The developer who owns a hotel next to the hallmark spa in the Swiss town of Vals wants to turn it into a luxury destination with the highest tower in Europe.
Developer Remo Stoffel, himself a Vals native, announced plans to build the “Femme de Vals", or the “Woman of Vals", an 82-floor tower with 107 rooms that would become the highest and thinnest hotel in the world. The tower was designed by American architect Thom Mayne.
“I have to say, I would like to live in a tower,” the 38-year-old Stoffel told the media on Wednesday when announcing the proposed CHF300 million ($312 million) project.
In addition to constructing the hotel, which will be primarily funded by his development group, Stoffel is also planning to construct a park in his hometown the size of five football fields. The park, he said, is to be designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
The overhaul of the Vals Therme spa, designed by Peter Zumthor and opened in 1996, put the small alpine town in the eastern Swiss canton of Graubünden on the map for international travellers. However, the hotel next to the spa, originally built in the 1960s, only underwent minor renovations. Stoffel’s development group Priora now owns the hotel, which it wants to replace with the proposed tower. Priora also manages the spa, which is owned by a community-controlled foundation.
Stoffel’s plans are set to be presented to the people of Vals in a separate event on Wednesday evening, without the presence of the media. He will be joined by his partner in the project, local quarry owner Pius Truffer.
Local approval needed
However, in order to become reality, the project must survive votes by the people of Vals and the government of Graubünden, who have to weigh in on the necessary re-zoning. Truffer said on Wednesday that the project will not be forced on the locals if they do not want it and would not work without their support.
Critics have already begun to speak out against the proposal, among them the Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation (SL). Its director Raimond Rodewald called project a “tower of air,” arguing the security considerations in case of fire or earthquake would make it too unsafe.
If it doesn’t end up being built, the “Woman of Vals” would not be the first tower project to fail in Graubünden. The resort town of Davos approved re-zoning for a 105 metre-high tower that has not been built, and in 2006, another tower project in the town of Celerina failed at the ballot box.
swissinfo.ch and agencies