Situated in the centre of Pontresina and at the heart of the holiday region Engadine St. Moritz, Hotel Saratz is elegant yet cosy, contemporary yet charming - and its blend of old and new exudes one thing above all: atmosphere. The modern way of living merges with the Engadine hotel tradition, grandeur with design and nature with architecture. True values for a holiday adventure in a magnificent setting.
According to the latest rating of the "SonntagsZeitung" of 1 June 2014, Hotel Saratz has been ranked the sixth best family hotel in Switzerland.
We look forward to meeting you!
Anushka & Thierry Geiger Starkloff and the entire Saratz team
The founding of the hotel Saratz is based on emigration and adventure, a typical phenomenon in the Engadine. Gian Saratz left his home in the mid-19th century to seek his fortune as a pastry chef in the emerging European cities. He returned from the Normandy as a successful man, took over the honorable office of Landammann in Pontresina with the age of 40 and moved with his family in an Engadine farm house opposite the church of San Niculò. A first circle had closed - to immediately open up a second: Gian Saratz met a German painter who documented the Engadine Alps.
Wilhelm Georgy was the name of the artist. He told Saratz how tired he was to always be home alone in the evenings. Saratz - himself a gifted naturalist (he was a trained taxidermist) - invited Georgy to become part of his family during the next two years and discovered his passion as host. Thanks to the emerging tourism in the Engadine, new earning opportunities opened up at the same time. 1865, Gian Saratz decided to expand his hay barn and set up a boarding house with guest rooms and breakfast service.
Gian's eldest son Pepi became Managing Director of Garni Saratz, as the boarding house was called. Initially, the clientele consisted mainly of long-term guests. But with the expansion of the tourism attractions in the Engadine, the demand for short-term available beds increased. In 1875, the demand was already so high that Gian and Pepi Saratz decided to enlarge the boarding house. A three-story building was added to Chesa Veglia (the main house), offering a representative dining hall, further guest rooms and hotel kitchen. In addition, the Chesa Nuova was built with even more guest rooms on three floors, vestibule and spacious cellars. The boarding house became the Hotel Saratz. Given the company's expansion, the brother of Pepi - Gian Saratz - quit his disliked position as pastor and took over the hotel's financial affairs.
The accountant's office was located on Chesa Nuova's ground floor, overlooking the driveway and yard. Gian Saratz observed the arriving guests from his office every day. This was a critical moment, because whoever did not satisfy the expectations of the eccentric former-priest, had to find another place to stay - regardless of race or rank. Even having a recommendation or reservation had little to no effect. The hotel Saratz grew gradually. In 1880, the Chesa Veglia received another floor, and in 1890 a tennis court was installed in the hotel park. In 1896, the Chesa Nuova was expanded to have even more guest rooms available.
It has further been invested heavily before the First World War. In 1910, the connective tract received another floor, the Chesa Nuova shortly afterwards. All rooms were completely renovated, a second bathroom was installed on each floor as well as a water-powered lift for guests and a continuous supply of electric power. But that's not all! In the euphoria of that era, a massive hotel expansion with twelve new floors was planned for 1912.
The owners of the neighboring Hotel Bella Vista (today's Grand Hotel Kronenhof) raised objections: Luckily! Although the Hotel Saratz prevailed in federal court, the project was never realized, because in the meantime the First World War broke out. All competitors who had recently invested large amounts of money in their hotels went bankrupt in no time.
After the First World War, the tourism business flourished quickly again. In 1926-27, the rooms of Saratz were equipped with running water. This massively improved the sanitary comfort of guests as well as the workload for staff. In 1932 a long-cherished dream of the owner's family came true: the hotel was added to the "Groupement des hôtels de tout premier rang de Suisse" (the first and only hotel in Pontresina), the illustrious circle of Switzerland's hotel industry which included the St. Moritz luxury hotels Suvretta House, Badrutt's Palace Hotel, Kulm and Carlton.
In the same year, the hotelier of the next generation, Gian Pepi Saratz, graduated from high school in Chur. He attended the Hotel Management School in Lausanne and worked his way up as the only male descendant and heir to follow the footsteps of his father eventually.
The outbreak of the Second World War hit the tourism in the Engadine particularly hard. In one fell swoop, everything was different: the guests stayed away. No one knew how long this state would last. For Saratz a tough struggle for survival began: A losing streak of six seemingly endless years had to be overcome. In some way or another. This has been achieved eventually - at least in the family environment.
Immediately after the end of World War II, Gian Pepi Saratz founded the Hotel Saratz AG. After the death of his uncle Pepi Saratz, he had led the Hotel Saratz since 1895 through all the ups and downs of the first half of the 20th century in the third generation. At this point Gian Pepi Saratz jun. took over the management of the hotel as the heir in the fourth generation. Under his leadership, the hotel flourished again over the next two and a half decades. In the mid-1950s, at the beginning of the economic miracle, the Sarazena was opened farther up the Via Maistra.
The Restaurant with Dancing became one of the most popular meeting places in the Engadine - notorious for his extravagant parties. Virtually at the same time the hotel Saratz got its first laundry machine - an incredible luxury back then. Until now, all laundry was done by hand in cold water from a bubbling spring down at the river Flaz. Another highlight: built in 1960, the first heated outdoor pool in the Engadine - one of the main attractions in the hotel park up until today.
The four sons of Gian Pepi Saratz brought no enthusiasm for the hotel business, which is why the hotel was leased to the Zurich-based Atlas Group. In 1974, the hotel was opened in winter for the first time and also managed under changed principles as a 3-star hotel during the next 20 years under the name Atlas. The hotel was still very popular and enjoyed a loyal customer base. Because hardly any new investments were made, the old foundation remained unchanged, but the intensive use didn't come without a price, and a further downgrade threatened the once thriving and renowned hotel.
The owner family was increasingly challenged: Give up the hotel and watch bankruptcy take place, or claim back the leadership and take the big step into the future.
The passion for tradition and hospitality as well as the love for the beautiful building left the fifth generation no other choice than to boldly invest more than 20 million Swiss francs and lead the Hotel Saratz back to its former glory. In October 1995, not only the complete renovation and rebuilding of the entire hotel was started, but also all operational processes were questioned and reformulated.
Under the guidance of the famous Engadine architect Hans-Jörg Ruch, the new hotel wing Ela Tuff emerged with 63 modern rooms, indoor pool and lobby. For the unique interior design with its tasteful combination of old and new, the owner family engaged the famous architect Pia Schmid from Zurich. The main building now hosts the vibrant Pitschna Scena with its rustic rooms, which soon became an essential component of the dining and entertainment attractions of the Upper Engadine.
In the new millennium there was a second big wave of investment. The Sarazenen bath and an underground parking with 60 parking spaces were built. In summer 2007, the 130-year-old Chesa Nuova was completely renovated. The Chesa Veglia was also completely remodeled and equipped with two new seminar rooms and 14 modern employee rooms. Chesa Niculò was created with 18 apartments as an additional employee residential building. Finally, a number of new operating rooms were built in the hotel adjacent residential complex Chesa Punt ota. Its sale supported the financing of these new investments.
Late December 2008, the exclusive AVO cigar lounge was opened (the first of its kind in Graubunden), which was created because of the smoking ban. In 2010, renovation and expansion of the Pitschna Scena took place. Despite its age of 150 years, the Hotel Saratz is the pride of today's main shareholder families Gut, Staehelin, Saratz and Klainguti, it is up to date, well positioned with a great team and well prepared to tackle the challenges ahead.