This resort used to be destination that everyone in Central Europe knew about – from the aristocracy to cinema stars and politicians, so we had a lot of history to draw from
– Maria Vafiadis, MKV Design founder
One of Europe’s most iconic resorts has had a soft re-opening after nine years of construction, with its Qatari owners claiming to have overseen “the project of the century.”
Sophia Loren lived there, Audrey Hepburn was married in the local chapel, Charlie Chaplin was a regular visitor and Sean Connery’s James Bond dropped by in Goldfinger. Now the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne has been transformed to appeal to a new generation of visitors passing through the Swiss Alps.
The refreshed resort, located 500m (1,600ft) above Lake Lucerne, includes more than 30 buildings, with four hotels, 10 restaurants and bars, a museum, a cinema, a 10,000sq m (108,000sq ft) Alpine Spa and an infinity pool overlooking the lake.
Developer Katara Hospitality has invested at least CHF550m in the project, which includes both new build and renovation elements.
The 102-bedroom, five-star Bürgenstock Hotel, designed by Rüssli Architekten, and the Waldhotel medical hotel, designed by Italian architect Matteo Thun, have been built from scratch, while existing buildings, including the Taverne 1879 and the Palace Hotel, have been retained but entirely remodelled.
The former Grand Hotel has been transformed into luxury apartments and the resort’s original chapel – where Hepburn wed actor Mel Ferrer – has been kept, as have the nine-hole golf course, ice skating rinks and Europe’s highest outdoor elevator, the Hammetschwand Lift, which brings guests up from the foot of the mountain.
MKV Design have created most of the hotel and spa interiors, except for the Waldhotel.
Speaking about their approach, MKV Design founder Maria Vafiadis told CLADglobal: “This resort used to be a destination that everyone in Central Europe knew about – from the aristocracy to cinema stars and politicians, so we had a lot of history to draw from.
“We also took inspiration from the lake and the water. In the Bürgenstock Hotel, the whole design is focused on the view, with all the rooms oriented to look onto the lake. You’re so high up, it’s like you're in a helicopter – you get this sensation of flying. Because this can be a little bit intimidating for people, we’ve created an inviting, warm feeling of cosiness. The rooms are lovely timber boxes with a stone feature wall and a fireplace. You are cocooned in the space, but you can enjoy the dramatic view from your sitting room or even from your bathtub.”
The resort’s spa – which will open later this year – has been enlarged by architecture firm Dierks & Sachs to almost five times its original size, with the extra space created by digging into the mountain itself.
The 7,000sq m (75,347 ft) interior space will feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls providing mountain views. Facilities include a Kneipp bath, private bath chambers, an Arabian razul using local Bürgenstock Rock, a Turkish steam room, a panoramic sauna and a tranquillity room. The 3,000sq m (32,291sq ft) outside spa space includes a swimming pool which is protected as a historical monument as well as landscaped private gardens.
Aiming to introduce leading wellbeing facilities to provide ‘wellness without limits’ to guests, the concept has been driven by Bruno Schöpfer, hotelier and managing director of Katara Hospitality, who is responsible for some of the world’s best-known spas. He has previously said that “wellbeing is as much about the mind as the body, and this ethos is central to the design of the spa, creating a spiritual mountain-top haven.”
Vafiadis said the spa design is clean and modern. “We have used local wood and local stone because we don’t want to distract from the location,” she said. “We wanted to avoid doing something with a cheesy Alpine look, because that would seem out of place. It had to be quite neutral and contemporary while making the most of the views.”
The grand opening of the resort will be held in Q1 2018.