Today sees the opening of the latest Swiss lounge in Zurich, replacing the old First Class lounge in the A gates of Terminal 2, the new Alpine Lounge helps provide some respite to the Schengen departure swells due to the morning and evening flight banks. The airline has several lounges already across Zurich, and all of them fairly recently opened and incredibly stylish.
However, this new lounge takes the airline on a new adventure, one of bold, contemporary and unapologetic Swiss-ness. Resembling an Alpine Lodge – but perhaps one from a Monocle or Wallpaper magazine – the lounge has a totally different feel about it.
From the entry, via spiral staircase, you can tell this is no ordinary space. An immersive video wall installation actually tracks your progress up the stairs and birds will follow you as you climb up or down the staircase, there’s even a rather stern looking mountain goat that gives you the eye. For those not wanting to listen or watch an alpine scene as you ascend, there are also lifts, but without the magical fairytale entry.
The lounge is slightly hidden away, with its only entrance found by the A gate transfer desks. Tucked just around the corner from the newer lounges. Also it only is open Monday to Friday, with the other lounges taking the strain during the quieter weekend periods.
On entrance, you can tell this lounge doesn’t resemble the others in Zurich, it uses lighter wood materials and seems beautifully stripped back.
Naturally there’s a plethora of wood, but it somehow feels like a lounge in its infancy, with unfinished plaster walls, and elements of ‘back to nature’, such as wooden artworks, and large, wooden tree trunk stools.
With a capacity of just 96, the lounge isn’t super large but performs two simple functions through a large kitchen area with communal tables and another residential area for people to relax in. The lounge was the first for the airline to be worked on by all the involved departments from the inception period. It was brought together by architect firm greutmann bolzern designstudio and features furniture and items by Vitra and Franke.
But the lounge is much more celebratory of local culture than that. The airline has brought the ‘Made in Switzerland’ approach to its lounge with local designers crafting the large dining tables, Isabel Bürgin rugs, and even a pair of local artisans – Tessitura – who made all the cushions in the lounge.
What is less evident, but a vein that connects the whole lounge together is their desire to reduce waste. There isn’t a single piece of plastic to be found across the lounge, and there is a lack of water bottles to reduce waste.
In fact the design team told us they were so proud of the Zurich tap water – which is some of the cleanest in the world and better than some bottled mineral water – that they made a huge feature out of a simple tap water fountain. It’s this design approach to their sustainability efforts that is unashamedly world-class.
Even their bathrooms use Soeder toiletries, which are all natural and come in glass bottles. The airline has also reinvented their food and drink offering, focussing on less is more which helps to reduce waste. The airline has boldly focussed on one food type for it’s main meal, which is cooked at a live cooking station featuring a huge bold modern take on a traditional oven.
These meals are customisable though, and will change frequently, but all of them reflecting Swiss culture, almost as if you are in a Swiss family house.
It’s also supported by a salad bar, which again focusses on a simple menu of outstanding ingredients, that celebrate Switzerland’s culinary specialties from cut meats to excellent cheeses and fresh, wholesome salads that can be customised to the passengers desire.
There is also a selection of breads, grains and breakfast cereals which again can all be customised and allow the passenger to have a healthy breakfast at any time of day. For drinks, there are a selection of Swiss wines and spirits, and even the wines are on tap, which keeps their freshness and reduces waste.
The lounge is effortless, and marks a defined change in direction for their passenger experience. It’s about celebrating their local roots, traditions, and bringing a sustainable model to their operations, which reduces the airlines carbon footprint, reduces waste and all the while enhances the passenger experience. Its a home away from home, and is designed to be a quieter more peaceful lounge, which is perfect place to contemplate, considering it also has sweeping views across the apron.
The new Swiss Alpine Lounge is open Mondays to Fridays from 5.30am to 6.30pm. It is available to Miles and More Senators, Star Alliance Gold, and Business Class travellers on Swiss and other Lufthansa Group airlines.
The Big Picture