Richemont Inc., the Swiss company that owns the Swiss Miss chocolate bar, is planning to move its U.S. headquarters to the Lakeside Center in 2019. The $80 million mixed-use development in downtown Lake Zurich will feature an underground sports arena, a 200-room hotel, and a new corporate campus for Richemont. The company has chosen to call the new campus Ripples, a nod to a poem by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
For years, the most luxurious and famous address in Lake Zurich had belonged to the fashion house, Burberry. Now, it’s time for the city to embrace its new status as a major corporate hub and for the rich and famous to live luxuries once again.
The 125-room Park Hyatt Zurich, which opened in 2018 and is one of the city’s most exclusive addresses, has put a dent in the hotel market, with guests including Sherpa founder Heida Takahashi and fashion designer Ralph Lauren. As demand plummets, the city’s high-end retail landscape is undergoing a seismic shift, and small retailers are struggling to survive.
Burberry, which has its own private island in the Swiss countryside, has decided to sell off a selection of its property portfolios, including its Zurich headquarters. However, the company reserves the right to remain in the city for the next few years through its lease arrangement with the city. Even if it’s forced to sell, Burberry’s presence in Lake Zurich will linger for years to come.
A Life in Luxury
It all started in 2012, when the L’Oreal executive team took a stroll in the city. They spotted the iconic Robert Pattinson House—designed by French architect Jean Nouvel—and became so enamored with it that they decided to purchase it. After all, who wouldn’t like to live in a house that was the inspiration for a Twilight Saga movie?
Located in the exclusive Grunewald neighborhood of Zurich, the 5,500-square-foot mansion features floor-to-ceiling windows, walnut floors, and an atrium.
When they moved in, the L’Oreal executives made a grand entrance, descending a staircase flanked by their Icelandic husky guards. However, they didn’t stay in the house for long as it took them a while to adjust to life in a Swiss Alpine village. Soon after, they sold it to the U.S. company, Genshin Impact.
Genshin Impact is responsible for some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, including the Park Hyatt and the Andaz Wall Street. The company also owns a collection of boutique hotels, including Hotel Sacher in the Swiss Alps and Hotel Montblanc in France’s Jura Mountains. Most notably, the company has partnered with designer Ralph Lauren to create the Polo Palace, a 20-story landmark on Manhattan’s upper east side.
Now it’s the turn of the famous fashion house, Burberry, to expand its footprint in the city. With an iconic London street location and a smaller, more modern outpost in the city, the company is determined to add another elegant hotel to its portfolio.
In 2018, the luxury clothier and accessories brand signed a 99-year lease for the 65,000-square-foot building that formerly housed the Hirsch Bedroom Empire, a furniture manufacturer. The 18-room hotel will be called Hotel Burberry and will occupy the upper floors of the seven-story structure. The smaller, modern shop that opened in 2016 on Englischerstrasse will remain intact.
The brand’s move into the city is a reflection of its renewed interest in expanding its retail operation and increasing its international footprint. In the past few years, the company has bought several well-known retail establishments, including the Harrods Food Hall in London, as well as Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman’s. Most recently, Burberry purchased the historic Hotel Rifugi spa in the Swiss Alps for $18.9 million.
From Twilighter to Ripples
It wasn’t long before news of Robert Pattinson’s home purchase reached the public. The next big question was: Will the designer buy a property in the city? And if so, which one?
After visiting several destinations around the world with his wife, Twiggy, the designer settled on the luxurious Grunewald estate. The choice seemed obvious: After all, it was the perfect synthesis of grandeur and privacy, coupled with beautiful surroundings and a fabulous collection of vehicles. Naturally, the paparazzi flocked and haven’t stopped photographing the property ever since. Even now, with the couple’s sons, William and Luke, by their side, the estate is still considered one of the most romantic getaways in the world. However, the boys are currently studying in Switzerland and won’t spend much time in the house. So if their parents want to keep it a secret, that’s their problem, not ours!
There’s no question that the unique house contributed to the international success of the Twilight series. Even if you didn’t watch the movies, you may have played a role in their portrayal of modern-day vampires. When it comes to marketing, the estate is priceless, and it’s already been featured in countless publications around the world. In fact, it was so memorable that it even made it into The New York Times’ “The Notorious R.P.s: The Celebrities’ Homes, Explained.” The article, which was published in 2016, points out the many interesting details that make the mansion so special, from the deer heads and Polaroid photography to the indoor pool and Jacuzzi. It also highlights the importance of the series in expanding the audience for the fashion house, Burberry.
Despite its fame, the property hasn’t been easy to maintain. The Daily Telegraph quoted an anonymous source in reporting that the kitchen had seen better days and that the swimming pool needed some repair. Most notably, the source noted that the security guards were a constant source of embarrassment, as they were frequently seen going for drinks at the famous Zurich bar, the Spiegelberg. Whether or not these claims are true, the anonymous source was likely referring to the pool’s original configuration, which consisted of a kidney-shaped spa and a small Jacuzzi.
While the mansion may have served as the inspiration for the Twilight films, its true legacy will be as a symbol of pure excess. The New York Times recently featured the property in an article titled, “The Most Luxurious Destinations in the World.” Even today, with the estate’s many rooms and exquisite vintage furniture, it’s still considered one of the most luxurious places in the world. It’s not hard to see why: The article notes that the bedroom alone is said to be 16 feet wide and that the mansion boasts an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, plus a games room, private cinema, and fully equipped fitness center. Not to mention that the grounds feature a nine-hole golf course and a tennis court. It also points out that the estate is protected by a private security force, which prevents everyday tourists from getting too close.
The Future of Urban Retreats
Whether or not you believe that The Twilight Saga helped launch a cultural phenomenon, it’s undeniable that the films—and the attention that they drew—have helped secure a niche for urban retreats around the world. From designer havens to family-friendly getaways, here are a few destinations that capitalized on the vampire craze and continue to attract visitors seeking a place to unwind.
Penny pinchers and vampire fans can now visit Los Angeles
In 2018, the American city of Los Angeles inaugurated its own vampire-themed hotel, the Chateau Marmont. Its mission is to provide “a cinematic experience” to film and television producers and others who may have worked on the Twilight series. Naturally, those with a sweet tooth may also be interested in the hotel’s signature chocolate bar, which is named after Bella Swan.
Located in the heart of Los Angeles, the 106-room hotel features a private pool, fully equipped fitness center, and a spa. The property is owned by the renowned actor, producer, and director Roman Polanski, who lives in the city. As for the city itself, famous film directors like Quentin Tarantulinu and Alfonso Cuaron have called it home, as have a number of major Hollywood players. Now, with the opening of the Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles has become a mecca for vampire fans and film industry residents who want to enjoy the city without the hassle of constantly staying at a traditional hotel.
Nowadays, vampires aren’t just limited to books and movies
These days, vampires aren’t just limited to literature and film. Thanks to modern technology, vampires have become accessible to all. In fact, one could argue that without the wonders of modern-day computing, social media, and messaging, the concept of an urban retreat wouldn’t exist in the first place.