In 1874/75, a grand hotel of incomparable charm was built on an equally incomparable spot at the famous Giessbach Falls, above Lake Brienz in the Bernese Oberland. It exerted a powerful allure for visitors from far beyond the country’s borders.
By the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Giessbach had become a meeting point for crowned heads of state, their entourages, statesmen, diplomats and celebrated artists, who spent their time recuperating strength, making plans and exchanging gossip.
Two world wars with disastrous consequences for the Swiss hotel trade, as well as a new approach to tourism, faded the glory of the Giessbach. In 1979, after years of decline, the hotel closed its doors. In its place were plans to build a modern concrete building in the style of a “jumbo chalet”.
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Salvation came at the last minute in 1983. The internationally renowned environmental campaigner, animal welfare activist and heritage protector Franz Weber worked a miracle. Thanks to his remarkable fundraising campaign and the foundation he established the “Stiftung Giessbach dem Schweizervolk” (Giessbach for the Swiss People). Weber succeeded in purchasing the 22-hectare Giessbach estate and had it placed under a preservation order.
His idea to “gift” the Giessbach to the Swiss people, thereby preserving it for all time, met with great enthusiasm among the public. 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 he re-opened the hotel with a new restaurant, the “Parkrestaurant”, and a small number of unrenovated rooms.
Complete renovation of the hotel took place over several stages, and today it is one of the most beautiful and renowned establishments in the Swiss hospitality industry.
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