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The Living Circle – an exceptional Swiss hospitality brand

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Take two luxury hotels, add two unique restaurants and mix in two modern farms, combine the six establishments into one and, voilà, a new Swiss hospitality brand is born: “The Living Circle.” Different though the six may be, together they share the same purpose: to create an experience that sophisticated visitors won’t soon forget…

The Living Circle - the hospitality brand

The Living Circle – the hospitality brand

Gratian Anda, the owner, and a man of the world who wears beautifully-cut suits, is also a man of action, who likes nothing better than making projects work, especially ones belonging to his own family.

As the grandson of Emil Georg Bührle, founder of the Bührle Group, and himself an energetic entrepreneur and hotelier, Anda has the right DNA. His mother, art and music lover Hortense Anda-Bührle, contributed her share to sensibilizing her offspring to the finer things in life.

When the opportunity recently presented itself of uniting under one organizational umbrella the properties divided among different branches of the family,  Anda grabbed it. The concept guiding the owning Anda and Franz Bührle families in this project was that by combining their operations they could offer their hotel guests a special hotel and restaurant experience.

And this was the kicker: natural ingredients that come to table direct from their sources: the family’s agricultural operations,  Schlattgut in Herrliberg and Terreni alla Maggia in Ascona, their in-house purveyors of fare as fresh as it gets.

And so “The Living Circle” hospitality brand came to be

The Living Circle came to life in April 2017, composed of the following businesses, all wholly-owned by the Anda and Franz Bührle families for decades:  in Zürich, Hotel Storchen with Restaurant Buech and the Schlattgut farm in Herrliberg; in Ticino Canton, the Hotel Castello del Sole with its Rustico del Sole and the Terreni alla Maggia estate in Ascona.

Hotel Storchen Zurich

Hotel Storchen illuminated by lighting artist Gerry Hofstetter

Hotel Storchen illuminated by lighting artist Gerry Hofstetter

Zurich’s Storchen was recently renovated in what may well be a record-breaking time of just over six weeks that turned it into a 5-star luxury hotel.

The hotel may have enjoyed its spectacular location on the Limmat River facing City Hall previously, but now the inner spaces also glow in mellow hues and with many allusions to the eponymous storks.

At the grand opening, Guild Master Dr. Peter Neuenschwander remarked that members of the Mariner’s Guild would continue to feel at home in the old-new guild hall. Although he did not let on just what he meant by that…

Hotel Storchen and the Great Minster of Zurich

Hotel Storchen and the Great Minster of Zurich

Restaurant Buech

Restaurant Buech

Works of art and culinary culture in Restaurant Buech

Also  located spectacularly– to be exact, in a Herrliberg vineyard with views of Lake Zurich — is the Buech, that gem of a restaurant.

The restaurant commands a terrace beautifully ingrown with greenery and inside spaces that say “romantic.”

 

Schlattgut Farm

Directly behind the Buech, you will find the Schlattgut farmstead, operated by the Ledergerber family.

With the federally certified master farmer Peter Ledergerber running the agricultural operation, his wife Dora, herself a certificated farmer, looks after the farm store and the household.

With the parents nearing retirement, two sons are working their way into the farm operation to prepare for taking it over in a few years. Andrin, also a federally certified farmer, already today oversees the dairy operation; Domenik, with a Bachelor’s of Science in agronomy, runs the Stübli (“cozy living room”) eatery. The siblings get along so well that they have made it their stated goal to manage the farm jointly in brotherly fashion.

 

During a guided tour of the farm, I did not miss the chance to savor a glass of fresh milk. It came practically straight from the cow. And, surprise surprise, at least for this urban dweller — milk doesn’t come in cartons! And it tastes beastly good? And just a touch creamy?

Walter in the Schlattgut

Walter with his glass of fresh milk
Foto © Philippe Wiget, with thanks!

Fascinating!

For part two of The Living Circle experience, it just takes a very short train ride to Ascona in Ticino, Switzerland’s sun porch, and the Maggia Delta.

Hotel Castello del Sole

Main building and park of the Castello del Sole

Main building and park of the Castello del Sole

The Castello has been known for years as a luxury hotel on Lake Maggiore. Starting this season, a young wild one took up the kitchen apron and now wields the cooking spoons enough to make your palate reel!

Chef Mattias Roock hit the road personally to find the best suppliers in Ticino for his French-Asian inspired cuisine. For goatlings, he dared to venture into the remotest Verzasca Valley; the twenty-year old vinegar he dusted off from an ancient Ticino attic; the best local quail he managed to get only after protracted negotiations that called on all of his Northern German Hanseatic charm!

But, for most ingredients, Roock does not have to go far: either he harvests them right in the in-house subtropical garden or even in the hotel park. Or, with just a few more steps, he supplies himself from the adjoining estate, the Terreni alla Maggia. There he gets not only the local wine or rice for his polenta, but asparagus as well, and even the rice for that obligatory Ticino treat, asparagus risotto!

Adding fish from Lake Maggiore, Roock sources so many ingredients locally that he devotes a separate menu to them. You can order this pleasure under the auspicious name of “sapori del nostro orto” (“flavors from our garden”). Highly recommended! For all the details on this palate pleaser, see our article on the Locanda Barbarossa restaurant.

 

Terreni alla Maggia

Under the Ticino sun, in the sandy soil of the Maggia Delta, grow all sorts of wondrous ingredients. Along with the Merlot, ubiquitous hereabouts, there grows the aforesaid exclusive gourmet risotto, “riso nostrano ticinese da risotto loto” (risotto rice ‘loto’), making this the most northerly cultivation area for it in the world!

Local "loto" risotto rice from Terreni della Maggia

Local “loto” risotto rice from Terreni della Maggia

Anyone who finds himself or herself in Ascona, stay in the Castello and make sure to stop in the Terreni alla Maggia food and wine shop, the Enoteca Alimentaria.

 

Rustico del Sole

Last, but far from least, The Living Circle offers a lofty exclusive: as arranged for guests by Castello del Sole hotel manager Simon Jenny, a rustic lunch at Rustico del Sole high above Lake Maggiore, very much in keeping with the “Best of Castello” motto. And because  the lunch venue is located in difficult terrain in the forest above Brione, Jenny will charter a helicopter to whisk you up there as part of this unique experience!

Tables at Rustico del Sole

Lunch with a view

It was too much (almost) for Katja’s nerves, as she bravely recounts in this retrospective.

 

Many thanks for The Living Circle initiative!

Well, what can we say but that we are smitten!

Many thanks, Gratian Anda, for the invitation, and thanks to the local hosts for the tours of their establishments. We had some delightful conversations and were entertained in world-class fashion!

Thanks also to Carla Loustalot with Castello Marketing and Caroline Wyss with Schlattgut Marketing for all the information and support they provided us.

Hearty thanks also to Julia Faulhaber of Faulhaber Marketing for organizing the travel blogger events in Zurich and Ticino.

You can find out all about The Living Circle concept here at www.thelivingcircle.ch

Ah! Not to forget: Until October 20, 2017, the Zurich “steel worker” James Licini  will exhibit his steel sculptures in the expanses of Castello del Sole’s hotel park. Early risers can expect to be treated to stirring sights like this:

Steel stela by James Licini at sunrise

Steel stela by James Licini at sunrise

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About Author

Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create the travel blog travelmemo.com. In his day job Walter is an online marketing manager based out of Zurich, Switzerland.

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