Leisure is a luxury
Hustle and bustle, noise, overstimulation – our everyday life is defined by our senses being permanently stretched. A hot shower in the evening sometimes fails to do the job when it comes to stepping back a bit, giving space to one’s own needs, and giving oneself a break. Resorts cater to this longing for recuperation and relaxation in lots of ways, and The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland takes he spa experience to a new level. Located in a lava field near Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, even the setting is special. The moss-covered black stone of the Svartsengi lava field, the lagoon with its turquoise water, and weather phenomena such as the fantastic glow of the Polar lights make for a natural spectacle one just cannot get enough of. Geothermally heated, the sea water rises in feather-light steam vapors and even in the depths of winter enables guests to bathe in the midst of a snowy landscape.
Raw nature, gentle transitions
Basalt Architects designed the complex with a view to uniting buildings and nature and carved the Retreat into the 800-year old lava stone. Nature’s colors are reflected in the interiors of the 62 rooms, for which Basalt Architects cooperated with the Design Group Italia: Matte concrete, glass, rusty steel and Jatoba wood finishes make for smooth transitions. As Sigudur Thorsteinsson, Chief Creative Officer of Design Group Italia says, “the colors and materials do not compete with nature, it is the landscape that is the ‘wow’ factor. So as to integrate the surroundings in the architecture, the Terrazzo floors are a mixture of local sand and stone. The architects also used the cold lava as building material, for example for washbasins and tables. “Experimenting with the lava stone was a challenge, as it doesn’t behave as it is meant to. One never knows what’s going to happen,” Thorsteinsson adds. So as to achieve the perfect look, the interior of the hotel was also predominantly custom-made. To this end Basalt Architects and Design Group Italia worked closely with the Italian furniture producer B&B Italia. The specially adapted designs are combined with Icelandic design classics by, for example, Sveinn Kjarval and Gunnar H. Guðmundsson.
The lighting in the Resort rounds out the overall experience: The lighting design studio LISKA deliberately avoided direct light. Instead this is indirect, following the architectural lines, and by means of a gentle glow provides orientation and creates a pleasant atmosphere. Each suite in the Resort is fitted with an HCL luminaire, which depending on the time of day supplies guests with a perfect amount of light. Individual luminaires are highlights: For the “Moss” restaurant, for example, Design Group Italia designed a large chandelier, whose 106 OLED panels can be controlled individually. With its stalactite-shaped, deep black structure it resembles the volcanic rock guests can see through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Targeted lighting means the local dishes, from langoustine soup to saddle of lamb can be presented perfectly. So as to highlight the naturally iridescent color of the rocks, LISKA fitted “Linea Luce” luminaires by iGuzzini at the foot of the wine cellar.
The spacious spa area is located in a separate area of the resort: Silica, algae and mineral salt, and natural ingredients of the geothermal sea water are ideal for gentle spa treatments across a good 4,000 square meters. The “in-water” massage, when guests are massaged lying on a mat in the middle of the water, is a special tip. They can then shower under a gentle jet of water from customized shower heads by Axor. The Blue Lagoon’s founder, Grímur Sæmundsen, opened the Resort in 2018 with the aim of it emerging as a center for health and wellbeing. The focus is on a homely, calming, and informal atmosphere. As regards design, Sigurður Thorsteinsson, Chief Creative Officer of Design Group Italia, sees the key to it primarily in high-quality materials and extreme care when ti comes to their finishing. Guests should feel as if they are in a cocoon, protected from disruptive factors from the outside world. This is why there are no televisions in the Resort. Instead, guests can marvel at the stunning natural surroundings through panoramic windows. Indolence and calm are means to relax. “The real luxury of the Blue Lagoon it its location surrounded by Iceland’s unique nature,” Sigurdur Thorsteinsson says.