When he’s not running his wealth management business in the U.K. or spending time with his family in the U.S., Grant Maunder is most likely found championing his homeland of Wales while careening down a hillside on skis in Switzerland—always with his eye on his next project.
Ironically it was a “once-in-a-lifetime” holiday about 40 years ago. My parents instantly fell in love with place and from then on it became a sort of annual pilgrimage. When we were old enough to go it alone, my brother and I started to come here for the skiing. To say that we were on a budget would be an understatement; in fact, all we could afford back then was accommodation in one of the nuclear bunkers under a guesthouse. That was in the late 1980s and back then the Cambrian, which was called something else at the time, had just reopened after a major refurbishment and was the glitziest hotel in town. I remember thinking, “I wouldn’t mind staying there some day.” As fate would have it, my brother and I bought the property in 2009 fully intending it to be a passive investment, but soon after realized that having an international hotel operator managing the property wasn’t really going to work for us or the village. We took over the day-to-day operation and renamed it the Cambrian. The nickname “accidental hotelier” has stuck with me ever since.
I think Wales and Adelboden have one thing in common: They both feel like well-kept secrets. There’s nothing wrong with a good dose of humility but, as a whole, the Welsh haven’t been great at promoting themselves or the country. The Cambrian is not a PR exercise for Wales, but I have done what I can to bring a bit of Wales to Adelboden. We recently welcomed onboard the acclaimed chef Bryn Williams; he’s worked with Marco Pierre White at the Criterion and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche in London and now runs our restaurant. He’s taken our dining experience to another level. We also commissioned Melin Tregwynt, a family run wool mill in west Wales, to make bespoke blankets for our rooms; these were designed by Smörgåsbord, a studio of Welsh creatives who over the years have helped us “hone” the Cambrian brand.
At the time I didn’t appreciate it but, in business terms, it was probably buying this place. It’s been said that “timing is everything.” Unfortunately ours wasn’t great as, midway through the hotel refurbishment, Lehman brothers went bust and globally banks became very nervous about lending to the hospitality sector. We had borrowed a lot of money and it was a challenging period. That said, we’re in a great place now and have several hotel openings slated for the next few years. We learned a number of lessons back then and reached the conclusion that we may as well put all that knowledge to good use.
Yes, we’re definitely a skiing and now a snowboarding family. Adelboden hosts a World Cup ski race each winter; it’s really well-known in Switzerland, but not so much by people outside of the country. It’s not a glitzy resort town and focuses more on the skiing than the après. The skiing here is extensive and the scenery absolutely stunning. Adelboden was, at one time, pretty much the home of winter sports. At the turn of the 20th century, Sir Henry Lunn brought a group of students from Eton to Ski here. It remained one of the places to be for winter sports for a long while and tourism remains a major part of the economy. Adelboden means “noble ground” and it certainly lives up to its name. It’s a quintessentially Swiss village and very much a year-round destination.
I’m not sure that I do. But I’m an optimist by default. I don’t see myself as risk-taker, although I think others might perceive me as such. I was incredibly lucky to have been introduced to this place, so I feel compelled to share it.