The Gerani village of Merlischachen on Lake Lucerne was first mentioned historically in 1168. Knight Hermanno de Merlascachen appeared here as a witness in a deed of donation. The name Merlischachen itself is said to be a combination of the Latin names “Merula” for blackbird and the German word “Schachen” for small forest and thus means “Amselwäldchen”. The lands as well as the fishing rights belonged to the monasteries of Lucerne and Engelberg. In 1440 Merlischachen went to the canton of Schwyz for 60 gold gulden and was united with Küssnacht.
Especially in Belgium Merlischachen and Küssnacht became famous because of the fatal traffic accident of the Belgian Queen Astrid, between these two places. On the 50th anniversary of the death of Queen Astrid, a commemoration ceremony was held, in which King Boudewijn, Queen Fabiola, Prince Albert and his wife Paola, as well as the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, also took part. In memory of the deceased Queen, the Astrid Hall was then inaugurated at a reception in our Swiss Chalet Merlischachen. Even today, various pictures in the Astrid Hall remind us of the Queen of yesteryear.
In the 1950s, residents from the northern countries of Europe began to travel to the southern countries of Italy, France and Spain during the summer months. Especially guests from Germany and the Netherlands traveled through Switzerland to Italy. The roads in Switzerland at that time were still narrow and slow. Highways did not yet exist. Thus, a trip to the south took two to three days and the Gotthard road led via Lucerne, Merlischachen, Axenstrasse, Gotthard, Chiasso. The area around Lake Lucerne was very popular for an overnight stay.
The Hotel Linde in Merlischachen was quickly fully booked during the summer and so the then landlord asked his neighbors Josef and Margrith Seeholzer, who lived in a large farmhouse decorated with many geraniums in front of the windows (today’s Swiss Chalet) and many empty rooms, if they would rent out these rooms for tourists. They did so and quickly realized that this was a good way to earn some money in addition to farming.
Soon many people from Merlischach, who had unused rooms in their farmhouses, started renting out rooms. A board at the roadside was enough to say “Zimmer frei”. The demand of the guests was not great after the Second World War, important was the accommodation at a reasonable price. Merlischachen was soon known as “Täfelischachen” for the surrounding villages.
In addition to the guest rooms in the farmhouse, a dormitory for up to thirty people was set up in the old cidery (today Astrid Hall). The first years still on straw for Fr.1.00 per person, later there were mattresses. The first guest room for the breakfast service was also built in the old cidery and was very simple. Also a camping place was added. All this was offered under the name of tourist home.
That winter the cellar and the small pigsty in the old farmhouse were converted into a friendly guest room, today’s Bränte.
The first real kitchen (today patisserie) was built.t.
When Josef Seeholzer Sr. died in 1969 at the age of 72, his sons Josef and Ernst Seeholzer took over the tourist home, changed the name to “Swiss-Chalet” and the successful history of Swiss-Chalet Merlischachen began.
Seeholzer-Muff family standing from left: Ernst, Anton, Josef Junior, Jakob – sitting from left: Alois, Margrith, Josef Senior, Marianne.
It was a great, complementary team. Josef pampered the guests and Ernst was responsible for the construction and technical aspects. Also the mother Margrith helped in the breakfast service until the end of the 70s. During the summer months, money was collected and during the winter months the necessary renovations were made. So the restaurant Bränte and the Merlischacher Stube with Richterstube were rebuilt to fit the house. The very small kitchen was also enlarged for the first time.
The land plot opposite the Swiss-Chalet was bought from Mr. Räber and the large parking lot was built. The turnover increased year by year, so that the planning of a new hotel could be started.
A very big step and highlight was the opening of the castle hotel on April 2, 1980. With a big knight’s feast (all guests came in old knight’s clothes) this beautiful, new hotel was solemnly inaugurated.
The lake park with the existing vacation home could be bought from Mrs. Schächtelin and the castle hotel park with lake access could be extended.
What was still missing was a large hall for banquets. The old Trotte was dilapidated and stood empty next to the Swiss Chalet. So it was torn down and rebuilt in the same way on the outside. Inside, the Astrid-Hall, which can seat up to 100 people, the Bacchus, the Queens-Club, a considerable wine cellar, as well as a kitchen suitable for the size of the company with the corresponding adjoining rooms were created. The Stork Room was also created for the wedding couples; as soon as the guests spent the night in the room, the stork made its rounds on the roof.
Also in 1984, the old barn in Rebmatt was demolished and the Golden Gate with apartments and rooms was built.
A few days before the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation in 1991, the Hotel Jagdschloss was inaugurated on a beautiful hillside location, adjacent to where the barn of the farm used to stand. Soon more than 60 people were working in this lively business, in the meantime including three more siblings. Alois Seeholzer in the finance and personnel department, Anton Seeholzer for the property maintenance and Marianne Baggenstos-Seeholzer at the reception. It was a family business and probably one of the reasons for the great success.
In all these years, many guests have left the Swiss-Chalet with good experiences and fond memories. This is the great merit of the Swiss-Chalet team and the long-time patron Josef Seeholzer or as he called himself “Prince Joseph the 1st”, who was a great host for decades.
Josef Seeholzer took over all shares of Schloss-Hotel Swiss-Chalet AG in 2005 (50% from the company founder Ernst Seeholzer). Ernst Seeholzer took over properties and continued to work in the business.
In 2006 the Schloss-Hotel was increased by one floor with 7 experience rooms.
As always in life, time moves on, people grow older and times change. Josef Seeholzer felt that this demanding business was getting too big for old age. He split off the Hotel Jagdschloss with Golden-Gate from the Schloss-Hotel Swiss-Chalet AG and intended to operate only the Jagdschloss itself. However, this no longer came to pass.
On April 30, 2014, Josef Seeholzer sold the business Schloss-Hotel Swiss-Chalet with Jagdschloss and all its properties to Hotel Merlischachen Holding AG. The owners of this company are Alois Seeholzer (brother), Walter Seeholzer (neighbor since childhood) and Markus Linder and Sandro Amrein. The motivation of the buyers is that the beautiful and good history of the Swiss-Chalet continues.
In November 2014 Jeannine and Karel Nölly took over the Swiss-Chalet Restaurant, Schloss-Hotel, Jagdschloss and Swiss-Chalet Lodge as managing directors.
On April 4, 2015, Josef Seeholzer died of his illness, three months after his 70th birthday. The operation and the history of Swiss-Chalet continues.
Opening of the new restaurant Bränte “ächti Schwyzer-Chuchi” on the first floor of the Swiss-Chalet. Conversion and renaming of the Queens Club to the Chalet Bar.
As of December 31, 2019, the Jagd-Schloss was spun off from Swiss-Chalet Merlischachen AG and taken over by Alois Seeholzer for long-term rentals.
Since May 2020, the Swiss-Chalet Merlischachen has been under the management of Noël Egloff. Together with his team, he manages the Castle-Hotel****, the Chalet-Hotel Lodge, the Restaurant Swiss-Chalet and all other offers of the unique destination Swiss-Chalet Merlischachen.