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This weekend, LuxuryActivist went to the recently opened Aquatis. After a big buzz around the opening, we wanted to see for ourselves and I must say that it was more than disappointing, it was even shocking. It was old style, super expensive, all the cultural aspect is not well executed, and several ecological values were not respected. Truly a very disappointing experience with a real environmental responsibility.

Project Recap, the key numbers

Aquatis was a titanic project to get out of the waters. Seventeen years to build the organisation, the structure and to built the place. The entire platform is sit on a 12’000m2 area with a hotel, restaurants, the aquariums and vivariums. The hotel has 143 rooms, three stars quality. The parking has 1’200 places. The visit circuit covers 3’500m2 for a tremendous 2 million liters of fresh water. You will be able to see 10’000 fishes, 100 reptiles and amphibians. The visit is supposed to cover 20 different ecosystems around its 46 aquariums/vivariums/terrariums.


Prices are just ridiculous.

First things first. In order to enter the place, you need to buy a ticket. For one adult you will pay CHF 29.00. A child between 5 and 15 years old will pay CHF 19.00. If you are a family, according to Aquatis it means you are 2 adults and 1 child. You will pay CHF 69.00. Each extra child will pay CHF 15.00. So if you are a family with 2 children, you will pay CHF 84.00 for the entry tickets. If you are a student or retired, you will pay CHF 27.00 which is, again ridiculously expensive. The company managing Aquatis, BOAS, tried to explain that in Lausanne, they need to pay 14% of cultural taxes. Well, this means CHF 4.06 for the public administration and CHF 24.94 for BOAS. So seriously this argument does not really work. I will not mention, of course the prices of everything you can buy at the store (through which you need to go in order to get to the exit). When you see the ceramic coffee mug for CHF 12.50 or even the made-in-China rubber snake for more than CHF 5.00… it is obviously a robbery.

It is not a natural museum, it is simply a zoo

After smashing your credit card at the entrance, you get into the place. You follow a circuit in which you can have great looks from the big aquarium, small aquariums, and many cultural stands. The place is big enough to welcome a lot of people (which is great). Quickly you realize that it is not a museum, or even a place for animal preservation. It is a zoo and a place in which they use animals to get you entertained during a rainy Sunday afternoon. The aquariums are not really great. A part from a few of them, most of those aquariums are not meant to translate the natural environments, they were meant to help you watch the animals. During the parcour there are several installations to teach you something intelligent and important about the Oceans, the Earth, etc. Unfortunately they are very badly executed. You cannot hear well what is said because of the surrounding noise. Sometimes even one installation pollutes the other as you can hear the two at the same time. Being so painful to hear, you just stop listening to it and just focus on the animals in the different aquariums. It is a pity as such places should help people to get sensitive to the future challenges.

From an aquarium perspective, most of them were quite “empty” from a natural decoration point of view. Not sure that Crocodile lives in a very clean sandy place with transparent waters. In this sense, we could see that it was an entertainment and a real zoo. Children would not understand in which kind of environment a crocodile lives.  In other aquariums we could see injured fishes and even dead ones. We understand animals live together and probably these things happen but I never saw this in other aquariums (Paris or Monaco).

The Restaurant is awful in all senses

After a good 1h30 of visit, then we went to the Restaurant, called the Piranha. We would not expect such thing in a place supposed to inspire people with beautiful values. First thing, the menu: Most of it it was all fast food. Hamburgers and french fries, pizzas, fried fish…. We would have expected to see a more natural and healthy menu. It was shocking to see this kind of food in such place. When you look to the prices, you will pay a average hamburger and fries for the price of a good restaurant. You will pay CHF 3.80 for a sparkling Apple juice. Same bottle in the supermarket is CHF 1.50, which is not the price Aquatis pays for it. Imagine the margins. Another shocking thing was that there was no water fountain. You needed to buy the water in plastic bottles. Here again you can wonder what is the ethical value they are trying to achieve? And the best part? No recycling. No PET bottles garbage, once you clean your plateau, you throw everything in the same garbage. That, for Switzerland, is really shocking. I was ashamed to show that bad example to our children.
Talking about children, we suppose that such place will attract many children and their families. Not only we needed to fight to get a place to eat but there were not enough children chairs in the restaurant.

There is also another restaurant, attached to the new Aquatis Hotel that was built. Food is better but again, prices are prohibitive. If you go and have lunch, you will pay around CHF 70.00 per person for a complete meal. Let’s not forget it is only a three stars hotel.
In terms of transportation to Aquatis, it is not bad. There is a subway station that drops you literally inside. There is also a huge parking place that will cost you only CHF 4.00 for several hours.

In conclusion…

What can we say after such an experience? The project was born 17 years ago. The founding values and aim were very honorable and the people behind such project had a higher ambition for Aquatis. The execution is really bad. When we see the quality and the great job that smaller organisations like La Maison de la Riviere is doing or even the Papiliorama, I would not recommend Aquatis for sure.

José Amorim

Info sourced at Aquatis live experience by crew. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are for illustration purposes only.