Charity ball to revive 19th century grandeur

The Maloja Palace enjoys a dream setting in the Upper Engadine Valley. Maloja Tourism

Holidaymakers travelling to the Engadine valley are invited to attend a ball at the Maloja Palace hotel, to benefit Rwandan orphans.

This content was published on February 2, 2002 - 11:08

A big band will perform hits from the swing era and paying guests (SFr300 per person) can help themselves to a rich buffet dinner at the charity ball on February 8. The doors open at 7:15pm.

The organisers plan on donating at least SFr40,000 of the proceeds to Unicef projects to aid orphans in Rwanda. But the men behind the event also want to recreate some of the splendour of the late 19th century when the Maloja Palace first opened its doors.

Alps Monte Carlo

It was built by a Belgian duke in 1884 who mistakenly believed he could create a "Monte Carlo of the Alps". He furnished the grand hotel with the finest Belgian crystal, German silverware, billiard tables from France and English bathtubs.

European aristocracy were among the first guests and they weren't disappointed. The duke went as far as importing Venetian gondolas, which were set afloat in the dining hall flooded for the occasion.

But a cholera epidemic in Italy forced a closing of the border only three days after its grand opening - isolating the hotel. The duke soon found himself in financial straits, and his wife died shortly after under mysterious circumstances.

In the 20th century, the hotel went through many transformations. It was used as an army field hospital, a shelter for refugees and soldiers, an orphanage and is today a holiday camp for Belgian youth.

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