Middle-class guests at Villa Cassel Hotel...

Sir Ernest Cassel’s principal heiress, his granddaughter Edwina Mountbatton, had looked after him devotedly in the last years of his life. Now, however, she had to decide what to do with the Villa Cassel at Riederfurka and all the other country estates in England, France and Switzerland. After all, she and her husband were keen to venture into the big wide world and that meant India rather than the Swiss mountains.

 

Villa Cassel Hotel
That is the reason why the villa and the Cassel cabin were sold to the Cathrein family of hoteliers in 1924 and then carefully redesigned into a hotel. The basic structures and the exceptional atmosphere of the house, however, remained largely untouched.

 

«Whiskey on the rocks»
But running a hotel was difficult and expensive: Twice a week, ice still had to be collected from the glacier; the groceries were brought as usual by mule transportation from the valley and the house was heated with wood and coal. The sort of guests changed and instead of the aristocracy, more and more people from the middle-class, such as physicians, engineers, clerks and college teachers came.

 

Where are the guests?
With the beginning of the sixties and the start of mass tourism, the guests and their demands changed. Numerous convenient and cheap holiday cabins were built at Riederalp. The very high costs of maintenance and business made it impossible for the Villa Cassel to compete with them. The house was therefore closed in 1969, after 45 years of being run as a hotel. Both the villa and the Cassel cabin visibly fell into disrepair...