Many of the best ski resorts in Europe does not exactly have lodging that are parts of a hotel chain. As someone who tends to stay at SPG properties, there is the ultra-expensive W Verbier that comes to mind. Thus I was glad that SPG’s collaboration with Design Hotels meant more ski resort properties to the portfolio. One such property is Hotel Zhero located between Ischgl and Kappl and about an hour away from St. Anton by car.
The hotel is a modern building with timber supports that create a distinctive facade amongst all the traditional Tyrolean architecture. Located by the main road connecting Kappl and Ischgl, the hotel is unmissable when driving. With a spacious porch and underground parkade, I was able to park my rental outside temporarily while I head inside to check-in.
Arriving in the afternoon after a 3 hour drive from Zurich, the lobby has no other guests since I expect many are enjoying their time in the surrounding mountains. The wonderful bellman welcomed me in as the eager young team of receptionists behind the counter greeted me. As I asked for parking, I was told I could park outdoor in their office about 200 metres down the road without costs. Since I was travelling alone and my parking savings for the week is substantial enough, I decided to just park the car by their offices.
Shortly after, I got room keys to a standard room since I understood that Design Hotels are only affiliated members of the SPG program and there was not much benefit other than the ability to earn Starpoints and gain stay credits. The staff did apologize for the lack of other benefits or upgrades though they did provide me with a drink voucher I could use and did mention they provided me with a nice room.
Room No: 105 Category: Standard Double Rooms
My room was located just one floor up in this hotel with a total of 5 storeys. Served by two central elevators, there is a small lobby at every floor with some armchairs that welcomes guests. Plush carpeting and dark panels with generous sprays of fragrances exudes the ambience of a W Hotel.
One good thing about the room location was the ease to access the stairwell and that adds convenience when getting ready to pick up my skis in the morning from the ski storage area on the ground floor, also located beside the stairwell exit.
Inside the room, a standard layout meant there was a closet on the right of the entryway. The compact design means the door of the closet when opened will impede access to the room door.
Across from the closet which have enough space for jackets and clothes for 2 persons staying a few days, there is a spacious square-shaped bathroom. The modern design meant there was a walk-in shower instead of a bathtub and a large vanity counter for 2 and a sleek toilet on the left.
The bathroom is also well designed with glass shelves above the countertop that could hold your toiletries and the shower stall is fitted with both a handheld shower and a rain-shower head.
Bath amenities includes shampoo, shower gel and body lotion, lacking hair conditioners and it was supplied by Liebhauser Home with a sweet scent that is strong and unique enough to be polarizing. It is similar to a scent by the Etro-branded amenities that I used before in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. Thus I suggest travellers heading here to bring some of their own in case you happen to not like this scent.
Back in the room, the closet extends to a wall-hanging desk with a hidden sliding TV compartment. This means the desk is not really usable if someone wants to watch TV. Since I barely speak or listen to German, I did not watch much TV during my stay. On the desk itself, there was a thick book listing all the Design Hotels along with the hotel folio. There was also a large bottle of still water that was provided as compliments once during my stay.
The rest of the bedroom was occupied by one double bed instead of 2 single beds that masquerades as a double, which was the case more often than not in Europe. One thing about local European hotels that I like is the way they fold their comforters as it just invites guests to jump into the bed. And this particular comforter was fluffy and warm indeed, making it suitable in the winter when temperatures are below -10 degree celcius.
As a Design Hotel, there was some interesting pieces of furniture such as the 3-tiered nightstand that was leather-covered. On the right side of the bed, there was a LED reading light and the left side was a hanging pendant light. If there was one flaw, I have to say the lighting in the room is a bit dim though this might work for some guests.
In the corner of the room was a nice armchair and a small circular table. While the room was sufficiently furnished, I found it a bit on the small side and it could be a squeeze for 2 person with all the ski gear. This room is also a bit too small to fit in an extra bed thus maximum occupancy is probably for 2 adults.
With my room facing the industrial warehouse beside the hotel and a view of the bus stop outside the hotel, there can be some noise in the morning when skiers wait for the bus. Otherwise the warehouse was not noisy. The good thing was there was plenty of light in the day entering the room. There is also a door leading to the common balcony outside of the room.
With proximity to several ski areas including Ischgl, skiing is one of the activities that guests come for. Thus the hotel has a ski shop selling some basic ski gear like goggles and poles.
The hotel also has on-demand shuttle services to Ischgl or Kappl, about 10-20 minutes drive away and the shuttle is operated by a Mercedes Viano van which can seat up to 7 passengers. This service was provided free of charges and definitely beats taking the bus! Guests could also call from Ischgl for a pick up if they require a return trip.
Considering the hotel has not much neighbours or restaurants in its direct vicinity, it was necessary for a bar and on-site restaurant. Breakfast and dinner are both served in the restaurant located on the ground floor. A chic and cosy bar with plenty of comfortable seating can be found across from the restaurant. And it comes with several gas fireplace.
The hotel also houses a spa operated by Swiss cosmetic brand La Prairie with equally high prices to match. Guests are probably better off looking for spa treatments in Ischgl or Kappl. The spa is located in the lower ground floor along with a small fitness centre and an indoor pool.
Like most of the hotel facilities, the fitness centre has a dark interior. The small space also meant the facility is not exactly the best place for a work-out.
A highlight of the facilities has got to be the indoor pool which occupies the main space in the spa. There are also plenty of comfortable lounge chairs around the pool.
While the spa has a decent sized pool and several thermal rooms or saunas, it was lacking a whirlpool or hot tub. This was a disappointment especially for a ski lodge as I found a whirlpool is one of the favourite features amongst vacationers in the ski lodges.
Instead, the hotel has some spa treatment rooms and a UV sunbed can be found in one of them.
To summarize, I like the overall ambience of the hotel and the friendly staff working here. In fact my experience with stays in Design Hotels have been the great staff who seems to be more pro-active in offering solutions for guests than the average Sheratons. However, I would not classify this into a luxury ski lodge considering the limited facilities and location.
With a paid rate of EUR 192 per night inclusive of taxes and a EUR 2.50 city tax, the rate was not cheap but it offered a luxurious stay without the need to buy into the half board system common in most ski lodgings in Europe. Add in the ability to earn points and sty credits to maintain my Platinum status and I figured this was a great choice to stay in to experience skiing in the Tyrol region. But unless I was planning to ski in this area, I do not see this as a destination in its own right.