Legendary: how St. Moritz invented winter tourismWhere winter holidays began
Around 150 years ago, St. Moritz hotelier Johannes Badrutt made a bet with his summer guests. And so the “winter holiday” was born.
As the summer season wound to a close in 1864, Badrutt was singing the praises of winter in Engadin to his remaining English guests, claiming that the winter months are much sunnier and more agreeable in the Alps than in England. He invited them back to his hotel that winter, so they could experience it for themselves. If they still weren’t convinced, he promised to cover their travel expenses.
English winters were always cold and wet – particularly in London – and the guests couldn’t imagine that the Swiss Alps would be any different. Yet they came to Oberengadin over Christmas and ended up staying until Easter. When they finally left, they went home tanned, revitalised and happy. As the first ever Alpine winter tourists, they helped to define a whole new experience: the white winter holiday. The British left their mark on St. Moritz in the form of curling and cricket tournaments, ice sports events, the Cresta Run and the bobsleigh track.
Unstoppable pioneering spiritSt. Moritz leads the way
While St. Moritz became a popular destination among illustrious and cosmopolitan guests, it also fostered a remarkable pioneering spirit.
It was home to the first electric light, the first ski school and the first electric tram in Switzerland. The progressive mountain village of St. Moritz played a key role in the development of many commodities we now take for granted. Engadin also has a history of hosting major events: two Winter Olympic Games (1928 and 1948), soon-to-be five Skiing World Championships (2017) and Europe’s first ever Snowboarding World Championships (1987) are testament to this proud tradition. These kinds of events – and St. Moritz’s array of famous guests – have led to St. Moritz developing a prestigious, worldwide reputation. Today there are St. Moritz hotels, restaurants and businesses at Miami Beach, in Dubai, Shenzhen, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Manila and Tokyo. To prevent its good name from being exploited, St. Moritz was the first geographical location to register as a trademark in 1986 and its name is now protected in around 50 countries.