How St. Moritz invented winter holidays

It is said that, in the autumn of 1864, Johannes Badrutt sat by the fire with four English guests in his Hotel Kulm in St. Moritz. Badrutt positively gushed with enthusiasm about winter in St. Moritz: the bright sunshine, the snowy landscape and its mild day-time temperatures. In short, he said it was paradise on earth. His British guests didn’t believe a word he was saying – they knew their own dark, damp English winters all too well. Their disbelief led to a legendary bet, whose 150th anniversary will be celebrated this winter. Badrutt suggested that the Englishmen should return in December, and if they didn’t enjoy their stay, he would reimburse their travel costs. The Englishmen came – and stayed until Easter. Badrutt won his bet and winter tourism in St. Moritz was launched.

That wasn’t the only occasion St. Moritz attracted guests with a pioneering spirit. In 1904, the Olympic bobsleigh run was constructed – the oldest in the world that’s still in use today. The route goes from St. Moritz over the Via Maistra to Celerina. While the technology has changed significantly, the route has always remained the same. Every year in late November, a South Tyrolean team builds the largest snow sculpture in the world out of 5,000m3 of snow and 4,000m3 of water.

In 1928, the Winter Olympics were held in St. Moritz, but the people of the town had the misfortune of unusually high temperatures for February, so many events had to be postponed and the 10km speed skating had to be cancelled. Interestingly, at that time, women were only allowed to participate in figure skating contests, and alpine skiing was not yet an Olympic discipline.

That changed 20 years later, when St. Moritz hosted the Winter Olympics once again. This time, the FIS (International Ski Federation) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were in fierce arguments about the participation of professional skiers, who were still banned at that point. However, the weather was much better in 1948, and the success of the games led to a sharp upturn in tourism in St. Moritz.

And let’s not forget the legendary White Turf horse race, which has been held since 1907, and the extremely popular Engadine Ski Marathon.

Bobsleigh museum Celerina
Alpine World Ski Championships St. Moritz 2017
White Turf
Engadin Skimarathon

Other sports

Everybody can get their money’s worth in many different ways.
  • Skiing
  • Cross-Country skiing
  • Horse racing
  • Winter hiking
  • Snow kiting
  • Bobsledding
  • Skeleton
  • Nordic Walking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Horse riding
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Fitness
  • Ice Climbing
  • Etc.