Markus Granelli The General Manager Of The Dolder Grand Discusses 125 Years Of Swiss Hospitality

Lindsay Judge   |   13-06-2024

Switzerlands Dolder Grand Hotel has been one of the most iconic in the world since it first opened in 1899.

This year, the Zurich property celebrates 125 years and is marking the occasion with a series of activations, events, and offers for guests throughout the year. The historic hotel opened in 1899 as the Dolder Grand Hotel & Curhaus, an architectural marvel with magnificent views over Zurich, the lake, and the Alps. The city meets countryside resort quickly became a year-round destination for Europes elite, looking for the finest in luxury hospitality. Sports, entertainment and gastronomy facilities were added to the property over the years, attracting global guests, many of whom would return again and again. 

In 2008, Dolder Grand reopened after a major renovation. Now with 175 rooms and suites and a 4,000 square metre spa, it offers tranquillity, relaxation and five-star hospitality. Today, under the guidance of general manager Markus Granelli, the hotel is focusing on its next chapter, in which technology and innovation come into play, further improving the guest experience. Here we find out more about the anniversary celebrations and whats next for the iconic property. 

Congratulations on 125 years – how would you describe the Hotel today in your own words?

Many thanks for the wishes! The Dolder Grand is a destination distinguished by three qualities. Firstly, it stands for exclusive, multi-award-winning and world-class gastronomy that is varied and innovative with ever-new and inspiring culinary concepts. Secondly, our idyllic location above Zurich offers relaxation in beautiful, natural surroundings with a delightful variety of leisure activities right on the doorstep, whilst providing effortless access to the vibrant city and its rich cultural life. Thirdly, our renowned spa, with its extensive range of facilities and treatments spread over 4,000 square metres, is the largest in Zurich.

How are you planning to mark the anniversary?

We have planned various activities. For our guests, we have launched an anniversary package called Celebrating Exceptionality, showing our appreciation for their many years of loyalty with a special gift. As a tribute to the guests who have shaped our hotel over the past 125 years, we give an insight into our guest book, which captures forgotten moments and stories through the belle époque to the 21st century.

Underlining our connection with art, we have invited renowned artists to interpret their stay in their own artistic language, resulting in a variety of individual works that perfectly encapsulate the essence of the Dolder Grand and take guests on a special journey through the Hotel.

On the culinary front, we will bring themes from the turn of the century to life for our guests at the Heritage Pop-up, and our gourmet festival THE EPICURE, will accompany our anniversary. At the 9th edition of our annual event, top chefs from all over the world will present their extraordinary creations and a wealth of exquisite culinary experiences at the Dolder Grand from 2 to 7 July 2024. Additionally, we are entering the second season with our Blooms Garden restaurant, which offers vegetarian and vegan dishes from the Hotels own garden.

How do you continue to honour the rich history of the hotel?

By staying true to our guiding principle: heritage and vision as well as our passion for creating an unrivalled guest experience.

After winning Hotel of the Year, how do you maintain the high standards you have set in terms of quality and service?

In a nutshell, we listen to our guests. This means we strive to develop offers that not only meet but exceed their wishes and needs.

Whats new at the hotel for this year?

Two things are especially worthy of mention. Firstly, our Canvas Bar and Lounge, with its magnificent historic features and contemporary design elements, inspiring art collection and lively atmosphere, will be refreshed. It is a wonderful place to simply be, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a drink or snack.

Secondly, we have renovated our employee restaurant, Greens, creating a comfortable atmosphere for staff and upgrading the food offerings, with dedicated employees passionate about providing an unforgettable guest experience.

What do you think is particularly attractive about the Hotel to Middle Eastern guests?

The Dolder Grand offers a wide range of facilities for guests from the Middle East who appreciate the highest level of comfort and exclusivity. They enjoy maximum privacy in an ideal location, and find our long-stay offers particularly attractive. Another highlight is our butler service – we are the only Hotel in Zurich to offer this exclusive service.

On the culinary front, Oriental Chef de Cuisine Firas El-Borji presents a wide selection of dishes from the Middle East. His craft is characterised by an almost inexhaustible variety of flavours and the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients of the highest quality. Guests can dine at the exclusive restaurant Salz, the temporary Oriental Hideaway or opt for room service.

Our spa features private spa suites and separate areas for men and women, where guests can relax in peace and recharge. Finally, we also offer medical wellness services that aim to promote the holistic well-being of our guests and make the Dolder Grand an ideal retreat for guests from the Middle East. 

We also provide environmentally friendly means of transportation, such as electric vehicles and bicycles, for guests who want to explore the surrounding area. Furthermore, our guests can use the complimentary shuttle service or the exclusive limousine service with a chauffeur.

Can you tell us about the summer season at the Hotel and how it compares to the winter season?

We are a year-round establishment, offering activities that vary according to the seasons. In winter, our attractive location allows guests to enjoy wonderful winter walks or our ice-skating rink – one of the largest in Europe. In summer, a plethora of options await, including five tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, a driving range, a minigolf course and access to the public Dolder Bad swimming pool.

Whats the biggest challenge you face in your role today?

One of the biggest challenges in my role today is mastering the balancing act between innovation and tradition while always offering our guests an unforgettable experience—in short, combining heritage and vision. For example, we are the first hotel in Switzerland to accept payment in cryptocurrencies, and we also use innovative technologies such as robots to relieve staff and improve our service. When our hotel opened in 1899, the technical standard was a telephone and telegraph service for guests. There have been 125 years in between – and managing change over the years to keep customers happy at all times is an ongoing process that we are passionate about.

What can you tell us about the food and beverage offerings at the Hotel?

We have five restaurants that together have a total of 64 GaultMillau points and two Michelin stars – from refined oriental and Japanese cuisine to exceptional fine dining and our garden restaurant for vegetarian gourmets. Culinary Director and award-winning Chef Fine Dining Heiko Nieder is responsible for this. He delights our guests with a unique blend of traditional techniques and modern influences. From upscale cuisine to seasonal, regional, vegetarian and vegan menus, as well as creative culinary concepts, the Dolder Grands culinary offerings continuously demonstrate their innovative strength.

What are some of the other attractions for guests to visit?

Guests can explore our art collection, featuring over 100 pieces from various eras, and discover the Hotels architecture, showcasing the evolution from the Belle époque to the present day.

What would you say to readers who ask why they should visit the Hotel this year?

Experience how the Dolder Grand combines tradition and innovation for your perfect stay, and join us in celebrating our 125th anniversary! With our anniversary package, we are giving you CHF 125 as a gift to commemorate this special occasion. Come and experience for yourself what sets the Dolder Grand apart.