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wellnessHostel4000 honoured with the "Prix Lignum Wood Award 2015" Sep 29, 2015

On Friday, the Swiss Youth Hostels received the "Prix Lignum Wood Award 2015" in the "centre west" region for the sophisticated, trendsetting use of wood in the construction of their latest property, the wellnessHostel4000 in Saas-Fee. It is the third award for the hostel which opened in 2014, following the "Milestone. Tourism Award Switzerland" and the "Watt d’Or" energy prize.

From 53 submissions for the "Prix Lignum Wood Award 2015", the six-strong jury voted the wellnessHostel4000 into 3rd place in the "centre west" region as an exemplary tourism project. With manifold synergies, between hostel and wellness, wood and concrete, inexpensive and high-quality, the hostel strikes a perfect balance that could represent a model for Swiss tourism according to the jury, explaining their reasoning for the award of the prize to Swiss Youth Hostels’ latest development.

Hostel with a pioneering role in timber construction

This latest award for the sophisticated, trendsetting use of wood – the refurbishment and extension of the St. Moritz Youth Hostel was awarded a special prize in 2012 – is a source of great pride for the SYH and Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism (SFST) who are responsible for the construction and upkeep of youth hostels in Switzerland. "As an organisation dedicated to sustainability, we are delighted that after many years of work, we have finally succeeded in using wood as a construction material for a multi-storey building", says René Dobler, CEO of the SFST. He adds: "Receiving the ‹Prix Lignum› for this project is therefore a particular honour."

The realisation of the wellnessHostel4000 as a five-storey timber construction was made possible thanks to special permissions. These allowed the SFST to build in 2014 in advance of the new fire safety regulations that entered into force at the beginning of this year allowing more storeys in wood in the accommodation sector. As the first wooden building of this function and size, the hostel is playing a pioneering role and shows the opportunities opening up thanks to the revised rules for the use of this natural material in the hotel sector.

With its own wellness and fitness area

The wellnessHostel4000 and adjoining Aqua Allalin wellness and fitness centre designed by Basel architects Steinmann & Schmid is not only a pioneering project in the Swiss wood construction sector; as the first hostel to have its own wellness and fitness area, it is also a world tourism first. It was erected in a public/private partnership with the commune of Saas-Fee – an unusual arrangement in the Alps – and combines aspects of sustainability and Alpine construction. As a result, it satisfies the MINERGIE-ECO standard, provides one third of its electricity requirements from its own photovoltaic installation and obtains the rest of the energy required from a solar thermal district heating network.

Organisations involved in the project and key data

  • Client: Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism, Zurich
  • Architecture: Steinmann & Schmid Architekten AG BSA SIA, Basel
  • Construction management: amoba baumanagement GmbH, Visp
  • Structural engineer: alp Andenmatten Lauber & Partner AG, Visp
  • Specialists:
    Timber construction engineer and fire protection: Makiol + Wiederkehr, Beinwil am See
    HVARS engineers: Zurfluh Lottenbach GmbH, Luzern / Duss Thomas Sanitärplanung, Sempach Station
    Electrical planning and measurement & control systems: Ingenieurbüro Hanimann, Zweisimmen
    Building physics, acoustics, Minergie: HSR Ingenieure AG, Spiez
  • Total cost: CHF 9.75 million
  • Room programme: 168 beds in 55 rooms, dining room, bistro and day rooms
  • Technology: Minergie-ECO, photovoltaic system, solar-thermal district heating network
  • Schedule:
    Planning start: June 2009
    Start of construction: April 2013
    Opening: September 2014
    Construction time: 17 months

The origination and construction of the pioneering wellnessHostel4000 has been documented in a construction diary of around 100 pages: "Ein Pionierbau für die Alpen" is published by Faktor Verlag Zurich and costs CHF 58.-.

The Swiss Youth Hostels Association operates a network of 52 hostels (46 owned and six franchise hostels) ranging from a romantic castle to a city designer hostel to a wellness hostel. The non-profit organisation which has around 100,000 members, focuses on quality-conscious, sustainable and inexpensive youth and family tourism. In 2014, around 784,000 overnight stays were generated in the Swiss Youth Hostels’ own establishments with 580 employees and a further 175,000 in the franchise hostels. This means that the Swiss Youth Hostels achieved a total of around 959,000 overnight stays in the year gone by.

Further information is available from:

  • Swiss Youth Hostels (SYH)
    René Dobler
    Deputy CEO SYH & CEO Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism
    Schaffhauserstrasse 14 | P.O. Box
    8042 Zurich | tel. +41 44 360 14 14
    r.dobler@youthhostel.ch