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Sonnmatt Luzern
Spa hotel & Residence
Hemschlenstrasse
CH-6000 Luzern 6
Telephone +41 41 375 32 32
Fax +41 41 370 39 19
info@sonnmatt.ch
 
Since 1910

A rich history

1906
1908
1910
1911
1921
1929
1943
1951
1970
1976
1985
1998
2004
2007
2008
2011
2012
2013
2014
2016
2018

1906

Dr. Heinrich Ferdinand Hotz and two lawyers, Ludwig Friedrich Meyer and Josef Müller-Müller, purchase the properties "Hintere Blank" and "Hemschlen" on the Dietschiberg. Hotz is fascinated by the advances made by medicine in his time. He is in close touch with the inventor of birchermüesli, Dr. Max Bircher-Benner, and is keen on the teachings of Dr. Kneipp.

1908

Founding of the Kurhaus Sonn-Matt A.G. company.

1910

On 10 July the curative spa facility is ceremoniously opened in the presence of members of Lucerne's public authorities, medical professionals, hoteliers and the press. The Sonnmatt comprises a bathhouse and a terrace, while the facility has space for one hundred persons. An open-air swimming pool is situated in the middle of the wood for privacy, for the Monte Verità above Ascona is now no longer the sole place in Switzerland where nudity is encouraged: the Zimmeri Wood finds spa patrons – strictly segregated by gender – strolling around naked on the grass. The trade press is enthusiastic about the architecture of the establishment and lauds the "harmonious interplay of the various parts".

1911 - 1920

The curative spa offering is diverse and takes up the whole day: treatments include resting and recumbent cures, exercise, dietary cures, air and sun baths, hydrotherapy, electric light baths, steam and hot air applications, and electrotherapy. The inclusion of psychotherapy in the list of treatments is particularly progressive: Hermann Hesse, for example, experienced a breakthrough at the Sonnmatt thanks to his sessions with Dr. J. B. Lang. The early years are difficult for the Sonnmatt: the First World War causes revenues to fall and the seasonal nature of the business means a great deal of effort has to be put into staff recruitment.

1921 - 1928

1920 sees Dr. Ferdinand Heinrich Hotz contract cancer of the throat. Despite his illness, he stays on as senior consultant at the Sonnmatt, and continues to involve himself in the agricultural estate, forestry and fruit and vegetable gardening until his death. At the time of his death on 11 February 1928, he leaves behind an enduringly successful business. He is survived by his wife Lydia Hotz-Siegenthaler and four children.

1929 - 1942

Dr. Fritz Grote assumes the medical management of the Sonnmatt along the same lines as his predecessor. A major, and influential, shareholder is Otto Siegenthaler from Gossau, Canton St. Gallen. The brother-in-law of the Sonnmatt founder comes from a family of cheesemakers and is a pragmatist. He assesses the economic situation correctly, keeps costs down and invests prudently.

Numerous high-profile visitors come to Sonnmatt for curative treatments, including Hermann Hesse and Paul and Lily Klee.

1943 - 1950

Dr. Heinrich Willy Hotz assumes control of the Sonnmatt's medical services: he is a specialist in internal medicine, an associate professor at the University of Zurich and a senior consultant at the University Hospital. Challenging years follow. The transition from "natural" to "scientific" medicine consumes vast sums, while the Second World War interrupts the flow of guests. 1950 witnesses a crisis of confidence and a scandal: Otto Siegenthaler sells his block of shares to the Basel hotelier Walter Bossi without informing his nephew. Dr. Heinrich Willy Hotz resigns with immediate effect, steps down from the board of directors and hands his shares to his sons.

1951 - 1969

With his prudent approach to business, Walter Bossi exerts a benign influence on the Sonnmatt for two decades. His wife, Helene Bossi-Brönnimann, also has a hand in the immense success of the Sonnmatt. The Bossis soon succeed in establishing an enduring relationship of trust with the new head of medicine, Dr. Hans Meier-Schaefer. Guest numbers rise, leading to gratifying occupancy rates. The Sonnmatt is popular with Jewish and other communities. They come from all over Europe for rest and recuperation and recommend the Sonnmatt to others. Helene Bossi-Brönnimann dies in 1964, an event that sends shockwaves through the establishment.

1970 - 1976

Dr. Meier-Schaefer steps down in 1970, while in 1973 majority shareholder Walter Bossi sells his shares to the Anliker AG company. An unsettled period that witnesses several changes of doctor comes to an end in 1974 with the appointment of Hans Swiestra as director of the Sonnmatt. Dr. Rainer Hotz, grandson of the company's founder, assumes the medical management of the private clinic in 1976.

1976 - 1984

Dawn of an innovative and successful time at the Sonnmatt. The reception area, lounges and some rooms are renovated. In 1979 the fourth floor – former staff quarters – is extended to make more double rooms available. A new road makes the Sonnmatt accessible from Schädrütistrasse to the east. 1980 sees experienced directors Manuel and Irmgard de Francisco assume management of the Sonnmatt. Acupuncture is added to the list of available treatments in 1981: the department of acupuncture and biomedicine run by Dr. Slobodan Milic is almost always fully booked. In 1983 the Hemschlen farm sited directly opposite the main entrance to the Sonnmatt is finally closed down and demolished after years of complaints about noise and noxious odours stemming from its pig breeding activities.

1985 - 1997

They came for one week and then another week, stayed longer – and finally moved in: senior citizens! The changing requirements prompt the Sonnmatt to erect the east wing, which opens in 1985. It becomes fully occupied within six months. Three business segments find the Sonnmatt flourishing: a spa hotel, a private clinic with nursing department, and a department specialising in care for the older generation. Continuous quality improvement is a firm part of the establishment's mission. Following the totally unexpected death of Paul Bosshard, chairman of the board of directors, the AGM in 1993 elects Xaver Sigrist of Anliker AG to the post of chairman.

1998 - 2003

After one and a half years of building work, the Residence opens in 1999. The contemporary building is designed by architects Scheitlin-Syfrig und Partner. Even before the official opening, all 33 apartments were let, which demonstrated the great demand for sheltered accommodation in an agreeable setting amongst the independent older generation – couples as well as individuals. The Sonnmatt east wing was also extended to include larger therapy rooms for more guests and a wellness facility with swimming and activity pool.

2004 - 2006

The Sonnmatt closed for refurbishments on 1 September 2004: the venerable building was getting on in years and the demands of guests in terms of hotel amenities had evolved. So the rooms and bathrooms became bigger and airier, while the Art Nouveau character of the building was restored under the watchful eye of the local historical monument preservation agency. The works were supervised by architects Meletta Strebel Zangger. The clientele was thrilled when the Sonnmatt reopened on 5 May 2005. On a more sombre note, Dr. Slobodan Milic fell ill around the time the works began, and he succumbed to his illness shortly after the building's reopening: a very sad time for all those who knew him. The experienced and ever-popular acupuncturist was succeeded in 2006 by Dr. Grazyna Clavadetscher.

2007

After 32 years of devoted service, Dr. Rainer Hotz informs the board of directors of his intention to retire in 2007, a decision the staff and patients very much regret. His successor, Dr. Rolf Krieger, takes up the reins that same year.

2008

The spa hotel celebrates its 100th anniversary with a big party and a book documenting the history of the Sonnmatt.

2011

Retirement of long-standing directors Thesy and Manuel de Francisco. For the first time, the board appoints a woman to the post of director: Ms. Annette Badillo.

2012

Regulatory issues prompt the board of directors to close the private clinic and outsource the medical management functions to the Hirslanden Klinik St. Anna. Prof. Dr. Reto Krapf becomes the Sonnmatt's medical director.

2013

After the closure of the private clinic, the east wing is renovated and the spa hotel expanded at a cost of CHF 2.3 million. The rooms and apartments are fitted with walnut parquet flooring, hospital-standard beds and high-quality furnishings.

2014 & 2015

October 2014 finds the Sonnmatt Luzern coming to the help of the Sunneziel retirement home in Meggen, which is being renovated: its residents are offered a temporary home-from-home at the Sonnmatt. They return to Meggen on 2 April 2016. The Sonnmatt now adopts the trading name 'Sonnmatt Luzern Kurhotel & Residenz' (Sonnmatt Luzern Spa Hotel and Residence), which explains exactly where the long-standing establishment is and what it does. The Sonnmatt holds an open day for the first time in May 2015, attracting more than 1000 visitors.

2016 - 2018

Located in the east wing of the Sonnmatt, the RehaClinic Sonnmatt Luzern opens for the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders in October 2016. A new dining room and lounge is created for the RehaClinic clientele between the east wing and the spa hotel. Extensive work is done to adapt the Sonnmatt Luzern to the new digital world, and the range of services is expanded to include, for the first time, an in-house Spitex community nursing provision. Annette Badillo, who is greatly appreciated by staff and guests alike, decides to take early retirement in 2018.

2018

Urs Niffeler is appointed to replace Annette Badillo as director of the Sonnmatt Luzern. His previous role was as head of the Canton Aargau Health Department. Urs Niffeler comes from Mauensee in Canton Lucerne and took up his post in May 2018. His deputy is Ruth Betschart.