How a game of cards determined the lives of four generations

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Schmidt Family | Schweizerhof Flims, Switzerland

The Belle Époque hotel in Flims not only has a moving family history but was also the warm and loving home of the composer Ar­thur Schmidt (1909–1947) and of his son, actor and film director Daniel Schmid (1941–2006).

It all began in 1869 with a game of cards in a small inn. Since the widow Schneider, who owned it, had died childless, her guesthouse was auctioned off among the locals. The great-­grandfather of the current Schmidt family, Walter Candrian from Sagogn, won the card game. Together with his wife, he extended the guesthouse and opened a number of other hotels. The current Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof was only built in the summer of 1903 by their daughter Mengia Schmidt-Candrian and her husband Daniel. They had it erected on top of a rock where they used to go courting. Twice a week, there were dinner dances, conjurors wove their magic and guests could call on the services of bridge, tennis and dance coaches. Among the many renowned guests were Albert Einstein and King Albert of Belgium. Over the period of the two world wars, the hotel business in general came to a standstill. But the Schweizerhof also managed to make it through the dark times – not least because of the people who dedicated their lives to it with passion and commitment. They included Arthur Schmidt, one of the founders’ sons. He was not only a hotelier and ski instructor, but also a great entertainer and composer. In 1941, his sons were born: the well-known film director Daniel Schmid and his brother Rudolf came into the world on the first floor of the empty hotel in what was then room 11 and is today room 106. The Schweizerhof was home to both of them and a place where their family history has strong roots. Although Daniel spent most of this time on the world’s film and opera sets, the Schweizerhof always had a special place in his heart. Today, the family hotel is run by the fourth generation of the ­family: Christoph Schmidt (son of Therese and Rudolf Schmidt) and his wife Sandra. Yet as a senior host, Therese still continues to look after the well-being of the guests.