Grand Hotel Kempinski, Switzerland
Uncle Bernie would never buy anything German, Japanese or Swiss. The German thing was obvious (under duress, he would get in the Mercedes cabs lined up at Ben Gurion Airport, but not before crying, ‘to the Guilt-mobile, Robin!’). He tried to buy me a non-Japanese walkman for my birthday – the American-built shonky mini reel-to-reel I got was apparently used by the CIA… no doubt to get their captives to talk by making them insane with the signal drop out.
‘They did nothing’, Bernie would say, chewing on a sandwich, ‘and they still got our teeth…’ Then he would tap his nose. Bernie was eventually given a nice quiet room, filled with old newspapers and soft rubber walls.
So here I am flying over Lake Geneva in a snazzy prop plane, run by Baboo. Not Baboon. Or Air Taboo – which is, I am reliably informed, what John Travolta calls his plane. I am in Europe and am feeling run down and the Grand Hotel Kempinski on the lake’s shore has a new facility called – and I feel so proud to be American over shit like this – Le Spa. Those socialist freaks!
OK. So Lake Geneva is really cool. And beautiful. Mont Blanc is frickin 60 miles away and still looms over the town like a dollop of G-d’s own whipped cheese.
My room over looks the lake and its famous fountain. They turn it on every morning at 10 am precisely. Don’t try and catch them out. An old man’s stakes his very existence on getting this right.
The air is so sweet, man. The light so nuanced. I have a cinematographer friend, Jeff, who says the colour changes of Geneva are impossible to capture on film, a harmonic study in chroma that Debussy might have scored. Jeff’s an artist. He’s schtupping one of the Kardashian sisters, now. True story.
The hotel arranges a tour of the city. A crazy guy with a very dry sense of humour shows us around.
This is the place where Calvin and Knox pretty much invented the Protestant faith. But all that joyless shit is over and done with. Quite what those ranty kibbitzers would have made of the multi-culturalism and bling on display today, I have no idea. A wiser man than me once said 25% of human misery is toothache. That explains the Brits, at least. Crazy Guy tells a guide in the church to shut it, so we can hear his singing demo of the acoustics. He has great teeth.
The lake itself is a thing of wonder. A massive, breathtaking vat of pure mountain mineral water. The locals shower in it, drink it and, when the weather allows, swim in it. They have a small beach, that I hang at. Whilst no Venice Beach, the amount of very hot girls and beautiful weather makes for a great sharking afternoon. Then back to the hotel…
The Kempinski ain’t your classic palace grand hotel of Old Europe. It’s a cool, shiny offering to our new Eastern Overlords. The Geneva suite duplex comfortably houses 25 various lackeys and bodyguards. The glass is, no doubt, bullet proof. The master bathroom is so extreme there are two marble sinks that actually look like sex plinths. I just made that concept up. I’m gonna have ‘em flown over and installed at my place. Not the house. My little retreat at Malibu. Ok? So, yeah, this place knows where the new big money is coming from and is playin’ it like a fiddle.
Great terrace restaurant, overlooking the lake? Check. Insanely hot models drafted in for a Dior fashion show in the lounge? Check. These creatures were shipped in to celebrate the launch of Le Spa. Clever bastards. Get the cougars of Geneva out to look at hot couture, pump ‘em with sushi and take ‘em round your 1,400sqm of lavish, state of the art treatment rooms. Using, I am informed, very luxurious Cinq Mondes products, the menu is long and dizzying. Next day, having left my two new nosh-dodging, clothes-horse friends in bed, I head for the Hammam.
I schwitz for 30 mins. Then, Susanna, a pretty and sturdy girl from Grenoble, scrubs me down with black olive oil soap. After a hose down (I mean Don Simpson used to pay a fortune for this kinda shit) I get a Balinese massage. I leave feeling ten years younger. But I hadn’t thought to get Susanna to, er. ‘up sell’. Jeez, I’m losing my touch. Oh and I asked around for the gold. They looked uncomfortable, shrugged and said they didn’t know what I was talking about. Bernie the meshuganah must have been wrong. Right? BENYOMIN GOLD-LEVINE