House of Gucci’s snow-filled scenes made us think about St. Moritz, but did you know that before Switzerland’s Engadine was a favored luxury winter escape for the young and restless, it was a rustic summer outpost?
In 1857, Johannes Badrutt bought a 12-room pension in the hills above Lake St. Moritz as the summer address for mostly British travelers. But Badrutt envisioned much more and spent the next five years transforming the small pension into a full-fledged resort, and by 1864, he convinced guests and friends that St. Moritz was more than just a July and August getaway. In the course of one snowy season, Badrutt officially crowned Kulm Hotel St. Moritz the world’s first winter resort, and St. Moritz became the birthplace of cold-weather sport. Bobsledding originated here, and it hosted the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics — the first times the Games were held in Switzerland.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Kulm Hotel sits in the center of St. Moritz, within easy reach of the lake, the peaks and all the eateries and boutiques. Brandishing a grand hotel vibe, Kulm amps up its traditional charm with incredible amenities, including the Kulm Country Club, a historic structure updated by British architect Lord Norman Foster that houses a restaurant, spacious sun terrace and lounge area; a 21,000-square-foot spa; and an outdoor infinity pool.
But Kulm can’t forget its origins as Europe’s original summertime retreat. The seasonal resort — open from December to April and then June 16 to September 11 this year — kicks off summer with all-day outdoors rec time, including healing in the area’s mineral springs and spas; sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing on Lake Silvaplana; mountain biking Piz Nair; and, of course, hiking Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard. Then there are the summertime Kulm perks: Most of the 164 rooms and suites overlook the pristine lake, making for scenic vistas; stays of two nights or more get complimentary use of mountain railways and buses; and guests receive access to the nine-hole golf course — the first in the Alps — and free green fees at the two nearby 18-hole golf courses of Samedan and Zuoz (when staying four nights or more).
Summer brings several events, including the Engadin Bike Giro (July 1 to 3), a breathtakingly scenic three-day stage bike race for professionals and amateur athletes, the Festival da Jazz (at various locations, including Kulm Park, July 7 to 31) and the Italian classic car gathering Passione Engadina (August 26 to 28) — this edition will pay tribute to Bugatti.
See St. Moritz through the eyes of Badrutt by visiting the tiny Segantini Museum, a temple-like rotunda dedicated to the paintings of Giovanni Segantini. The late-19th-century artist lived and painted his beloved Engadine landscape, especially the Alps above St. Moritz like Muottas Muragl. The museum houses his triptych Life, Nature and Death, and if you stand on the upper terrace, you get a Segantini perspective of the valley and mountains.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and enjoy St. Moritz’s charming city center, a labyrinth of legendary boutiques like Modes, galleries like Vito Schnabel and century-old pastry shop and coffeehouse Hanselmann.