If anywhere epitomised the glamour of Hollywood in its halcyon days, it was Switzerland’s Bürgenstock Resort, nestling 500 metres above Lake Lucerne. Opening the first hotel in 1873, its reputation peaked in the 1950s and 1960s, when luminaries from across the globe were drawn to this secluded mountain retreat.
Back then it wouldn’t elicit so much as a double-take to see Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Carter and Charlie Chaplin enjoying an aperitif.
By the end of the century, the glamour had faded and the Resort, which had expanded to three hotels, wellness centre and a listed outdoor pool, was a shabby shadow of its former self. Its glory days consigned to history, buildings were crumbling and asbestos made its presence known.
Its glory days consigned to history, buildings were crumbling and asbestos made its presence known.
Bürgenstock was desperately in need of a new buyer. Unfortunately, no-one with the capital needed to undertake an overhaul this size could be found within Switzerland. Eventually, in 2008, the Qataris stepped in and after a couple of internal shuffles, the state owned Qatari Investment Authority became the owners.
Following years of construction and 540m CHF later, doors finally opened again in September 2017, spearheaded by the five star Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa. The remaining hotels, accommodations and 12 restaurants and bars will be rolled out gradually until the grand opening slated for spring 2018.
The 102 bedrooms and suites of the Bürgenstock Hotel make good use of the space, featuring fireplaces, lounge areas, desks and window seats dramatically over-hanging the mountain. The double-sized baths with views of the lake encourage luxurious soaks to appreciate the magnificent vista.
In addition to the four star Palace and three star Taverne 1879 hotels, there will be 67 residences, ranging from one-bedroom suites to a six-storey lakeside villa with an indoor swimming pool. Originally allocated for rental, Steve Nikolov, director of sales and marketing says, “Times have changed dramatically since those initial plans. Today, you have a situation in Switzerland where, for a 20 per cent down payment, you can get a mortgage for under one per cent. We have negative interest rates in this country, so you can really get a super deal.”
Investors are also undergoing talks to determine whether they’ll sell some of the residential properties, as opposed to merely drawing revenue from the rental income.
When they do decide to sell, the hard legal work has already been undertaken, with a special law passed in July 2010 by the Canton of Nidwalden specifically for the Bürgenstock Resort allowing foreigners to invest in it as a Swiss business. Even better, the small-print dictates that residences have to be marketed as part of the hotel, hence they all come with full amenities access, including housekeeping, spa and room service.
Properties are now available to rent, with deals negotiable for long leases. A two bedroom penthouse suite will set you back 12,500 CHF per month. Leaseholders have free rein to decorate if they don’t want a furnished property, on the proviso that the walls are returned to their bare state when they leave.