St. Moritz has long reigned as the European capital of wintertime indulgence, where the stream of private jets carrying business titans, film stars, and royals is as common a sight as the snowy pistes above the Engadine Valley. It’s the kind of place where the atmosphere is described as “champagne” and Cartier sponsors an annual polo match atop a frozen lake. The Kulm Hotel has served as the place to see and be seen for more than 160 years, hosting events at two Olympics and counting everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Alfred Hitchcock to Audrey Hepburn as guests.
But even grande dames need a refresh now and again, and who better to lead the charge than architect and part-time resident Norman Foster, whose firm, Foster + Partners, was commissioned to renovate the landmark. (A wing of guest rooms was recently given a makeover by French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon.) “This project is very close to my heart,” Foster says. “The old building had been abandoned for many decades. I saw a great opportunity to revitalize the hotel and this part of town by bringing it back to life.”
At the center of the restoration lies Kulm Country Club, a pop-up restaurant that hosts a rotating slate of chefs with award-winning pedigrees. Switzerland-bred Daniel Humm, of the Michelin three-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York, kicked things off in January. In February, the kitchen was helmed by Nenad Mlinarevic, the 2016 Gault Millau Chef of the Year, who is turned out unfussy classics like pork belly steamed buns, “just like I eat at home,” he says. In March, Italian-Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco, of the Michelin two-starred Mirazur in Menton, France, will close out the season by serving up his vibrant, produce-centric cuisine. “I try to take out the green of the vegetables and express that on the plate,” Colagreco says.
Each menu will be served in a space lined with regional materials—such as larch, ash, oak, and walnut—detailed in a contemporary style. St. Moritz’s sporting heritage is referenced by vintage bobsleighs suspended from the ceiling, black-and-white skiing photographs, and assorted winter memorabilia—just enough kitsch to solidify its ski chalet credentials.
Outside, clean-lined wood pavilions with copper-edged curves add strikingly modern structures to the historic grounds. “In winter, parents can have a coffee at the bar and watch their children skate; in summer, terraces offer the perfect vantage point for viewing events such as the Classic Car Meet,” Foster says. “This will become a new gathering place for the community.” New, yes, but for the longtime visitors to St. Moritz, happily familiar.