A property steeped in tradition
In the mid-18th century, Klosters was a small, tranquil farming village. The age of tourism arrived once a road was built through the Prättigau Valley.
The first visitors to the health resort travelled to Davos via Klosters and to the Engadin valley over the Flüela Pass in stagecoaches drawn by four horses. Tuberculosis was widespread at the time, and the most successful cures appeared to be health retreats in the fresh air and sunshine. Doctors thus prescribed their patients, particularly the wealthier ones, climatic health retreats in Davos, which was even frequented by famous names such as Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Friedrich Nietzsche and Annemarie Schwarzenbach. Sanatoriums began springing up one after another, each one equipped with large balconies and terraces facing the sun. The patients would undergo their climatic treatment from the comfort of divan beds, covered in warm blankets and animal hides. Davos quickly became one of the world’s leading health resorts, and many literary works, such as Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, were produced during this period, which saw many famous people spending a lot of time in health retreats.
Klosters benefited from the increase in through-traffic, for it was considered a well located transit stop on the way up to higher destinations. While there were only 10 beds available for guests in Klosters in 1850, this rose to 600 in 1910, and 1,573 in 1940.
One of the oldest hotels in the village
Peter Jost-Niggli, born in 1838, was one of the daring, entrepreneurial pioneers in hotel and pension construction in and around Klosters. The Hotel Bergstuba is one of the village’s oldest restaurant establishments.
In 1864, Peter Jost built the Gasthaus Madrisa, and in 1879, the Bergstuba Klosters in the “Dörfji”, today the village of Klosters. His entrepreneurial panache was virtually unstoppable. For example, he led a group of packhorses along the arduous path over the Flüela and Bernina Passes to Tirana to purchase the soothing Veltliner wine and transport this back home again in an arduous journey lasting several days. He ran the Hotel Bergstuba together with his wife until his tragic death in May 1898, when he fell off the roof of the annexe and suffered fatal injuries.
The railway brings in the tourists
After settlement of his estate, the property was handed over to his daughter Margreth, who was born in 1868. The railway between Landquart and Davos started up operation in 1889, generating a drastic rise in tourist numbers. Margreth and her husband Hans Marugg decided to continue running the hotel themselves, prompting Hans to quit his job as a village school teacher. He was a man of principles, placing great emphasis on order and organisation at his hotel, and also requiring this of his guests. Once, when a troop of battalion officers staying at the hotel started causing what Hans believed to be too much of a commotion after having a long session of convivial drinking and socialising in the hotel’s hallways, he promptly showed the men the door and threw their luggage out into the street. His guests were supposed to feel at home at his property, and he could not and would not tolerate their sleep being disturbed by others. He welcomed what was probably the property’s most famous guest in September 1905 – the later Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, who was also the president of Germany’s Weimar Republic between 1925 and 1934.
The years between the two World Wars were ones of economic depression. Many of the once loyal guests could no longer afford to travel to Klosters, meaning Hans and Gretli Marugg-Jost often only had a handful of guests after years of prospering business.
New enthusiasm through winter sports
The emergence of winter sports brought new hope to the slumping hospitality industry, for business could now even continue in winter. But the boom was short lived. The economic depression of the 1920s and 30s, the political upheaval in Europe, particularly in the German Empire, and the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 meant it was no longer profitable to run the hotel. The Bergstuba was used as military lodging during the war years; the large drawing room served as billet for the soldiers of the infantry as well as the fusiliers of the border patrol company and other units.
After Hans and Gretli Marugg’s deaths in 1956 and 1957, their son Jogg took over the reins, hence the name Kurhaus-Jogg. But the hotel’s fittings and facilities could no longer satisfy the drastically heightened demands of a clientele which had become indulged and discriminating as a result of the economic boom. A complete renovation was looming. Jogg Marugg, who was single, could not commit to doing this, hence his decision to sell the Kurhaus to Otto Altermatt from Solothurn in the November of that same year.
Boom in the 1970s
After an initial period in which the hotel was run by various tenants, it underwent its first renovation in the summer of 1965, although this proved to be unsatisfactory. The owner’s son, Ubald Altermatt, and his wife Renate then took over the lease of the hotel in the autumn, i.e. before the start of the winter season. Business prospered during the following years, prompting the couple to buy the hotel off Ubald’s father in 1973. Their fresh enthusiasm and high degree of dedication enabled them to give the hotel an unexpected boost.
In 1956, Otto Altermatt from Solothurn took over the business, purchasing it outright and initially having it managed by various tenants. His son, Ubald Altermatt, and Ubald’s wife Renate then took over the hotel in autumn 1965. The prosperity during the following years enabled the entire hotel complex to undergo a full renovation between 1977 and 1982. Mr and Mrs Altermatt knew how to indulge their guests with attentive service and excellent cuisine, and the restaurant became a popular meeting place for guests and locals. This resulted in many loyal patrons who would return two to three times a year. Guests feel at home at the Kurhaus.
In 2009, the Altermatt family made one final attempt at renovation. The façade and staircase were painted, and all rooms, except for those appointed in stone pine, were given new furnishings. The Altermatt family ran the hotel for almost 40 years, and have met many loyal patrons and travel groups, some of whom return two to three times a year. Guests feel at home at the Sporthotel Kurhaus.
The 2010/2011 winter season marked a new era at the Hotel Kurhaus when a Zurich-based businessman closely linked with Klosters bought the hotel off the Altermatt family. The new ownership also brought with it a new hostess to run the establishment – Hildegard Steck.
Extensive renovations in May 2011 saw the Hotel Kurhaus once again be adapted to its guests heightened needs for comfort. This was done in the tight time frame between the winter and summer season, meaning Hildegard Steck and her team can now reclaim the temporarily lost third hotel star, following intensive groundwork and a 3-year suspension by Hotelleriesuisse.
The stage is now set for Hotel Bergstuba to continue its success story in the village of Klosters.