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The Original Reto Gurtner

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The Original Reto Gurtner

Powerful Thinking At Rocksresort

The High-Minded Mountain

Reto Gurtner, the owner and visionary behind the rocksresort, is part of a community of forward thinkers leading a much-envied charge into the future.

At rocksresort, in Laax, a ski and freestyle Design Hotels™ member tucked away in Graubünden, Switzerland, Reto Gurtner presides over a vast network of 235km of ski and freestyle pistes as well as the resort itself—whose blocky stone buildings are heated with entirely renewable biomass energy. “You can simplify sustainability with good design,” asserts Gurtner, who’s even managed to heat his new Porsche Design chairlifts with solar panels.

Why would Reto do all of these things? A better question is: Why wouldn’t he?

Ross Harding

Why would Reto do all of these things? A better question is: Why wouldn’t he?

Ross Harding

Put another way, Laax is quite possibly the most sustainable ski resort in the world. The entire mountain is powered by hydroelectricity. For example, in addition to its use of biomass heating, the rocksresort touches the mountain as lightly as possible, with solar-paneled lift stations built from local wood and designed to be completely disassembled. The resort also uses hydropower for its snowmaking, while new plans call for the installation of three large electricity-producing wind turbines on top of the mountain.

This notion of forward-thinking good design was certainly embraced by Martin Maron. A humble visionary, Maron conceptualized small hydroelectric power plants near rocksresort that supply some 3,500 Swiss households with completely renewable power and drinking water. The plants, which are striking enough to be considered design objects, are behind creating the energy needed for the mountain’s snowmaking. But perhaps most interesting is that they were erected over the past two years. Entire power plants built in just two years? “If you decide to really pull a project all the way through, it can go very fast,” says Maron, shrugging, as if it were nothing at all.

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THE MAN AT THE TOP

Reto Gurtner’s Secret to Good, Clean Fun

Finding Infinity Reto Gurtner video
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  • Way back in the early days of ecological movements—the 1970s to be exact—a young Reto Gurtner had his eyes opened while at university to such themes as energy consumption, environmental impact, and sustainable initiatives. When you are a citizen of the world today, these things matter. When you own a mountain and make decisions that have, well, a mountain-sized impact on the region, as Gurtner does, such ideas can’t be emphasized enough. After all, we all know about those corporate-backed resorts that answer to only one thing—the bottom line. Now meet Reto Gurtner, who, to the benefit of all of us, answers to a higher calling.

  • Here, the mountain is completely self-sufficient. Visitors can enjoy it with a good conscious, knowing they use more energy at home than they do at Laax.

    Reto Gurtner, owner, rocksresort

WORLD-CLASS CHEESE

A Tale of the Sublime

Martin Bienerth, Finding Infinity video
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  • Good cheese begins in the field. So says celebrated cheesemaker Martin Bienerth from his store in Andeer, Switzerland, close to the rocksresort. “You need good grass with herbs and flowers for the cows,” he explains. But for Bienerth, before there was cheese, there was a dream.

     

    When he first arrived in Andeer, Bienerth asked local farmers to stop cutting off the cows’ horns. The locals laughed until they saw Bienerth at work and came to understand his philosophy of keeping things local and maintaining the natural order in life.

     

    Today, Bienerth and his wife make cheese from 100 local cows, and together they have influenced their supply chain by rewarding farmers who take care of the cows properly. Indeed, the process is so hyper-local that Bienerth doesn’t require energy for transport or refrigeration. It’s all about freshness—holding up a piece of cheese that’s winning awards the world over, he explains that “two days ago it was grass, one day ago it was milk, and today it is cheese.”

     

    This love for simplicity is not only environmentally friendly, it’s helping the local economy. And to that Bienerth simply says, “Cheesemaking is about love. If you are angry, you cannot make good cheese.”

  • Here, the farmers know their cows. The cows have names. This is very important if you want good cheese.

    Martin Bienerth, Cheesemaker

IN-SEASON SEASONING

The Taste of Regional Cuisine

  • Rocksresort’s “green” mindset is one embedded in many of the area’s locals. For example, in a renovated school-turned-restaurant, Andreas Caminada, a thrice-starred Michelin slow-food chef, is adhering to a simple principle when it comes to sustainability: Source all food locally and focus on seasonal dishes.

     

    Why, one may wonder, is this regional approach good for the environment? Because, as Caminada knows, most people have become disconnected from local and seasonal resources, with chefs simply creating a menu based on importing goods from all over the world or purchasing them from mass supermarkets.

     

    Keeping things as local and seasonal as possible, as Caminada does at his restaurant, Schloss Schauenstein, in the town of Fürstenau, not only prevents unnecessary waste and pollution, it makes for meals that taste better and are more authentic.

  • Eating shall be a journey involving all senses, leaving a lingering impression.

    Andreas Caminada, Michelin Star Chef

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