The ICONIC Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucrene celebrates its 150th birthday welcoming guests to its stunning perch above Lake Lucerne.
Since its opening in 1873, Switzerland’s Bürgenstock Resort has played host to A-listers, celebrities, politicians and jetsetters. From the beginning, the ICONIC resort has been at the forefront of innovation, and as it celebrates its 150th birthday, that spirit of imagination and creativity is alive and well.
Bürgenstock Resort History
Back in the 1870s a grand hotel at the top of a mountain towering over Lake Lucerne was unheard of. However, owners Franz Josef Bucher and Josef Durrer were smart entrepreneurs, and they made the remote location accessible by building a hydroelectric plant to power a funicular to usher guests to the resort.
In 1888 a second hotel, The Park Hotel, opened on the property followed by the Burgenstock Chapel in 1892, the Palace Hotel in 1903 and several villas between 1900 and 1905.
In 1905 the men added the Hammetschwand Elevator to the Bürgenstock Resort to take guests to the highest vantage point over Lake Lucerne. The elevator was an engineering marvel and is still Europe’s tallest outdoor elevator.
When the elevator attraction opened, the Bürgenstock Resort was the epitome of luxurious hospitality.
In 1953 entrepreneur Fritz Frey took over ownership of the Bürgenstock Resort. It was during this era that the property became a hotspot for celebrities. In 1954 Audrey Hepburn married Mel Ferrer in the Bürgenstock Chapel and lived in Villa Bethania until 1966. The chapel is still on the property and many guests pose like Hepburn did on the stone ledge of the resort’s cliff path.
Hepburn wasn’t the only famous long-term resident; her neighbor was the legendary Sophia Loren who lived with her husband Carlo Ponti in Villa Daniel for 13 years. While the villa’s façade has modernized, guests can still see the icon’s former home.
The resort was also the setting for the filming of Goldfinger, a hit James Bond movie, and played host to Sean Connery and the cast during the month-long shoot. The property was also the site of several international political conferences throughout its storied history.
The Hotels of the Bürgenstock Resort
Today the Bürgenstock Resort is the largest integrated resort in Switzerland with two hotels, residences and seven restaurants on the property.
Some hotels serve as a base to explore an area, but in my mind, the reason to go to the Bürgenstock Resort is to settle in, relax and enjoy the resort. While they make it easy to grab a boat to Lucerne, I prefer to stay on property.
The Bürgenstock Resort offers several different lodging options depending on your preference. For wellness travelers, the Waldhotel is based on the premise of sustainability where you can experience personalized wellness to determine a customized program for increased health and longevity.
At The Bürgenstock Resort Hotel & Alpine Spa, guests can opt to stay in a Belle Epoque Heritage room in the original Palace Hotel or in a contemporary room in the new wing designed when the hotel reopened in 2017 after nine years of renovation. As a history buff, I elected to stay in a Heritage Lake View Prestige room with a terrace on my recent visit. While the architecture was historic, with its parquet flooring harkened back in time, the furnishings were quite modern and comfortable. The terrace was the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of bubbles or morning coffee as I basked in the view of the stunning view over Lake Lucerne.
There are many things to love about The Bürgenstock Resort, but for me, its Alpine Spa is at the top of my list. The 100,000+ sq. ft. spa offers a deep treatment menu and many complimentary amenities, including a tranquil pool (which is a personal favorite of mine).
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The indoor/outdoor infinity edge pool is spectacular. The water is a perfect temperature and the view from the pool makes you feel like you’ve swam into an impressionist painting. As you look out you have a sweeping view of Lake Lucerne and four Swiss cantons (states). As stunning as all of Switzerland is, this vista is my favorite in the country. On the morning of our departure, my husband and I woke up early to be at the spa when it opened. We had the magical pool to ourselves and watched the sun drape over Lucerne.
While the pool is the showstopper, there’s plenty else to enjoy in the spa including nap pods, which cycle through a sound program designed to ease your body into deep relaxation, a salt float pool in a darkened room to heighten the experience, a hammam with an amazing smelling Gruner tee aroma and a relaxation room with big circular loungers for two overlooking the lake.
If you need even more relaxation, let therapist Dolma Duritsang work out the kinks during a 60-minute full-body invigorating massage.
Days at the Bürgenstock Resort begin with a hearty breakfast at its Spices Kitchen and Terrace. Get a table in the front of the restaurant, which gives the illusion that you’re floating over the lake for a great view. Order a traditional or healthy breakfast stand and it’s like having the classic hotel buffet delivered to your table. At dinner, the restaurant takes on all the flavors of Asian cuisine offering everything from sushi to its signature Beijing Duck.
If you’re a meat and potatoes guy like my husband, head to the Oak Grill that serves farm to table and nose to tail cuisine. Sit outside to enjoy the patio that fronts the resort’s Hollywood Pool, named because of all the stars in the 1950s who splashed in it.
Several of the Bürgenstock Resort’s restaurants close during the winter, but you can still get the flavor of them at the 7 Kitchens pop-up experience held in the resort’s Verbena restaurant through mid-April 2024. For lunch and dinner, the menus will feature signature dishes from all seven of the Bürgenstock Resort’s restaurants.
On a mountain ridge above Lake Lucerne, it’s no surprise that one of the most popular recreational activities is hiking. The Bürgenstock Resort Cliff Walk is an easy hike with breathtaking views. Hop on the Hammetschwand Lift and travel up another 500 feet and at the top you’ll find many hiking options, including a trail leading back to the resort.
As a former college tennis player, I love that the Bürgenstock Resort is a year-round tennis destination. It houses two indoor courts inside its Diamond Dome. In honor of its big birthday, the resort launched a partnership with LUX Tennis last year that brings current and former pro players to the Bürgenstock Resort to hold tennis camps for guests. Former French Open Champ Iva Majoli, three-time Spanish Davis Cup champion David Ferrer and former world number two player Tommy Haas are a few of the stars that headlined the program this year.
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For 150 years, the Bürgenstock Resort has pushed innovations in hospitality and has been a leading luxury destination for celebrities and jetsetters. Thanks to a massive nine-year, $560 million revitalization in 2017, the ICONIC resort is ready to make the next 150 years of its storied history.