Room type: Suite
Duration: 5 > 8th August, 2020
There’s a chapter in Malcom Gladwell’s Blink – that even after all these years – I still vividly remember. It described how some fine chap could pick up microscopic expressions in people’s faces and truly see what they were thinking. It was a fascinating insight into how almost unnoticeable twitches could dive into your subconscious and display your real feelings. As great as that skill is, it was definitely not needed when I told some Swiss hoteliers we were heading to 7132. A child could have read their grimaces and understood it wasn’t going to be great. Yet two long-term readers of this blog fondly recommended it. So that’s the last time I listen to anyone; next I’ll have to stop injecting myself with bleach as you’ll tell me that’s not safe.
7132 isn’t dreadful, but neither is it good and it’s definitely not worth your time. Luckily I already have your time, so you may as well read on.
It was immediately obvious that I was walking into The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Lite. Like The Retreat, 7132 has a major facility (the lagoon and spa respectively) with another 4 star hotel attached and external guests allowed. Unlike The Retreat, all the facilities are shared; there’s no separation and no element of exclusivity to being in their so-called luxury hotel. The Retreat’s lagoon and spa is private to their residents. When there’s no luxury experience, it’s not a luxury hotel. This makes it all the more disappointing, because 7132 is in theory a great place. The spa sounds amazing, 23 rooms look idillic, the views are spectacular and it has superb fine dining establishment connected to it. But luxury isn’t just about theories, it’s about putting it together into practice and having a 90 room, 4-star hotel connected to it completely ruins the experience. It changes the staff from offering a luxurious experience into part-time zookeepers.
I know it’s tradition to call somewhere overcrowded a zoo, but that feels a poorly thought-out analogy – I’ve been to zoos and I don’t recall them costing this much. Not a single element of the spa felt that it was catered with luxury in mind. You have nowhere to just chill out and if you do manage to find one of their back breaking slab of “please don’t stay here for long” beds that are as comfortable as a Saw contraption, and decide to walk off, a member of staff will be desperate to move your towels immediately. They were so keen I’m thinking they’re paid a commission based on how many dreams they can crush per day.
There are no saunas or any other amenities, just two large pools you can barely swim in and smaller pools you queue up to experience what water feels like at different temperatures in claustrophobic settings. It will quickly bore, unless you’re playing a game of Don’t Catch Covid by trying to avoid the crowds. There are no adult only areas, or places to drink; no staff checking how you’re doing, it’s just get in, get out. The only time it’s available exclusively for hotel guests is 7-11am, but that is no guarantee of peace and quiet either, as we discovered. All mobile phones and cameras are prohibited, but that’s probably not because of taking pictures, but because if you took your new iPhone then some staff would throw them in the bin at the nearest opportunity.
Yet it’s incredibly, incredibly busy and popular. That should be it’s biggest problem, but it’s actually that it’s just tedious. Even though the sheer number of people in the spa is the antithesis of luxury, it wouldn’t matter or not, cos there’s nothing to do there – there’s nowhere to sit, nowhere to relax. Let’s not forget this is during Covid times, where the number of people were restricted. Imagine a normal day – my guess is police in riot gear for crowd control.
You’re better off elsewhere, as there’s a decent sized gym, they’ve got some great electric bikes for sight seeing and quite uniquely a rabbit pen designed for kids, but who am I kidding if I didn’t say I went there? I really regret not taking my camera when we went to explore the area on the electric bikes, as it really is astonishingly beautiful.
The rooms aren’t going to feature in any copy of Designs of the Year that Blew Your Mind, but it’s 90sqm and 1500 CHF/n, which translates from Swiss German as “bargain”. I rather liked the room, it’s definitely one of the positives of 7132; they’re minimalist, but functional. The decor is nothing to write about – no, really, I have nothing to write about it – but it’s well equipped, spacious and offers great views. The suite is basically a replica of a normal room, but has an additional living room. Did we use it? Of course not, but I appreciated knowing I could use it, which is how I feel about almost every time I pay for a better room.
There’s a decent balcony too, only let down by the stench of smokers below it. With no AC, the room became unbearably hot at night, with the completely expected outcome being a 5am drenched wake-up, but if you leave the balcony doors open you’ll get no sleep from the restaurant noise and smell.
The only design choice that must, under all circumstances, be questioned, was another use of the evil step in the bathroom, just like Cheval Blanc Randehli. I don’t know what school the architects studied in, or who hurt them as children, but putting random steps in your bathrooms that are invisible, and I cut myself on, won’t fix your childhood. Your Dad didn’t love you, get over it.
They also supply condoms besides the bed table, but the only person getting screwed is you if you booked the penthouse. Other than the limited use of a helicopter, it offers nothing that would warrant paying 3x more than a Suite. Yes, the view is definitely better, but also at 90sqm it was a wasted opportunity.
Let’s be clear, they try here. Well, most of them. I don’t need the GM to cup my balls and tell me everything is going to be ok, but to never see anyone in management was bizarre. There are few complaints regarding service, it just caters to their audience, i.e. the billions of people that visit every day. I actually appreciated some of their touches, such as during check-in taking a single rose to the room and putting it in a specially designed vase; and their room setup was far superior to Park Hotel Vitznau. All they needed to do was replace one of the waiters, who seemed to be a mole planted by the competition to destroy their reputation. Everyone else was pleasant and did their best to remember preferences where possible. I wasn’t a fan of 2 adapters being charged on the bill at the end, so do double check it, but I was more a fan of their leaving gift to ensure we got back to Zurich fully hydrated and fed.
Speaking of food, I shall split this appropriately between their two restaurants: Silver and Red. Red, their Italian restaurant, was good without being remarkable. Even by the second night we were desperately hoping not to eat here again due to the limited choices, which became even more limited when they told me 30 minutes after ordering an asparagus risotto that they no longer had any asparagus.
Breakfast is a separate area for those in the 5 star luxury – it’s in Silver, the others eat in Red. I thought I’d take a look at the menus to see what was different between the two restaurants and the answer still eludes me. There’s a very, very small buffet of about 3 yoghurts available and they bring along a stand of cheese, meats, cucumber, carrots and bread to the table.
Then there’s Silver. As much as we tried our best not to eat here, due to the disappointment of focus at Park Hotel Vitznau, we ended up having no choice. Sometimes it’s important to do things you really didn’t want to do, which I tell my wife all the time when the football is on. In this case, the meal was absolutely sensational. Along with The Restaurant at The Dolder Grand, Switzerland has offered me two of the finest meals I’ve ever had. Not only was the experience wonderful, particularly with the way a different chef comes out to present each course, but the way they reached out months in advance to understand allergies and clarify everything was superb. I still remember eating at Helene Darroze at The Connaught to find my lobster dish had been supplemented by simply removing the lobster, leaving me with a slice of cucumber.
- Reasonably priced
- Stunning location with vast choice of sightseeing opportunities
- The spa
- Attached to a 4 star hotel
- 2 Michelin star Silver
7132 believe their unique selling point is their spa – definitely not for me. Were they to follow my advice, they should focus entirely on Silver. Admittedly they’d go bankrupt as no one would stay and they’d have to shut the spa down, but they’d go down like the band on the Titanic – with a great deal of pride.
So go for the night, arrive early to enjoy the spectacular views, eat at Silver and leave. Or go for the restaurant and don’t even stay.
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