What brings a Brazilian to Switzerland? Nati Felli laughs. ‘Love, what else?’ She met her husband, a Valaisian, at the Les Roches School of Hotel Management. ‘My only condition for moving to Switzerland was that I would be able to build a hotel of my own here in Valais.’ Fortunately, her wish was fulfilled.
Good at small things
‘How lucky we are!’ says Nati Felli happily. She looks out from the terrace of her hotel over the green golf course and out towards the Valais Alps. A hotel manager who is not suffering from these difficult times? Is it possible? The Brazilian laughs: ‘Why should I be suffering? Here in Valais, we have a paradise right in front of us. We have nothing at all to complain about.’
At Guarda Golf, Nati Felli realises her vision of alpine luxury and Brazilian hospitality, and she has had great success in cultivating her entirely unique style. What's her secret? ‘Very simple: you have to offer your guests more than they expect.’ To do so, of course, you need to have good infrastructure: large rooms, a beautiful bathroom, a private terrace with a view, sport and fitness suites. The beds at Guarda Golf are specially designed to encourage a good night’s sleep. But even that is not all.
Raclette for Brazilians
‘Ultimately, it's the small things which make the difference and create enduring memories,’ imparts Nati Felli. ‘Guests love the very simple, authentic pleasures. Like a picnic in the Alps. Or Raclette.’ But a certain amount of help and attention to detail is also required. ‘If you just shove Raclette cheese in front of a foreign guest, don't be surprised if he doesn't like it,’ explains Nati Felli. ‘But if you tell him who made the cheese, and where his cows graze, he'll love it. And he's bound to tell everyone about it too.’
It there something which her Latin American guests like especially about Valais? ‘The skiing, hiking and golf in a breath-taking landscape, just like all the other guests. And the safety.’ Isn't that something you would take for granted? ‘Not at all. Not long ago, we had a Brazilian family stay here. In the evening I met the daughter in the lobby with tears of joy in her eyes. Here in Crans-Montana was the first time she could go out entirely alone. It was a sensational experience for her.’ The safety, pristine landscape and beauty of Valais are its greatest capital for Nati Felli. ‘Switzerland is the world champion in those departments.’ This capital will become even more valuable in the future.
We are the world champions
‘This summer we'll have the World Cup coming to Switzerland,’ says Nati Felli with anticipation. She specialises in the Brazilian market: up to 30% of her guests are from her native country. Whenever she travels to Brazil, Nati Felli makes the case for Valais and Switzerland. ‘I've become more patriotic than some Swiss,’ she laughs. ‘To me, it's not about my hotel but the destination. I often meet people for whom the Guarda Golf is too expensive. And I'm always happy to hear that they've found another hotel in Valais, since Valais has many outstanding hotels.’
Valais is now home for Nati Felli. Here in Crans-Montana, she is living the dream and realising her big plans. The sun slowly sets behind the mountains. The last snow glistens. ‘How lucky I am to be able to live in paradise,’ she says with a satisfied smile. She says goodbye warmly and gets back to work, full of energy: there are many guests still waiting to find happiness in Crans-Montana.