Located at ritzy St. Moritz in the Engadin Valley near the Italian border, Badrutt’s Palace, which opened at its present site in 1896, boasts chateau-style design and old-world chivalry. Its cutting-edge Palace Wellness was devised as part of a $47 million makeover in 2009.
Here, guests access the spa via an elevator descending into a grotto. A large indoor pool features a granite faux waterfall obscuring a Jacuzzi, all surrounded by picture windows with unobstructed views of Lake St. Moritz. Adjacent is the Wet Zone, the area’s epicenter, which encompasses the Ice Room, Mist Room, Aroma and Salt Steam Rooms, and a variety of ladies-only and mixed saunas. A relaxation room offers plush leather lounge chairs, headphones and stunning vistas of the lake and Alps. Two spa suites stand ready to accommodate couples. And the Treatment Center offers an Alpine Garden encircled by 10 rooms named after flowers growing in the surrounding Engadin valley. Just outside awaits a small outdoor pool, and a tennis court that doubles as an ice-skating rink during winter.
Palace Spa’s wellness advisor is Martha Wiedemann, wife of managing director Hans. Originally from India, Wiedemann believes that the chief difference between Switzerland’s spa culture and what Americans are accustomed to is the interpretation of the word “spa.” “In Switzerland, ‘spa’ relates to a therapeutic experience, whereas in America, it often has a broader meaning, such as ‘day spa,’ ‘beauty spa,’ ‘nail spa,’ and even ‘dog spa,’” she says. But both cultures, she adds, “aim at delivering the ‘feel good experience,’ and stress the prevention of ailments via systems that balance the daily lifestyle: exercise, antiaging programs and stress management therapies.”
But what draws the lion’s share of clients is the resort setting. “We attract a largely ‘holiday-type clientele,” Wiedemann acknowledges. “For some it’s the purity and unpolluted nature emcompassing the Swiss Alps, and the design of the wellness center that complements this setting. We bring the ‘Engadin’ into the center, so the overarching feel is of being in the mountains.” Treatment rooms are built with local cembra pine and granite from the nearby Bernina Pass. And those epic picture windows integrate the incomparable Alpine and lake scenery as essential elements along the path
Considering the hefty price tag for the 2009 upgrade, Wiedemann admits that Palace Spa’s biggest challenge has been the “return on investment.” Even so, global economics have not impacted this dramatically. “We have an established and loyal clientele, and we remain unique,” she asserts. “We maintain the best aspects of tradition along with the most advanced systems—without compromising on service and luxury.”
Loyal clients notwithstanding, attracting new guests is important, so the spa offers tour introductions to foster immediate interest. And it is continually upgrading itself. “We are at the forefront of trends, have the latest equipment, and offer services and facilities for most age groups,” says Wiedemann.
“We’re constantly promoting in the right markets through our website, or introducing our product within travel packages to potential new clients. We also work at keeping a high profile in new markets like India and China.”
And the spa knows its customer. Notes Wiedemann, “We engage media access to clients in the luxury market via public relations, in-house and word of mouth.”