Les Mills International
Les Mills International
Les Mills International

Thermal spa

Mountain therapy

Ancient healing waters, a spectacular setting and a highly skilled team have helped Grand Resort Bad Ragaz become a leading spa in Europe. With a new CEO at the helm, will there be a change of direction or more of the same? Patrick Vogler talks to Kath Hudson


Based in the heart of the Alpine region of Heidiland, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz has the setting we all imagine when we think of Switzerland: mountains, superb scenery, ideal terrain for outdoor activities, it’s a wine region and even has its own healing waters – all within an hour of Zurich.

Taking advantage of this sublime setting, the original hotel, the Grand Hotel Quellenhof, celebrates its 150th anniversary next year. Since opening, a history of continued investment has led to the resort, and its reputation, growing to offer something for everyone.

Currently there four hotels, seven restaurants, a café and a sushi takeaway, a casino and two golf courses. The two separate spas include Thermal Spa and the famous Tamina Therme public thermal baths with its “precious healing waters”. There’s also an on-site Medical Health Center with 30-plus doctors focusing on everything from sports injuries and nutrition to fertility and mental health.

CEO Patrick Vogler, says that each part of the resort is viewed as an independent profit centre. Although this has not always been the case, each of the businesses are currently firing on all cylinders. Occupancy is 65 per cent and the resort has a loyal following: some of its guests have been coming for more than 50 years.

While keen to look after these customers, Vogler also has attracting new audiences as one of his key aims. He says: “We have many loyal guests who’ve been with us for decades, but now it’s time to acquire newer, younger guests, so we’re realising projects with this in mind.”

Vogler has been with the organisation since 2008 and, as CFO, worked closely with his predecessor, Peter P Tschirky, to pilot the resort through tough economic times. This was achieved both through investment, innovation and seeking new audiences, a strategy which Vogler will continue to take forward.

Over recent years, since the credit crunch, the resort has seen a shift in its audience, from predominantly Swiss and German guests to those from emerging markets like Russia, Middle East, and the US. Being flexible to change, despite its size, has been key to the success of Bad Ragaz, and is something Vogler will be building on.

Three generation families
After taking over as CEO in July 2017, one of Vogler’s first tasks was to look at the brand and web presence. “The launch of a new website and a rebrand has been a big focus, because I believe that having a strong brand and a clear, engaging website is crucial in gaining new customers,” he says. “Elderly guests frequently come to us for our clinical services – more than half of the guests use the medical facility somehow – but we’re actively looking for ways to hook in new audiences who are not necessarily focused on medical health.”

One of the new audiences to be identified is the three generation family market, which are being catered for with a family spa launched in May. This is a wise move: finding audiences who will again stay with them for decades. “We’re keen to open our resort up to three generations and have done so in response both to guests asking us and identifying a market demand,” says Vogler.

Created by Swiss interior designer Claudio Carbone, the 550sq m (5,920sq ft) family spa is open to children up to the age of 16 and offers treatments like Bling Bling Nails, Sweet Honey Massage, using lavender oil, and Happy Feet, a foot bath and massage finished off with a pedicure including tiny gemstones. The bathing zones range from 0.2m to 1.3m deep and offer many exciting activities such as Aqua Latin Dance, mermaid swimming lessons, swimming classes for babies and toddlers and a weekly kids’ party. The overall theme picks up on the rustic rock faces of the local Tamina Gorge, the source of the resort’s thermal waters, and a wooden Alpine hut is a reminder of the Heidi story.

Additionally there are four new family rooms, with views of the Heidiland region, to accommodate two adults and three children. The play facilities are currently being upgraded, with the addition of a billiards room and a kitchen with facilities for 50 children to cook.

Spotlight on spa
The Thermal Spa is a major draw for the resort with many guests coming primarily to use its facilities which include an extensive Sauna World and three pools. There are also 19 treatment rooms, the new family spa, one private spa suite and a dermatology practise.

“Many of our guests don’t want to go and see their doctor who will prescribe medication, but are looking for other solutions which can help them destress and bring their lives into balance,” says spa director, Lucia Bergmann. “What sets us apart from other spas is our bespoke programmes, which are two to five days long and help our guests to relax and bring their bodies back into balance. We offer a break from the daily routine, which addresses the body, mind and soul. No other spas in Switzerland offer these types of programmes.”

Developed in conjunction with French bodycare specialists, Altearah Bio, the Ragazer spa programmes (see p90) are the most popular offering at the spa, incorporating consultations, treatments and, depending on the package, PT sessions, yoga, pilates, floating sessions or aquafit.

“At the outset, the therapists meet with the guests to design an individual programme for them. As well as one or two treatments a day, they will have some form of exercise and a relaxation session,” explains Bergmann. “We’re a big team and constantly communicate with each other so we can take a holistic approach to each client. The programme is a blend of medicine and wellness, and we give them advice and tools to take away.”

One of the challenges which the spa deals with is responding to the demands of different audiences and the team recognises different preferences among guests from Europe, Russia and the Middle East. One of the trends Bergmann has noticed is an increase in demand for beauty treatments for men, including facials, manicures and pedicures.

Ongoing investment
The next major project on Vogler’s to do list is next year’s CHF40m (US$42m, €34m, £30m) refurbishment of the original Grand Hotel Quellenhof, on its 150th anniversary. Formal and traditional in comparison to its contemporary spa suites, the refurb will combine the history and elegance with a more modern look.

“All 106 rooms will have air conditioning added, the technology will be updated to improve internet connections, there will be more space on the ground floor for the restaurant and it will house the main reception for the resort,” says Vogler.

Another project on the drawing board is the addition of a football pitch, so the resort can build on its success in treating its elite sports clientele. Among its customers it currently counts the Swiss Olympic teams and Saudi Arabia’s football team, UK club West Ham United and Germany’s Borussia Dortmund. The addition of a football field will attract more top international teams to keep their athletes in peak condition – and no doubt drive more business to the medical centre.

Vogler wants Grand Resort Bad Ragaz to become Europe’s leading hotel in wellbeing and medical health and is confident they have the tools to achieve this. The medical spa, and its breadth of expertise, and the heritage and mythical magic of the healing waters are top of the list in terms of the resort’s main attractions, complemented by its innovation in terms of programming, such as a sleep diagnostics programme and continual investment in keeping its facilities at the top end.

“We have a successful combination of a variety of high standard businesses operating together, extensive medical expertise and thermal waters,” says Vogler. “With the continuous development of new business ideas, we want to secure, and deepen our position as the leading wellbeing and medical resort in Europe.”

Bespoke treatments

Ragazer Balance focuses on detoxifying and is a five day programme costing CHF1,430 (US$1451, €1232, £1085) without accommodation

Ragazer Vitality is aimed at relieving fatigue. The starting price is CHF550 (US$558, €473, £417) for two to four days
R
agazer Relaxation is all about relieving stress and costs from CHF675 (US$685, €581, £512) for two to four days

Suppliers

Product houses: La Prairie, Sisley, Ericson, Carita, Sensai, Niance, Thalgo, Soglio (regional and natural Swiss massage products), Altearah Bio and Babor (in Tamina Therme), La Roche-Posay, Avène and Eva J (dermatology and medical skincare)

Fitness equipment: Technogym

Software: TAC’s Reservation Assistant

Heat experiences: Klafs

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Fabio Alemanno Design Ltd
Based on ancient knowledge – and confirmed by scientific research – warmth is one of the most important sources of healing and preventative therapy available.
videos
BluGalaxy a Division of Blu Spas
Blu Spas
This animation showcases the beautiful concept design of BluGalaxy Spa.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The Macallan Distillery has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize
Stephen Barrett (left) 
and John McElgunn (right) were both made partners at RSHP in 2016
"Leisure space – public space – is at the very root of democracy, and architecture is about democracy"

As RSHP completes its latest cultural project, we speak to two of its partners about why Richard Rogers isn’t leaving his succession to chance

The family enlisted Keith Summerour to design the resort
"Sam was such a champion for the team, and my goal is simply to carry that same torch"

As Blackberry Mountain resort opens in Tennessee, we find out why the project is a deeply personal one for owner Mary Celeste Beall

SHL’s Monroe Blocks mixed development in Detroit, US
"Most clients are very focused on how buildings are used and experienced as the primary design driver"

The MD of Schmidt Hammer Lassen and the CEO of PerkinsWill tell us why their merger will help create smarter buildings driven by human behaviour

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The hotel features two restaurants and two bars, including the Julep Herbal & Vermouth Bar
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

Three flights of wide steps invite the visitor into the building.
Alexander Schwarz
"Our aim was to create a place celebrating public space and accessibility"

The opening of the James-Simon- Galerie on Berlin’s Museum Island completes two decades of work for David Chipperfield Architects. The lead designer talks us through the building

Francis graduated as a landscape architect in Belgium. He returned to Lebanon in 1993
"I believe gardens are where the soul rests"

With a focus on desert landscapes and collaborations with Zaha Hadid and OMA, the principal of Francis Landscapes has a deep belief in the power of nature

features
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

Marianne Shillingford
"The technology involved in paint is extraordinary"

Used cleverly, colour has the power to influence how people use the spaces they inhabit, says the creative director of Dulux

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, US
José Almiñana
"We are committed to designing evocative landscapes informed by the best environmental science"

The Andropogon principal on pushing the boundaries of landscape design for the benefit of humans and nature

cladkit product news
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
Atelier Alain Ellouz launches handcrafted precious stone lighting collection
LYRA has a sleek, cylindrical design complete with an elegant brass dimming switch
Megan Whitby
LYRA, GAMA, MONA and ATHENA are the first pieces from designer Atelier Alain Ellouz’s new.édition collection of handcrafted stone lighting ...
Fabio Alemanno Design uses elegant semi-precious stones to create memorable spa experiences
Alemanno believes the stones are well-placed in the spa environment thanks to their capacity to positively support physical and mental health
Megan Whitby
Fabio Alemanno Design has expanded its collection with semi-precious stones to enhance spas, wellness facilities, hotels and private residences. The ...
cladkit product news
Siminetti unveils first glimpses of Mother of Pearl decorative surfaces inspired by the four seasons
The new winter design is finished with naturally occurring hexagonal patterns found in snowflakes
Megan Whitby
Siminetti has collaborated with British designer Chrisanna London to create a luxury Mother of Pearl decorative surface range inspired by ...
Diamond balloon concept merges tourist attraction with advertising billboard
Magali Robathan
A group of Dutch engineers have presented a new attractions concept that combines a flying observation cabin with LED digital ...
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
cladkit product news
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
ASPA International launches handheld UV-C light disinfection lamp
The compact plug-in product can be used easily in a commercial spa or domestic setting to disinfect surfaces with UV-C light
Megan Whitby
For over 30 years, ASPA International has designed and built high-quality spas for the hotel, health and wellness sectors. During ...
Les Mills International
Les Mills International