Europe for Visitors - Home
Home Main Europe Index Switzerland & Austria Index

Riffelalp Resort - Riffelalp Grand Hotel - Alexander Seiler - Zermatt Switzerland - History - Logo copyright (c) Riffelalp Resort Riffelalp Resort:
Historical Overview

Today's Riffelalp Resort is a direct descendant of the Hotel Riffelalp (later known as the Riffelalp Grand Hotel), which was conceived nearly 150 years ago. The hotel and resort's official history illustrates the rapid development of Swiss tourism in the late 19th Century:

Hotel Riffelalp - Beginnings

It is hard to imagine that, as late as the middle of the 19th Century, not many guests came to visit the king of the mountains--the Matterhorn. The fact that this has changed in the last 150 years is due to the work of a great pioneer of the hotel industry: Alexander Seiler, who came to Zermatt for the first time in 1851, following his brother's advice, and took his first tentative steps in the Zermatt hotel and catering business two years later, when he took out a lease on the Hotel Cervin.

In 1854, Alexander Seiler also became the leaseholder of the new Hotel Riffelberg. At the same time, he bought the Hotel Cervin, extended it in 155 and renamed it the Hotel Monte Rosa. This was the beginning of the Seiler family's hotel and catering business.

The plan takes shape

From the start, Alexander Seiler was inspired by one place: the Augstkummenalp, high above Zermatt, at 2227 meters above sea level. Situated on the edge of a beautiful stone pine forest, bathed in sunlight, and blessed with a unique view of the Matterhorn, it seemed to him the perfect place to build a mountain hotel. From 1856, he started to purchase, little by little, parcels of land from the local farmers. The tragedy of the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 by the English mountaineer Edward Whymper, when four climbers died during the descent, helped to make Zermatt well-known in England. The results were growing numbers of visitors, which reinforced Alexander Seiler's and his wife Katherina's plans to build the Hotel Riffelalp.

Next Page > Construction > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Riffelalp articles: Photo galleries: Zermatt articles:
Riffelalp Resort Historical photos Zermatt (Winter)
Historical overview The new hotel Gornergrat Railway
Reviewer's notes Zermatt skiing Matterhorn
Related Web links Zermatt village Glacier Express

Text, logo, and photos copyright © Riffelalp Resort.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

"Best of the Web"
- Forbes and The Washington Post

Photo (c)

Need a car in Europe?

If you live outside the EU, a tax-free tourist car lease can be cheaper than renting for visits of 21+ days. Other benefits:

To compare vehicles and rates, see:

      arrow  Renault

      arrow  Peugeot

For car rentals under 21 days:

      arrow  Auto Europe


Traveling by train?
Get free schedules, maps, and guides for 50+ European railroads. (Residents of North and Central America can buy tickets and rail passes online.)

       arrow Rail Europe