One of Europe’s most spectacular resort destinations is reinvented.
One of Switzerland’s most legendary destinations, the Bürgenstock Resort, was fully re-opened last year after a nine-year, multimillion-franc project. The task was to restore the prestige of a resort which began life in 1873 and which had a fine pioneering heritage – Switzerland’s first electric railway, Europe’s highest outdoor elevator – and which had been synonymous with glamour and celebrity. It was here that, in the mid-20th Century, Audrey Hepburn was married, Charlie Chaplin regularly stayed, Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti made their home and the Goldfinger crew, including Sean Connery, lodged whilst shooting in the region. Acting as principal designer, MKV redesigned and newly designed most of the key parts to the resort. The destination was recreated with the strapline ‘The Future has a Past’ and the challenge for the designers to act as responsible, yet imaginative, custodians of the legacy so as to create a new legacy going forward. Their inspiration was the sheer magnificence of the natural terrain – the Swiss mountains on which the resort is perched towering over Lake Lucerne, farmlands, Alpine meadows and, in the far distance, Lucerne itself. Every line drawn, space orientated and material selected respected the location.
The new Bürgenstock Hotel acts as the spine of the development. Now, the new funicular – an exact replica of the original – arrives alongside the hotel, bringing guests who have crossed Lake Lucerne in the resort’s catamaran up the mountainside in just a few minutes. From here, visitors can access the main plaza, nearby hotels and the Bürgenstock Hotel itself. This is a bold modernist construct 450-metres above the lake where attention to scale, height and internal layout were key. The designers reconfigured the masterplan to enhance operations and circulation and to ensure that each of the 102 guestrooms benefited from magnificent views, in the process of creating space for a large outdoor terrace.
Inside, from the lobby lounge, with its imposing windows, curvilinear forms and deep-seated sofas, to the guestrooms, each with a full-height window in both the bedroom and the bathroom, the sensation is as a bird in flight hovering over the mountains, completely at one with nature. Breath-taking views notwithstanding, the experience of the public areas is cosy. The reception lobby features desks constructed of curved sawn timber surrounded by beautiful tactile bronze panelled walls. Great care has been taken to create comfortable seating areas with rugs and deep armchairs to sink into, there are fireplaces to gather around and the colour palette is reassuringly earthy. The dizzying majesty outside is counterbalanced by a sense of rootedness inside.
Amenities in the hotel include a cinema, a deeply comfortable cigar lounge, a lavishly stocked wine tasting cellar and Spices, an Asian restaurant which is a destination for local people and visitors staying across the resort as well as for Bürgenstock Hotel guests. Spices is a glass box cantilevered off the hotel 450 metres above the lake. In a resort that’s full of superlatives when it comes to the views, Spices arguably offers the best, suspended above Lake Lucerne and with a 180-degree panorama of lake, mountains, the city of Lucerne and beyond. It is accessed either by lift or by a bronze feature staircase that spirals upwards from the lounge and downwards to the wine tasting cellars creating a three-layered experience should guests wish: the finest of wines, delicious Asian cuisine, aperitifs and digestifs, all of which can be enjoyed in any of the spaces.
Spices are gently zoned, from a quiet timber-clad lounge area with collections of comfortable sofas and contemporary armchairs, to the vivacity of the open-kitchen and bar area where counter extensions allow diners to sit close to the action while they eat and onto the glazed box where the view “explodes” into the experience. The colour palette throughout is warm and dark – nothing in the design was to distract from the views; the Busnelli chairs with their lattice-style backs allow the landscape to penetrate. Materials include: walnut timber, bronze, red back-painted glass and leather. Outside, the large terrace, with its own bar, is also zoned, the first area offering more formal dining arrangements while the farther, elevated area is furnished with armchairs to lounge in around a large wood-stack firepit.
The guestrooms offer an idyllic retreat. Their layout is unconventional in order to direct guests towards the view through the window where integrated seating provides a place to absorb nature’s wonders. Oak cabinetry is crafted with the finest Swiss details and there are walk-in closets. Bathrooms run the entire length of the room, separated from the bedroom by shimmering sliding doors composed of bronze mesh encased in glass. A modern two-way fire warms bathers in their sunken bath and window seat dwellers in the bedroom at the same time. There are also a range of suites, including spa suites and, on the top floor, a magnificent six-bedroom suite.
Generally, materials are neutral in colour, selected to achieve a sense of uninterrupted transition from the view outside to indoors. They include: stone from the mountains, timber from the forests, bronze resembling the light of late afternoon and a deeply veined green marble wall in the bathrooms.
Project: Bürgenstock Hotel
Design Studio: MKV Design