SHL Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern is one of only two original hotel management schools in Switzerland. Founded in 1909, we have over one hundred years' of experience teaching students the fine art of Swiss hospitality and management. Immensely proud of our heritage, expertise and worldwide reputation, we continue to educate, accompany and form the hoteliers and managers of tomorrow.
Join us on an exciting journey through a century of SHL – from its humble beginnings to its rise to the top of a fast-paced and constantly changing industry.
It all started in 1886. This was a time of growth for the Swiss tourism industry, when a rise in the number of holidaymakers and visitors to the country meant a sudden demand for talented and qualified hotel employees. The idea for a special hotel school in Switzerland came about and Union Helvetica - the organisation that would establish SHL Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern - was born.
Union Helvetica was created not just to teach promising individuals how to deliver impeccable service to hotel guests. It would also equip these employees with the skills and tools they needed for a rewarding, lifelong career.
In 1909, 164 enthusiastic and ambitious students enrolled in the first ever class of hoteliers at SHL.
Amongst them were Erika from Switzerland, Ulrich from Germany, and Sven from Norway. Imagine how they felt as they walked through the doors and sat down as Hermann Bieder, SHL's first ever director, said: 'Our school will become a haven of intelligence, and its power will shine out into the world of the hoteliers.'
SHL grew rapidly over these first few years as a hotel school. It was an exciting time - attracting students from Switzerland, Europe and the wider world. They came from a wide range of backgrounds - from experienced hoteliers, restaurant managers and head waiters, to secretaries and budding chefs. Even the daughters of private families who wanted to train in fine-dining registered.
With the onset of the First World War, SHL faced testing times. Thanks to the impressive stamina of our staff and students, as well as the strength of our hotel course, the school marched on – and came out stronger on the other side.
Over the next ten years – a decade marked by huge social and political change – SHL continued to grow. In 1934, there was a very good reason to celebrate: 25 years as a successful hotel school.
Eugen Scheech, President of Directorate-General, announced: '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.'
1944 was a memorable year for SHL. The school moved from its original location to a new home – Hotel Montana, with its spectacular views over Lake Lucerne and the surrounding alpine scenery. To relocate the school in wartime was a risky measure, as the years preceding and during the war were rocked not just by huge uncertainty but economic crises. However, it proved to be a brave and inspired decision - our school is still housed in the same beautiful location today.
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 the aim was not to grow to the point where we became a student 'factory'. Instead, we chose to maintain the school’s exclusive yet personal ethos, which remains with us to this day.
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 was 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.
We didn't consider the recognition by the Swiss Federal Government in 1989 as a reason to rest on our laurels. On the contrary, SHL constantly strived to improve the quality of the course. To do this, we constantly reviewed study subjects. We sent lecturers on further educations courses, so that they could refresh their own expertise. We carryied on implementing modern methods of teaching and continued to extend the school building to make it a pleasurable place to study. Everyone involved in SHL had one goal in common: to ensure our students received the best possible education in hospitality and hotel management.
With the involvement in educational projects in the hospitality industry all around the world - and with the decision to offer the renowned SHL management course in English - SHL became a truly international school.
As Christa Augsburger, Director of SHL said: '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 courses of study'.
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.