Oops, I did it again, punching the publish button in stead of the save button.
For the last 8 glouriously sunny days I have been skiing around in the Bettmeralp region. Villa Cassel is standing there in the midst of a ski slope at the edge of the UNESCO World Heritage site Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn.
Currently Villa Cassel is the home of Pro Natura.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Villa Cassel was built to be the chic summer residence of the rich Englishman, Sir Ernest Cassel.
After Cassel’s death the house was run as a hotel from 1924 to 1969.
You can follow its history at the Pro Natura site.
The 25 room mansion was built there at a hight of approximately 1700 m with all the building material and interior being transported merely by man craft and mules, Imagine the piano being transported that way.
Among the guests there used to stay many well known people. The young Winston Churchill stayed there at least four times. He used the time spent there writing, including the biography of his father.
A daughter of Cassel was the later lady Edwina Mountbatten.
After the exploitation as a hotel ceased in 1969, Villa Cassel hardly escaped demolition. The historic building was bought and rebuilt for more than three million Swiss Francs by Pro Natura, formerly called “Schweizer Bund für Naturschutz”, Switzerland’s nature conservation organization.
On July 10, 1976, it was re-opened and inaugurated as the conservation center for the Aletsch forest.
In the summer it has extensive opening times, but during the winter only one afternoon in the week. I’ll have to see whether I am able to visit it.
Last year I promised already to disclose this mystery home.