Renovating the theatre
The large theatre was renovated once more in 1980. The historical coffered ceiling was revealed again. Every one of the 240 ceiling panels measuring about 160 x 160 centimetres was replenished and reworked. For fire safety reasons, former cork lining was replaced completely by plaster. After numerous discussions about naming the theatre, agreement was reached on calling it the "Bénazetsaal" in honour of the former Kurhaus leaseholders Jacques and Edouard Bénazet.
A temporary steel frame pavilion was erected on the Kurhaus meadow so that events could still be held during the construction period. This still offered capacity for 1000 persons in theatre-style seating and 600 persons sitting down for a banquet.
Back in 1980 (as once again in 2011), the Grand Prix Ball was the first major social event in the new Bénazetsaal. There were a few problems initially with the technical equipment, including primarily the sound system, and the guests had to get used to the new raised platforms in the dance floor area, which resulted in a few falls.
The first major event with international participation to be hosted in the Bénazetsaal was the Olympic Congress in the summer of 1981.
The Kurhaus fire
Major alarm for the fire brigade and emergency services on 6 February 1987: fire had broken out in the restaurant kitchen, spreading rapidly through an air duct to reach the roof timbers in next-to-no time. Despite the efforts of more than a hundred helpers, it took a long time to get to grips with the flames. At times they billowed up several metres above the Kurhaus, causing a dense cloud of smoke. The firemen fought for hours to bring the fire under control. Fortunately, nobody was injured.
It took twelve months to restore the damaged Kurhaus restaurant and the Bel Etage above it. The reopening took place on 6 February 1988, exactly one year after the fire.
New catering for the Kurhaus
In early December 1993, the catering firm Kurhaus Gaststätten GmbH had to declare bankruptcy, so that at the start of 1994, a lease agreement was signed with the catering experts Meinrad Schmiederer and Roland Dieterle. After being fully refurbished once again, the Kurhaus catering was reopened at the start of June with many star guests, including star trumpeter Walter Scholz and Olympic champion Georg Thoma, together with German entertainers, singers and television personalities such as Dieter Thomas Heck, Bernd Clüver, Ireen Sheer and Birgit Schrowange. Roland Dieterle withdrew from the Kurhaus catering in 2002. Since then, Meinrad Schmiederer, proprietor and manager of the "Relais & Chateaux Hotel Dollenberg", has had sole responsibility for the Kurhaus catering.
In 2005 and 2006, the Kurhaus restaurant was once again modified, this time in Friedrich Weinbrenner's classicist style.
At the end of January 2011, refurbishment work began to bring the historical Bénazetsaal in line with the spirit of the times and to install state-of-the-art technical equipment. The reopening was celebrated on 3 September 2011 with the Grand Prix Ball.
Sports Personality of the Year since 1960
1960 was the first time that the Sports Personalities of the Year came to the fringes of the Black Forest. The title was unexpectedly won by winter athlete Georg Thoma – and the guests felt at home here straightaway. The spa city (population of about 52,000) has meanwhile acquired the reputation of being the showroom for German sport. After trying out a few other venues (including Munich, Berlin, Dortmund and Hanover), the family was happy to return to the little river Oos.
Gala d'Europe 1990-1993
When this event was held for the first time in 1990, it acted as the first official drum-roll of the "Committee for promoting cultural life in Baden-Baden" initiated by the city's cultural patron Ermanno Sens-Grosholz. It was funded primarily by private means; in retrospect, it was the initial spark triggering the efforts to construct a festival hall in Baden-Baden. Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes were the star guests at the first Gala d'Europe. The tickets cost up to DM 1,000.
Baden Business Ball since 2005
Since 2005, the biennial "Baden Business Ball" has brought together Baden's decision makers and opinion leaders. Baden's business is as good as its reputation, which is excellent. A great occasion to smarten up and wear ball dresses and dinner jackets once again.
NATO summit April 2009
If the historic Kurhaus as Baden-Baden's landmark needed another accolade, than the evening of 3 April 2009 would probably fit the bill, with the heads of state and government accompanied by the ministers of defence and foreign ministers of the 28 NATO alliance partners coming together to celebrate the 60th anniversary. Following a concert with the violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter, the Kurhaus served dinner for the heads of state and government in the Florentiner Saal of Baden-Baden casino, with the ministers of defence dining in the Bénazetsaal. The foreign ministers met next door in the Malersaal of the Dorint Hotel Maison Messmer.
After nearly six months of preparation, the guests arrived in limousines or by helicopter, including Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy with his wife Carla Bruni and Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, together with the other heads of state and ministers of all the other alliance partners.
We were particularly pleased that Barack Obama – President of the United States – began his first visit to Germany in Baden-Baden.
"fine" lifestyle fair since 2009
The "fine" lifestyle fair has been held in Kurhaus Baden-Baden since 2009. Every autumn, around 100 hand-selected regional, national and international exhibitors present their approach to eating, drinking and lifestyle. Delicatessen and wines are on display, together with fashion, jewellery, accessories, furnishings and ideas for gifts.