The historic Grandhotel Giessbach was built in 1873/74 by French architect Horace Edouard Davinet for the Hauser family in Zurich, one of the great dynasties of the hotel trade. The spacious elegance of this bold new hotel site, as well as its unique surroundings, soon brought it worldwide renown.
Painters, engravers and photographers captured the astounding harmony between buildings, parks and the landscape in their pictures. Poets and philosophers praised the natural splendour of Giessbach Falls. By the time war broke out in 1914, the Grandhotel Giessbach had become the meeting point for high society. Emperors and kings, their entourages, statesmen, diplomats and celebrated artists spent their summers at Giessbach, drawing new strength from its peace, and exchanging society gossip and state secrets.
Two world wars with disastrous consequences for the Swiss hotel trade, as well as a new approach to tourism, faded the fame and glory of Giessbach. After years of decline, the hotel closed its doors in 1979. There were plans for demolishing the entire original complex and building a modern concrete building, in the style of a “jumbo style” chalet, in its place.
Luckily, in November 1983, internationally renowned Swiss ecologist Franz Weber succeeded in buying the 22-hectare Giessbach estate and placing it under protection, with help from his organisation Helvetia Nostra and his “Giessbach for the Swiss people Foundation”. His idea that Giessbach should be given to the citizens of Switzerland as a “gift” and thus preserved from destruction for evermore was met with enthusiasm.
In order to finance the necessary renovations and operating costs of the hotel, Franz Weber founded a shareholders company, the Parkhotel Giessbach AG, and in May 1984 reopened the site with a new restaurant, the “Park Restaurant”, and a small number of unrenovated rooms. Renovations took place over seven stages, each winter, until the hotel’s structural level was entirely renovated and the edifice once again took its place among the most beautiful and renowned buildings in Swiss hotelerie.