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“Someone has finally understood how the ultimate suite should look and feel,” was our chief globetrotter’s seldom-heard endorsement, when he encountered the recently opened four top suites and spa at Zürich’s Dolder Grand Hotel.
Designed in 1899 by Jacques Gros, the famed health spa/hotel has a perfect city location overlooking Lake Zürich and the Alps. The grand old hotel has been re-imagined as a modern luxury hotel by a star team of professionals - architecture by London’s Foster and Partners, interior design by United Designers, also of London, and the spa concept by spa-industry visionary, Arizona-based Sylvia Sepielli .
The star power continues in the four top-level suites inspired by four famed guests. The top-most, 4,300 square-foot (400 square-meter) Maestro Suite channels the style of Herbert von Karajan. The sweeping two-level suite with dashing classical undertones features red leather chairs, dark timbers, a circular tower dining room, pale-marble bathrooms with whirlpools and steam showers (and one with a sauna), massive windows and a lounge-style terrace.
The late Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti inspired the Carezza Suite on the top floor of the spa wing. Sculpturally inspired furnishings and organic shapes create a peaceful lounge feel, enhanced by the neutral colors and the modern fireplace. The two-bedroom suite has a separate living room, TV lounge and marble bathrooms.
Also on the top floor of the spa wing, the Masina Suite gets its dramatic inspiration from Giulietta Masina, actress and wife of Federico Fellini. Night-blue and soft white evoke a feel of elegance and smoky glamour. A large Fendi sofa and a flat-screen TV are perfect for film noir nights. Floor-to-ceiling windows add further drama. Orange sofas, dark wood panels and pink furniture adorn Suite 101 created to reflect the legacy of the Rolling Stones. The decor has a retro vibe and an edge with distinctive, casual luxury. The suite includes a bedroom, living room, dining room, an ensuite kitchen and meeting room for 10. - Tuija Seipell
Financial institutions once occupied the most prestigious and opulent buildings and locations in every city and town. They oozed intimidation, grandeur and wealth. Then banks became nameless and faceless boxes, one or more in every block, just like franchised fast-food chains. And then it seemed we’d soon have no physical banks at all, only banking machines and online banking.
But now we are starting to see banks that seem to want to talk to us again. It seems that they want to make us feel welcome, actually wanting to appeal to customers again.
The new financial spaces are designer banks that look more like five-star hotel lounges, bars or nightclubs than the boring boxes banks have become.
Our recent examples of cool banking environments — from retail spaces to offices — have come from Paris, Milan, Moscow, Melbourne, Sydney and Amsterdam.
The latest of these designer banks is the Raiffeisen Bank’s flagship in Zurich designed by design co-operative NAU with associate team of DGJ (Zurich.)
The goal of this white space-agey environment is to break down the physical and emotional barriers between customers and staff. Stern tellers and three-piece-suited bankers behind high counters and glass walls, and accessible only through little windows like jailbirds — these are things of the past.
In this new world of banking, customers are invited to learn more about the bank’s services and products though interactive touch screen tables, while surrounded by digitally produced massive portraits of prominent past residents of the area.
We assume the staff members are equally stylish in attire and grooming as it is tough to imagine bespectacled tellers or portly pin-striped bankers in this environment. - Tuija Seipell