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“We wanted to be respectful of the legend,” said Roland Fasel, general manager of the storied Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, the grand Victorian lodge built in St. Moritz in 1896, which has since hosted everyone from Marilyn Monroe to crowned heads of state.

This story first appeared in the February 27, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Although still owned by the founding family, financial realities prompted the Badrutt clan to negotiate a $100 million management deal with the American Rosewood Group in 1999. Since then, the Grand Old Dame — flush with cash from her marriage to a rich foreigner — has undergone a gentle nip and tuck at the hands of American designers Hirsh Bedner Associates.

The very news was enough to worry some longtime guests. “I hope it still smells the same way,” fretted one third-generation fan from a grand German family. This season, the Palace ancient regime can judge the results. With the major portion of the work done, the hotel is lighter, tidier and subtly more colorful, but hardly nouveau. Each room is still different, and a large part of the investment has been purposefully hidden — all the technical gizmos like internet access and fire security measures.

“We respected the patina, the feel, the emotion of the hotel as much as we could,” said Fasel. “But you have to break with some traditions to move forward.”

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