French-speaking Swiss town to open Cove in one year

Sion Switzerland’s wave pool leaked some artist renderings and completion projection dates recently. The Alaïa park project reported this week that despite the COVID-19 delays that much of the world is experiencing, the Swiss surf park is shaping up to be completed on time.

The wave pool is anticipating completion in the next year with a full-size 8’500m2 (a little over two acres) Wavegarden Cove nearly identical to facilities in Bristol and Melbourne.

“The structural work of the surf pool and the buildings that will welcome the surfers are completed,” Alaia said. “We can now clearly see the outline and scale of the project. Thanks to Wavegarden’s revolutionary technology, we’ll be able to offer surfers a wide range of different wave types, similar to Urbnsurf in Melbourne Australia.”

So the big question is will the Swiss facility pump out a Beast wave for their clients or a more gentle “Advanced” setting a la The Wave?

The natural beauty of Switzerland makes a surf trip worthwhile. Plus, you can ski in the same day if you time your trip right. Image by Unsplash

Urbnsurf went full-speed-ahead when they opened by cranking the dial up to 11 bruising the egos of many advanced surfers in the process. But during the same pre-COVID timeframe The Wave in Bristol did a “soft launch” offering a much more gentle wave menu.

Of Switzerland’s 45,000 active wave riders, many are ex-pats living in places with challenging surf, like France and Indonesia. The rest meet the qualification of being labeled as a “surfer” because they embark on a surf-focused vacation each year. Away from the ocean, rapid/river surfing has gained in popularity and many surfers divide their time between salted and freshwater sessions. The 822-member Swiss Surfing Association launched the first river surfing event 1999 and events continue to be popular. At the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games, last September in Japan the Swiss team finished 23rd out of 54 nations. The result placed them just behind The Netherlands, and ahead of Ecuador.

Not having an ocean means the Swiss team relies on standing waves and trips to Hossegor or Bali to stay sharp.

Switzerland’s history of outdoor activity will greatly shape the Alaia project. The country opened the world’s first outdoor fitness trail near Zurich in 1968 and the active-outdoor template was set. Today 76% of Swiss residents spend more than 2.5 hours engaged each week in some sporting activity.

The co-founder of Alaïa, Adam Bonvin, says the project will enhance year-round outdoor activity for the land-locked country. “This project is perfectly in line with the desire to diversify tourism activities with a four seasons offer. It will now be possible to ski/snowboard, skateboard and surf all on the same day.”

Swiss Info reported that people in German-speaking Switzerland are more active than their compatriots in the French- and Italian-language regions. The new wave pool is being built in a zone referred to as “Les Iles” (The Islands), in the French-speaking south.

Alaia will also have a skate park, yoga studio and the usual cafe and shop offerings. Look for a spring 2021 opening.