< SWITZERLAND | PONTRESINA: Hotel Walther
In 1904, Claudio and Ursolina Saratz, owners of the the oldest guesthouse of Pontresina - the Steinbock Hotel whose tradition leads back to the year 1651, decide instead of expanding the lodge, to build a new luxuriously hotel on the neighboring property. The architect of choice was Arnold Huber, Zurich's architect who had at the time already made a name for himself for projects on Lake Geneva, in Zurich and Pontresina (Hotel Schweizerhof, Collina and Müller). Combining Domestic Revival style with some Art Nouveau elements, new, chateau-like hotel was completed in one single construction phase between 1905 – 1907 and on June 17th 1907, it was officially inaugurated and named "Palace".
Among the technical novelties, Palace Hotel featured air-conditioning and heating system, as well as, its own electricity. Hotel's public areas - the large lounges, parlor and the seven
meters high dining hall were luxuriously furnished with plush, marble and carvings, creating a sophisticated and relaxing atmosphere. 106 guest rooms with a total of 120 beds were well
organized so that three or more rooms could be combined to make an apartment. Building costs were estimated at 2.5 million Swiss francs, equivalent to today's 20 million Swiss francs.
Hotel quickly reached top position and in the years 1910/1911 offered lodgings for up to 140 guests each day.
With outbreak of the First World War, Palace's initial success came to an end and it was abruptly abandoned and ownership was assigned to the Graubündner Kantonalbank. The worries of the hotel owner lead to a severe illness and ultimately to his death, while his widow was merely given the right to live and work in the hotel she had once called her own.
In 1917, leader of the Russian revolution, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin paid a visit to the hotel restaurant Clubhütte and left an entry in the guest book: "Le monde sera, mais il sera d’une autre façon." ("The world will continue – but it will do so in a different fashion.")
During both World Wars, the bank allowed the hotel to be used as a place for soldiers to sleep for short periods of time while in 1929, the building was renovated for the first time. During these refurbishments many of the original Art Nouveau elements were lost. In 1928, Hotel Palace became the backdrop for the Stefan Zweig's second major novel, "The Intoxication of Metamorphis".
In 1934, Hotel Pontresina (today known as Sporthotel Pontresina) welcomed its new manager: Hans Walther and his wife Mary. When in 1945, the Walthers made a change and became the managers of Hotel Palace and Steinbock, a new chapter began. Three years later, Hotel Steinbock was purchased by Walther family and a lease agreement was made for Hotel Palace. In 1956, Hans Walther signed the purchase agreement and Palace Hotel was renamed to Walther Palace.
By taking over their parent's company in 1963, the younger Walther generation, Christian and his wife Barbara embarked on a large reconstruction programme. From then on, "Hotel Walther" is proudly displayed above the entrance and during the next 40 years, they offered a skilled combination of historic preservation and modernizing measures. In 1997, Thomas and Anne-Rose Walther continued Christian and Barbara Walther's life's work. On January 1, 2007 their dedication and commitment was awarded with the hotel categorization of four stars superior and just recently gave a refreshing breath of new air to their 100-year legacy.
Since 1993, Hotel Walther has been a member of the world-renowned hotel association Relais & Châteaux.
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