Zürich. A large central banking hub located in the heart of Switzerland, which sometimes has a reputation for being a dull business city with no soul or personality. Last month, Zentive had the absolute pleasure of visiting this gorgeous city to discover it is so much more…
Upon touching down at Zürich’s international airport, we were greeted by our friendly trip leaders before being led down a tunnel reminiscent to an underground gateway to a secret agent’s lair. However, this was simply the entrance to The Circle, a shopping and event district a mere 5 minute walk from the airport which is both LEED® PLATINUM and Minergie certified. It felt like we were instantly transported out of an international travel hub to a smart sophisticated city, and we weren’t even in Zürich yet. The Circle was built with sustainability in mind. Thanks to water-saving taps, solar panels and innovative energy storage systems, The Circle sets new standards when it comes to sustainability.
The Circle has it's own Convention Center which has over 2,800 m2 of state-of-the-art function space which can accommodate up to 1,500 delegates in theatre style. With a main convention hall that showcases stunning architecture and glass roof, this is a convenient place for meetings, gala dinners or conferences.
Within The Circle, there are also two modern sustainable hotels, the Hyatt Regency and Hyatt City Place which offer over 250 bedrooms each and various event spaces. Both Hyatt hotels place an emphasis on sustainability. The Hyatt Regency includes toilet flushing systems that use rainwater, temperature is regulated by an innovative shading system, the blinds lower automatically based on information from a weather station on the roof, while also taking account of the shadows cast by neighbouring buildings. Hyatt City Place has water-efficient faucets, toilets and showers, the hotel caters events with responsibly sourced, regionally inspired food and beverages, and technology is embedded within the hotel to provide energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems.
We then took a short trip into the main city where we checked into our home for the next couple of nights – AMERON Zürich Bellerive au Lac. Located directly on Lake Zürich, the protection of the environment is very important to the hotel. They have switched to energy-saving LED lamps for 80% of the lighting fixtures, have energy-saving electricity flow systems in their rooms and proactively look at reducing food waste and paper consumption amongst many other initiatives. The hotel offers 61 rooms and two event and meeting rooms.
Due to the heavy rain, our eTukTuk tour was cancelled. When the weather is in your favour, this can be a great eco-friendly way of viewing the city, as well as a unique way of providing transfers around the city. Our trip leaders opted for a last minute walking tour instead, which quickly led to a tour through words at a bar via our charismatic tour guide Christen due to the downpour. Regardless, what better way to hear about Zürich’s fascinating history than with a couple glasses of Swiss wine!
Our day ended back at the gorgeous AMERON Zürich, where we indulged in a delicious 4 course dinner with a choice of fine fish, high-quality meat from responsible farming methods and sustainably grown fruit and vegetables. Vegetarian and vegan dishes also played a major role on the menu, and we were offered the opportunity to have any uneaten food packed free of charge to reduce food waste. However, our big appetites meant this wasn’t necessary!
Day 2 started with a walking tour around Rapperswil, a town of roses located on the other side of Lake Zürich. This tranquil location offers incentive activities in a calmer atmosphere including the Knie’s Children Zoo, cultural tours within the medieval old town and hiking around the lake.
Next stop of the day was Landolt’s Winery for a sustainable wine tour of their beautiful vineyards. With the sun bearing down on us, it was a treat to be greeted with a refreshing glass of wine in Landolt’s re-usable wine thermos. We took a short walk up to a cabin where we enjoyed a number of different wines alongside a fresh spread of Lebanese dishes, overlooking almost 6 hectares of Zürich grapevines. Wines included a Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé Schiterberger, a Gewürztraminer and a few more, and proved to us why the Swiss like to keep their wines a secret!
The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming in Lake Zürich, a colossal freshwater lake that is exceptional in the summer and can be used for water activities and lunch/dinner cruises.
After freshening up, we ventured to the new Zürich Convention Center, a carbon neutral venue that has just undergone a 175 million CHF overhaul! With 5,300 m2 of event space, 4,500 seats and more than 20 rooms and foyers, the Zürich Convention Center is the largest venue of its kind right by Lake Zürich. Due to this close proximity, it can cover 70% of its heating and cooling requirements from their own seawater central system from the nearby lake of Zürich. The convention center is also committed to a forest conservation project in Peru which compensates for any unavoidable CO2 emissions.
Dinner was served at Zürich Convention center’s adjoining restaurant, LUX. LUX uses regional and seasonal products and offer an imaginative selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes. Featuring a beautiful terrace offering far-reaching views of the lake, we were treated to a number of culinary delights which were all 100% climate-neutral.
On the final day, we got to experience one of Switzerland’s most famous exports: Chocolate. The Lindt Home of Chocolate is a new, state-of-the-art chocolate experience which features interactive chocolate tours, chocolate making workshops, a nine-foot chocolate fountain, a chocolate museum and the biggest chocolate shop in the world. Perfect for the chocoholic.
After over-indulging in way too much chocolate, we took a short walk to Chez Fritz. Located directly on the lake, we enjoyed one last meal together overlooking the lake one last time before heading to the airport to depart.
As a city, it’s clear to see that Zürich has a lot of potential for both meetings, conferences and incentive travel. From its eco-friendly, modern venues to its forward-thinking attitude, we hope to be creating sustainable events in this city for a long time. We’d like to give a huge thank you to Ska Hotels, Zürich Tourism and Switzerland Tourism for an eye-opening trip that showcased Zürich’s best. We will be back soon!