Nestled high above the picturesque town of Crans-Montana, at the base of the slopes with a commanding view of the majestic valley, the Six Senses hotel stands as a testament to architectural ingenuity and a harmonious connection with nature. The collaborative effort between Aw2 Agency and the late Jean-Pierre Emery Architects resulted in a transformative project that takes guests on a journey from the depths of the mountain to the treetops, guided by the play of light.
The Initial Project and Redefining the Narrative
Originally envisioned as a 90-room hotel by JP Emery Architects, the project took a new direction when Aw2 Agency joined forces. Working within the existing permits, Aw2 Agency, in collaboration with Jean-Pierre Emery’s team, redesigned the architecture to align with the narrative envisioned for Six Senses. The result was a reduction in the number of keys to 46, spread across two volumes connected by a solid stone plinth, providing guests with an array of public spaces, including an Alpine Garden, two swimming pools, a 2000 sqm spa, and more.
It is with a tinge of sadness that we note the passing of Jean-Pierre Emery before he could witness the completion of the project. His legacy lives on in the architectural marvel that has emerged.
The Journey to the Light
The concept of a journey is central to the Six Senses experience. Located directly on the ski slopes, guests embark on an upward journey from the mountain’s heart, progressing through valleys and forests to emerge above the treetops, basking in sunlight filtering through the pine needles onto the snow.
The Drop-Off Arrival
The arrival at Six Senses Crans-Montana sets the tone for the entire experience. The entry tunnel leads visitors into a vast drop-off space, adorned with stone and illuminated by linear lights. The ceiling, reminiscent of a contemporary grotto, guides guests toward the reception area, creating a powerful visual impact and a sense of arrival.
Designed as a haven “coming in from the cold,” the suites evoke the warmth and safety of a cabin in the woods. Lined with rough timber planks and stone-colored wall render, the rooms offer expansive windows and private balconies with panoramic views of the ski slopes, forest, and valley. Every detail is meticulously thought out, emphasizing a connection to the surrounding environment.
The Indoor Pool and Spa
The indoor pool, with its stone-lined walls and wooden ceiling, resembles a mountain cave, providing a timeless space where the changing seasons become part of the experience. The spa, occupying over 2000 square meters, incorporates treatment rooms envisioned as mountain cabins, immersing guests in nature with timber-lined walls contrasting the greenery outside.
The Alpine Garden and Podium
The expansive Alpine Garden, inserted at the heart of the building, serves as both a fully landscaped space and an external circulation route, complete with a suspended wooden walkway. This design choice allows guests to traverse the space while standing amidst the treetops. The podium, situated between two chalet structures, blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor space, offering various areas to lounge and connect with nature.
Above the west wing rooms, a viewing platform provides a breathtaking perspective of the valley and mountains, creating a “destination within the destination.” Designed for sunset contemplation, it reinforces the strong relationship between the building and the mountain.
Sustainability and Local Materials
Six Senses Crans-Montana embodies sustainability in its choice of materials. From quartzite, larch, and oak to slate roofs, the selections pay homage to traditional local dwellings. Internally, polished natural stone, antique bronze, and Valaisan-inspired finishes create a modern touch while maintaining the spirit of the Swiss chalet. Aw2 Agency ‘s commitment to sustainability extends beyond the environmental, embracing social sustainability by incorporating local culture, skills, and customs into the guest experience.
In summary, Six Senses Crans-Montana stands as a testament to architectural brilliance, seamlessly blending with its natural surroundings while offering guests a transformative journey from mountain depths to treetop heights.