History – 100 Years of Hotel Privata

The Hotel Privata was founded in 1921 as “Pensiun Privata” by my great-grandparents, Nuot Bezzola and Madalena Bezzola-Barblan, and has been in family hands ever since.

The actual history of the house, however, begins as early as 1630, and for 260 years our house was used as a farmhouse until 1889. Our present traditional Stüvetta dining area was the former parlour of the farmhouse and our suite on the first floor was used as the family bedroom, while the fireplace room was the farmhouse’s so-called winter kitchen. The ancient vaulted structures are still perfectly visible in are cellars, and the house still boasts cupboards and chests from its very first giving the house its sense of peace and strength.

At the time when Privata was founded, my great-grandfather Samuele Giovanoli was making his living as a farmer and one of the first ski instructors in the Engadin, in the “La Motta” house in the Fex Valley. He started painting very late in life and after his death he became more famous as the “Paradise painter from the Fex Valley” and as one of the most significant Swiss lay painters of the 20th century.

Some of his pictures, which were displayed in various exhibitions, can be found in our dining room and in the corridors of our house.

Samuele Giovanoli
Samuele Giovanoli was a farmer and one of the first ski instructors in the Engadin.

The first official winter season

After initially operating exclusively in summer, the first official winter season of the Privata kicked off in December 1926. My great-aunt Annigna Bezzola and my grandparents Paula Giovanoli-Bezzola and Arno Giovanoli then took over the Privata with summer and winter operations in 1935.

From the 1950s on, winter sports became more and more popular and in 1953 the first Vanchera ski lift was built in Sils, followed by, in 1963/64 in Surlej, the Corvatsch cable car and in 1973/74, again in Sils, the Furtschellas cable car. 1969 was the year of the first Engadin ski marathon. At the end of the 1960s my father Dumeng Giovanoli also celebrated his greatest sporting successes with 5 World Cup victories, one overall World Cup victory in slalom as well as a silver and bronze World Cup medal.

But, above all, Sils remains a point of attraction for people seeking nature and peace and quiet, as well as for intellectuals and artists. During this time Marc Chagall, who visited us several times in the years 1960 and 1961, painted, among other things, the pictures “Window picture with bouquet of flowers” and “The window of Sils-Maria” while staying in the Privata. (Paintings not in the family’s possession)

Pensiun Privata Sils Maria

The typical Engadin sgraffito house inscriptions

In 1973, my parents Dumeng and Ursula Giovanoli took over the Privata and, with extensive investments in the comfort of the individual rooms, further developed the house. In doing so, they never neglected the local tradition of handicraft. For example, the sgraffito house inscriptions typical of the Engadin. This technique is used to decorate facades and living rooms. Way back in 1956, the well-known artist, Giuliano Pedretti created the sgraffiti in the Stüvabella. In 1998 he carried out a further commission in the by then extended dining room. Later the singer and artist Paulin Nuotclà carved the sgraffiti in some of our guest rooms.

During this time, my parents were particularly interested in the development of upscale cuisine and the cultivation of menus influenced by local traditions. Our cooks still use many of the recipes created by my father Dumeng Giovanoli.

The artistic family tradition lives on in my brother Gian Andri. His impressive photographs decorate the house and always show unusual and new perspectives of the Engadin.

Pensiun Privata Sils Maria

A special place where nature, sport, art and culture come together

In 2008 I took over Privata from my parents and am now the fourth generation of the family to run it as hostess, together with an ambitious team. Our goal is to continuously develop the many good traditions and diverse influences that have shaped the house over four centuries, while preserving the special soul of the house.

Pensiun Privata, which has been called Hotel Privata for a few years now, is such a special place where nature, sports, art and culture are combined in a unique way, thanks not least to its guests, who have helped to shape the good spirit of the hotel for almost a hundred years now.

Together with the people who have been with us for a long time and who have helped to shape Hotel Privata, I am delighted to be celebrating a special anniversary in 2021: 100 years of Privata.

Corina Giovanoli
Corina Giovanoli