Forbes – 5th November 2018
Ten years ago, the Experimental Group burst on to the hospitality scene when three childhood friends got together to open their Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris. Inspired by a speakeasy vibe for a modern age, it is found on Rue Saint-Sauveur, with entry via a thick velvet curtain, and it is widely credited for being the gold standard in cocktail bars.
Olivier Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros and Romée de Goriainoff’s cool vision of innovative bars was soon boosted with a fourth partner, Xavier Padovani, who later joined them. The brand soon began to open new bar ventures across Paris and London, as well as restaurants, with projects also cropping up in Ibiza and New York.
Raising its profile further was the launch of its hotel arm – with the Grand Pigalle Hotel opening in Paris in 2015 and the Henrietta Hotel opening in London in 2017. Now ramping up its appeal for an edgy type of skier comes its new opening the Experimental Chalet, due to launch next month in Verbier.
The group’s first alpine hotel will – of course – include a signature cocktail bar, as well as a restaurant by the renowned Parisian chef Gregory Marchand (of Frenchie), plus a spa. In addition, the Experimental Group has acquired the famous late-night Farm Club, a chi chi spot which is part of the hotel, where celebrities – think: the likes of David Bowie and Diana Ross – and locals have rubbed shoulders over the past 45 years, in a timeless chalet atmosphere.
Guests can expect 39 rooms and suites, some with jacuzzis and terraces giving panoramic mountain views. Decor has been conceived by interior designer Fabrizio Casiraghi, known for his unique blending of modern and authentic touches. The result sees lacquered wooden accents juxtaposed with crisp white walls, a minimalist fresh approach mixed with a contemporary colour palette, such as aquamarine, powdered rose, and brick in public areas, and rose and deep green in the rooms and suites.
At its heart, of course, is the first floor Cocktail Bar, complete with roaring fire – the ultimate spot for après-ski, pre-dinner cocktails or to launch a night on the town. Gregory Marchand’s Chalet Restaurant, meanwhile, offers a contemporary interpretation of traditional Alpine food: classics like rösti, spaetzle, aligot and tartiflette meet line-caught lake fish and the freshest salads and vegetables. There are also sharing dishes en cocotte, a dedicated French-style snack hour every afternoon and bar snacks with all ingredients sourced from local artisans.
Better known for its chintzy and lavish approach to hospitality, the group’s pared-back style of hotel is a first for Verbier, a destination celebrated as the premier station of the 4 Vallées with the most extensive slopes in Switzerland. With 410 km of slopes, linked by 80 lifts, and summits reaching 3,300m at Mont-Fort, the station offers a spectacular panoramic Alpine view on the Combins, the Cervin and Mont Blanc peaks.
What’s more, the group is not resting on its laurels and will continue its international reach with additional hotels due to launch in Venice and Menorca in 2019. Watch this space.