The entire complex stands on a 50,000 square meter site and includes several buildings.
The facility around the historic Hotel Sonnenberg in Seelisberg UR high above the Rütli meadow will again accommodate tourists. A real estate company is planning to invest 200 million Swiss francs. The spirit of the yogis who have been meditating there for more than 50 years should not be felt much then.
On this Thursday morning, two men are shoveling the snow in front of the former Hotel Sonnenberg. Under the gentle gaze of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who smiles from a poster behind the glass pane in the foyer, they clear parking lots and passages for the visitors who are expected in Seelisberg today.
A gem high above Lake Uri
The real estate company Halter AG has invited to a media briefing, the turnout is remarkable. According to the invitation, it is about nothing less than the “revitalization” of the 150-year-old hotel complex, which Halter wants to buy from the yogis, renovate and expand. The complex has finally found a solvent investor in the Halter company.
It is around 50,000 square meters and half a dozen buildings, of which the listed Hotel Sonnenberg is the jewel. Or at least once was.
The complex high above Lake Uri was operated as a hotel until after the Second World War. Internationally, it flared up again in the 1970s, when the movement around Maharishi acquired the property and the popular guru, whom the Beatles trusted at the time, led his worldwide movement from here, which became known for “yogic flying”.
150 hotel rooms and 30 apartments
In the 1980s, the guru fled, leaving some of his followers, who in the village are simply called “the yogis”. Today, around 20 people still live and meditate in the 75 rooms of the former hotel. The red rug in the foyer, the hand dryer in the toilet, the deep velvet armchairs in the large meeting room, they seem to have fallen out of time.
What can peel is peeling off inside and out. Halter AG intends to invest 200 million francs in the revitalization. The hotel is to be expanded to 150 rooms and 30 apartments.
In order to be able to finance the investments, “a relevant part” of residential use is also necessary, says project manager Robin Neuhaus. How many apartments there will be depends on the positioning of the hotel. This will not be located in the premium segment. Whether the neighboring Hotel Kulm, which was released from the monument protection, will remain is still open.
Yogis are allowed to stay for three more years
The time for the project after the pandemic is optimal, says Neuhaus, tourism is booming. Halter first became aware of the property five years ago. Last year, the negotiations became more specific, explains Neuhaus. The purchase price also played a role. However, it was agreed not to disclose this.
For the time being, there is only a purchase right contract, as Felix Kägi, who represents the Transcendental Meditation movement, explains. The yogis are allowed to stay in Seelisberg for another three years. The movement has a large campus in Holland.
For Seelisberg, with its 700 or so souls, the project is “a milestone,” says Mayor Judith Durrer. The yogis lived here for themselves. From the hotel one hopes to add value for the village, such as jobs. At the same time, she points out that Seelisberg currently has too many second homes.
Praise for the Halter project
Otto Odermatt raves about the view from his room. The 76-year-old and his wife Maria run the meditation center. They don’t yet know where they will live one day. “But thanks to Halter, there are apartments,” says Odermatt. He praises the real estate company’s vision of preserving the spirit and soul of the place.
Their boss, Markus Mettler, says: “We are not here to preserve Yogi’s spirit.” The facility had been an island for 50 years, now Seelisberg should continue to develop touristically, according to the vision.
The yogis will then be just another episode in the long history of the hotel. (SDA/shq)