The first youth hostel with its own wellness area is making international headlines.

The time when youth hostels stood for spartan furnishings and facilities definitely seems to have gone. A typical example of the new has been realised recently in Saas-Fee, Switzerland: the currently first youth hostel with its own wellness area is making international headlines. Carefully selected ceramic tiles are architecturally convincing, which, on the one hand, take into account the alpine character of the environment and, on the other, ensure impressive aesthetics thanks to project-specific special solutions.

The new youth hostel named “wellnessHostel4000“ (an allusion to the altitude above sea level) in the Swiss glacier village of Saas-Fee makes reference to the typical barns of the Saas valley, with a timber construction standing on a stony foundation. In the case of the wellnessHostel4000, the building was interpreted in a contemporary manner and designed as a polygonally cut-up cube. The new wellness area “Aqua Allalin“ is located under it.

Youth hostel with own wellness area

The newly designed 1 900m² wellness area is located directly in the approximately 300-metre-deep river valley of the Fee Vispa (a tributary of the Saaser Vispa) and permits breathtaking views of the imposing mountains, from inside through generous glass panes.

Materials picking up regional elements

This integration into the imposing alpine environment needed to be reflected in materials conveying a natural impression, to be used in the wellness area. With regard to the tiles, for example, a solution had to be found which, on the one hand, corresponded with the look and feel of the archaic mountains but, on the other hand, was also robust and hardwearing. The one decided on was the porcelain stoneware tile Valley manufactured by Agrob Buchtal. A harmonious look is ensured not only by the earthy relief with fine, grainy structures and the chosen slate colour, but also by consistently used natural raw materials such as coloured porcelain clays and minerals. In addition, this collection offers a wide range of formats in two slip-resistance categories. In this way, the explicit wish to use the majestic large format of 75×75 cm with slip-resistance category R11/B could be realised.

Individual production for the guestroom showers

Daniel Hoefer, Project Manager of the WellnessHostel4000 at Steinmann & Schmid Architekten, Basel, is enthusiastic about the fact that almost all ranges of Agrob Buchtal tiles are available in a great variety of colours and formats. “Format changes, which I am experiencing again and again during the actual construction phase, can be accommodated much more easily in this way,“ he says. Furthermore, special solutions in the case of this project, such as the production of a floor tile in a specific colour, were also possible at Agrob Buchtal within a short time and without any problems. It was the colour ‘apple green’ which – corresponding to the fresh design concept of the guestrooms – was also intended for the walls and the floor in the showers. Agrob Buchtal was the sole tile manufacturer which had this colour in its programme, however only for wall application. Exclusively for this specific project, the company could demonstrate one of its core competencies by producing the corresponding tiles in the required slip-resistance category R11/B for the floor and thus permitting a homogeneous and aesthetic ensemble.

The combination of wellness and fitness areas on offer at the WellnessHostel4000 is available to all guests at Saas-Fee through an agreement with the local hotels and the owners of holiday flats. Residents benefit from reduced annual membership fees for the new extraordinary leisure centre, which is “at the highest level” both figuratively and literally speaking.