Living like Emperors
Beach Hotel Glücksburg
Das „Weiße Schloss am Meer“ in Glücksburg am Flensburger Fjord blickt auf eine bewegte, über 140-jährige Geschichte zurück. Die Tradition des Hauses sorgt für ein ganz besonderes Flair, das Gäste nach der umfassenden Renovierung heute wie zu Kaisers Zeiten erleben können.
The “Strandhotel Glücksburg” was built in 1872 in the heyday of spa architecture – and high society guests were soon staying there.
Dr Christian Schmid, a doctor in Glücksburg since 1871, became aware of several articles written by Dr Mesinga, a colleague in Flensburg. In these articles the latter extolled the beach and the beauty of the surroundings of Sandwig Bay. Contact was made and the “Aktiengesellschaft des Ostseebades Glücksburg” was established. A further 80 shareholders were soon found for this company. The Baltic resort company quickly decided to build a hotel at Sandwig beach and called it “Curhaus”. As a result of a storm surge in November 1872 so much sand had been driven into Sandwig Bay that a natural beach with fine sand was created. Duke Charles laid the foundation stone on 8 May 1872. The official opening took place 55 days later.
The “Curhaus” had six guest rooms which were intended primarily for older guests. Many large parties were organised, which were at first held in a tent. It was recognised at the end of 1872 already that expansion of the hotel was inevitable. The extended building was opened on 12 July 1873 under the name of “Strandhotel”. The hotel now had two floors, 27 rooms with a balcony, a hall, a bathhouse and 28 bathing carts. Only two years later, in 1875, the hotel was enlarged again. The hotel now had 70 rooms, several salons and a ballroom.
At that time, about 350 guests stayed the night in the summer. The season only comprised the summer months, but the guests remained for several weeks in some cases. They arrived primarily by steamer. The temporary jetty, which was located directly in front of the hotel, was converted into a permanent pier. One of the first ships to dock was the “Seeadler”.
There was an onrush of guests to the hotel due to this development. Towards the end of the 19th century it became a central arrival point in Glücksburg. By ship, by train and later by car people from all over the world as well as from Flensburg arrived at the weekends. Improved transport links were responsible for this development.
A local railway was established from Flensburg to Kappeln in 1885/86. On the water shipping traffic had been developing briskly since 1866, which was initiated by Friedrich Mommsen Bruhn with the first “Kleine Seemöwe” (small seagull). Steamers operated regularly on the fjord.
The “Strandhotel” was extremely popular among Flensburg society and with travellers from all over the world. Prominent sailors were frequent guests, e.g. Alfred Krupp loved it a lot, who came to sail on the fjord. Never to be forgotten is the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II with his wife Auguste Viktoria, who, in 1890, docked their yacht “Hohenzollern” in front of the then relatively new and magnificent building with its distinctive gables. In their honour the legendary Kaiser menu consisting of twelve courses and ten wines was served, which is still prepared today. The imperial couple often came to Glücksburg in the following years and the townspeople enjoyed the court hustle and bustle.
Destruction, rebuilding and use as a convalescent home
The imperial high point was followed by disaster: A fire destroyed most of the hotel in 1912. A year later, on 1 August 1913, the foundation stone was laid for a new building. It contained 45 guest rooms, some with bath and WC, on the upper floor the residential area for the family running the hotel and staff, and a ballroom. The hotel was reopened on 26 May 1914 after ten months of construction work and was now called “Kurhotel” (spa hotel). Five years later it again received famous guests. The author, Thomas Mann, and his publisher, Samuel Fischer, enjoyed the summer freshness here far from the large cities of Munich and Berlin.
After overcoming voting consequences , inflation as well as the global economic crisis (1929) the number of guests increased again in the Thirties, but only for a short period of time. With the outbreak of the Second World War the hotel management had increasingly less influence. The large spa hotel, still owned by Kristen Skriver, was reconfigured as a military hospital as was the St. Ansgar children’s home. It is said that during the last years of the war up to 220 refugees and displaced persons for whom there was otherwise no accommodation lived at the “Strandhotel” (at the time 2,700 refugees and displaced persons lived in the town).
In 1948 the mayor, von Hassel, was successful in providing suitable accommodation for the refugees so that rooms in the hotel became again available for spa operations. At the same time the hotel was a children’s sanatorium of the regional insurance office of Schleswig-Holstein until the end of September 1950. It cared mainly for children with hilar adenopathy in tuberculosis, a well-known children’s disease at that time.