111 years of Hospitality Excellence
SHL Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern is one of the original two Swiss Hotel Management Schools, with more than 100 years of expertise in the fine art of Swiss hospitality management edcuation. Proud of our heritage and our renowned position worldwide, we continue to educate at the highest level to meet the future needs of the industry.
Join us on a thrilling journey through a century of SHL nurturing and advancing generations of students from around the world and discover how SHL progressed from humble beginnings, expanded, kept pace with the industry development and exceeded the hopes of its founders.
1886: The founding organization - Union Helvetia
The founding organisation of SHL Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern, Union Helvetia - today Hotel & Gastro Union - was founded 1886 with a strong focus on the professional development of hotel employees. With the strong growth of Swiss tourism, the demand for qualified employees grew and led to the idea of opening a hotel school in Switzerland that would provide employees with the tools for an upscale professional career.
1909: It all starts with 164 students
Three young students, Hans from Switzerland, Ulrich from Germany and Sven from Norway, together with other 161 students, were the first class of #enthusiastic, ambitious young hoteliers at SHL in Lucerne. Can you imagine how challenging this was at that time for these young students?
The cooking classes were so popular that SHL could not accept all applicants.
Right from the beginning, women should participate equally in courses.
In Great Demand
In 1909, all SHL graduates managed to find a job.
1910 – 1923: Through euphoria and hard times
SHL grows rapidly over the first years and enlarges the international student body.
With the First World War raging through Europe and the aftermath that comes with it, SHL faces some hurdles. Thanks to a solid programme and impressive stamina of everyone involved, SHL endures… and comes out strong on the other side.
The fuel shortage made it necessary to drop one of the planned four cooking classes in 1917.
The classes were attended by hoteliers, restaurant managers, directors, secretaries, head waiters, skilled chefs, sons and daughters of hoteliers, budding chefs and daughters from private families who wanted to train in fine dining.
For the good impression
The writing classes included exercises in ornamental scripts for the production of menu and wine cards, hotel signs and other written elements of the hotel’s outward appearance, nowadays called Corporate Design.
Because of a shortage of waiters in England in 1914, people threw themselves into this profession, trained as waiters with SHL, and were subsequently placed by SHL in England.
A top-notch gas oven
In addition to the previous coal stove, the teaching kitchen had been equipped with a complete gas appliance, namely a large restoration stove, oven, grill, marble cooker, family cooker and toaster in 1922. This facility allowed the SHL to be one of the best-equipped school kitchens of the time.
1924 – 1934: A DECADE TO CELEBRATE
A decade stamped by upswing, novelties and a reason to celebrate: 25 years SHL.
"Our school has evolved from simple, humble beginnings, expanded, kept pace with the modern development of the hospitality industry and surpassed the hopes of its founders", said Eugen Scheech, President of the Directorate General, on the occasion of the 25 year anniversary.
From 1926, the participants of all courses could enjoy the two main meals at the school at moderate prices. Comparable to today, they were served and treated like hotel guests by the participants of the service course and they ate what the students of the cooking course had prepared that day.
From near and far
In certain years between 1924 and 1934, students from up to 16 different countries studied at SHL.
1935 – 1945: It's time to move
The year 1944 will remain a memorable one in the history of SHL: The school has found a new home in the Hotel Montana. The move to today’s location was a brave and confident move, considering World War II was still going on and the years before were characterised by foreign exchange restrictions and economic crises.
The outbreak of World War II caused a drop in student numbers by 50%.
The 1937 newly introduced special course «carving and cooking in front of the guest» gave waiters a practice opportunity in a field that was greatly neglected in the years of crisis, but was definitely part of the good education of a waiter.
From 1945, SHL starts inviting well-known speakers for evening lectures open to all students. Educational and entertaining at the same time.
From 1944, the students can have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the school.
1946 – 1973: The big boom
The number of applications to our school grew noticeably during this period, as it was a time of economic prosperity. In 1959, 184 international students from 24 countries came to study with us in Lucerne. We could have filled our courses with even more students.
But we didn’t want to grow to the point where we became a student ‘factory.’ Instead, we chose to maintain the school’s exclusive yet personal ethos, which stays with us to this day.
The construction of an additional school pavilion on the grounds of Hotel Montana in 1959 had a beneficial effect on school operations.
1974 – 1989: A well deserved acknowledgement
By 1974, an SHL diploma was a well-known and highly-respected qualification throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The leading lights in the hotel industry knew that if they employed someone from SHL, they would welcome a dedicated, talented and ambitious individual to their team.
Another milestone we reached in 1989: Our school was recognised as the first hospitality and management college by the Swiss Federal Government. Every graduate of SHL could now call themselves official hotel managers – a very proud moment.
At the mall
The service classes were newly employed for banquets and events. First highlight: The opening of the shopping center Emmenbrücke where the students took care of 2000 guests.
1990 – 2010: Making a successful formula even better
SHL didn’t consider the ground-breaking acknowledgement by the Swiss Federal Government in 1989 as a reason to rest. On the contrary. SHL kept working hard to improve the quality of the course: An accurate coordination of the subjects, constant further education of lecturers, a more academic approach and a modern extension - all investments ultimately had to fulfill one goal: The optimization of the school’s educational quality.
2010 – bis heute: SHL around the world
With the involvement in educational projects in the hospitality industry all around the globe and the decision to offer the renowned SHL management course in English, SHL officially becomes international. “We are excited and full of anticipation to give English speaking students the possibility to get to know the true promise of our proven and varied course”, states Christa Augsburger, CEO of SHL.
Above all, SHL will continue to do what it does best: educate generations of managers and hoteliers to the highest possible standard – and shine its light out into the world.
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