Over 100 years of hospitality
The Dolder Grand in Zurich has been the very epitome of hospitality since 1899. A complete renovation in 2008 created a new city resort with exquisite cuisine, a unique art collection and an unrivalled spa.
The founding years
Between 1897 and 1899, the Dolder Grand Hotel & Curhaus is built under the direction of the Basel architect Jacques Gros as a place of relaxation and regeneration for people in the city in need of a rest.
On 10 May 1899, the Dolder Grand Hotel & Curhaus opens with 220 beds, a reading and billiard room, a café restaurant, covered verandas, terraces, two lifts, a telephone and a telegraph. An overnight stay in a double room during the peak season costs between CHF 12.00 and CHF 20.00.
In 1924, the Hotel moves from seasonal opening to being open throughout the year, and the first extensive building renovation work is undertaken: the Main Building is extended to house staff living quarters, and the Main Entrance is moved from the front to the rear of the building. The front of the Hotel now houses a semicircular restaurant, the “Rotonde”, with large windows and an outdoor terrace.
The fifties and sixties
Even during the war years, members of European royal families travel to the Dolder Grand Hotel to escape from the unrest of the war. The beginning of post-war prosperity also marks the start of a successful era for Zurich and for the Grand Hotel. Winston Churchill and Thomas Mann are among the Hotel’s guests.
In 1964, the Dolder Grand Hotel opens a new, modern complex with 60 additional rooms, and the original symmetrical design of the Hotel is lost as a result. In the following decades, the Grand Hotel continues to be a meeting point for royalty, politicians and heads of business, as well as those working in the entertainment and film industries.
The golden years
The Shah of Persia visits the Dolder in 1975. In the following years, such illustrious names as Henry Kissinger, John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Heinz Rühmann, Sophia Loren, Curd Jürgens, Roger Moore, Artur Rubinstein and Prince Charles visit the Grand Hotel.
After successful years come challenging times. It was clear by the end of the 1990s that significant investment was required to ensure that the Hotel could retain its place in the top class of the international luxury hotel industry. Nevertheless, in the final years before the Hotel closes its doors, celebrities and statesmen such as Nelson Mandela, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, Luciano Pavarotti, Prince Philip and Mikhail Gorbachev sign their names in the guest book.
Preparing for the renovation
The entrepreneur Urs E. Schwarzenbach becomes the majority shareholder in 2001. He ensures that the financing for the renovation work at the Dolder Grand Hotel is secured. In the same year, internationally renowned architect Lord Norman Foster is invited to Zurich. Following research in the hotel archives, the owner of the London-based Foster + Partners architecture practice suggests removing all buildings constructed after 1899, restoring the historic Main Building and completely returning the facade to its original appearance.
In the summer of 2004 the Dolder Grand Hotel is closed, following which the furnishings are sold. All annexes constructed after 1899 are demolished, and the first sod is turned in August of the same year. Within six months, over 110,000 cubic metres of material is dug out around the Main Building in order to reach the depth required for the new buildings. The listed facade is reinforced with a steel frame. On 4 February 2005, the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the new Dolder Grand takes place in the presence of the Mayor of Zurich, Elmar Ledergerber. At the same time, 70 geothermal probes are sunk into the ground to a depth of 150 metres. Through this underground storage technology, despite the fact that the surface area has doubled from 20,000 to 40,000 square metres, energy consumption is reduced by half. On 3 February 2006, a year after the laying of the foundation stone, the erection and completion of the building shell is celebrated. Listed structures such as the Steinhalle and six rooms in the Main Building are faithfully restored to their original historic state.
The London architects have combined the Hotel’s historic Main Building of 1899 with modern architectural accoutrements. In April 2008 the Dolder Grand – a new city resort with 173 rooms and suites – is reopened. Over the three open days, approximately 12,000 visitors come for a look around the rebuilt luxury Hotel.
The guiding principle for communication at the Dolder Grand is Heritage & Vision.
The magic of the Dolder Grand lies in the fact that heritage is lived in a contemporary way and enjoyment is celebrated in the here and now, always with a view to the future. This motto has a new impact on communication – in terms of content, form and technology.