The Art of Luxury: Switzerland's 7132
You’d expect exquisite design from accommodations designed by world-class architects. As Katie Milton writes, you can expect that and plenty more from Switzerland’s 7132.
By Katie Milton | Published #70, Winter 2017
For more than 100 years people have travelled the small Swiss mountain village of Vals to soak in the St Peter’s natural thermal springs. Perched 1250 metres above sea level, the highly mineralized waters steam at 30°C and have been the site for spa hotels since they were first tapped in 1891.
In 1983 architect Peter Zumthor was commissioned by the municipality of Vals to design a new spa complex. Using raw concrete and 60,000 slabs of local Valser quartzite as his building materials, and the mountainous landscape as his framework, Zumthor constructed a quarry-like bathhouse half buried into the hillside.
Executed in textured blue-grey stone and minimalist architecture, Therme Vals have since been renamed 7132 Thermal Baths and is now a core element of the 7132 complex. Named for Vals’ postcode, the complex comprises Zumthor’s thermal baths, a five-star hotel and 7132 House of Architects.
Fusing architecture, design and gastronomy, the 25-room hotel is set to re-open on 8 July with new private Spa Deluxe Rooms and Spa Suites finished with gold-and-white accents and in-room steam baths. Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has designed the three penthouse suites, which boast spectacular mountain-facing views and include helicopter transfers.
The adjacent 7132 House of Architects is a collection of distinctive suites designed by four prominent architects. Tadao Ando’s minimalist suites pay homage to the understated beauty of Japanese teahouses; Kengo Kuma’s oak cocoon rooms make use of curved ceilings and Swiss oak panels; and Peter Zumthor’s moody design features stucco lustro, a plasterwork technique of the Italian Renaissance. A freestanding glass shower acts as the focal point of American architect Thom Mayne’s two suites; one paneled from floor to ceiling with indigenous wood and another entirely clad with Valser quartzite.
This carefully considered design feeds into the 7132 gastronomy concept, underlined by “prime ingredients, quality–oriented cuisine and personal service”, according to the brand. There are four on-site restaurants – 7132 Silver, 7132 Red, 7132 Blue, and 7132 Dapapa – and each offers guests a signature experience particular to a different time of day. Most notable is 7132 Silver, a fine-dining restaurant headed by Michelin two-star chef Sven Wassmer who serves up locally foraged ingredients in a nine- or 12-course degustation.
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Weather to go
There are two high seasons in Switzerland; the first occurs between July and August, during which tourists visit for walking and cycling among the mountains. December and April is the next high season, as it sees an abundance of snow among the Alps, making it a popular snow sports destination. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, between April and June and during September tourist areas are much quieter, and the temperatures are mild.
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