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ARCHITECTURE / DESIGN
A short ride from the high-priced ski resorts of St. Moritz, there’s Nira Alpina, a peaceful mountain retreat that lets you get closer to the Alps. Not only is it possible to ski right up to the entrance, and connect directly with the nearby cable car station via a glassed-in covered walkway, but the building has been skillfully sculpted to let the scenery shine through. Spacious balconies and terraces hug onto the sides, providing spectacular views of a plateau that’s studded with turquoise lakes. And all over, whether in the rooms or the restaurants, there are glass windows that flood the building with sunlight.
Throughout the layered wooden building, modern minimalism sits comfortably alongside traditional local materials. From the outside this is most visible, with timber beams and sheets of polished glass moving skywards simultaneously in smooth, ascending lines. Special care has been taken to ensure that even with such large amounts of glass, the building meets the latest environmental standards. Throughout the year, geothermal power keeps the building warm.
Designed as a sanctuary, Nira Alpina avoids formality and excessive decadence. Instead, you’re greeted with warm smiles, unfussy service and an eclectic interior design that uses superior local materials to create a subtle sense of hedonism. In the spa, there’s a sumptuous relaxation room with colored mood lighting, and a ‘couple’s room’ with sensual heated massage beds.
Dining at the hotel is a sensory feast. There are mountain views at Stars, serving modern international fare, while crackling log fires set the mood for relaxed evenings at the top-floor bar, an ideal spot for après-ski in winter. Other options include Stalla Veglia, a classic Engadin-style restaurant serving fondue among antique pine furnishings, and the Bakery, that draws you in with golden-brown pastries and the smell of warm bread. Whichever option you choose, you’ll find efficient yet relaxed service, delivered with unfussy charm.
In the rooms and suites, veteran hotelier MPS Puri has managed to strike the perfect balance between traditional Swiss charm and the comforts of modern living. Swiss spruce is combined with the latest technology – iPod docks and HD TVs bask in the light from floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the Engadin Mountains. Under the wood-paneled headboards, cotton sheets and pillows made by Swiss firm Schwob, pioneers of organically grown cotton, await your arrival. After a day of kite surfing, hiking or winter sports outside, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to resist.