The Alpina Gstaad

A Luxury Boutique Hotel in the Alps

Gstaad, Switzerland | A Preferred Hotel

With a panoramic train ride from Montreux easing us into life at the quintessentially Swiss mountain resort of Gstaad, I knew my stay at the Alpina Gstaad was going to be memorable.  Designed in a classic chalet style with a mix of traditional and contemporary Swiss interiors (including a vast collection of notable art), the Alpina Gstaad is the epitome of discreet Alpine luxury.  Each space within the hotel incorporates woodwork expertly crafted by regional artisans to create a chic and inspiring atmosphere.

As I settled into my room with a balcony overlooking Gstaad’s panoramic views, it was quiet evident that the Alpina Gstaad was going to be one of those places where I can completely relax and recharge.  With only 56 rooms and suites, the hotel is an oasis where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and concentrate on yourself with the magnificent Bernese Alps as your backdrop.

Filling my stay with activities all centered around wellbeing, it felt as though my days blended into one restful memory.   The Alpine experience provided by the Alpina Gstaad was simply beyond all my expectations.

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Recharge Your Senses  at The Alpina Gstaad

As a world famous ski resort, ascending upon this exclusive Swiss resort in the summer months might be an unexpected choice for some.  However, with unspoiled Alpine areas and spectacular views of luscious greens, a summer stay at the Alpina Gstaad might just be a life changing experience for some.

Summer at the Alpina Gstaad is all about finding serenity and recharging your senses.  With the Six Senses Spa at the heart of the hotel offering world renowned treatments designed to indulge your senses (including treatments incorporating Tibetan healing methods), summer at the Alpina Gstaad is truly a sanctuary away from home.  For anyone wanting to get away from the stresses of everyday life, be sure to take advantage of the personalised wellness programmes that can be tailored made for your entire stay by considering your lifestyle related concerns and wellbeing goals.

You can also take advantage of the outdoor pool (set at a soothing temperature of somewhere between mid 20 and 30 degrees) and soak up the Alpine sun or indulge yourself at the indoor pool complete with spa facilities which include a jacuzzi, sauna, flotation room,  hammam, salt room and twelve treatment rooms.

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Dining at The Alpina Gstaad

If gastronomy is high on your list of expectations from a great standout hotel, then you are at the right place.  With two Michelin starred restaurants, Sommet and MEGU, the Alpina Gstaad is sure to satisfy your culinary desires.

Orchestrated by Michelin starred chef, Martin Göschel, Sommet boasts an unique menu which pays tribute to exceptional produce of the Swiss Alps.  With wellness at the center of its menu concept, each plate is presented as a base vegetarian dish which can then be enhanced, if desired, with a selection of meat options.  The tasting menu is a must try and with a superb offering of wines (including 400 rare vintage bottles hand picked by the head sommelier), each course can be perfectly matched with complimentary wine.

As the first Japanese restaurant to arrive in Gstaad, MEGU boasts a contemporary, yet authentic menu which is an exciting addition to the Alpina Gstaad.  Headed by Takumi Murase and Tsutomu Kugota, both trained at MEGU in New York, the restaurant presents dynamic Japanese dishes that takes you on a culinary journey and exploration of traditional and unique ingredients from Japan.  If you decide to go for a selection of seasonal sushi and sashimi, be sure to order some sake – including some special rarities imported exclusively by the Alpina Gstaad.

The Alpina Gstaad houses some cosy dining options as well such as the rustic Swiss Stübli where you can enjoy traditional Swiss raclette and fondue.  But for the ultimate indulgence, I highly recommend the Alpina Gstaad’s room service, particularly for breakfast.  With balconies and terraces overlooking the Swiss Alps attached to your room, breakfast ‘in bed’ is not only spectacular but completely relaxing.

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Take a Trip Outdoors

Take advantage of the Alpina Gstaad’s great outdoors as well by participating in yoga and meditation classes set in the hotel’s grounds.  Or, if you fancy venturing off the resort, spend a day at Arnensee Lake which is about a half hour drive from the Alpina Gstaad.  There, try out some water sports like paddle boarding and enjoy the most delicious barbecue prepared by the hotel whilst gazing at the sun setting beyond the mountain terrain.

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A Panoramic Journey to The Alpina Gstaad

To complete your journey to and from Alpina Gstaad, I highly recommend taking the The GoldenPass Line train  route with its base in Montreux.  The tourist oriented route takes passengers aboard a traditional train with panoramic views of the Swiss Alps – a perfect way to start and end your stay at the Alpina Gstaad.

Alpina Gstaad, Preferred Hotels

Thank you to the Alpina Gstaad and Preferred Hotels for a wonderful stay!

For more information, visit Alpina Gstaad’s website here.

The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa, Lausanne, Switzerland

A Legendary City Hotel in Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland | A Preferred Hotel

From the moment I sat down waiting for our Swiss Air flight to takeoff from London, I couldn’t contain my excitement for what lied ahead on my journey with the Preferred Hotels.  Our adventure began in Lausanne (about a 50 minutes train ride from Geneva Airport), home of the International Olympic Committee and based on the shores of Lake Geneva.  As we arrived at the Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa, the warm welcome of the staff immediately made me feel as if I had found my home away from home.

Re-opened in 2015 after years of extensive renovation and conservation work, the Royal Savoy is a legendary hotel dating from 1909.  As a refuge for royalty and aristocrats (such as the home for the Spanish royal family in exile), the hotel has a fascinating heritage and holds significant importance in Lausanne’s history.  Now with the historical building and the newly constructed garden wing, which houses its penthouse suite and its 1,500 sqm Spa du Royal, the hotel is a melting pot of traditional and contemporary style.

From the stylish decor to room service, there is a distinct sense of quality which can be experienced throughout the Royal Savoy.  But most of all, what I enjoyed about the Royal Savoy is that it truly felt like an oasis of tranquility in the heart of Lausanne.  Situated conveniently in the city’s harbour district with panoramic views of Lake Geneva and just a short walk away from Lausanne’s old town, the hotel is ideal for travelers seeking to explore the city, but with a desire to escape from the hustle and bustle as well.

Royal Savoy Lausanne, Preferred Hotels

The Spa Du Royal

After day trips to the center of Lausanne and its surrounding vineyards, the Royal Savoy’s modern spa was truly an oasis of relaxation.  With an indoor and outdoor pool, a ladies only spa area, vitality pool, hammam, sauna, steam and relaxation room, the Spa du Royal was quite simply, the perfect place to rejuvenate my tired body.

My biggest recommendation is to make sure you allow for some time on your trip to simply lose track of time at the spa and book yourself in for a massage or cosmetic treatment as well.  Having had major troubles with dry skin since becoming pregnant and with effective skincare range, my prenatal massage single highhandedly made the most significant improvement to my skin to date.  After my treatment, my skin felt truly moisturised with no flakiness or redness – seriously, one of the best massages I have ever had and a must try!

Dining at the Royal Savoy

The Royal Savoy has two main dining options, the Brasserie due Royal and the Sky Lounge – both a fantastic addition to Lausanne’s culinary scene.

Just as its name suggests, the Brasserie due Royal offers traditional local specialities, but with a modern touch.  For anyone looking for a relaxing culinary experience and a way to enjoy the season’s best ingredients, this is the place to be.  Created by Michelin starred chef, Marc Haeberlin and executed by the Brasserie’s team lead by Executive Chef, Julien Krauss, the seasonal menu is an aude to regional ingredients and reinterprets traditional brasserie dishes with a contemporary flare.  My recommendation is the signature perfect egg, which is arranged to fit each season, and the selection of cured ham from the Valais region.  Be sure to also take advantage of the fantastic breakfast spread offered at the Brasserie each morning too.

For anyone looking to be wowed, the Sky Lounge might just be the perfect place for you.  Set on the sky terrace at the roof of the Royal Savoy, the Sky Lounge features a breathtaking 360° view over Lausanne, the Lavaux region, Lake Geneva and the Alps.  With a menu inspired by exotic culinary traditions spanning 5 continents, each dish is unique taking you on a world of discovery.  I highly recommend exploring the cosmopolitan menu as you gaze upon the sunset over Lake Geneva.

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Explore Lausanne

As the fourth largest city in Switzerland and the headquarters of the Olympic Council, Lausanne is a stunning city on the shores of Lake Geneva.  Wandering through the hilly streets of the old town with its medieval buildings and a 12th century Gothic cathedral is a postcard perfect way to explore this historical city with numerous photo taking opportunities.

For anyone seeking to learn a little bit more about the Olympics, the Olympic Museum is an interesting and educational destination which I found extremely moving (some of the stories behind the athletes and the incredible achievements made by the Olympic organisers definitely got me teary at times).

If you have a little more time to spare, I highly recommend a day excursion to the Lavaux vineyards for wine tasting.  As an Unesco world heritage site, there is nothing more romantic and memorable than sipping on Switzerland’s renown wines as you gaze upon Lake Geneva.  For a spectacular ending to your day excursion, take the paddle seamers around Lake Geneva back to the Royal Savoy – a truly memorable and almost fairytale like experience that shouldn’t be missed.

 

Royal Savoy Lausanne, Preferred Hotels Lausanne, Switzerland Lausanne, Switzerland Lausanne, Switzerland Lausanne, Switzerland Lausanne, Switzerland Lausanne, Switzerland

Thank you to the team at the Royal Savoy and the Preferred Hotels for a wonderful time at the hotel!

For more information on the Royal Savoy, click the link here.

My Big News! Announcing My Pregnancy

Mariko Kuo pregnancy Mariko Kuo pregnancyMariko Kuo pregnancyMariko Kuo pregnancy Mariko Kuo pregnancy Mariko Kuo pregnancy Mariko Kuo pregnancy Mariko Kuo pregnancy

There’s been some big news that I’ve been wanting to share.  About 4 and a half months ago, I found out that I was pregnant!  After weeks of what I thought was a mild stomach flew, it suddenly dawned on me one night at dinner that maybe, just maybe, there might be some other reason behind my constant nausea.  We both looked at each other and thought, nah, can’t be.  But as soon as we got home, the first thing I did was to rummage through our bathroom cupboard for that stick.  After what felt like eternity, my heart thumping and a cold sweat forming on my forehead, the result was pretty conclusive. The plus mark was clearly visible!

We had discussed this a few months back and decided that it might be nice to start trying.  I could not think of anything more special than being able to add a mini-us to our little family with him.  I don’t think either of us actually thought that I would however, get pregnant so quickly.  To be honest, as I’ve had some health issues in the past, I thought this might take at least a year and potentially require multiple rounds of IVF.  So as the realisation slowly dawned on us, I have to say, I was slightly unprepared for the news, but definitely elated and relieved at how lucky we were.

I am proud to announce that I am now 20 weeks preggers and starting to feel the baby’s light thumps and wiggles.  I could have announced a lot sooner, but after reading up on ‘how and when to announce’, I felt that I wanted to keep this between me and my partner for a little longer.  Being 5 months, I’ve had the chance to do some initial research and feel like I can confidently share my experience with you and other fellow mothers-to-be.

So from this point onwards, stay tuned for baby updates and my thoughts on being pregnant!

PS: these photographs were taken by my baby daddy in Ibiza as the sun set over the horizon.  I could not be happier to be able to share these moments with him.   The fact that he took them makes these photographs even more special.

Photographed by Baby Daddy in Ibiza, Spain

One Suit, Two Cities | New York

HOW I WORE MY GESTUZ SUIT IN TWO CITIES

Soho, New York

My second installment from my One Suit, Two Cities editorial is brought to you from New York.  Shot in the bustling streets of Soho, I’ve matched my Gestuz Cori blazer and wide leg trousers with a pin striped blue shirt and a sexy lace bra (embracing the underwear as outerwear trend!).  As a more structured look compared to my London look, I think this look is perfect for the edgy streets of New York.

Mariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New YorkMariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New YorkMariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New York Mariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New York Mariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New York Mariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New York Mariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New York Mariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New York Mariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New YorkMariko Kuo in Gestuz suit in Soho New York

Cori blazer | Gestuz , Cori wide trousers | Gestuz

Striped shirt | Zara , Chrystalle lace bra | Wacoal

Mini cross body bag | Furla

 

My Ski Trip at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof

The Grand Hotel Zermatterhof

Our Swiss Home Away from Home

With two hours sleep, we drove to Gatwick in the early hours to catch our flight to Geneva.  Having never skied in Switzerland before, my anticipation for the week ahead had really kicked in by the time we landed at the pristine Swiss airport.  From there, we had a comfortable coach trip and a train ride up the winding mountain to Zermatt and to our base for our ski holiday, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof.

Located in the heart of downtown Zermatt, it was just past noon when we arrived at Grand Hotel Zermatterhof.  As we checked in and sat by the open fire in the lounge sipping our welcome drinks, we knew that this hotel was going to be our perfect Swiss home away from home for the week.

Established in 1879 by the oldest families of Zermatt as the largest hotel at the foot of the Matterhorn, the hotel is a truly notable landmark.  The hotel has preserved its historic charm by maintaining its luxurious décor which has been modernised to accommodate its current guests.  Our room was elegantly designed with a soothing blue palette with a separate walk-in closet and deluxe bathroom.  And, with spectacular views of the Matterhorn greeting us from our French door windows, time spent in our room felt truly indulgent.

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermat Switzerland

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermat Switzerland

Skiing and Indulgence

Indulgence was definitely a theme that continued throughout our time at the hotel.  With a portered snow locker room located just beneath the lobby where staff would hand deliver your ski kit and ensure that it is being cared for every day, getting ready for the slopes never felt more luxurious.  As the hotel is located in the center of Zermatt, we usually took a short taxi ride to the magnificently engineered Swiss lifts up the Swiss and Italian mountains.  With over 360 kilometers of pistes and stunning views of the Matterhorn, the Zermatt skiing area is perfect for après skiers who are looking for a relaxing ski holiday which combines leisurely skiing with pit stops for some delightful Swiss treats and wines.

After spending our days at the slopes, the indulgence continued back at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof where its  alpine spa centre became our sanctuary.  Complete with an indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, steam room, alpine grotto and an ice grotto, the hotel’s spa has been perfectly designed to rest our aching muscles after a day up on the mountain.

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermat Switzerland

Gourmet Dining

Dining at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof was truly world class.  Breakfast was served every morning in the beautiful dining hall decorated with ornate chandeliers and domed ski lights.  The buffet spread was extensive ranging from continental breakfast staples to hot foods of Swiss delicacies.   The more casual specialist cheese restaurant, SayCheese!, was also a delight where Zermatterhof fondue was a definite must.

The most impressive dining experience of all was the Alpine Gourmet, Prato Borni.  The GaultMillau awarded restaurant lead by Executive Chef Ralph Busch, is a truly stunning experience where traditional Swiss dishes have been reimagined with ingredients sourced from the Valais.  For anyone looking for a gastronomic journey, the 7 course tasting menu complete with carefully matched wine is a must.

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermat Switzerland

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermat Switzerland

Riffelhaus 1853

Having been completely pampered for almost a week at the Zermatterhof, we were over the moon when the hotel offered us the opportunity to stay at its annex sister hotel, Riffelhaus 1853.  Located at 2,500 metres above sea level, the Riffelhaus is a historic ski-in ski-out hotel built in 1853.  We knew that our stay at the Riffelhaus would be amazing, but nothing could have prepared us for the spectacular views of the Matterhorn which greeted us from our room and the newly built spa facilities.  Complete with an outdoor whirlpool, sauna, steam bath and relaxation area, the spa area is the perfect place for deep relaxation and rejuvenation.  The outdoor whirlpool has to be hands down, the best whirlpool with a view in the world.  What a fantastic treat beyond all of our expectations!

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermat Switzerland

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermat Switzerland

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermat Switzerland

 

Click here for more information on The Grand Hotel Zermatterhof.

New York State of Mind

Our second day in New York started bright and early with a walk over Brooklyn Bridge.  With virtually no wind and the warm sun beaming down on us, the Hudson river and the view of the concrete metropolis was a glorious sight to remember.  After conquering my slight fear of bridges, we made our way across to Brooklyn and explored the streets of Brooklyn Heights.

Charlotte Simone’s leather sheerling jacket was the perfect ‘it’ jacket for strolling around in New York.  Teamed with my trusty denim and Acne Studio walking boots of dreams, my off duty biker look seemed to fit in with the bustling streets so well.

 

Sheerling Sleeve Biker Jacket | Charlotte Simone , Mini Bag | Furla , Cony Boots | Acne Studio

Perspex Glasses | Black Eyewear , Knit hat | Cos

 

Breakfast in New York

Jetlag played a major part in my first full day in New York.  That usually would mean that the day is ruined, but for me, this turned out to be one of my best days ever spent in this city.  Wide awake by 5 am, we started off the day with homestyle American breakfast at Bubby’s in Tribeca.  With a belly full of caramelised banana and walnut pancakes, we thought, why not go for a walk instead of going back to the Conrad straight away.  It was just after 7 am after all and seeing so many dog walkers all around the cobbled streets of this area tempted us to carry on.  Who knew that this nonchalant thought would turn our ‘short walk’ into an epic 6 hours (9 miles) walk through all of my favourite areas of New York!

Tribeca lead us to Greenwich via Bleecker Street and then to the High Line.  Fighting though gail force winds from the Hudson, we walked the entire stretch of the High Line followed by a much needed coffee stop in Chelsea to warm up.  It was only when we stopped for a cuppa that we realised that by this point, we had been walking over 4 hours zig zagging around Lower Manhattan.  Given that we had walked so far already, it only felt right to reverse back to our hotel on foot.  And so our breakfast run finally came to an end around 1 pm – just in time for lunch and some more walking around the streets of New York.

The Look

For all New Yorkers, it might be quite obvious that these shots were actually shot not during our epic walk, but afterwards whilst strolling through Downtown New York.  Given the extreme cold and wind, wearing something knitted was an absolute must and so this Next off the shoulder knit was the perfect combination of warmth and a little bit of sex appeal.  I particularly love the ruffled detail which floated around with the wind!  I teamed this piece with some ripped denim and my trusty Acne boots (which can I just say should get the biggest stamp of approval for long distance walking).

Ruffled off the shoulder jumper | Next , Coat | The Fold , Denim | Zara

Boots | Acne Studio , Handbag | Furla , Glasses | Black Eyewear

Ruffled Off the Shoulder Knits and Tops

For all of you lovelies who are looking for a ruffled off the shoulder top/knits, here are some of my top choices! xxx

Photographed by Paige Campbell Linden

Postcards from the Lake District

The Lake District

A few weekends ago, my boyfriend, Mr Pugington and I went on a whimsical adventure to explore the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District. With our Haglöfs trekking gear and the all important dog biscuits packed up, we drove North to the magical world where Beatrix Potter once called home.  As we switched off from the world, Mr Pugington transformed into ‘Extreme Pug’ and Ron and I immersed ourselves in the great outdoors.

Our three day adventure led to days spent trekking to summits for views of the rugged mountain range and glacial lakes, afternoons exploring abandoned quarries and evenings camping out as we star gazed across the horizon.
The Lake District view Trekking in the Lake District with Hagalofs
Mariko Kuo in Hagalofs trekking in the Lake DistrictThe Lake District viewMariko Kuo in Hagalofs trekking in the Lake DistrictMr Pugington at the Lake DistrictCamping in the Lake DistrictMariko Kuo in Hagalofs trekking in the Lake District

Trekking jackets, shells and backpack | Haglöfs.  Sports sunglasses | Adidas Eyewear.

Photographed at the Lake District by Digital Jiujitsu and Mariko Kuo.