Valmont 110 years of history
4 August 1905
Opening of Clinique Valmont, a magnificent building designed by the architect Henri Verrey, the first sanatorium in Switzerland dedicated to diseases other than tuberculosis and neurological disorders. It was founded by a doctor from Lausanne, Dr Henri-Auguste Widmer, who studied with Charcot and developed an interest in mental illness in the first years of his career before devoting himself exclusively to digestive, nutritional and nervous disorders. He started by opening a clinic in Territet, “La Colline”, but his reputation grew so fast that he had to build a new, larger facility: Clinique Valmont. The beauty of this establishment, a typical example of Alpine sanatoriums, lies in the combination of a magnificent panorama, Swiss hotel facilities enjoying unrivalled reputation, and innovative therapies. This combination attracted wealthy guests from Montreux at a time when tourism in the region was booming. In those days, people of substance aspired to a more natural lifestyle and were already interested in alternative medicines. Patients soon flocked from around the world, as attested by the records.
With the First World War, clients grew scarce and the clinic’s financial situation became precarious as the borders were closed for four years. Dr Widmer, who had a close relationship with Belgium’s royal family, decided to take in the war-wounded, particularly those of Belgian origin. King Albert and Queen Elisabeth had stayed at Valmont and forged a friendship with Dr Widmer and his wife. The clinic frequently welcomed illustrious guests, such as the poet Reiner Maria Rilke, who was a regular inmate from 1923 until his death in 1926, and the aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont.
At 75, Dr Widmer handed over responsibility for the medical department to Dr Reynold, assisted by Dr Turin and a physiotherapist. 1939-1945 With most of its affluent residents facing financial ruin as a result of the war, the clinic went through a difficult period. Dr Widmer died in 1939 while Dr Reynold continued to run Valmont, welcoming convalescent patients referred to the clinic by Dr Vanotti, a prominent Lausanne doctor. 1959 Dr. Suriyong, the clinical director of Lausanne’s Hôpital Nestlé, took over management of Clinique Valmont in
He was a cousin of Bhumipol, who was then King of Siam under the name of Rama IX. A special relationship was formed between the Swiss town of Glion and Thailand. Dr Suriyong carried out his duties until 1988.
Celebrities from the artistic and political world flocked back to the clinic. It became a luxury “clinic-hotel” where people came to get back into shape or shed a few pounds, even serving as a hideaway to international stars fleeing the paparazzi and to writers in search of peace and quiet for their work, like Georges Simenon. In the 1980s, the heirs of the owner, Mr Cauvin, were in disagreement about the establishment’s future, debating whether it should be turned into a luxury hotel, a congress centre, or a plastic surgery centre. The clinic was finally sold to a Geneva consortium that undertook major renovation work at colossal expense, ultimately resulting in bankruptcy and an intermission in Valmont’s history. A large part of the archives was burned and thousands of valuable records were lost forever.
The clinic reopened and, in an innovative step, ventured into plastic surgery. It was the first Swiss clinic dedicated to cosmetic procedures.
Jacques Chessex published “La Trinité” (Grasset editions), a novel in which Clinique Valmont plays an important role.
Dr Saudan, followed by Dr. Diserens, introduced the clinic’s mission of neurological and orthopaedic rehabilitation.
Clinique Valmont was acquired by Swiss Medical Network, its current owner.
The clinic was entirely refurbished, 101 years after its first opening, and restored to its charm of bygone days.
The history of Valmont