By next summer, Zurich Airport will be a destination unto itself, with a convention center, two hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, office space, a health center and even a park. The mega-project, called The Circle (rendered above), is now rising on a stretch of landfill created by the building of the airport, bringing new purpose to the site.
At the heart of the development is the Circle Convention Centre, set to be one of Switzerland's largest meeting facilities. Plans call for 15 meeting rooms on three floors, for a total of 53,000 square feet of event space. The convention hall will have a theater seating 1,500, and the entire facility will accommodate up to 2,500 people.
Two new hotels will bookend the convention center: the 255-room Hyatt Regency Zurich Airport/The Circle, expected to open in the third quarter of 2020; and Hyatt Place Zurich Airport/The Circle, debuting in the fourth quarter with 300 guest rooms. Hyatt also will manage the convention center. Free high-speed WiFi will be available throughout the complex, and all buildings will be LEED certified.
Once fully opened, the complex will support some 6,000 employees. Among the global corporations moving in is Microsoft, which will plant its Swiss headquarters there.
RADISSON BLU'S NEW SKI MECCA
A new entrant in the Alps is the 244-room Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen
, Andermatt, which opened in December 2018 and offers schussing access to SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun and Gemsstock. The property's concert hall seats 700, and there are six additional meeting rooms, the largest of which holds up to 100.
In addition to in-and-out air service, Zurich Airport is a central transportation hub for Switzerland's train, tram and bus systems. Arriving air passengers will have a five-minute walk to The Circle's hotels or convention center, and can be in downtown Zurich or lakeside in 10 minutes by train.
Perhaps the most surprising -- and delightful -- element of The Circle will be a 250,000-square-foot park. "Spending time at an airport is not usually interesting," noted a representative. "In Zurich, it will be."
A Must for FIFA Fans
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association's World Football Museum in Zurich celebrates the rich heritage of football (what Americans call soccer) with an emphasis on how the game connects and inspires people across the globe.
This is the home of the real World Cup trophies, which are let out of their display cases only to be briefly coddled by a new winning team. "They can hold it, they can kiss it and then they have to return it," explains a museum representative. Winning teams get a replica that they can keep.
Among the museum's A/V-equipped spaces is a 32,000-square-foot exhibition area and a banquet room that holds 100 for receptions.
LUGGAGE TAKES THE EXPRESS
The Swiss Travel System
makes it easy for groups to travel light within Switzerland. Luggage can be picked up at any hotel in the country and transported to your next destination. Have bags ready to go by 9 a.m., and they'll be waiting at your next hotel no later than 6 p.m. the same day. For up to 50 pieces of luggage, the service costs about US$300.
Majestic Venues in Thun
The lakeside city of Thun is the gateway to the Bernese Highlands. In the center of the historic Old Town is the medieval Thun Castle with its museum and stately event spaces for up to 150.
Stage a regal reception, dinner or awards ceremony nearby at the Schloss Schadau Hotel-Restaurant, which reopened to the public on June 1 following an 18-month renovation. The stunning structure, built in 1854, now has nine unique guest rooms fit for nobility (and equipped with WiFi). Several indoor spaces welcome private functions; large groups can gather and dine on the expansive lakefront lawn.
Head to the Alps
The "holiday region" of Andermatt lies at the heart of Switzerland's Alpine passes, 90 minutes by train from Zurich. This stunning Ursern Valley destination is the country's most snow-sure resort area, at the heart of diverse ski options with varying degrees of altitude and difficulty.
When the snow melts, visitors are drawn to the region's mountain lakes, quaint valleys and hiking trails.
It's no surprise development has kicked into high gear in recent years. The luxurious Chedi Andermatt debuted in 2013, blending Alpine chic with Asian elements in its 123 elegant rooms and suites. The largest meeting room accommodates 180 banquet-style.