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Things to do in travel retail before you die (1).
Visit the Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds). Trust me, you’ll be amazed and enchanted.
The attraction is set in Austria’s beautiful Tirol region in the town of Wattens, home also to the Swarovski production plant.
Outside, the landscape is picture postcard beautiful. Sweeping expanses of lush green fields and slopes roll out before the eye in dramatic panoramas; bare mountain tops freed by the seasonal warmth of their usual snow cover poke majestically above the tree line.
It’s nature at its most splendid. In contrast Kristallwelten is all about man at his most ingenious. The entrance is shaped like a giant’s face and torso. And inside the giant’s world, the visitor discovers ‘the art of crystal fiction’, what Swarovski describes as ‘a guided tour through the sensual kaleidoscope’.
It is all that and much, much more. What an amazing place, part theatre, part science museum, part art gallery, part technological extravaganza. It appeals equally to the adult, the child and the child within. CNN described it as “just as fascinating as one of the seven wonders of the world”.
Built in 1996 to celebrate the crystal company’s 100th anniversary, it is now Austria’s second most popular tourist attraction. Small wonder. But globally these underground ‘Chambers of Wonder’ are a comparative secret.
If you want to discover a collection of fantastic installations and outstanding works by great artists, this is your place. If you want to see the largest cut crystal on the planet – the 300,000 karat Centenar – this is your place. If you want to take a beguiling journey from a fantastic mechanical theatre to expressionist puzzles, listen to soprano virtuoso Jessye Norman sing the final aria from Dido and Aeneas, or watch crystal-devouring plants, this is your place.
I visited the giant’s lair in the excellent company of Daniel Swarovski Corp Vice President Travel Retail Peter Zottl (pictured below left), a one-company man who has dedicated many years of outstanding service to this channel. You can read all about it – and him – in the Cannes Digital Print Edition of The Moodie Report, out next month. The story, like the Crystal Worlds, is well worth the visit, we promise.