A History of Innovation
For over 165 years, Kulm Hotel St. Moritz has enjoyed an excellent reputation for Swiss hospitality.
Thanks to its founder, the hotelier Johannes Badrutt, St. Moritz and 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 Legendary Bet
In the autumn of 1864, the story goes, Johannes Badrutt sat by the fire in 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, 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, Kulm Country Club was the setting both for the opening ceremony and the medal ceremonies at the 5th Alpine World Ski Championships in 2017.
Switzerland's First Electric Light
A man keen on innovation, hotel founder Johannes Badrutt liked to surprise his guests. In 1879, Switzerland’s first electric light illuminated the Grand Restaurant at 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 Kulm Hotel St. Moritz into the future with the care and commitment that the hotel’s founder Johannes Badrutt would expect.
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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.
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.
Electric light in the Grand Restaurant
The first electric light illuminated the Dining Room of Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. 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.
St. Moritz Curling Club
The St. Moritz Curling Club was founded on the premises of Kulm Hotel St. Moritz.
Sunny Bar – The oldest sports bar in the Alps
Construction of the legendary Cresta Run on the premises of Kulm Hotel St. Moritz – 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.
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.
Establishment of the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club
The St. Moritz Tobogganing Club, which was associated with the Cresta Run, was founded.
The hot wire
Johannes Badrutt's last pioneering act: The first public telephone network with 24 local connections in Switzerland was installed in Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. 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.
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.
Opening of the East Wing
The east wing, known as Neukulm, was opened.
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.
During the Second World war
Anton Robert Badrutt took over the management of Kulm Hotel St. Moritz and re-opened the Neukulm during the Second World War.
Olympic Games in the Kulm Park
New hotel management
Albert Ernst-von-Pfyffer purchased Kulm Hotel St. Moritz, and Fred Herrling took over the management of the hotel until 1972. In 1968, another change of ownership took place: Stavros Niarchos bought Kulm Hotel St. Moritz when Club Mediterannée signalled purchase interest.
Expansion of the Kulm Hotel
Heinz Hunkeler took over the management of Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. 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.
The entrance receives a face lift
Renovation of the hotel entrance and lobby. Decoration in "Trompe l'oeil" style by Renzo Mongiardino. At the same time a new ski room and sport boutique are built.
New sparkle for Kulm Spa
Expansion of Kulm Spa to 1'400 m2 with saunas, steam bath, brine grotto, whirlpool, fitness room, and treatment rooms, including renovation of the swimming pool.
New lustre for Kulm Golf
Redesign for the hotel's Kulm Executive Golf Course, 9-hole.
Renovations and extensions
The Hunkelers take over
Heinz E. Hunkeler, son of Heinz Hunkeler and his wife Jenny Hunkeler took over the management of Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. Soon thereafter they establish a new food concept, turning the restaurant „Rotisserie des Chevaliers” into the gourmet restaurant the K.
Renovation of the Neukulm building
In summer 2015, the hotel takes on the full refurbishment of the Neukulm building with 26 rooms and suites in cooperation with star architect Pierre-Yves Rochon, finished in December. The end-result is newly-created rooms providing a synergy of grand hotel style with modern Alpine living, incorporating a light blue palette, Swiss stone pine wood ceilings and floor to ceiling lacquered walls.