are used, and each of the seventeen rooms, with the magnificent view of the Alps, offer cosiness thanks to plush materials and furniture in both Alpine and contemporary style. Three outdoor terraces on three levels next to the hot water pool complement the basic guests’ needs. Suits and rooms are divided into three groups: three junior suits, four "Angel Delux" rooms and ten "Vallee superieure" rooms. There are two restaurants, a fireplace bar and a library, game room, space for ski and snowboard cassettes, conference hall…
The building is equipped with the latest technology and energy materials due to the environment protection: thermal solar panels of 50 sqm for hot water and 200 sqm photovoltaic panels which provide the electricity needed for the hotel and pellet stoves. The hotel is the winner of the "Label Minergie" award for excellent isolation, given to building owners and planners who wish for a higher level of quality, comfort and better energy usage.
The owners of hotel Chetzeron, Samy and Napa Lama, of Swiss-Lebanese nationality, and their team of seven chefs at the Chetzeron restaurant and the eponymous bar, entrusted the guest's food to local chefs. For who better than them knows how to cook gnocchi à la raclette, lamb meat, caramel or “Scheenockle” and can serve two and two hundred people? In winter, many hotels and other accommodation facilities located high in the mountains are closed, but not hotel Chetzeron.
Giving new blood to this magical Swiss town, Samy and Napa Lama created an incredible hotel at 2.112 meters above sea-level, making world jetsetters and adventurers to work very hard in order to conquer it.