So the story goes, that towards the end of Summer 1864 Johannes Badrutt, the then owner of the Kulm Hotel, St Moritz, made a bet with an Englishman. Johaness claimed that if he visited again in December, he would have just as much fun in the winter months as he did in the summer, and that he would leave both refreshed and tanned!
150 years of skiing in Switzerland © Christoph Niemann
We all know how much fun we can have in the winter months on snow, but 150 years ago tourists only went to the mountains for summer, relaxing in the hotels and their wonderful healing spas and painting the surrounding mountains and views. The British guests did return in December, stayed the winter and at the end of the season 1864-65, they returned to the UK raving about the sledging, ice-skating and the early forms of skiing they took part in. The bet had worked, more tourists continued to visit St Moritz each winter from then on in. Today the 5* Kulm Hotel that they originally stayed in still stands in its enviable original location overlooking the lake, and this busy alpine town buzzes with activity during both summer and winter. Over the years more winter sports activities were developed in St Moritz, including tobogganing on the renowned Cresta Run, created by Australian George Pringle Robertson (1884/5 season). Polo tournaments also became popular on the frozen lake and the bobsleigh track was built in 1904/5. All across Switzerland, ski resorts started opening up over the winter months to the delight of British skiers, from Davos in the Graubunden to Wengen, Murren and Grindelwald in the Jungfrau.
Archive shot of St Moritz & the Eco-Hotel Romantik, Engadin ©Graubuenden tourism
That’s the Old. But what’s happening this winter?
The UK’s wintersports lovers are just as important now to the Swiss, as they were then, with this year’s Crystal Ski Report showing that more and more UK skiers are visiting Switzerland. To keep them coming a whole range of events are planned for Engadin St Moritz this winter including:
St Moritz Gourmet Festival – The British Edition 26-30th January 2015
To celebrate 150 years since the British founded tourism in Switzerland, St Moritz has invited nine British celebrity chefs, including Angela Hartnett of Murano, Atul Kocham of Benares and Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social, to St Moritz for the Gourmet Food Festival – The British Edition in January 2015. Over 30 food focused events will take place across the resort, from gourmet ski safaris to the gourmet finale at the Kulm Hotel on 30th January 2015 – For full information visit the Gourmet Festival website – event bookings taken online from 1 December 2014.
St Moritz Tobogganing Club (SMTC) Invitational Team Match– 5 February 2015
In February 2015, the SMTC, as part of the 150 years anniversary, will be staging an invitational International Team Match between riders from Great Britain, Switzerland and the rest of the world. In the spirit of the 1st Grand National, over 20 nationalities will compete and there will be 24 riders in each team; half will ride from the top (experienced riders) and half from the ‘Junction’ (part way down). The future… In 2017 St Moritz will hold both the Alpine skiing World Championships and the Women’s Downhill, which will take place on a new steep section of the mountain, yet to be named. For more information on events this winter across Switzerland visit My Switzerland.
150 Family holidays to be won!
Engadin St Moritz will be launching a competition for 150 families (2 adults, 2 children) to win a three-night stay in the region for Easter 2015. Keep an eye out for the launch information on the St Moritz website in December 2014. For inspiration watch this stunning film celebrating the 150th anniversary of winter tourism in Switzerland.