Bucher and Durrer
Franz Josef Bucher and Josef Durrer were among Europe’s leading hotel pioneers in the second half of the nineteenth century.
In 1871 the two Swiss entrepreneurs bought a plot of land registered as “Alp Tritt“ high above the Lake of Lucerne. They had a road to Stansstad built, and levelled out summit ridge in order to create an extensive terraced area from where there is a view of the lake and the Alps still today. In 1873 they inaugurated The Grand Hotel Bürgenstock. It was a great success; many guests waited for up to two to three weeks in Lucerne just to get the chance to lodge up there.
In 1888 the Bürgenstock railway began operations. That same year, Bucher and Durrer opened the Park Hotel. The Palace Hotel would quickly follow. It was the start of a hospitality empire, with the Palace Hotels in Lugano, Lucerne and Milan, as well as the Hotel Mediterraneo in Pegli-Genoa also being constructed. The latter was built at the same time as the tram system in Genoa, which was initially managed by Durrer and whose sale went on to make both hoteliers millionaires.
Both gentlemen were later summoned to Rome to revitalise the Albergo Massimo d’Azeglio. It was also in Rome that Bucher’s son-in-law built the Villa Hassler, which is still managed by the family (Roberto Wirth) today. Franz Josef Bucher died in 1906, Josef Durrer in 1919. They had split up and gone their separate ways in 1895. The entire hotel chain was bequeathed to both of Bucher’s sons, who in turn ran the business with foresight until 1914.