The day after Switzerland announced the end of most Covid-19 travel restrictions, the elegant quays that run along Lake Léman seemed revived. From the terrace of The Woodward, the new all-suite five-star hotel in Geneva, it was particularly striking to see families, couples and solo travelers strolling around the stately flower beds, enjoying the view onto the water and the Alps in the distance. Owned by Bastion Management, The Woodward is the most recent property in the Oetker Collections, a portfolio that includes The Bristol in Paris, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, and Jumby Bay Island in Antigua among others.
Geneva brings to mind the United Nations, the Red Cross, and the bustling world of banking and watchmaking, but most striking is the city’s location, around the tip of a lake shaped like a croissant that disguises itself as a mirror or an ocean depending on the wind. On both banks, in full view of the postcard-perfect Jet d’Eau, immaculate and intricate post-Hausmannian buildings huddle together as they lead to the spot where the mighty Rhône River emerges from the lake, and starts its winding journey towards the Mediterranean.
First built in 1901, the mansions that houses The Woodward blends well amongst the white Belle-Epoque residential buildings on Quay Wilson, and its entrance on a side street is discreet. But a multicolor world awaits as soon as one steps into the red lacquered elevator that takes a visitor up to the “salon.” The idea here is to emulate a stay in a private manor. No hustling lobby or queue at the desk, guests are immediately escorted to their suites for check-in.
That salon level beckons though, with its dark Macassar Ebony wall-paneling, art-deco inspired comfortable furniture and intriguing objects reminiscent of a cabinet of curiosities. A crystal chandelier, in the style of Louis the XIV, was designed for French designer Yves Saint Laurent, and hangs from the center of a circular ceiling fresco by Atelier Gohart. To the side, the main bar reprises the Macassar theme, but the eye keeps going back to the view: the quays, the Lake, and the Alps beyond.
Guests can choose between two restaurants: the theatrical Atelier Joel Robuchon, the only one in Switzerland, tucked away down below where chefs work behind a counter, in full view of the guests who sit across from them. Upstairs on the covered terrace facing Lake Geneva, sits the only European outpost of Le Jardinier, with a focus on gluten-free, plant-centric dishes.
The opulent suites range from 600 to 1,700 square feet and start at about $1,200 a night. Each features intricate parquet floors, working marble fireplaces and a hand- lacquered armoire with mother of pearl inserts made by Atelier Anne Midavaine. The gleaming bathrooms feature Lalique touches, white Carrara marble and Dyson hair dryers.
In addition to the state-of-the-art fitness facility, The Woodward now houses the first Guerlain spa in Switzerland and the longest hotel indoor pool in Geneva. But when the weather turns summery, the Lake, just across the way, may turn out to be impossible to resist.