The Bürgenstock Resort’s Newest Retreat Mixes Luxury and Wellness
Perched high above Lake Lucerne, the Bürgenstock Resort is not your typical luxurious getaway. The first-rate amenities, storied past (Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer wed there), and sweeping views are enough to set this Swiss resort apart, but it goes one step further in redefining the guest experience, offering four different hotel concepts within the same complex. Its latest addition, the Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence, is anchored in the idea of healthy living, combining traditional luxury guest services with state-of-the-art wellness and medical facilities (from saline floating baths and a cooking lab to physical rehabilitation and check-ups). To tackle the hotel’s design, the owners of the resort hired Italian architect Matteo Thun, principal of his own eponymous firm and a co-founder of the celebrated Memphis group with Ettore Sottsass. For this project, Thun employed a holistic and ecologically-mindful approach, prioritizing sustainable practices, such as using gabion baskets filled with recovered (from the site) stones for the façade and green, insulated flat roofs.
The new hotel’s most distinguishing feature is an intricate wooden trellis that wraps the exterior. Combining pragmatic and aesthetic functions, the lattice system—made of locally-sourced “moon” wood—shades the interior from southern exposure in summer, while also softening the nine-story, 270,000-square-foot building to fit within the landscape. In keeping with what Thun calls “botanical architecture,” a system of pergolas supports greenery and plants intended to grow over time, further integrating the man-made and the natural. From inside, this structural component helps to establish a connection with the surrounding sights, framing picturesque views of the valley and the Alps from almost every room.
With the Waldhotel’s medical and wellness focus, Thun conceived the interiors with extended guest stays in mind. The design, simple yet sophisticated, has a home-like feel. The rooftop herb and vegetable garden supplies the produce for the hotel’s restaurant, Verbena, and also served as the inspiration for the guestrooms’ wallpaper, carpeting, and décor. He also brought in a touch of Italy, creating small glass sculptures and ceramic vases with the help of local, Italian artisans. In collaboration with one of remaining Murano craftsman, he created an exquisite series of birds and dancing figurines placed as accent pieces in the hotel’s library and bar. And, a trip to a museum in the town of Montelupo Fiorentino (known for its history of ceramic production) also laid the foundation for a group of vases Thun commissioned, reinterpreting historic pieces with a contemporary color palette.
From the details to the overall concept, Thun hopes the design will speak to guests’ varied yet personal tastes. “Everyone should find whatever he or she thinks is more interesting for them in the design. Some will fall in love with the changing color of the wood, some will fall in love with the small glass figurines gracing the shelves—there are many love stories inside of the building.”