JACKIE: Hello February, you short month that is long on Romance (with a capital “R”). I’m thinking sweet thoughts — like chocolate, and a perfect place to find Swiss Chocolate, like Switzerland?
We want to Talk about the singular Widder Hotel in Zurich, the last stop on David’s solo sojourn last fall. This superior and imaginative hotel had dazzled me a few years back. Now let’s try to bring you there:
DAVID: I have traveled the world for over 50 years for pleasure and for business. I have stayed in dozens of cities, towns and villages, in hundreds of hotels, and if I had only one to choose as my last stay, it would be the Widder in Zurich, Switzerland. First reason (and second and third): General Managers Mr. and Mrs. Jan E Brucker who have assembled and trained a team of young, pleasant, helpful men and women who grant your every wish almost before you’ve requested it. Next, the Widder is the epitome of style, comfort, and conveniences.
Speaking of comfort and convenience, getting to Zurich, with the aid of my Swiss Rail Pass, was a piece of gateau! I had zipped from Geneva to Lucerne in First Class on the swift, silent, sexy Swiss rail and two days later my Pass (courtesy of L.A. based Maja Gartmann), allowed me to walk onto the snazzy train, choose any seat, and ride without a care to my destination, Zurich and the wonderful Widder.
I was greeted with warmth, escorted up the unique glass and steel elevator, and was shown into my Suite 210. It is magnificent with a huge living room intricately paneled with lustrous, richly-grained wood on walls, ceiling, and floor. An enormous matching armoire covers one wall; another holds a glass and chrome desk with WiFi and a Nespresso system. An emerald-green suede couch and chair face a Bang & Olufsen outfit providing television (lots of English channels), great sound, radio, and CD and DVD players. My bedroom sported another TV, another huge armoire, and a bed with a remote control that raises and lowers sections for supreme comfort. A giant bathroom with dark-green veined marble and mirrors galore includes the central mirror that comes to life at a touch to reveal a TV showing through. In actual fact, I wouldn’t mind at all living in Suite 210 for quite a long while…. (JJ comments: Me neither, with its separate WC and sink.)
Mr. Brucker’s note welcomed me; his Veuve Clicquot and living white orchids made me wish once more Jacqueline was with me. Later, Jan, an utterly charming and urbane gent who is also Chairman of Swiss Deluxe Hotels, told me, “It is the fact that the original nine buildings dating from the 1200s have been meticulously combined and totally restored, modernized to form one perfect hotel. It opened in 1995 as the Widder (‘Ram’ in English, named after the Society of Butchers who once inhabited the original Guild Hall in the 1500s).” Today, 42 rooms and seven suites with no two identical make up the Five Star Hotel, with a superb location. I wandered ancient streets around the Widder, and the modern world of major designers and zillions of watches lining the main street that lead down from the rail station to Lake Zurich. On another day, I took the short walk from the Widder across a bridge over the Limmat River fed by the lake and strolled around the very old section which is much more Bohemian in nature.
Through all this sightseeing my appetite was fueled and satisfied one night at the formal gourmet Widder Restaurant featuring the delicious work of Executive Chef Alexander Kroll. I chose the Chef’s three-course menu starting with a lovely filet of John Dory with goose liver and crunchy hazel nuts. My first wine was the lush ‘09 Chateauneuf du Pape. For my main, a slow-cooked goulash of tender chunks of venison with rich gravy, red cabbage, bacon, and mushroom. A hearty 2005 Rioja accompanied. The dessert was called B&W — dark and white chocolate in various forms. Ruinart rose champagne was the finishing touch.
JACKIE: I peacefully visualize the Widder, and its assortment of fantastic quarters, courtesy of Google.
DAVID: Sil vous plait; check out online sites for the Widder in Zurich and Swiss Rail Pass.