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Davos 2019

News, analysis, and gossip from the premier annual gathering of the global elite.

Garden Lounge Davos World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
There’s a swimming pool full of water underneath this scene.

Inside the hidden lounge for VIPs at the heart of Davos

Kevin J. Delaney
Member exclusive by Kevin J. Delaney in Davos

Davos is a place where it’s easy to have a fear of missing out. There’s always a more exclusive party than wherever you are, usually in a private chalet up the mountain. There’s always a more elite briefing than the one you’re in. And your competitors, whatever your field, surely are holding meetings with world leaders or other bigwigs more prestigious than the ones you set up.

This feeling extends to the Congress Centre, where the bulk of the official programming takes place during the World Economic Forum. Tucked away in the lower levels of the sprawling building, there’s a restricted-access lounge that serves as a hidden meeting spot for the forum’s top-tier attendees. Entrance is limited to those with the right color badges, the pecking order made visible by the security credentials everyone must wear around their necks to do anything of importance at the summit. You need at least the white participant badge—of which there are 3,000 this year—to be allowed in. It’s called the Garden Lounge.

To get to the lounge, you have to first go through the security check to get into the Congress Centre, with Swiss soldiers and police operating airport-like scanning checkpoints. Then, you walk through a winding corridor, past another badge check, and down a narrow stairway.