What are Christian hotels?
Christian hotels are places to stay that are run by Christian hoteliers. This was the guiding principle behind the foundation of Switzerland’s oldest hotelier association, VCH, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.
VCH, which stands for the Verband Christlicher Hotels Schweiz (Association of Christian Hotels in Switzerland) is an association of proprietors and managers of hotels, inns, guest houses and health resorts (collectively referred to hereinafter as hotels) who are committed to running their businesses with a Christian mindset and spirit. Its members affirm the Apostles’ Creed, as do many Christian churches.
How was VCH founded?
The heads of hostels and hospices as well as members of their committees met at the then new Eidgenössisches Kreuz hotel in Bern on 20 November 1895. Their establishments were built from the 1860s onwards to provide suitable accommodation for itinerant craftsmen. At the meeting, the 20 men approved the draft articles of association and in doing so founded the Schweizerischer Verband Christlicher Herbergen (Swiss Association of Christian Hostels).
Key dates in the association’s history
Nine establishments join the association. The annual fee of 2 Swiss francs, “previously paid by the wardens out of their own pockets”, increases to 10 Swiss francs and is now to be paid by the establishment. From the agenda: Should the warden dine with the guests? How can a busy warden also make time to adequately provide for his family? Where can Christian servants be found?
The Deutscher Verband Christlicher Hospize (German Association of Christian Hospices) is founded in Kassel, at the same time as the International Association is founded in the presence of a delegation from Switzerland.
A diploma is established for long-term employees. The wardens’ wives attend their first annual meeting.
Complaints are made that the association “is too ineffective and does not cooperate with the outside world”, that it is not a special-purpose association, but above all “a Christian friendship association”.
From the theses of Pastor W. J. Oehler at a conference in Schloss Hünigen:
– “A Christian hospice must stand out due to the sample of God’s love it offers rather than the amenities it provides. Its mission is first and foremost the silent preaching of the Gospel.”
– “Our articles of association can refer to the requirements of the guests and those of the staff.”
– “Careful thought must be given to the composition of the hospice’s Board of Directors.”
– Relief campaign for 58 struggling German hospices: “As a sign of thanks to God.” Outcome: 750 complete sets of bed linen
75th anniversary. President J. Krähenbühl, Vevey, presents a short history of the association. His words are prophetic: “Staff shortages are a constant concern, an issue that will no doubt be included in our 100th anniversary report.”
On 25 April, VCH celebrates its 100th anniversary at the Hotel Bethanien in Davos, also 100 years old but resplendent due to its magnificent new building. Our gift to the public: 100 free holiday weeks for underprivileged people. Sponsors fund a VCH newspaper and public relations work.
The “Achieving success through a biblical profile and principles” seminar series, launched in 2006, continues. Thanks to the commitment of VCH Board Member Hans Eberhard from YMCA centre Hasliberg, a new Support department is created to empower VCH operations managers.
Mrs CorneIia Flückiger-Bührer is elected President at the VCH Annual General Meeting, the first time a woman has held the association’s highest office. VCH boasts 47 hotels, with the number obtaining the quality label rising to 80 per cent.
After six years, Cornelia Flückiger-Bührer and her husband travel to Guinea with the missionary organisation SAM to run a guest house in Conakry. Philip Bühler of the Hotel Bienenberg is elected to be the new VCH President at that year’s Annual General Meeting, with Gabriela Roth taking over the management of the association in September 2018.
In December 2020, Paola Eicher-Pellegrini has taken over the management of the VCH Association.