A place that stole my heart: St. Moritz

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

Small, cozy, and and 322 Sunny Days a Year. Saint Moritz is a jewel amidst the Upper Engadin lakes district in the southern side of the Alps.

I have been a big city dweller for 27 years (I was born in Milan) and even though my hometown is the most beautiful place in the world I perfectly know what it means looking forward to escaping from stand-still traffic, air pollution, crowded streets and endless grey sidewalks. Even if my big city had so much to offer to me in terms of leisure activities, amazing clubs, wellness and new spots to be discovered I felt the need of regenerating myself after the tough week and since my family lived in an apartment near the city centre (15 minutes from the Milan Cathedral) I did not have a backyard to transform into an oasis… However, I never imagined that one day I would move to one of those quiet places to which people normally goes to escape from the daily routine and even if sometimes I miss the crowded city chaos, I enjoy this landscape and look at them with the same amazement of the first time.

I have never been a mountain person. If you asked me 2 weeks ago which is my ideal situation to achieve the highest grade of relax possible, I would reply: lying back on a sunny beach without hesitation. It is said that your personality decides what kind of landscapes you like: if you are a mountain person you are an introvert and you appreciate your own presence over other people’s and can get some valuable time alone. If you are a beach lover instead and prefer to sip a drink with your mates on the hot sand it means you are rather outgoing. With regards to this assumption, I think that also personal tastes must be called into question here and not just personality, because you can meet as many people at the beach as well as at the mountain and lying on a beach does not necessary imply you are going to socialize with tons of people if you want to be by yourself.

If you ask me where I want to be right now to blow off the steam I would answer Saint Moritz!

Small, cozy, and and 322 Sunny Days a Year. Saint Moritz is a jewel amidst the Upper Engadin lakes district in the southern side of the Alps. It belongs to Canton Grisons, one of the 26 Cantons of Switzerland. At 1,856 metres above sea level it offers picturesque landscape both during winter and summer season. It is probably the most famous winter holidays destinations in the world and its name is acknowledged worldwide for high-level services, high quality of lifestyle with its top hotels and restaurant, elegance and class. Everything one expects to receive from a classy holiday destination like that.

Attracting visitors from all over the world, thanks to its top sport facilities and services, Saint Moritz hosts events on the world stage. And even if it is a pretty small town the atmosphere gets distinctly cosmopolitan during the many events taking place all over the year, so sometimes you have the impression of being in a big town. Because this village combines the typical lifestyle of a winter sport location with the high-end services that only a big city can deliver: first class hotels, award-winning restaurant, clubs and upscale boutiques (like Louis Vuitton and Hermes, to name a few), can be unexpectedly found in the city vibrant center. It is no surprise that this is the preferred location of upper classes and international jet set to spend vacations.

The 5 stars Kempinski Hotel

The Cartier boutique in the centre of the city

The 5 stars Badrutt's Palace Hotel

Inside fine Asian cuisine restaurant Hato

The main shopping street with luxury boutiques

Inside the 5 stars Suvretta House restaurant

The "Chesa Veglia" Restaurant, the oldest farmhouse in St. Moritz built in 1658, with three restaurants and two bars. The historic house was purchased in 1935/36 by Badrutt's family and converted into a classy and award-winning restaurant.

However, besides the sparkling lights of its city centre, the pearl of the Engadin hosted the Winter Olympics games two times, in 1928 and 1948 and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February 2017. For that occasion, the exhibition entitled “St. Moritz – The origin of winter sports” was arranged at the Saint Moritz Design Gallery inside the Parking Serletta. 31 pictures from various different epochs grouped in sequence to give the viewer an insight into the winter sports history of this place.

St. Moritz - THE ORIGIN OF WINTER SPORTS The St. Moritz Design Gallery February - June 2017

Downhill Racer René Beckert, 1934

Start downhill race, 1934

Kilometer - Lancé, Speed skiling, ca. 1935

Horse racing on the frozen lake, ca. 1930

Bobsleigh in St. Moritz, ca. 1925

Cresta rider on start, ca. 1930

Henri Oreiller, downhill and combined, 1948

Start slalom at the World Championship, 1934

Finish area slalom, 1934

Time keeping, 1934

Transport sound system, 1934

Kulm Park with "Eispavillon", 1928

Olympia Stadion, 1948

Sonja Henie, Legend in figure skating, 1928

Hockey competition, Olympic winter games, 1948

David Zogg, Ski racer, 1934

I just posted some pictures from 1920s to 1940s here, though the exhibition showed many images from other various decades.

St. Moritz hotel pioneer Johannes Badrutt. He first introduced the sport of curling in the region on December of 1880 to promote the winter sport among his guests. Fascinated by technical innovations, he bought a lighting system in 1878 at World Exposition in Paris. He built a small power station near his hotel and the first electric arc lamps in Switzerland were burned in the dining room of its hotel, the Kulm hotel St. Moritz in 1879. He introduced further technical innovations in his hotel like telephone, water closets, hydraulic lifts and warm air heating.

St. Moritz in the 19th century was known as a summer Mineral spa town where the rich took mineral cures during the months from May to September. The history of winter resort took place 152 years ago, in September 1864 when St. Moritz hotel pioneer Johannes Badrutt made a bet with his English summer guest in his hotel, the Kulm Hotel: before the check-out he invited them to come back also in winter and, in the event they would have not liked the place during the cold season, Mr Badrutt would reimburse the travel cost. If the snowy village was to their liking they would have been his guest as long as they wished. Guess what? They came back that winter and during the same year the first Tourism Office settled in Saint Moritz. The dry Engadin climate proved to be very appealing to city dwellers who were suffering from lung diseases caused by polluted air. Thanks to this wager, winter tourism in St. Moritz and the entire region of Engadin had officially started.

Johannes Badrutt with his family, ca. 1865