For those who don’t know the story, 150 years ago St Moritz was a popular summer destination for Europeans in general and the English in particular. However as soon as the autumn colours started fading the tourists would all head home.
This was a trifle surprising to the locals who knew that whilst their winters might be cold, the sun shone for a great part of the time and the landscape was all the more spectacular in its sparkling coat of white snow. This is what prompted Swiss hotelier, Johannes Badrutt to strike a deal with his departing English summer guests.
He suggested they return to his hotel and experience a St Moritz winter for themselves. He promised them that if they found their English winters were still more pleasant and invigorating he would refund all their travel expenses. So they duly turned up in time for the Christmas season. And then they stayed. And they stayed – until Easter in fact! Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised in some of their descendants are still here because they never left!
They became the first winter tourists of the Alps and discovered a new world: winter holidays in the snow. And winter tourism was born. Something which St Moritz will be celebrating this coming winter season with a number of spectacular one off events – definitely worth staying up the mountain for!