< SWITZERLAND | INTERLAKEN: Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa
In 1856 an enterprising young hotel pioneer Eduard Ruchti (then only 22) purchased the Pension Victoria, which had previously been a doctor's house. Eight years later he commissioned local architects Friedrich Studer and Horace Edouard Davinet to re-design the property completely. After only nine months' work, the new Hotel Victoria opened for business in 1865. In 1895 Ruchti transformed his private enterprise into a joint stock company and acquired the adjacent Hotel Jungfrau (which had been built by Davinet in 1864). Two years later the ornately decorated Festsaal – now the "Jungfrau Brasserie" – was completed. And 1899 saw the two buildings linked by the distinctive dome-topped central tract fronted by an imposing façade.
The new Victoria-Jungfrau offered standards of quality and comfort unparalleled at that time, including such innovative features as a telephone system, hydraulic lift and electric
light in all rooms. The hotel soon began to attract a prosperous, privileged clientele from far beyond the borders of Switzerland, among them royalty, writers, academics and artists.
Exciting new types of transport were also being introduced in the Interlaken region, and several mountain railways were built between 1890 and 1912 – a development which also benefited
other hotels throughout the Bernese Oberland. This "Golden Age" of tourism to Switzerland came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of the First World War (1914-1918). But thanks to shrewd
management and great flexibility, the Victoria-Jungfrau weathered these troubled times and maintained its position as one of Switzerland's leading hotels.
The Second World War (1939-1945) dealt another blow to travel and tourism to Switzerland, but brought unexpected benefits in a situation somewhat unusual for a luxury hotel of such style and standing. The Victoria-Jungfrau became a wartime headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Swiss army, General Henri Guisan, which meant that he and his entourage frequently resided at the hotel.
By the 1950s the building was greatly in need of renovation. Guest rooms were modernized and bathrooms installed, the "Salle Napoléon" breakfast room was converted into a banqueting room, a swimming pool was added and a linking passerelle was built between the two parts of the hotel. Over recent decades the Victoria-Jungfrau has invested millions of francs in the most modern amenities, while retaining its old-world elegance and charm.
In 1970 the management of the hotel was taken over by Emanuel and Rosmarie Berger, whose innovative style, pioneering achievements and untiring commitment to quality have repeatedly earned international acclaim. The 1970s saw more modernization, including improvements to the guest rooms, construction of a four-court tennis hall and re-designed gardens. During the 1980s the focus was on restoration of the stately Belle Epoque rooms, the reconstruction of three floors and the glassfronted Restaurant "La Terrasse".
In 1990 the Victoria-Jungfrau celebrated its 125th anniversary and the launching of another ambitious programme of investment – the most intensive in the history of the hotel. The hotel "boulevard" was transformed by a blend of glass and steel into a light and airy lobby which at the same time linked the Victoria and Jungfrau buildings at ground level. And in 1991 the Victoria-Jungfrau Spa was created – a spectacular and spacious 5500 square metre world of wellness which set exciting new state-of-the-art standards in the international spa industry.
In 1994 the Victoria-Jungfrau dome was transformed into the luxury Tower Suite. Further modernization culminated five years later in the opening of the "Coté Jardin" congress centre, with its pioneering technology. The "Racket Club" was transformed into "La Pastateca" restaurant. And the "Jungfrau Brasserie" underwent complete renovation, revealing stucco treasures and impressive ceiling and wall paintings from a century earlier.
Most recent modernization has included the Bel Air extension to the wellness area, completed at the end of 2003 at a cost of 17 million Swiss francs. This new tract comprises 10 new Junior Suites, as well as an exclusive Espa with 16 treatment rooms (offering 30 types of treatment), cold and warm zones, and a private Spa Suite for the ultimate in rest and relaxation. The Espa is the perfect complement to the existing fine facilities, which range from a swimming pool, whirlpools, steam rooms, saunas and solaria to a fitness center, tennis courts (indoor and outdoor), the Clarins Beauty Center and a hair-styling salon.
The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa is proud to offer its discerning guests not only superior quality and comfort but also the warmest of welcomes and highest standards of service. For nearly a century and a half the hotel has succeeded in setting the trend in innovative hospitality. Its philosophy is to pursue this pioneering path with pride and passion. The new Managing Director Hans-Rudolf Rütti and his wife Elisabeth Rütti will take care to continue in this spirit.
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