Grand Hotel Belvédère Davos (English)
Since 17 July 1875, the ‘Belvédère’ has become synonymous with the perception of Davos. From a boutique hotel with 30 rooms, it had grown into the romantic hotel palace of the fin de siècle. First tennis courts, skating rink, croquet — many ‘firsts’ — all this under the critical eyes of famous patrons. Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson spent one season at the Belvédère, Sherlock Holmes inventor Conan Doyle even two.
German author Erich Kästner based his novel The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on the hotel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner exhibited his paintings, Maurice Chevalier performed and today the leaders of the world meet in the salons of this legendary grand hotel of the Alps.
In a series of pointed snapshots, this book creates a firework of sketches of the chronology of Alpine entertainment. In the centre of it all the particle accelerator Grandhotel Belvédère: host and visionary, pioneer and promoter.
It was with astonished eyes that Swiss mountain folk watched ‘the foreigners’ colonize the town of Davos in the second half of the 19th century. Right in the heart of the Swiss Alps, the German principle of commanded-order collided with the British maxim of athletic competition. While Prussian drill dominated the daily routine of one party, the masters of pleasant pastime from across the English Channel made pleasurable enjoyment order of the day.
Strict outdoor rest cures and Bavarian curling met with relaxed lounging in hammocks pondering homoerotic dreams and playing curling or croquet in the afternoons. Deadly seriousness met Whiskey humor and cigar smoke. And yet, both parties were united in their battle against this deadly lung disease. Carnival disguise and fancy dress celebrated together, at the ball of consumption.
Never was the dancing more exuberant than when one knew the end was coming. But what if it wasn’t? If it granted respite? More distractions had to be found. Another ski run, another sleigh race, a pirouette performed on ice. Or headfirst down an ice track into the valley, on nothing but a wooden plank with razor-sharp skids scraping the ice. The point was to cross the finish line with a bang. That’s how sports were born. Higher, further, faster. That’s what Davos stood for. The world’s longest downhill ski run, the world’s oldest ice hockey cup, the world’s first sleigh race. Firsts, Firsts, Firsts.
When looking down on the birthplace of alpine entertainment, we can spot a hotel rooted around the quaint fact that it was founded, there in Swiss mountains, by a German for Englishmen. And thus, it became the center and melting pot of social life. The home of the most entertaining writers of Europe, exhibition venue of renowned painters. Place of fulfillment, place of yearning for all those who sought healing in it. Or, more simply, a vacation.
The arrival of the intellectuals of this world was incentive as much as it was confirmation. The output that Davos inspired and produced offered as much as the cultural circles of Vienna, Paris, London or Berlin; Davos was, in fact, every bit their equal. The Grand Hotel Belvédère became a common thread, tightly woven into the history of Davos, and it has many a story to tell. The Belvédère, hence, is harbourer and visionary, it is pioneer and promoter. Tributes must be paid to the people who created it and carried it onwards.
Since 1875, the Belvédère has reaffirmed its position as the leading hotel in Davos, year after year. As the Steigenberger Grand Hotel Belvédère, it is and always has been the central hub of the people who come together in this town. Its history can be read like a Who’s Who of the world’s greatest. Standards were established under the watchful eyes of the town, who was soon inspired to follow in the hotel’s lead.
With a series of snapshots-in-time, we take the liberty of chronicling the rise of a city in the mountains that has attained global significance. Your Grand Hotel, we claim, has made a certain contribution to that.
Andreas and Carola Augustin
GRAND HOTEL BELVÉDÈRE DAVOS
THE INCREDIBLE HISTORY OF
THE SCHEDULE OF DIVERSION
Special thanks to:
Tina Heide, Thomas Kleber, Natasha Rangno, Katharina Kiepfer, Marisa Schweiger, Gernot Bischofberger and Maik Baatsch, Femi Beluli and the whole team at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère.
Timothy Nelson and Walter Reiss (Documentation Library Davos), Thorsten Sadowsky and the Kirchner Museum, Marcel Giger, Reto Meerkämper, Iris Wazzau, Klaus Bergamin, Toni Morosani IV and Toni Morosani V, Guler Family and the Chesa Grischuna in Klosters, William Lee, Schubert Family, Brigitte Spinas as well as all former employees of the house*.
Famous Hotels Main Archive, Marcel Giger, Documentation Library Davos, Steigenberger Hotel Group, Archiv of the Grandhotel Belvédère Davos, Kirchner Museum, Galerie Wazzau, Schubert Family, Morosani Family, Guler Family, various national and local collections*.
The stated goal was to provide a historically correct and entertaining as possible overview.
All historic data has been carefully selected during research with the objective of providing a general historical overview. This work does not therefore claim to be complete. Historic photographs have been restored and occasionally tinted, and are therefore – together with the entire work – subject to copyright. The reproduction and distribution of any part of this work without the explicit written consent of The Most Famous Hotels in the World™ will be prosecuted.
Leader of Exhibition: Mag. Carola Augustin
Vorkoster: Ralf Bernhart
Fairy: Lisa Augustin
Translation (from German): Julia Lindsey