The best-connected Davos man you've never heard of
U.S. former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali gives a punch in front of photographers at hotel Belvedere in Davos 28 January 2006. (Getty Images)
January 23rd, 2012
01:00 PM ET

The best-connected Davos man you've never heard of

Editor's Note: The following article comes from Worldcrunch, an innovative, new global news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. This article was originally published in Tages-Anzeiger.

By Matthias Chapman, Worldcrunch

DAVOS – “I had tears in my eyes,” says Ernst Wyrsch. He wasn’t talking about last year, when he left his job of 15 years as director of the Belvédère Hotel above Davos, Switzerland. He was talking about 2006, when boxing legend Muhammad Ali visited the hotel. “We waited for him in the lobby, along with around 50 journalists and photographers. When Ali arrived, something unexpected happened. The photographers put their cameras down on the ground and started applauding.”

Wyrsch has probably met and lodged more government and business leaders, more show biz greats, than anyone else in Switzerland. Along with 70 Nobel prizewinners, the list includes 100 heads of state. Just a few of the names on it are Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, Tony Blair, Bill Gates, Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann – not to mention Angelina Jolie, U2 front man Bono and Robert De Niro. Wyrsch has endless stories to tell, ranging from Clinton’s talents on the saxophone to the impact of being in the presence of Nelson Mandela, whose eyes were still so sensitive to light after years in jail that photographers were forbidden to use flashes.

As director of the Belvédère, Wyrsch became a central figure in Davos, where his hotel remains a favorite address of the world’s great and good. Wyrsch remembers taking up his position when the hotel was “very down” and there was talk of demolishing it or converting it into holiday apartments. Wyrsch put all his energy into keeping it functioning as a hotel. He made his number one priority the week in January when the World Economic Forum (WEF) meets in Davos.

Read more over at Worldcrunch.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Ernst Wyrsch was not the first and would not be the last Swiss hotelier of international fame. The Swiss are good in this trade.

    January 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      A few had written gastronomic history. César Ritz was founder of the famous Ritz in Paris.

      January 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Without Oscar Tschirky the Waldorf-Astoria wouldn't have had its glorious past.

      January 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply

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