Sherlock Holmes needed his Watson. Pierre Curie needed his Marie. One of the most famous couples in the history of tourism is undoubtedly the Engadine St. Moritz holiday resort and the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. The historic Kulm Hotel dates from the time that Engadine St. Moritz became the world’s first winter holiday resort. The hotel has played a central part in the resort’s success story that has lasted 160 years so far; from the original pioneering spirit of the 19th century to the innovations of the present.
The first winter holidays
It all began in 1864 with a whimsical bet. Johannes Badrutt, the owner of the new Kulm Hotel St. Moritz, promised his British summer guests they would enjoy his sun terrace even in the winter. If they returned at that time and found he was wrong, he would not charge them for their stay. The Englishmen accepted the bet and stayed until spring – becoming well-tanned. They, as the first winter tourists of the Alps to experience the white winter holiday, expressed their inventiveness by introducing a host of new winter activities that included skiing, skating, and curling – all in the Kulm Park. The Bob Club was established, the Cresta Run built, and St. Moritz became the birthplace of winter sports.
First electric light in Switzerland
Johannes Badrutt reputation as a trendsetter also extended to his modern outlook. In 1878 the first electric arc lamp in Switzerland lit up the dining room of the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz, and Badrutt built a small power station. St. Moritz also has the visionary hotel pioneer to thank for quickly introducing further innovations such as the telephone, bathroom, elevator and heating with warm air.
First the bobsleigh, then the golf club
The year 1889 saw the next exciting events in the history of winter sports in St. Moritz. The first bobsleigh was built, made of two skeleton sleds tied-together, and the Alps hosted its first game of golf, with the first golf course opening two years later. Since 1904, the Olympic Bob Run St. Moritz-Celerina – the oldest and only remaining natural ice run in the world – has been in operation on the Kulm’s grounds.
St. Moritz – venue for Switzerland’s Olympic Winter Games
Not surprisingly, St. Moritz has been the only venue chosen for the Olympic Winter Games in Switzerland. Both in 1928 and 1948, the grand opening ceremony took place at the Kulm Park Stadium – used for ice skating competitions in figure and speed skating as well as hockey games. The Kulm Hotel St. Moritz is now renovating and expanding the historic Eispavillon, which is considered a monument to the grand sporting events of those Olympic years. World-class architect Lord Norman Foster is ensuring that the façade of the Eispavillon will shine in new splendour for the World Ski Championships 2017.
A submarine in Lake St. Moritz
In 2014 the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz celebrated 150 years of winter tourism. To mark the occasion, Destination Engadin St. Moritz commissioned Swiss artist Andreas Reinhard to add a remarkable attraction in the form of a submarine. This sophisticated installation, which is about 40 m long, 4 m wide, and over 9 m high, emerged from Lake St. Moritz during the White Turf event in February 2016. The submarine houses the new bar, where the finest sushi is served with champagne and sake. The hissing sounds of escaping air and the creaks of cracking ice from turbine generators complete the effect. And so the pioneering spirit of the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz still leads the way in the 21st century.
The Trojan horse
A team of eight craftsmen, sculptors and statisticians worked around the clock under the direction of young Engadine artist, Curdin Guler to create the Trojan horse. A total of 14,500 working hours went into the making of this spectacular new acquisition by the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz and White Turf. The finished sculpture, which appeared on February 5, 2016 on the frozen Lake St. Moritz, stands at 14 m high, is 20 m long and weighs 5.2 tons. Equivalent to four storeys high, this eye-catching statue of a horse, made of steel, larch and silver polyester, houses a lounge for up to 10 people. It is also available for private events.
The hotel keeps the secret of success until today
Whether 150 years ago or today, whether a new bobsleigh or a submarine in the lake, the key to success of the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz lies in harmoniously combining innovation and foresight with tradition and lifestyle. And it’s never just about the actual idea, but about the ability to realize it.