History

A history of innovation

For over 160 years, the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz has enjoyed an excellent reputation for Swiss hospitality. Thanks to its founder, the hotelier Johannes Badrutt, St. Moritz and the Kulm Hotel were already the best-known places in the Swiss Alps in the 19th century. A legendary bet led to events that made the Engadin the cradle of winter tourism.

Winter tourism – the result of a bet

In the autumn of 1864, the story goes, Johannes Badrutt sat by the fire in the Kulm Hotel in St. Moritz with four English holiday guests. He enthused about the St. Moritz winter idyll – a snow-blanketed landscape basking in sunshine with mild temperatures during the day. “A paradise on earth.” The Englishmen did not believe him since they knew the dark, cold English winters all too well. This conversation led to the legendary bet: Badrutt suggested that the four should return in December, and if they did not enjoy their stay, he would reimburse the travel expenses. The Englishmen returned – and stayed until Easter. Badrutt won his bet, and winter tourism was launched.

Birth of modern winter sports

The news of winter holidays in the snow spread like wildfire, and more and more English people came to spend holidays in St. Moritz. In the 1890s various enterprising winter guests were keen to develop new sports using ice tracks – and so skibobbing, skeleton bobsled, and cresta emerged. Soon, competitions for all these sports were held in the vast Kulm Park. The Winter Olympic Games of 1928 and 1948 were opened here. True to tradition, the Kulm Hotel is today still home to the historic St. Moritz Tobogganing Club and Cresta Club, and the hotel hosts the Olympia Bob Run St. Moritz-Celerina every year. True to form, the newly renovated Kulm Country Club will be the setting both for the opening ceremony and the medal ceremonies at this year’s 5th Alpine World Ski Championships.

First electric light in Switzerland

A man keen on innovation, hotel founder Johannes Badrutt liked to surprise his guests. In 1878, Switzerland’s first electric light illuminated the Grand Restaurant in the Kulm Hotel. Having seen the lighting at the world exhibition in Paris, Badrutt returned with ample impressions and built a small power plant at a cost of around 11,000 Swiss francs – a considerable sum at that time. The success of Badrutt’s bold endeavour led him to start various cultural entertainments in St. Moritz. Consequently, noblemen and personalities from the world of business, politics and culture came from all over Europe not only for the sporting activities but also to enjoy masquerade balls and the intriguing entertainment Laterna Magica.

Badrutt’s pioneering spirit lives on

From the end of the 19th century until recently, Badrutt’s descendants have restored and expanded the Kulm Hotel. Today, this historic St. Moritz establishment is owned by a finance company, which continues to foster the heritage under the aegis of the Niarchos family. The family, with the help of directors Jenny and Heinz Hunkeler, are leading the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz into the future with the care and commitment that the hotel’s founder Johannes Badrutt would expect.

 

Download the complete history of the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz here

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1855 Pension Faller
First hotel in St. Moritz
In the year 1855 Johannes Badrutt and his wife rented Pension Faller - today's Kulm Hotel St. Moritz - with 12 rooms at CHF 200 per year. Later, in the year 1858 they bought the Pension for CHF 28,500. It is the first hotel in St. Moritz and the later birthplace of winter tourism. One year later, the hotel was extended by two floors. Battlements and towers gave the house a palace-like appearance. The hotel will be continuously expanded over the next few years. 
1864 Bet
The legendary bet

According to legend, Badrutt invited his regular British summer guests to experience the winter in St. Moritz. He suggested that should they do not like it, he would reimburse them their travel costs. The guests came for Christmas and stayed until Easter. On departure, everyone was tanned, healthy, and happy. Today's winter tourism was born.

1879 First electric light in Switzerland
Electric light in the Grand Restaurant
The first electric light illuminated the Dining Room of the Kulm Hotel. In 1878, Badrutt and his son visited the world exhibition in Paris, where the first arc lamps were presented. Immediately after his return, he built a hydroelectric power plant to light the house for Christmas 1879.
1883 Curling Club
St. Moritz Curling Club
The St. Moritz Curling Club was founded on the premises of the Kulm Hotel.
1884/85 Cresta Run & Sunny Bar
Sunny Bar – The oldest sports bar in the Alps
Construction of the legendary Cresta Run on the premises of the Kulm Hotel – a natural ice channel for skeleton. The oldest sports bar in the Alps, the Sunny Bar, opened its doors and is still home to the Cresta riders today.
1886/87 West Wing & Hotel Lobby
Introduction Hotel Lobby
The west wing was built in collaboration with architect Nicolas Hartmann, and the concept of a hotel lobby was introduced, which cannot be omitted in any hotel. Toilets, hydraulic elevators, as well as heating and electric ventilation, were also installed.
1887 St. Moritz Tobogganing Club
Establishment of the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club
The St. Moritz Tobogganing Club, which was associated with the Cresta Run, was founded.
1889 First public telephone network
The hot wire
Johannes Badrutt's last pioneering act: The first public telephone network with 24 local connections in Switzerland was installed in the Kulm Hotel. After the death of the hotel pioneer, his son Peter Robert Badrutt founded Badrutt & Cie, which was renamed to AG Grand Hotels Engadiner Kulm in 1905.
1896 - 1904 Bob Run & Kulm Golf
The highest golf course in the Alps

In the year 1896, the hotel’s 9-hole Kulm Executive Golf Course was built - the highest golf course in the Alps.  In the winter of 1903/04 the construction of the Olympic Bob Run begins, opening its doors in January 1904. The Olympic Bob Run is a natural ice channel and venue of World Cups and Olympic Games until today. 

1912 Neukulm
Opening of the East Wing
The east wing, known as Neukulm, was opened.
1928 Winter Olympics
Olympic Games in the Kulm Park
The first Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz. The opening ceremonies, as well as figure skating and ice hockey competitions, took place in the Kulm Park.
1935 - 1956 Reopening of Neukulm
Reopening of Neukulm
Anton Robert Badrutt took over the management of the Kulm Hotel and re-opened the Neukulm during the Second World War.
1948 Winter Olympics
Olympic Games in the Kulm Park
The second Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz. The opening ceremonies and various sports events took place in the Kulm Park.
1956 Change of ownership
New hotel management

Albert Ernst-von-Pfyffer purchased the Kulm Hotel, and Fred Herrling took over the management of the hotel until 1972. In 1968, another change of ownership took place: Stavros Niarchos bought the Kulm Hotel when Club Mediterannée signalled purchase interest.

1972 - 2002 Heinz Hunkeler took over
Expansion of the Kulm Hotel

Heinz Hunkeler took over the management of the Kulm Hotel. He initiated the construction the Chesa Al Parc in 1986 with the sports field, consisting of 3 tennis courts and the ice rink in winter, as well as Residence I in 1988, consisting of 14 luxury apartments, conference rooms, and the parking garage.

1993 Renovation entrance lobby
The entrance receives a face lift

Renovation of the hotel entrance and lobby. Decoration in "Trompe l'oleil" style by Renzo Mongiardino. At the same time a new ski room and sport boutique are build.

1997 Expansion of the Kulm Spa
New sparkle for the Kulm Spa
Expansion of the Kulm Spa to 1'400 m2 with saunas, steam bath, brine grotto, whirlpool, fitness room, and treatment rooms, including renovation of the swimming pool.
2000 Redesign of Kulm Golf
New lustre for Kulm Golf
Redesign for the hotel's Kulm Executive Golf Course, 9-hole.
2002 - 2013 Godat took over
Renovations and extensions
In 2003, the construction of Residence II, with 21 luxury apartments begins and the Sunny Bar is redesigned and renovated. Furthermore, 26 rooms were remodelled in local Engadine style by 2005, and in 2009 the Kulm’s main kitchen was completely renovated. Furthermore, new windows and elevators were installed throughout the hotel. In 2012, the Kulm Spa was redesigned, renovated, and extended to 2'000 m2.
2013 - today New Era
The Hunkelers take over
Heinz E. Hunkeler, son of Heinz Hunkeler, and his wife Jenny took over the management of the Kulm Hotel. To this day, they initiated the new concept, turning the restaurant "Rotisserie des Chevaliers” into the gourmet restaurant the K, and in 2015 the renovation of the Neukulm wing with 26 rooms and suites in cooperation with star architect Pierre-Yves Rochon. They supported local horse sports events and art with the Pop-Up Kulm U-Boot Bar in 2014 and the "Trojan Horse" artwork 2016, 2017 and 2018.