Interview with Mr. Bruno H. Schöpfer, Managing Director of the Bürgenstock Selection and Developer of the Bürgenstock Resort
One of the most time-honored Swiss resorts – Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort Lake Lucerne – stands against the breathtaking backdrop of the glistening, deep-blue waters of Lake Lucerne and the Alpine foothills. Different from ordinary resorts, Bürgenstock Resort has four hotels and 67 residence suites in total. The four hotels range from a five-star superior modern hotel, a holistic Health & Medical center, to charming chalet-style accommodation. The wellness area extends over 15,000 square meters featuring two amazing spas each with its own USP. Since its foundation in the 19th century, the Resort has never stopped renovation and development so as to offer more contemporary surprises, yet at the same time maintain its rich heritage from the olden days. Along the way, “sustainability” is always the core point in the mind of the developers and operators.
SpaChina interviewed Mr. Bruno H. Schöpfer, Managing Director of the Bürgenstock Selection and Developer of the Bürgenstock Resort, for more details of this legendary resort. Bruno has worked over the last 38 years in the international luxury hospitality sector, and held important posts in famous brands including Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La, Vienna, Radisson, and Mövenpick Group. Bruno H. Schöpfer founded his own hotel management consultancy in 2003 and has since directed a number of hotel and property companies globally.
Could you briefly introduce Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort and its core value?
In the development of the Bürgenstock Resort, the vision, “A future has a past” became an early instrumental thought and slogan. Indeed, the resort dates back to 1873 and is an important heritage of Switzerland. One of our first objectives was to protect the inventory of 12 historic buildings and their contents, some of them over 140 years old. In addition, the maintenance and improvement of the environment as well as the protection of the landscapes completes this goal. These sustainable concepts were installed by the pioneers of the resort in the 19th century and it was dear to us to follow the same line. The iconic views over Lake Lucerne and the pristine Swiss Alps became our main USP and took an important role in the development of the current resort.
The Bürgenstock Resort is considered as a hotel-village rather than the common idea of a “resort”. We based the economic resort concept on five concise diversified business pillars: 1. a unique health, medical and wellness hotel with a revolutionary holistic concept at the Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence; 2. conferences and corporate meetings in unique settings across the entire resort; 3. Long-stay residences with 67 residence suites; 4. a resort open for everyone, with many day guest offerings (hiking, biking, cliff walk, Hammetschwand Lift, day spa, culinary offerings through 8 restaurants); 5. an exceptional Alpine Spa.
What is the wellness concept of Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort?
Switzerland has a long-standing history of spa and wellness tourism that dates back to the 19th century. Indeed, Switzerland was the pioneer in this industry and famous for its exceptional water and alpine air cures as well as thermal baths known for their healing proprieties. The first British tourists, kings and queens, were flocking to Switzerland for these cures. In this context, the Bürgenstock Alpine Spa was built and has one of the earliest spa histories in Europe. In 1954, the exterior pool – the so-called Hollywood Pool – was built with dressing room facilities, steam baths, saunas and massage facilities. Over the years, these facilities were improved by former owner Fritz Frey who opened the Bürgenstock Club in 1981 – a very exclusive spa club.
Responsible for more than seven spas worldwide in luxury hotels, I could bring in a strong experience in spa development. My vision was to combine this heritage with new additions, like the breathtaking infinity-edge pool or the Waldhotel Spa with unique natural surroundings – to become the largest spa in Switzerland and one of the best spa in Europe.
The lake, the views and the location play a major role in the spa concept of the Bürgenstock Resort. Indeed the water of the pools come from the Lake. The facilities of the Bürgenstock Alpine Spa have been designed to get the maximum of the breathtaking views over the lake, with large bay windows, and with the world-famous infinity-edge pool.
Please introduce the spa facilities in the resort.
The Bürgenstock Alpine Spa and the Waldhotel Spa are two different concepts, each matching the hotels they are located in. The Waldhotel Spa is part of the unique health and medical excellence hotel, and is a peaceful place. It is meant for relaxation, recharge, replenish spirit, and let one be inspired by the peaceful nature, woods and greens of the surroundings. The Bürgenstock Alpine Spa is the ultimate pampering wellness spa, more show-off than the Waldhotel Spa, with breathtaking views.
Bürgenstock Alpine Spa:
Hollywood Pool, protected monument dating back to 1954 and giving the feeling of California in Switzerland with amazing spa garden
Indoor pool with large bay windows and view over the lake
Infinity edge pool with the feeling of flying over the lake
15 treatment rooms
Eco-pool with chemical-free water
Different types of saunas and steam baths (herbal steam baths, Rasul baths, etc.)
Unique silence room with water beds
Outdoor and indoor pool
Himalayan Salt Grotto
Steam baths and sauna facilities
Silence rooms with waterbeds
What are the main wellness requirements of Chinese guests to Bürgenstock?
With Switzerland’s excellent reputation in medicine and this spectacular setting on the lake surrounded by these beautiful mountains, we believe Chinese will be drawn here for rejuvenation. We offer an excellent Beauty & Healthy Ageing program with cutting-edge aesthetic therapies. Dr. Ahmad Jalili, MD, Ph.D. head of the Dermatology and Venereology Department is specialist in the treatment of skin and brings 16 years experience as a practicing physician. The spa features treatments and products by noted luxury skincare lines from Switzerland and Austria including Swiss Line and Susanne Kaufmann as well as SkinCeuticals.
Switzerland boasts plenty of wellness resorts. What sets Bürgenstock Hotels & Resorts apart?
The location and the views set the Bürgenstock Resort apart. In addition, the resort boasts the largest wellness offerings with 15’000 m2 of wellness, health and medical facilities. It is the only place where you can find such a holistic health concept, offer via the Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence.
What efforts have you made to achieve sustainable development of the Bürgenstock Hotels & Resorts?
As explained, sustainability is a core value of Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne. With its environmentally-friendly approach to energy generation and carefully considered logistics and construction, Bürgenstock Resort’s sustainability concept represents a landmark in ecological thinking. The planners and developers of the new resort took inspiration from its original owners, Franz Josef Bucher and Josef Durrer, known for their innovative ideas. In 1888, the two local partners opened the first electric cable car in Switzerland and built a water pipe to transport water from Lake Lucerne to the resort for drinking needs. The developers of the new resort continued this legacy of forward thinking. In the early stages of the concept development, all possibilities were analysed. The protection and improvement of the environment have been a priority throughout the renovation phase.
A unique system using lake water to heat and cool all the buildings of the resort has been developed. This system covers 100% of the cooling and 80% of the heating needs of the resort. The energy system works by pumping the lake water at a depth of 37m from Lake Lucerne. While traveling downhill, the water passes through a turbine, in turn producing electricity for the resort. With this electricity, 50% of the pump flow can be covered. Lake water is also used for the swimming pools, irrigation of the golf course and plant watering throughout the entire resort. Thanks to this system, the resort is almost CO2 neutral and provides the latest building insulation standards. The water in our Alpine Spa outdoor pools is furthermore stock in tanks overnight, in order not to lose the warmth.
The materials excavated on site have been recycled into the construction and renovation of the resort. For example, 25,000 m² of excavated material has been used to recreate the historic 1928 golf course, resulting in a safer course. The driving range has also been reconstructed with an additional 40,000m² of excavated material. Gabions (rock filled cages) have been used where possible to minimise the use of concrete walls. The use of a total of 165,000 m² excavated material has spared 18,000 lorry journeys up and down the valley. This equates to nine times around the planet.
The gabions have a second environmental benefit, providing a valuable habitat for flora and fauna. Together with larch wood, these gabions can be found on the walls of the Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence, which are partly and naturally covered with plants. Fauna and natural habitats have been carefully preserved throughout the resort. When the track for the Bürgenstock Funicular was rebuilt, special paths were integrated to allow the local wildlife such as hedgehogs, deer, rabbits and foxes to cross the tracks safely.
Switzerland is well known for its unique public transportation system, which works just like clockwork. Public transport is a crucial part of Swiss culture due to the importance of sustainability. The Bürgenstock Resort is no exception, offering unique access by shuttle boat and funicular.