Switzerland Travel Guide
A design competition in Switzerland has seen a little drama recently, but will likely result in one amazing new hotel.
The competition involved several international "starchitects" who were challenged to design a luxury hotel adjacent to the Therme Vals spa in the Swiss Alps, pictured above. It all went downhill from there, so to speak.
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Guys, this is just the beginning.
You thought millennial hotels were bad enough? Meet the Club Med Val Thorens Sensations, which was designed by… its Facebook fans.
According to the Mail, the 384-room hotel was the first to be entirely crowdsourced, and it was all done via Facebook requests.
So what do Facebook fans want in a hotel?
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Switzerland has been concentrating so hard on their budget offerings recently that we were beginning to worry they’d forgotten all about what they do best – insanely expensive luxury properties.
The Kameha is already styling itself as your new “lieblingsplatz”, or regular haunt, in Zurich. Not sure where they reckon we hang out already, but this is a bit of an upgrade.
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New brand Base will be a cross between a hotel and a serviced apartment – but a good cross. Think large, modern suites (accessed via self check-in) with Hypnos beds, internet TV and floor-to-ceiling windows, plus proper kitchens. The rooftop bar will have views of Lake Geneva and the Alps, there’s a fitness center and Italian restaurant, and guests will also have free use of bicycles (or Base Bikes as they call them). Planning to return? They’ll give you a “Base Box” to store your belongings/papers/drinks until next time. For free.
The first Base will be in Nyon, outside Geneva. It’s being “sustainably constructed” right now, and will have eco cred too – solar panels, triple glazing, and no chemicals will be used during cleaning. It’s due to open October 2015.
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Switzerland: a country that takes pride in being completely unaffordable for anyone from outside of it. Edit – a country that did take pride in being completely unaffordable. For this summer, we have seen the emergence of a New Switzerland – one that pities us, one that wants us to come stay without having to remortgage our house, one that suddenly wants to thrust budget accommodation at us. Not you’re your standard crappy budget digs, of course; no, the New Switzerland is a place of hip ‘hostels’ that other countries would class as nice hotels.
Of course, you already know it’s a trendy kind of place – it was clearly named to be a hipster magnet, after all – but listen to what it actually has. It has a pool (and separate children’s pool). It has a spa with saunas, a herbal steam bath, hydromassage showers, and a ‘gorge balcony’ (presumably it looks over a gorgeous, rather than being especially gorgeous). It offers a hotel-level massage list. And all this stuff comes with humungous windows overlooking the mountain landscape.
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Nestled 1600 feet up from the shores of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, a luxury resort is recreating itself--The Burgenstock Resort, scheduled to re-open in 2017. When all is said and done, there will be three hotels: The Burgenstock Hotel; the circa 1906 Palace Hotel; and the Waldhotel, a medical wellness destination. Add to that a spa the size of a football field, a conference center, residences, and several dining options.
The Burgenstock Resort is being developed by Katara Hospitality, who are also presently transforming the Royal Savoy Lausanne. Katara has again retained London-based MKV Design to take on the interiors of the Burgenstock Hotel, as well as the Palace Hotel renovation and the mega Alpine Spa. Right now, we're getting an early look at the Burgenstock Hotel.
Ah, Switzerland. Beautiful. Peaceful. Friendly. Easily navigable…
Expensive as *&$k.
Luckily, for those of us who’ve been put off visiting because we don’t earn the world’s highest minimum wage, Switzerland has a plan.
It involves a hostel, but don’t stress. This is no ordinary hostel. It’s a posh hostel (surely someone’s coined “poshtel” by now).
The Gstaad Saanenland Youth Hostel is, as the name suggests, in pricey Gstaad – the village of Saanen, to be precise. It opened a few weeks ago, and it’s eco-friendly. Most importantly (because who cares about the environment when facing the prospect of sharing a room with strangers) it has ensuite double and single rooms as well as its shared rooms (no giant dorms here – four or six beds are your options). A buffet breakfast and locally sourced, three-course dinner is available in the dining room, and there’s a sunny/snowy terrace, depending on the season, to soak up the views.
Let’s be honest, this is no Kex Hostel – rooms are Ikea-basic, with wooden floors, bedframes and shelving the fanciest thing about them. But this is hearty Switzerland, where it’s all about the views – almost all the rooms face the Swiss Alps, giving you megabucks panoramas for a fraction of normal Gstaad prices.
The historic Royal Savoy in Lausanne, Switzerland is in the midst of a dramatic makeover, due to be completed next year. The word is out, and now early images are out, and we are sharing them with you.
The Royal Savoy opened as a hotel in 1906 and was a popular destination for royalty and bigwigs from around the world. It was built during the short-lived but highly artistic Art Nouveau period, and the hotel is both a landmark and a pride of Lausanne. Defined generally by the free-flowing curves and shapes found in nature, Art Nouveau style provides a rare context for contemporary hospitality design. The Royal Savoy has taken on the challenge with a full-out renovation and expansion that will include almost twice the number of guest rooms (196), a wellness center, and quite a new look.
The hotel is one of three properties of the Burgenstock Selection, owned by Qatar-based Katara Hospitality. They have some pretty special properties including one in particular we have all been waiting for – the Peninsula Paris. That being said, we can’t wait to see how they transformed Royal Savoy.
There is no place like Basel, Switzerland.
There is no place like Basel, Switzerland.It is one of the great cultural hubs of Europe, uniquely positioned where France, Germany and Switzerland come together. Basel has been a destination for trade fairs since the 15th century and that legacy continues today. It is the home of Art Basel, the largest art fair in the world, and Baselworld, for those of us that just cannot have too much jewelry.
Basel today is nirvana for the modernist. It has attracted some of the biggest names in architecture and design, who have collectively made Basel a living museum of design. Of course, the importance placed on design must extend to Basel’s hotels, and they do not disappoint. On March 10th, a new kid on the block will open its doors in downtown Basel – The Passage.
The last year or so has seen a number of new ski hotels hitting the slopes in perennially chic Switzerland: from the vast Asian-inspired Chedi hotel, somewhat improbably plopped on a mountainside in Andermatt by an Egyptian billionaire, to the first W ‘winter-style’ and more traditional alpine-rustic Cordée des Alpes in Verbier.
Just before Christmas, Gstaad – an haute-glam village that apparently counts Mrs. Sound of Music herself, Julie Andrews, as a long-time fan – welcomed back Le Grand Bellevue Hotel, after a year-long restoration of the original 1912 Cure House and Spa.
Anyone that went looking for some serious snow action in Switzerland over the holidays got more than their money’s worth: up to three feet of it fell within the space of 24 hours this week. So it did in Verbier, the ski resort in the country’s south-western canton of Valais, long a draw for those seeking a glamorously picturesque setting to enjoy the 4 Vallées (“Four Valleys”) with its hundreds of miles of slopes.
Mostly limited to private chalets so far, (après-) skiers have a few more accommodation options these days, including the year-old Cordée des Alpes hotel, which is where we headed for the opening of the ski season earlier this month, managing to get in and out before winter brought its much-anticipated heavy snowfall. A fifteen-minute walk from the main Medran ski lift, Cordée's first impression certainly didn’t disappoint, from the typical pitched roof and wooden balconies to the rather clever rotating carved panels lining the ground floor restaurant and swimming pool.
Ski season is in full swing: there are deals to be had, expectations to be met, and of course, hotels to be explored. In Europe, the swish Swiss resort of Verbier has been grabbing a lot of headlines, not least among which for the inevitably loud arrival of W’s first ski resort (and unsurprisingly, it has managed to find a rather in-your-face spot in town that makes it impossible to miss).
But to think that that would be all would be a mistake. To find out for ourselves, we undertook what turned out to be a rather epic journey to Verbier, one that involved nearly every possible mode of transportation as we journeyed across Switzerland over the course of a day of mishaps, including an unplanned ski gondola to make it over the finish line at 1,500m (4,900 feet) altitude and our room at the less-than-a-year-old Hotel Cordée des Alpes.