Allow us to take you on a tour of the 7132 Hotel. In this first part, Managing Director Hans-Rudolf Rütti tells us how natural daylight helps guests feel welcome, why there appears to be an electrical shop in the catacombs, and when the best time is to be with guests.
No, we’re not standing in front of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which the curved white canopy calls to mind. We’re in Vals, at the entrance to the 7132 Hotel. In front of us stands the splendid entrance area created by star architect Thom Mayne. “Every day a member of staff goes up onto the glass roof to make sure the light can filter through the cupola unhindered,” explains the director, Hans-Rudolf Rütti. “Neither snow nor larch needles are allowed to stop the light spotlighting guests as they arrive.” We walk along the short corridor into the hotel and it gets dark. Our pupils slowly open and we make out the contours of the lobby, which is finished entirely in black. Our gaze wanders up ahead to the window wall of the 7132 Blue Bar. A section of the Vals mountains is visible to us as if on a banner. Out of sheer curiosity we walk out onto the Blue Bar terrace. But where’s Mr. Rütti? Of course, we’re not alone: hotel guests are walking through the lobby – they recognise the director and want to ask him something. Hans-Rudolf Rütti not only knows the answers, he also knows many of the guests by name. Certainly those of the regulars. Smiling, he returns to us and describes how room keys used to make it easier to meet the guests: keys would be handed in at the reception in the morning and collected in the evening, creating an opportunity for small talk. Today, most hotels have key cards which no longer have to be dropped off. “That’s why you’ll find me among the guests at breakfast and dinner.”
We make our way through the 7132 Red Restaurant, where the breakfast buffet is being cleared away and the tables laid again. Our tour takes us through the kitchen of Chef Ulf Bladt through the kitchen of 7132 Silver Restaurant Head Chef Sven Wassmer, and also through the hotel's own bakery and patisserie. The staff canteen contains a glass cabinet for pastries which have not been eaten by guests – there’s one left. “We have virtually no waste food in the patisserie – but our staff do tend to put on a bit of weight,” smiles Rütti. A poster displays the hotel’s values: the focus is on paying undivided attention to the guests and concentrating on constant improvement.
We now go down into the catacombs. Maintaining the thermal baths and hotel is a round-the-clock job that’s performed in the background. “Mr. Rütti, please don't leave us alone down here – we’ll never find our way out.” We’ve arrived in the building services area, which looks rather like an electrical shop. “The 7132 Thermal Baths are a protected monument, so even the lighting concept cannot be altered. That’s why the old lamps are never thrown away, but repaired. Some of them are no longer available.”
A door opens and we’re back out in the daylight. Ah, here we are: by the entrance to the thermal baths, directly below the hotel entrance. We’ve already visited the baths for a late-night bathing session. We enter and take the corridor that links the 7132 Thermal Baths and the hotel, finally arriving back in the lobby.
Construction of the new spa rooms starts in April and the 7132 Hotel re-opens in July. After this, we’ll go on the second part of our tour, taking in the suites, the new rooms and the House of Architects by 7132.