Badrutt’s Palace Hotel

An adventurous collector

 

Although irreproachable Switzerland virtuously switches off the lights in the early evening, the inhabitants have managed to turn the hotel industry into a form of art for years. Switzerland preserves the character of many ancient villages and hotels, thus maintaining its unrivalled skiing atmosphere. During the first half of the 19th century the Alps had been discovered as a destination for summer tourism, but a stay during winter was rarely considered. Swiss hotelowners were looking for opportunities to persuade summer guests to return for a winter stay in the mountains. Pioneer in this respect was Johannes Badrutt, hotelowner from St. Moritz. He enticed a group of British summer guests with the story that the generous number of sunny days made life in the mountains during the winter season quite as pleasant as life in summer. And so it turned out that, during the winter of 1865, a number of British summer guests accepted Badrutt’s invitation to stay in St. Moritz free of charge. The opening of a number of legendary five-star hotels, among which Badrutt’s Palace Hotel and Suvretta House, turned St. Moritz into an international winter resort: the place to be for the happy few. Small wonder that the motto of the village to this day is: “the king of resorts, the resort of kings”. Badrutt’ Palace still often sends an old black Rolls Royce Phantom II, over seven metres long, to meet its guests. In the best of traditions this model made its international debut on the frozen lake of St. Moritz more than half a century ago. Outside the snowflakes softly fall, while inside this gently humming eight cylinder wood and leather radiate the comfort of a British country home. Quite a few celebrities, film stars and captains of industry have written their names in the guestbook here. Many outstanding icons of style, among whom Fiat’s ex-top executive Gianni Agnelli and the recently deceased playboy/writer Gunther Sachs, considered the Gothic-style lobby and dining room to be their second home during the Christmas holidays. In this glamorous cocoon of stylish luxury even the most spoiled of travellers will have little to complain about. In the morning, with frost covering the windows, the attentive ski room personnel have already finished waxing the skis. Later in the day they will take the guests to one of the lift stations, by Rolls if desired.

 

Text by Yvo van Regteren Altena
Photography by Mart Engelen