The Future of Tourism in an Economic Downturn?

With everyone cutting back on luxury items and non-essentials and companies slashing workforces, benefits and perks, a couple of clever entrepreneurs have introduced a spare hotel for lean times. Enter The Null Stern Hotel (Zero Star Hotel) whose name reflects the amenity-free hotel built in an abandoned Cold War-era nuclear bunker in Sevelen, nestled in the Swiss Alps. It is the brain child of twins Patrik and Frank Riklin, who conceived of the project after a local music festival revealed the dearth of local facilities for overnight travelers. At the 54-bed Null Stern, the walls are bare, there are no televisions, windows or sunlight, and a spin of the wheel decides which guests get hot water. There are however two classes of service: a standard booking features original military bunks while guests who book a luxury reservation sleep on antique Biedermeier beds and receive a coffee in the morning, cookies in the afternoon, and hot water bottles. Their operating motto is “less is more.” Recently, the Riklin brothers told the German magazine Der Spiegel that they have received inquiries from interested travelers as far afield as Japan, China, and Turkey. But future bookers beware: the bunker is still part of the Swiss military and can be called upon within 24 hours to be restored to its original function.

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