We just met up with Lars Wriedt, director of sales for Badrutt’s Palace in Switzerland. The hotel, he said, is getting ready to close for the spring—and as soon as the last guest leaves, workers will come in to begin building a new space for a new restaurant...reportedly from celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa. (The restaurant will probably not open for at least another year, but it will be fun to dream about miso cod while we wait!)
While plenty of hotels and resorts are seasonal, Badrutt’s Palace is doubly so: It is only open for a few months in the summer (generally from the end of June to the middle of September) and then again in winter (from the beginning of December to Easter...or, if Easter will be late, until the end of March.) The frequent downtime means that the hotel team can conduct regular restorations, refurbishments and even renovations, all without disturbing the guests. (Some projects, Wriedt acknowledged, can take a long time if they only move forward when the hotel is closed.) Over the past 10 years, the hotel has spent more than 150 million Swiss francs on improvements, with 26 million going to a new spa and wellness center that was completed in 2010.
While many hotels have a high turnover rate among the staff, Wriedt was eager to emphasize the longevity of Badrutt’s team members. Two employees are celebrating their 10th anniversaries at the hotel this year, dozens have been around for several decades and Resident Manager Angelo Martinelli is celebrating his 50th anniversary. Wriedt shared a few memorable experiences Martinelli has arranged during his tenure, including a pop concert by a famous band in a guest’s room, or a ski run being opened at night exclusively for a small group, or an elephant in the lobby as part of a celebration or a camel race on the frozen Lake St. Moritz.
While the hotel focuses primarily on seasonal outdoor activities (with a lake right there and surrounded by mountains, it only makes sense), the team has arranged several notable cultural events as well. Michael Bolton performed in the hotel’s ballroom late last year, and four opera pros sang a series of arias last month. Coming up, 10 dancers from the Crazy Horse Paris cabaret are slated to perform at the hotel, which Wriedt says offers a much more intimate up-close-and-personal experience than larger venues can provide.