The Maktoum family has been spending its summer holidays at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof in Zermatt, Switzerland since 1984. This fine hotel operates to the highest Swiss standards of service and is an excellent choice for Gulf visitors whether in the summer for glacier skiing or in the winter.
The latest edition of the Swiss Deluxe Hotel's in-house magazine reveals that the first two floors of the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof are taken over by the Maktoum party of around 60 people for up to three weeks each summer.
This hotel was built in 1879 by the burghers of Zermatt, an association of the original families granted their freedom by Italian nobles in the 14th century, to accommodate a growing influx of tourists which followed the conquest of the majestic Matterhorn by the British climber Edward Whymper in 1865.
It is still owned and managed by the burghers, now more than 2,000 in number, who also own many of the mountain restaurants doted around the resort village. Perhaps the tight control by this mysterious community is one reason for the outstanding service in the hotel, although Swiss hotel school training is also legendary.
Anybody in the hotel business just ought to visit the Zermatterhof to experience how service should be handled. There is no over-friendly bonhomie, just a professional care and concern that knows exactly when to be helpful and when to back off.
For example, if you take a plate of cheese from a buffet presentation, somebody will have delivered the correct knife and fork to your place before you return. Nothing is too much trouble for the hotel concierge Nando whose unflappable calm would doubtless extend to guiding guests into the hotel's bunker in the unlikely event of a nuclear attack.
The Grand Hotel Zermatterhof is also almost a boutique hotel by modern standards with only 58 well appointed bedrooms, 19 junior suites and seven suites. There is a considerable art collection, conference facilities for up to 250 people and two restaurants. Culinary standards are set at the highest levels to match the impeccable service.
However, beware of the half-board option with six-course meals in the Restaurant Prato Borni if you are worried about gaining weight. You might find it better to dine occasionally in such splendor and seek lighter fare elsewhere in the village.
The latest addition to the hotel is a beautiful contemporary spa complex with full-size indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi. This is a great place to unwind at the end of a hard day of skiing or hiking, and Zermatt is one of the best regions in the world for both activities under the watchful shadow of the Matterhorn.
Emirates Airline has regular daily services to Zurich which is a four hour train ride away from Zermatt. This route is currently operated by the new Airbus A340-500 with more than 500 CDs and dozens of films available on demand through its amazing entertainment system, and that is just in economy class.