Grandhotel, which was built in Art Nouveau style, was opened in 1904 as the first big hotel in the Tatras. Gustav Hoepfner senior, the managing director of the Spiš Savings and Industrial Bank, which sponsored all the beauty, was most instrumental in the construction process.
From the beginning, the hotel was considered snobbish, prestigious and available only for the rich and socially strong members of the society. Due to its luxurious interior, services and comfort, it was one of the most visited hotels in the whole area of the High Tatras. And this news spread out in the world very quickly. The hotel was fully booked ever since and before WWI, it was unofficially declared one of the Top 10 alpine hotels in the world. During more than 100 years of its history, it has never been closed.
One of the first eminent guests that stayed in our hotel was Friedrich August, Crown Prince of Saxony, with his family. The hotel has been visited by many world´s political, cultural and sports personalities such as Czechoslovak president Eduard Beneš with the whole post-war government, former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the best-known Czech actor Vlasta Burian, composers Alexander Moyzes, Eugen Suchoň and Ján Cikker, alpine skiing world champion Toni Sailer, Olympic winner Emil Zátopek and many, many others.
In 1945, when the Czechoslovak government was returning from Košice to Prague, President Eduard Beneš (the third from the left in the picture) and his wife stayed in the High Tatras for almost one month. As the furniture had been taken by the Germans, the hotel staff had to borrow some from the locals.
Grandhotel was opened in 1904 and was proud to welcome Friedrich August, Crown Prince of Saxony, as the first guest. The whole royal family spent several months there and was enjoying the most luxurious services and renowned Austro-Hungarian kitchen.
Rumours have it that the four-time Olympic champion, world record holder, a sports legend, one of the best runners in world´s history and the so called “Czech locomotive” – Emil Zátopek was returning from a strenuous training at Skalnaté Pleso and was very hungry. So much that he ate all food prepared for Vietnamese tourists that were staying at the hotel (i.e. a bowl of chicken soup, a roast chicken with six scoops of rice and two cream cakes for dessert). The Vietnamese guests could at least enjoy three delicious dumplings prepared promptly by the hotel chef.
In 1972, Fidel Castro himself paid a visit to the brothers and comrades in Czechoslovakia. And during his short 2-day stay in the Tatras, he made his mark in the history of our hotel and in the hearts of two chamois that he hunted and killed (these were the last 2 chamois hunted and killed in the Tatras, at least officially). Just for the record, he had an official permission to kill one chamois only but nobody dared to interfere with his hunting passion. His table tennis match against Vendelín Vrano, the pioneer and a keen promoter of table tennis in the Tatras, who was working as the hotel boiler tender at that time, was simply unforgettable. The tough and merciless duel ended in a tie. However, the final score was not officially recorded.
Vlasta Burian, the king of comedians and the father of Czech humour and film comedy, had a close relationship to our grand mountains. He stayed at our hotel several times and would always leave relaxed and satisfied. As a keen sportsman, he couldn’t miss the opportunity to hike to Zbojnícka chalet along with Elemír Guttfreund, a Tatra poet who has been all but forgotten.
The photo depicts Emil returning from a training in the valley of Veľká Studená Dolina, where he also managed to pick and fill a basket with truly beautiful king bolete mushrooms. The hotel Chef Štefan Pupák used them to cook a delicious mushroom soup for the fully occupied hotel.
The photo depicts the climax of the match when Fidel was getting warmer (and had to take off his military vest and shirt).
Vlasta Burian, the eight from the right, after having climbed to Zbojnícka chalet.