“To do what we love at 200%” Au Club Alpin

The itinerary of the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Au Club Alpin hotel blend perfectly in a wonderful environment on the shores of Champex lake. Since 2020, the hotel has offered a unique concept with a beautiful and cozy wellness area and a restaurant that has now been awarded with a Michelin star. Artworks dress up the premises, and the rooms are spacious and contemporary. Its owner, Michel Thetaz, wants to offer a unique experience that respects the authenticity of the place through this magnificent project. Working with his wife and two daughters, Michel is firmly committed to his values and the preservation of Champex’s beauty. As a native of Orsières, this multi-entrepreneur, who is also the head of a wealth management company, responds to our questions.

Michel Theytaz

Why did you invest in Champex ? What do you like about this destination ?

We came to Champex for a dual reason. Firstly, having traveled extensively, we wanted to create something in our hometown. We wanted to permanently anchor ourselves by building something in a magnificent environment.

Furthermore, Champex aligns with our vision of creating a project in nature. It is often called the “little Canada”, with its forests, lake, and landscapes. Given its geography, it can never become a major resort, thus preserving its authenticity. It is a place we love and that resonates with our values.

How did the idea for the hotel come about ?

We have been skiing in Champex since we were children. The place is magical but seemed underutilsed. We strongly believed that a different approach was necessary. We realised that we could create a beautiful project in this idyllic location.

The process of acquiring this space was time-consuming. In 2016, we were able to officially finalise the acquisition, and the construction was completed in 2020.

More than a hotel, a club.

What is the concept of the project ?

The project is countercyclical : we aimed to do something that had never been done before.

We wanted to create a unifying space that caters to a diverse clientele. Some people enjoy spa relaxation and sleeping in a unique setting. Others are ­enthusiasts of sports such as skiing and cycling. Finally, some people appreciate the exchange through the artworks found throughout the hotel.

From the establishment, we add elements such as the Real Estate Club or cycling activities.

A new step in 2024 ?

Indeed, next year we will be constructing a second building offering over twenty additional rooms. This increased capacity will meet a significant demand for reservations that we are currently unable to satisfy.

Wellness in Club Alpin.

Artworks are found throughout the hotel. Could you say a few words about this ?

We have accumulated artworks over time, through travels and encounters. We wanted to incorporate them into our project. These artworks are very eclectic but exclusively contemporary.

The one that everyone sees is the artwork with the plate of pasta at the entrance of the restaurant, by Canadian artist Cloe Wise. Everyone interprets it differently : some people love it, others hate it, but most artworks provoke discussion.

In what other aspects does the owner’s personality reflect in the hotel ?

The choices are local. The selection of products is locally sourced. For example, the vegetables come from the Rhone plain. Furthermore, these choices are also reflected in the construction. The cut stones come from Simplon. They are highly appreciated for their reflections and various shades of dark grey.

Having had great success in business, is the Club Alpin a pleasure or a continuation of your vision ?

It is undoubtedly a continuation of my vision, based on the same criteria and values : patience, discipline, and the willingness to prioritise long-term trust and stability over short-term gains. I have always made the same choices in business. The emblem of my financial company is actually the turtle. Although not very fast, it is the one that wins the race…

Unique et exclusive environment.

The restaurant has recently received some accolades : is it a deliberate effort or a surprise ?

Inevitably, we aim to offer good cuisine, to provide something to the customers that they can’t find elsewhere. That is why Gault & Millau and, consequently, Michelin have taken an interest in the Club Alpin. We do not hide our pride in being recognised. It reflects the magnificent work of the kitchen team, led by Chef Mariano Buda.

Working as a family – is it an advantage ?

It makes things easier. We all have different strengths, which allows us to complement each other’s efforts. We also get along very well. This is an advantage in the decisions we have to make, thanks to our ability to exchange ideas. We approach our work to the best of our abilities with family values.

A few words about your relationship with VFP ?

It is a long-standing friendship, further proof that long standing friendships offer the most solid foundations.

I have known Véronique since the beginning of my career in the 1970s. We met through work at that time and have always kept in touch. It is immensely valuable to have long-term friendships.

Michael is a reflection of his mother : he has the same mindset. In just two minutes, you can see in him the characteristics of both his parents : thoughtful and determined, qualities that I admire. We can work together, and it works.

As an inspiring figure in the business world, do you have any advice for finding a good work-life balance ?

Intuition and motivation promote enjoyment and balance. Trusting oneself and investing 200 % is my recipe for a good balance.

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