Friday, March 4, 2016

The Maya Boutique Hotel - Going Green in Style

Positioned in the snow covered mountains of Switzerland, overlooking a gorgeous valley, and next to a world class skii resort - how much better could it get?  The Maya Boutique Hotel in Nax, Switzerland out did themselves!  Not only are they located in one of the most beautiful spots in the world but they are protecting the environment by doing what they refer to as "what simply makes sense".  Made out of straw bales and using as little energy as possible, they created a hotel that is unique in all aspects and cannot be found anywhere else.

Their sheer humbleness is what astonished me the most.  They have won many awards in sustainability as well as innovation in major conferences from London to Paris.  Not just that, they are only 3 years old!  The family ran hotel is nothing short of spectacular due to the owners passion for hospitality and "doing the right thing".

It is amazing to find out that the hotel is made completely of straw bales compacted together to make nearly unbreakable and insulating walls.  They are about 3 feet thick and are used everywhere within the hotel from the dining room to the guest bedrooms.  The outer part is covered in plaster, and some places wood.  The wood is mainly there to keep with the traditional swiss chalet theme.  Then the inside is covered with natural clay.  This was a very intelligent choice by the owner as the clay allows the rooms to go without ventilation as the clay absorbs excess moisture and heat.  This is the first hotel ever to be built completely out of straw bales!

In the technical aspects, they have quite a bit of environmentally-friendly energy saving equipment.  To heat hot water they use solar tubes which are extremely efficient, especially in Valais due to the sheer amount of sunshine.  Not just that, they have a clay oven that not only cooks dinner but also heats the whole lodging because it captures excess cooking heat through copper tubing that winds through the entire closed circuit system.  By relying on these two sources of heat along with the straw bale insulation, this hotel barely needs to spend to heat the hotel during the cold swiss winter.  The straw bales work wonders to keep the heat trapped in the hotel during the winter and keep the heat out during the summer.  On top of the interesting heating systems they use, they even have their own personal energy management system.  It is a top of the line personally designed management system that can change the heating elements due to their uses or preferences with the touch of a finger.  It is truly something you need to see in person to understand.

In regards to the design, they decided to keep it eco-swiss.  They try to use as many sustainable materials as possible all the while keeping with the traditional swiss theme to preserve the local culture.  Their worst nightmare would to become a modern looking eyesore on the top of a mountain clashing with the traditional swiss architecture.  To be even more culturally correct, the dividers used to separate each room are made out of clippings from the grape vines that grow all around the valley.  It looks just as amazing as it is sustainable.  Each room has its own look and feel which makes all 8 of their rooms truly unique.

 Finally, in my personal opinion the coolest part of their hotel is their mini sauna chalet.  It is a cute little circular cabin that they made into a sauna - with a view.  On the other side of the sauna they have a window that looks directly over the valley all the way to the other sets of mountains.

Overall this was a great trip!  I really appreciate the Maya Boutique Hotel letting us take this field trip!  I can't wait until I get to stay here as a guest!

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