Jean-Louis Dufour built the luxurious Grand Hotel between 1873 and 1874 in Les Avants, a little town above Montreux. It opened in 1877 to guests and was later modernized and enlarged in 1900 and in 1911. Several famous people lodged in it, such as Ernest Hemingway, who talks about Les Avants in his famous book Farewell to Arms. It closed in 1936, during the economic crisis.
Meanwhile, Dorothy Braginton, an English woman, opened around 1927 a boarding school for young girls in Montreux, near the Château du Châtelard. She called it Châtelard School. When the building became too small, the school moved to the Hôtel des Narcisses in Chamby. The building was soon too small as well and in 1938 it moved to the Grand Hôtel des Avants, which had just closed. The school was organized according to the English system and welcomed girls from all around the world, mainly British. The future Queen of Greece was among them. During the war (1939-1945), the school was transferred to Aberdovey in Wales. During this time, the building welcomed Jewish people and wounded soldiers.
Châtelard School closed at Christmas 1975, after the English pound lost most of its value. The building was bought in 1977 by Dr. Robert Eckert, from Germany. He used part of it for summer camps and rented a few rooms to tourists. He sold it in 1989 to Roger Liechti, from Montreux. He wanted to transform the building into many small flats, but the idea never became reality.
Oak International bought the building in 1992 and founded Le Châtelard Academy, a boarding school teaching human values and French to girls. At the beginning, most of them were of Mexican nationality but today, the students come from all around the world.
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