Tour of the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof

Rafael Biner is the manager of the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof and has a passion for hospitality. His job truly is his calling. In two short videos, he discusses the history of the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof and invites the viewer to discover some of the things that make the small grand hotel so special.

The small grand hotel

“When you walk down the Bahnhofstrasse, the first thing you see to your left is the Grand Hotel. The building looks luxurious and from the outside appears to be very large, but it is in fact a small Grand Hotel. It is a very intimate place – we only have 77 rooms and that allows us to get to know each guest personally. Over the years, this has enabled us to develop personal relationships with our guests – they are like family to us.

When we greet guests and welcome them to the hotel, they tell us it feels like coming home. They feel at ease, they can relax and settle in. We offer our guests precisely what one would expect from a Grand Hotel: they can spend an extended period of time in the hotel, within these four walls, and never feel bored.

It’s not the kind of hotel where you come back at the end of the day just to go to sleep. We offer a wide variety of services. First you can sit for a while by the fireplace, then enjoy a meal and later spend a few hours in the spa. That is what makes this hotel special. It is a place where you can relax and simply be.

The hotel has a long history. All of these services were originally put in place over 100 years ago, when the hotel industry was first developing in Switzerland. Over the years, these practices spread, were passed down and honed to perfection.

We are here for our guests. We want guests to enter the hotel and feel at home. We offer top service around the clock, people that are happy to take care of you and also have the time to stop and chat every now and then. It’s as if time is standing still.

We take care of all of our guests needs: organising a trip or excursion, running out to the store to pick something up or even coordinating a special event such as a family celebration, a birthday party or a wedding. Absolutely everything is possible.”

A trip back in time with the hotel manager

“The Zermatterhof is a special place based on its unique history alone. It was built by the families in Zermatt, our grandparents, at the end of the nineteenth century.

That is what makes it so interesting: the families decided to come together and form a cooperative in order to build the hotel themselves. A few members of each family were involved and they constructed the hotel on a voluntary, community basis. That is to say, they were not paid for their work. At the time, they all signed an agreement stating that the families would benefit from this work for the rest of their lives. The hotel belongs to the burghers of Zermatt. They are allowed to celebrate certain events here. Moreover, the agreement stipulates that the profits from the hotel can be divided between the burghers.

The families have worked together in a cooperative for generations, starting with Alpine agriculture and forestry. In many communities, it is still the case today that a person is considered a burgher if their family has lived in the village since time immemorial.

In Zermatt there are around a dozen families whose roots can be traced back to the original founders. Many families have died out. Only 12 of the original surnames remain today. Biner is one of these names. There are three lines of Biners.

It’s in my blood. My parents worked in hotels and I myself got started at a very young age. I always enjoyed speaking to my parents’ guests and friends. I knew a number of regular guests, which was what inspired me to make this my career. I love my job. There’s nothing I’d rather do. I really enjoy it!”

On a journey with the hotel manager

Would you like to go on a guided winter hike or enjoy a lively afternoon of skiing? Then come to the Riffelberg this Wednesday afternoon. We will begin things slowly with an aperitif. You are cordially invited to join us. Rafael Biner, Manager of the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, will welcome you in the lounge of the Riffelhaus 1853 at 1 p.m.

On Wednesday evening, you are invited to join our hotel manager once again – this time on a journey 150 years into the past. In 1865, the whole world was talking about the first ascent of the Matterhorn. You can find out more about it in the Matterhorn Museum – Zermatlantis. Visit to the Zermatlantis Museum, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by a drinks reception in the Salon Inderbinen. Entry to the museum is free for guests of the hotel.