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Stories from Gletsch

The Grand Hotel Glacier du Rhône

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- Story 2

In the middle of the mountain landscape, far away from civilization, stands a stately building that would even stand out in a city. Originally a horse changing station and a stopover for pass travelers, a caravanserai, the hotel was called the Grandhotel Glacier du Rhône in its heyday.


Its builder is emblematic of the economic spirit of optimism in the 19th century: Alexander Seiler the Elder had herded goats as a child and towards the end of his life was regarded as one of the biggest hotel entrepreneurs in Switzerland. This took a lot of courage. It was one thing for Zermatt to respond to rising demand and buy and expand hotels. But the other was to open a hotel far away from other settlements, at a crossroads of mountain passes, at the foot of the Rhone Glacier!

It was no coincidence that it soon became good manners in the upper echelons of society to spend a night here on a trip to Switzerland. After the founder's death in 1891, one of his 16 direct descendants, Joseph Seiler, in particular, continuously expanded the hotel and developed a quality here in the wild mountain landscape that was on a par with the best hotels in Europe. And, of course, the proximity to the glacier tongue was a particular trump card: the hotel's own power station produced electricity, which allowed the hotel's own (!) glacier to be illuminated as an additional attraction.



Even in the heyday of the grand hotel, the character of the caravanserai was retained: As a stopover for people who were not traveling for personal pleasure, but out of necessity. For these people, it was already possible to stay overnight in the Dépendance at a reasonable price around 1900. Travelers regularly stopped at the hotel.



But tourism was becoming increasingly fast-paced and margins tighter. Employees worked around 100 days here and 260 days elsewhere. Even today, Gletsch is barely accessible for 260 days and sinks into hibernation. Even though it is no longer possible to make big money in the 100 days that Gletsch is open to guests, tourism continues to play an important role in this fascinating village.

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