Davos – the very name spells the ultimate in Swiss luxury and I was fortunate to visit this renowned mountain destination a year back, courtesy of a FAM Tour organised by Swiss Air that took us to destinations like Geneva, Basel, Zurich, and of course Davos.

Words Subhasish Chakraborty

Davos – the very name spells the ultimate in Swiss luxury and I was fortunate to visit this renowned mountain destination a year back, courtesy of a FAM Tour organised by Swiss Air that took us to destinations like Geneva, Basel, Zurich, and of course Davos.

Words Subhasish Chakraborty

I had heard of Davos being a venue for prestigious international conferences and I was pondering onboard the Swiss Air flight what ethereal beauty this Alpine settlement holds for the global business honchos and the movers and shakers of the world that compels them to head for Davos year after year.

We landed in Zurich airport and from there drove by road to Davos, passing through the magnificent Alpine panorama and the Swiss countryside. This two and a half hour road journey is forever etched in my memory, being probably the most scenic drive I have ever experienced.

Swiss Air had made elaborate arrangements for our stay at Davos’s outstanding Arosa Kulm hotel. The surroundings here are stunning with undulating ski slopes and snowy hiking trails that can be accessed directly from the doorway. The hotel’s outstanding location at 1,835 meters offers unobstructed exquisite views of the Grison Alps.

Davos has indeed come of age as an in ternational Alpine holiday destination – its impressive set of congress resorts, relaxation avenues and a plethora of winter sport activities have catapulted Davos into a much preferred Swiss vacation spot.

We were informed by the Resident Manager that twelve classic resorts belonging to the European Alpine region have joined together for better brand marketing: ‘Best of the Alps’ (BOTA), which includes Chamonix Mont Blanc, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Davos, Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Grindelwald, Kitzbühel, Lerch Zürs am Arlberg, Megève, St.Anton am Arlberg, St. Moritz, Seefeld, and Zermatt. They signify the most prestigious summer and winter tourist destinations.

The ‘Best of the Alps’ resorts are considered to be the epitome of rich Alpine tradition and superb hospitality offering the discerning international visitor a variety of accommodation options, ranging from the homely hostel to a super luxury hotel.

Davos is not all nature. This bewitching Swiss town also offers a colourful cultural palette – often in a quietly premeditated contrast to the more recognisable scenic attractions. We were lucky to appreciate The Davos Festival ‘Young Artists in Concert’ that draws talented young musicians from across the globe. For the culturally inclined, a visit to the historic Kirchner Museum will be very rewarding. Here, the great collection of the renowned Swiss expressionist, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is carefully preserved.

The evolution of Davos as an international high-altitude health resort (1860 – 1930) began in 1853 and is intimately linked with the name of Alexander Spengler. He was sentenced to death by the Germans for his participation in the March Revolution of 1848 and sought asylum in Davos. As a qualified doctor, he quickly recognised the beneficial effects of a high-altitude climate and in 1868, Spengler and Dutchman, Willem Jan Holsboer together founded the Kuranstalt Spengler-Holsboer health clinic. Later on Holsboer also established the Rhaetian Railway and, thanks to his pioneering initiative, the Landschaft Davos set up its first railway link with the lowlands back in 1890.

Thereafter, the development of Davos as a much sought after health resort was quick to evolve. Hotels, sanatoriums and villas sprang up from nowhere, almost overnight. If statistical records are anything to go by, at the beginning of the 20th century, an annual 700,000 overnight bookings were recorded!

With the passage of time, visitors to Davos’s many sanatoriums also introduced both summer and winter sports to this town. Renowned British author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – creator of Sherlock Holmes – contributed a great deal on this front. The introduction of Europe’s first T-bar ski lift at Bolgen and the construction of several mountain railway projects played pivotal roles in generating the skii boom in these areas.

Newer scientific methods in treating tuberculosis led to a gradual decline in the volume of patients coming to Davos, and the number of long-term guests in the sanatoriums dropped remarkably, as a result of which, elegant buildings were converted into contemporary hotels. However, the town gradually evolved as a centre for medical expertise and today there are a number of research centres based in Davos. With the construction of the magnificent Congress Centre in 1969, Davos truly established itself as a seminar and congress venue.

Davos boasts a long skiing tradition. During the early 19th century it was mainly the British, who together with the local people introduced Alpine ski sport. The world’s first ski lift became operational at Bolgen in 1934. This lift is now on display at the impressive Davos Winter Sports Museum.

Very few visitors are aware of the fact that Davos was one of the first resorts to recognise the importance of snowboarding as a sign of the times rather than just a passing fad. In the early 1990’s, the localty had gained a tremendous reputation as a Mecca of snowboarding, a reputation that has been reaffirmed with every passing year. Today, Davos is a wonderful example of old traditions blending with the new. Cross-country skiing remains a perennial favourite in the Landwasser Valley. There is also a spectacular 75 km network of trails stretching from Davos Wolfgang flanking the scenic lake towards Davos Glaris. The Flüela run in particular has been standardised by the FIS and today serves as a traditional World Cup course for the planet’s top ranked cross-country skiers.

I was stupefied by the sight of Davos’ ice rink. Europe’s largest natural ice rink (over 1,800m2) comprising an outdoor artificial ice rink and a state-of-the-art ice stadium that are much sought after venues for ice hockey, ice skating, speed skating, curling and ice-stick shooting. Davos hosts numerous prestigious competitions like the International Speed Skating Championships, the much-hyped HC Davos Ice Hockey Championship matches and the one-and-only Spengler Cup, which happens to be the most important international ice hockey event, held annually in Davos between Christmas and New Year.

If you aren’t a ski buff, there are numerous other wonderful options for spending your winter days. For instance, the 97 km long winter-walking paths around Davos-Klosters offer an irresistible temptation to discover the Swiss countryside and there are also amazing trails for Nordic walking.

I have seen many visitors to Davos try snowshoe trekking, an innovative way to unwind in the Swiss Alps. Toboggan runs on Schatzalp, Rinerhorn, Madrisa and Parsenn totalling around 22 km of tempting valley runs extend a bewildering array of snow thrills.

Whoever knows Davos, would testify to the fact that the après-ski is extraordinary! Refreshing entertainment is on offer at a host of Alpine ski huts that are close to the ski slopes, at rugged Swiss bars near the valley stations and in Davos town itself. Many visitors also go to the cinema followed by happy hours at the Casino. A welcome change from the arduous time spent on skis or snowboard.

If you are a business magnate, Davos should be on your priority list as a conferencing centre. Today it has carved out a niche identity as a successful and competitive international congress venue. In the world of conferences, there is a saying that Davos is blessed with a special ‘congress climate’.

The most highly acclaimed international congress is the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) which has been held in Davos since 1970. Every year in the month of January alone, Davos is host to over 200 high-flying guests from the worlds of politics, finance, business, science, technology, and civil society.

Come to Davos and go back with Alpine memories.


For information and reservations at Davos, CONTACT Davos Tourismus, Congress Administration.
Promenade 67,
CH-7270 Davos Platz.
Tel. +41 (0)81 415 21 21.