A majestic castle heritage structure Park Hotel Vitznau is located in an idyllic setting on the shores of Lake Lucerne, not far from the legendary Rütli meadow. Vitznau seemed to be the perfect choice considering that it had been attracting the emerging mass tourism market since the opening of the Vitznau-Rigi Railway, Europe’s first cogwheel railway, in 1871.
In the architect Karl Gottlieb Koller, who also came from Ragaz, founder Primus Bon found a great master of his craft. Koller had already built such famous establishments as the Bäderhotel in Bormio (Veltlin) and the Hotel Schweizerhof in St. Moritz. Later he was to go on to create the stunning Hotel Suvretta House in St. Moritz and Hotel Columbia in Genoa.
In spring 1903, after around three years of building work, the Park Hotel was opened, with the former Pension Pfyffer, built in 1867, integrated into the new hotel. Alongside prominent figures from business and industry, guests at the Park Hotel also numbered artists and actors from home and abroad.
The hotel underwent extensive renovations being closed from 2009 to 2013, its current owner POK Pühringer Group, having invested approximately CHF 250 million into the conversion. This sparkling jewel is defined by three theme worlds: Wine & Dine, Art & Culture, and Health & Wealth. The number of keys was halved, all rooms being converted into suites, each with a very distinct interior design – today there are 49 suites.
Owner, Mr. Pühringer who also owns the iconic “Palais Coburg” Hotel in Vienna is passionate about music and performing arts, many of the suites bearing related inspirations (ex ‘Vienna Boys Choir’ or ‘Vienna Philarmonic’ Suites). From a lavish understated Junior Suite (predominantly white with brown and purple cues) with a breathless 180 degree views of Lake Lucerne and the mountains which I was privileged to call home for a few days, most of the premium suites range from 85 to 120 sqm, some with a predominantly classic interior and others with a sleek edge.
Besides the unique interior design, the utmost attention has been channeled towards providing the utmost in comfort, not only utilising the finest furnishings, top quality materials and finishes, but also integrating the ultimate hi-tech, the entire room being controlled remotely including underfloor heating, lighting, TV, curtains. Even the bathroom controls including shower are available through touch technology, one being able to choose the exact desired water temperature. Many additional details such as surround HD sound by Bose, high speed internet, multiple connectivity business desk make the hotel ideal even for a business guest.
One of the major assets of Park Hotel Vitznau is its culinary offering two restaurant, PRISMA and focus (both Michelin Star restaurants).The glass enclosed focus restaurant is meters away from the main outdoor pool but also from the Lake, with stunning view of the surrounding mountains and lake and serving international dishes with Asian touches. I experienced PRISMA for what was probably one of the best breakfasts I have ever had.
The Chef’s Table is truly an unforgettable experience—enjoy nine courses and a glass of champagne while hearing about how these fantastic restaurants operate. In the warmer months, the outdoor terrace also welcomes guests for a more casual dining experience. The hotel boasts a 60 million investment in over 35,000 bottles of wine available in six wine cellars, with tasting being also a treat which can the hotel can provide.
The Spa of the hotel which is run exclusively under the iconic Swiss beauty brand of LA PRAIRIE is the source of most of the stunning photos which have turned the hotel into one of the most instagrammable in the world, with stunning views from every single corner at any time of the day.
There are two saunas, sun bed area, steam room, tepidarium, a jaw dropping aquarium with a selection of the most beautiful fish covering an entire wall, Kneipp foot-baths, amazing loungers with controls that allow you to adjust your back support, all the way down to beds. Part of the heated pool is outdoor, where one can also indulge in a large hot tub. Carefully chosen organic and healthy juices are available for all guests at the Spa.
I was mostly impressed with the more ‘hidden’ part of the building which houses a state-of-the-art neurological rehabilitation centre, which is a key focus for the owner’s investments. Eight of the Park Hotel Vitznau’s suites and residences are to be found in the Cereneo Neurological Rehabilitation Clinic. Top doctors and scientists are part of an ongoing program which has been showing exceptional results for guests.
Each patient benefits from 4 to 8 hours of one-to-one personalised care and treatment. The clinic equipped with state-of-the-art movement analysis, robotic systems and other innovative devices to complement the hands-on training with the therapist. The research program of the clinic which focuses on innovation is enhanced with collaborations with prestigious international institutions such as John Hopkins.
What is most impressive is that the overwhelming setting and incredible product are in fine tune with the highest standards of personalised service, especially considering there are less than 50 suites. Led by General Manager Urs Langeneger and supported by the long term vision of the owner (a rarity nowadays), guests are pampered with care and attention, striving to anticipate every request or need by remembering individual preferences.
The rate of returning guests is truly impressive, I could not help but notice how many guests are greeted with an engaging conversation. All in all, the hotel strives for perfection and does not take location, views or the Spa for granted. Achieving perfection is about earning it and being aware of the even harder work to continuously maintain and even enhance it.
The hotel can be reached by boat in one hour in the warmer months directly from the pier which is less than 200 metres from Lucerne train station or by chauffeured luxury limousine provided by the hotel (driven by hotel staff) – both options providing a most impressive scenery.
Room for improvement: organic based bathroom amenities; In-Room Spa with a menu of salts and candles; a specific themed ‘Events of the week’ with activities proposals both within the hotel and surroundings (individual boat cruising must be a very popular attraction, a healthy menu option plan.
Oliver Petcu in Vitznau
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