Zurich and Davos on the upswing

DELUXE It is surprising that the new openings or important renovations in the Swiss luxury hotel industry these days are primarily limited to the WEF city of Davos and the business hub of Zurich. One reason for this is the attractiveness of these locations for meetings and events. The renovated Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère. Of course, the large resorts in Andermatt and on the [...]

The renovated Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère. Of course, the large resorts in Andermatt and on the Bürgenstock have been in the news for years, but mostly because of time delays or financial uncertainties. Other resorts are also rebuilding or building new ones, but only Davos and Zurich are really committed.Europe's most expensive hotel pavementObviously, however, the product is right and the demand is there. The hotel portal HRS recently reported, for example, that Zurich was the most expensive hotel city in Europe in 2013, with an average of 145 euros per room; closely followed by London with 142 euros and Moscow with 141 euros per room.Any general demand (whether from vacation tourism or the business travel sector) directly stimulates demand for meetings, conferences and business events. So one could conclude that if Zurich is one of the most expensive hotel patches in Europe, that this is also a kind of reference. And so it is not surprising that large foreign chains such as Sheraton, Hyatt and InterContinental, but also Dorint, are pushing into Zurich and Davos. In its so-called 'Partner Report', Zürich Tourism reported last fall that the average hotel room occupancy rate in the city of Zürich in the first half of 2013 was at the previous year's good level of over 66 percent, according to the Federal Office of Statistics. And what's more, the six largest Swiss cities generated a combined year-on-year increase of 2.8% in the first half of 2013. So city tourism, and with it the demand for meetings and events, continues to grow and already accounts for around a quarter of all overnight stays in Switzerland.Meeting-Town DavosThe latest developments in Davos have already been reported on several times, but it is fair to say that the expansion of the convention center has also had a stimulating effect on the meetings, incentives, conventions and events (MICE) sector. The new InterContinental above Lake Davos in the lead; a house with 216 rooms and a 1500 m2 event area (which can be divided into eight breakout rooms). The renovated Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère and the completely rebuilt Hotel Flüela also reopened perfectly timed for the World Economic Forum last February. Not only Davos institutions, such as the AO Foundation (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Osteosynthese), can benefit from this, but above all interested companies and associations from the greater Zurich area who want to hold meetings in the mountains.Zurich West and Zurich NorthIn the future, national and also international event and meeting planners will have to get used to these two terms. The city center on the lake, with the Kongresshaus now busy again with major renovation plans and important business hotels such as the Park Hyatt, will never lose its appeal. But now other neighborhoods are playing along: Zurich West stands for "hip and chic" and Zurich North for "fast & global connectivity." In both places, construction has been and is going on heartily; all kinds of accommodations with 3 to 5 stars.In 2011, the Renaissance Zürich Tower Hotel with its 300 rooms and bright, attractive conference rooms made the start in Zürich-West; right next to the Prime Tower. In the lower area, then came the "25 hours" and, at the beginning of this year, the Sheraton Zurich West, which belongs to the Starwood Group. It is the second hotel of the Sheraton brand in Zurich and complements the Neues Schloss Hotel at the front of Lake Zurich near the Kongresshaus. And the 3rd Swiss Sheraton Hotel is located, if you are surprised, in Davos; it is the Waldhuus.Director of the Zurich West is Sven Lehmann, a native of Hamburg, who has already worked in Munich and Stuttgart and now leads the two Zurich Sheraton Hotels as Complex General Manager. In addition to 197 rooms and suites, the new property also offers seven state-of-the-art conference and meeting rooms and a ballroom for 240 guests. Lehmann is quoted as saying about the new hotel: "Zurich West is a dynamic quarter that we want to introduce to our guests from a side that is still little known. But we also want our hotel to be a place where people who live and work in the district enjoy meeting each other."Kameha and even more HyattThe situation is similar in Zurich North and around the airport. Several hotels have opened or will open; even if most of them are unrelated to the MICE business. Like NH, Best Western, Ibis-Budget, and especially the attractive new Dorint Hotel right next to the Mövenpick Hotel.Quite different is the Kameha, which will open in March 2015. With 245 rooms, an event dome for up to 960 guests and several function rooms for up to 630 people, the Kameha Grand Zurich is aimed squarely at business travelers and meeting planners. "The seminar and conference market of national and international companies is one of our most important core target groups," explains Carsten K. Rath, head of LH&E Management AG, which runs the Kameha as a management company.The Kameha means direct competition on the one hand with the four-star Swissôtel in Zurich-Oerlikon and on the other hand with the Radisson Blu directly at the airport; both hotels successfully target corporate events, meetings and conferences.The greater Oerlikon-Glattbrugg-Airport area is thus becoming a conurbation of the national conference scene. And in just over three years, the battle for the MICE business will intensify once again; then a Hyatt Regency and a Hyatt Place will probably open at "The Circle" with a combined 550 rooms and a convention area with 1,500 seats.Andermatt, Grindelwald and BaselThere are also a few new or renovated MICE-relevant hotels in the rest of Switzerland. Andermatt has already been mentioned; in three to four years, a Radisson Blu should open there as a price alternative to the Chedi; also with conference rooms. In Verbier, a W (also part of the Starwood group) has been open since this winter, but with 'only' two conference rooms.The completely renovated Grand Hotel Regina in Grindelwald also offers meeting rooms, with the following slogan: "with a view of the famous Eiger north face, it's a relaxed place to meet." In Lucerne, the five-star Schweizerhof is completing its room renovations this spring; the hotel still has nine conference rooms on offer. And finally, a visit to Basel; there are also several projects there, but with little impact on the meeting and event business. On Clarastrasse, the former Europa is reopening as a Pullman; it has 141 rooms and six meeting rooms. Accor is also building a Novotel (159 rooms) and an Etap (180 rooms); both are scheduled to open in fall 2014 in a shared building track. Also worth mentioning are the two boutique hotels "D" and "Passage" (opened a few weeks ago). For the time being, however, the big MICE players remain Davos and Zurich. Author: Daniel Tschudy

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