One of my more glorious mornings commenced with a descent from Mount Pilatus in the Swiss Alps via the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. Throughout the 40-minute journey that wound past mountain streams banked by Alpine roses, the sound of cowbells punctuated the morning as cattle grazed in lush Alpine meadows.
At the mountain’s base, along the shores of Alpnacher See, a boat awaited to transport me across Lake Lucerne and back to the city of Lucerne. At that hour, there were only a few other passengers — a mother and her sleepy young daughter, an elderly man — and hardly any sound save for the boat gliding through the water. Rarely have I felt so at peace.
All the more reason to anticipate the upcoming opening of Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, situated on a forested ridge above Lake Lucerne with views of the Pilatus and Rigi Mountains. Dedicated to healthy living and responsible tourism, the car-free, 148-acre resort will debut in the summer of 2017. Operated by Katara Hospitality Switzerland Limited, the $500 million resort will feature 383 rooms spread across four hotels, as well as 67 residences, 12 restaurants and bars, a 107,000 square-foot spa and wellness center, meeting space for 900 people, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, a curling rink, and 43 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Similar to my descent from Mount Pilatus, guests of Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne will arrive via Bürgenstock Funicular Railway, which brings guests directly into the resort’s arrival hall. Built in 1888, Switzerland’s first electric railway has been completely restored with 3,093 feet of new track. Offering year-round service, the fully automatic, 56-passenger car railway will open in summer 2017 and operate from the landing at Lake Lucerne to the resort.
Perched more than half a mile above sea level, Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne also features the highest outdoor elevator in Europe, the Hammetschwand lift, which dates from 1905 and rises to 3,713 feet.
As Bruno H. Schöpfer, Managing Director of Katara Hospitality Switzerland Ltd., is fond of saying, “The future is the past.” Located near the Alpine meadow that hosted the original Swiss Confederation in 1291, Bürgenstock Resort is founded on a heritage of hospitality that dates to 1873 with the establishment of the Grand Hotel and its siblings the Palace and the Park. For more than a century, the hilltop hotels attracted illustrious guests and heads of state, including Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, Indira Gandhi, and Sophia Loren who lived at the resort for years.
One of the new resort’s many attributes is its ability to offer a wide range of accommodation options. The 5-star superior Bürgenstock Hotel, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, will include 102 rooms and suites, restaurant, cigar lounge and meeting facilities. Designed by architect Matteo Thun, the 5-star Waldhotel, will focus on well-being with facilities for medical check-ups, physical therapy, weight management, post-operative convalescence, spa services, and wellness programs — and a restaurant serving healthy cuisine. The resort’s original Palace Hotel, which dates to 1905, will be transformed into a four-star superior accommodation, while Taverne, built in 1879, will become a three-star property with a traditional Swiss restaurant.
The opening of Bürgenstock Resort follows the recent $100 million renovation of the Hotel Royal Savoy in Lausanne, also completed by Katara Hospitality Switzerland Ltd. With a direct connection by boat and funicular, Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne is located thirty minutes from Lucerne, home to two of the most photographed sights in Europe: the continent’s oldest covered bridge – and the Lion Monument about which Mark Twain wrote, “the most moving piece of stone in the world.” As an Alpine resort for healthy living, Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne offers yet another reason to return to Switzerland’s “City of Light.”