Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz is a Gothic-style landmark that has a ski-set customer base and a reputation for exceptional old-school service. Richard Leuenberger is the man in charge.
Richard Leuenberger isn’t one to beat around the bush: he believes that he and his team should be providing the best hospitality experience anywhere in the world. “That’s the goal, right? Most of the time there is something holding you back but here there is no excuse. We have the space, the guests and the resources.”
Badrutt’s Palace is family owned. Anikó Badrutt, the 88-year-old widow of founder Caspar Badrutt’s grandson is the majority shareholder. All profits are put back into the 157-room hotel. “This model works well for us because it is simple,” says Leuenberger. “You know how much you have made and you know how much you can invest.”
This reinvestment is palpable in the sumptuous interior and immaculate staff, as well as the well-upholstered antique furniture adorning the rooms. At a time when many classic hotels feel stifled by fastidious rules and adherence to convention, Badrutt’s has built its name by being quite the opposite. When a young tycoon wanted to present a birthday gift to his animal-loving wife in 1992, Badrutt’s arranged for an elephant to pass it to her in its trunk.
Nowadays, if you want to stage an ice polo tournament, a VIP party for 900 people or a wedding reception with a 120-metre-long apple strudel (one made an appearance at the hotel’s 120th birthday), this is the place.
Is there anything they wouldn’t do? “We do say no to things,” says Leuenberger. “But we say no to things much later than any other hotel in the world.”
Geneva-born Richard Leuenberger has always been fascinated by what it means to host well. Born into a family of entrepreneurs (his father and mother made mustard and pasta), he quickly ascended the ranks of the most renowned hotel brands in the world before becoming general manager of Badrutt’s Palace in 2016. Here he is an omnipresent figure, overseeing 520 employees ranging from waiters and concierges to ski instructors, and the carpenters who maintain the building’s antique furniture.
Erich Bottlang Palace Ski School manager.
“Erich keeps people safe on the mountain and, crucially, gets them back down after their lessons.”
Kostas Georgantopoulos Assistant chef of technical services.
“Kostas heads up our maintenance projects, besides making sure we have natural ice on our rink outside.”
Andrea Delvo Bar manager.
“The most well-known person in our hotel.”
Darcilia de Fatima Pinheiro Dias Room attendant.
“Our authority on which guests like what.”
Lilianna Pinto Leal Junior laundry supervisor.
“She knows all about our guests’ underwear.”
Gian Müller Director of food and beverage.
“The master of all things food and beverage. With 12 outlets, this is one of the most demanding jobs.”
Regula Peter Director of human resources.
“Regula is responsible for making sure we have the correct 520 people when we open each season.”
Sergio Fagioli Director of rooms.
“Sergio ensures our guests have all the luxuries you can imagine.”
Giuseppe Pesenti Chief concierge.
“Our master organiser for guest experience.”
Thomas Citterio Director of sales and marketing.
“He has experience across three continents and understands our guests.”
Stefen Gerber Executive pastry chef.
“He encourages people to have sweet dreams"
Valmiro Pasini Executive sous chef.
“Valmiro has been here for 43 years. He is the heritage of what goes onto your plate.”
Barbara Thoma PR manager.
“Barbara is my voice. We have famous guests – and with them come a lot of questions.”
Patrón Leuenberger Dog.
“Helps balance my state of mind.”