INCEPTION of winter tourism to the Alps is attributed to one man – Johannes Badrutt. A hotelier of the late 19th century, Badrutt bet a group of English summer alpine tourists that they would love the winter sunshine of St Moritz as much as the summer meadows. They did. He opened the grande dame of the town, Badrutt’s Palace in 1896 and it has remained in the family ever since. The fifth-generation independent hotel, with welcoming, attentive service, brings with it a fiercely loyal following, especially among celebrities, world leaders and royalty (guests have included the Prince of Wales, George Clooney, Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton), who demand privacy and discretion – there is hardly a reception desk at all, as check-in is in-room with your butler.
Some things have changed – balconies have been added to south-facing rooms to give private views over lake St Moritz; an eco-heat-pump system uses water from the lake, and the King’s Club is a disco heaven attracting queues of young Italians with deep pockets full of Swiss francs. But the star of the show is the CHF 70m (£47m) Palace Wellness spa, the final phase of which was completed in 2010.