When you look at it today, much of the sprawling West Zurich area of Switzerland’s largest city resembles nothing so much as a building site.
But this formerly highly industrialized area, which was once home to iron foundries, warehouses and the other accoutrements of heavy industry, clearly represents the commercial future of Zurich. Tower cranes pierce the skyline all over West Zurich and large office buildings are going up in droves.
One day West Zurich will surely be Switzerland’s largest office district. During my two-night visit in late January 2012, much of the local talk was of the impending move of one of Switzerland’s largest telecommunications companies to West Zurich, with 1,200 employees to be based there.
In West Zurich, Zurich’s property developers are doing something clever. Instead of demolishing all of the old warehouses and factories, they are turning some of the old industrial facilities into attractive residential buildings or retail and dining arcades.
While the job is by no means yet complete, there has been enough progress for parts of West Zurich to remind you a little of Manhattan’s Meat Market District – though on a cold January weeknight there is, at this stage, far less activity and buzz on the streets. At weekends there is more activity, I was told, and as West Zurich continues to grow and its retail and dining establishments proliferate, street traffic on weeknights is sure to increase.
Until recently, West Zurich only had one hotel of note, the Novotel. But the development of the district into a commercial hub has prompted construction of several other large hotels. These include the business-oriented Renaissance Zurich Tower Hotel, which opened in August 2011.
Owned by the SV Group Switzerland and run as a franchise of Marriott International’s luxury Renaissance brand, the Renaissance Zurich Tower occupies the first 15 floors of the 25-story Mobimo Tower. In Zurich this building would normally seem pretty high, but the Renaissance Zurich Tower is located less than 200 meters from the 36-floor Prime Tower, Switzerland’s tallest at 126 meters (413 feet).
The Renaissance Zurich Tower is strategically located halfway between the airport and the center of Zurich. It is situated only five minutes’ walk from the busy Hardbrücke railway station, which is right behind the Prime Tower. Hardbrücke station is just a five-minute train ride from Zurich’s Main Station (and the famous shopping street Hauptbahnhofstrasse just outside), as well as a five-minute ride to the manufacturing suburb of Oerlikon and a 10-minute train trip to the Zurich Airport station.
Above the hotel’s top floor, the 15th, which contains its gym along with a sauna, small steam bath and small spa, there are 10 floors of privately owned luxury apartments. By arrangement with the hotel owner, residents of these – mainly corporate – apartments can use the Renaissance Zurich Tower Hotel’s concierge service and room service.
The hotel’s front-desk staff members were charming, informative and very helpful – where they could be.
As another member of my party observed, the front-desk staff obviously had been intensively educated in the art of negotiation. Whilst remaining completely inflexible on one or two minor bill-settlement matters requested by our party’s host, who was an employee of a large Swiss company which was paying our room bills, the staff members were absolutely charming in their refusals and almost made our host feel a nuisance for having asked. A lot of skill is needed to do that.
The hotel itself officially has 252 guestrooms (it might have more; the hotel group’s local sales director, with whom I met, said it had nearer 300 guestrooms). Of the guest accommodations, 48 are suites. There is one Presidential Suite and one other large, but slightly smaller, VIP suite.
There are 13 Executive Club Suites on the hotel’s 14th floor. The top floor above also contains the Executive Club Lounge, where Marriott Rewards elite-status members and occupants of Club-floor accommodations can take breakfast and relax in the evening with drinks and snacks.
Additionally, the Renaissance Zurich Tower has 33 Junior Suites. I stayed in one of these large corner rooms and found it bright, airy and very comfortable – though the room remained cold, no matter what adjustments I tried to make to the thermostat-controlled temperature.
Each Junior Suite has windows on two walls, a kitchen area near the room door for making coffee or tea (the fixings are on cabinets on the wall) and a comfortably sized work-desk with a conveniently positioned electrical socket. Each also has a flat-screen TV, though I would say the TV in my room was rather smaller than I would have expected were I staying in a hotel in the U.S.