21. Februar 2019

A very special birthday

Alexander Seiler, 21 February 1819 - 10 July 1891

Alexander Seiler was born on 21 February 1819, the son of a less than affluent peasant family in Blitzingen in the Goms region. At the age of 22 he left home to try his luck elsewhere in the world. He learned to make candles and soap in southern Germany and in 1845 he established a small factory in Sion (Valais) which allowed him to earn a modest living.

With a basket strapped to his back, he walked from one village to the next to sell his products. He additionally sold sheep’s wool on the side and unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a preferential license from the State Council of the Valais region. In his application he wrote: "Do look out and ensure that commerce will find its way into our mountain population, let the money circulate throughout the country, and soon you will see thousands of busy hands drying out the marshlands to convert the dry ground into fertile meadows and fields". Prophetic words, indeed, but they are proof of the young man’s foresight. He never gave up, never rested until his goals were achieved.

In 1851 the chaplain talked to Alexander Seiler about Zermatt and planted an idea in his head: why don’t you open up a lodging house for travelers in the village? An inn, he suggested, typical for those times, with 9 or 10 nice guestrooms and a large hall.

Two years later Alexander Seiler arrived in Zermatt with a carrier full of candles, soap and fabric on his back. Overwhelmed by the sight of the magnificent mountain and the glaciers all around, he took off his carrier and stayed in Zermatt.

In 1853 Alexander Seiler leased a property from surgeon Josef Lauber together with his brothers Joseph, the chaplain, and Franz, a lawyer. Only a year later the three brothers bought the house, renovated it, and called it Hotel Monte Rosa. This was the first step to establish tourism in Zermatt and the beginning of the Seiler hotels.

On 21 February 2019 we celebrated this very special birthday. On that day we honored Alexander Seiler and his successes with a special program including a photo exhibition at Hotel Monte Rosa and Hotel Mont Cervin Palace.


State Councilor Josef Anton Clemenz of Visp opened his Hotel Mont Cervin with 14 guestrooms.

The Seiler brothers buy the Mont Cervin Hotel.

Completion of the second renovation of the Mont Cervin Hotel: a fourth floor was added on top of the west wing with a continuous mansard roof. The number of guest beds increased from 68 to 180.

Alexander Seiler died on 10 July 1891. His death coincided with the opening of the last section of the Visp-Zermatt railway. The first scheduled train that traveled to Zermatt carried his remains back to Brig where he was buried in the cemetery of Glis.

After her husband’s death, Mrs. Catherine Seiler continued to oversee the family enterprise with the active support of her children, particularly her two sons Josef and Alexander, until she died in 1895.

If you would like to learn more about the history of the Seiler Hotels AG, click HERE.