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Giardino Seerose

Giardino Hotels

The Giardino Group includes a total of three hotels: the five-star hotels Giardino Ascona and Giardino Mountain in St. Moritz and the boutique hotel Giardino Lago in Minusio near Locarno, which is located right by Lake Maggiore. And for summer getaways in the Engadin mountains, our hotel concept in Champfèr adapts perfectly to the needs of our summer guests as a Bed & Breakfast without a star rating. Our two five-star hotels are also home to a dipiù spa with its own cosmetics line dipiù. Since 2016, these spas have also offered a range of our own cures and treatments called Ayurveda by Giardino.

Hotel Giardino, Ascona

How it all began

On 31 May 1985, the foundations of the hotel Giardino were laid. At that time, building contractor Fritz Kündig was planning a four-star hotel consisting of the apartment buildings Casa Glicine and Casa Ginestra. There were also plans for a third apartment building Casa Rosa. It was still during the early stages of construction that Fritz Kündig secured probably the best manager he could have hoped to find for his new hotel: at that point, Hans C. Leu was still Director of the Kulm Hotel in Arosa, which he had already been running for 20 years with great success. Based on his ideas and experience, the two of them decided to change the plans and turn the Giardino into a five-star hotel modelled on a Mediterranean country house. Leu’s vision: ‘Instead of the typical luxury hotel, I wanted to build a southern country house with an inviting atmosphere, where guests felt like they were staying with friends.’

On 31 May 1986, after precisely one year of construction, the Giardino was officially opened. Heiner Rodel was in charge of designing the garden, while the furnishings were provided by Pippo Brun, a set designer from Schaffhausen. At that time, the culinary offering at the two hotels was overseen by Alois Brünner and Angelo Conti Rossini. The latter had relocated his restaurant, along with his two Michelin stars, from Brissago to Albergo Giardino, as the hotel was called at the time.

Golden days with Hans C. Leu

In 1987, Hans C. Leu founded Giardino SA together with the two partners Eugen B. Hangartner (Laax) and Albert B. Bass (Naters). The reason for this was Fritz Kündig’s financial difficulties, which made the sale of the property inevitable. In 1988, the three investors signed the final sales contract. After that, Leu ran the hotel in his congenial manner for 12 successful years until the end of 2000. During this time, he was voted Hotelier of the Year, received the Milestone tourism award and made it onto the front cover of the magazine Bilanz. When Gault Millau awarded the title of Hotel of the Year for the first time in 1998, the jury was unanimous in its decision: Hotel Giardino had earnt it. From a culinary standpoint, too, Giardino was and still is outstanding. Just as it did in its early days under the direction of Angelo Conti Rossini, the hotel’s in-house gourmet restaurant once again holds two Michelin stars today. Three years after it opened, the original head chef of the restaurant, then called Ristorante Giardino, returned to Brissago, where he ran a successful cooking school until his death in 1993. He was succeeded at Giardino by his sous chef Bruno Keist, who continued to run the restaurant for another two years with one Michelin star. Due to the success of the cuisine crafted by Armin Röttele, who was Head Chef at the hotel’s second restaurant, Ristorante Aphrodite, the decision was made to turn Ristorante Giardino into an osteria, which also bore the name Osteria Amici for a while. This osteria remained at the hotel until 2006.

Daniela and Philippe Frutiger return to Ticino

In October 2000, Hans C. Leu appointed his former Vice Director and co-worker Franz Reicholf as his successor. Mr Reicholf ran the Giardino, together with a now different Board of Directors, until 2006. In October 2000, after many weeks of rain, the hotel was flooded by water from the lake, sustaining severe damage as a result. Under the direction of architect Carlo Rampazzi, who is also in charge of interior design at the Tschuggen Group, the rooms, restaurants, bar and reception were completely renovated in his style. When the construction work was completed in 2002, the spa temple, which still remains today, was built on the former tennis court according to the plans drawn up by Carlo and his brother Aldo Rampazzi. In 2001, the former spa Vanity Club was converted into a Mediterranean sauna facility by the Hallwachs firm. In 2006, the majority shareholders at the time handed over the operational and strategic management of the hotel to married couple Daniela and Philippe Frutiger, who had both spent a large part of their careers at Giardino. Daniela Frutiger worked at Hotel Giardino from 1992 to 2000 as a spa manager for Vanity Club; Philippe Frutiger, who was attending the Hotel Management School in Thun at the time, completed his internship as a service employee at the hotel in 1994. In 1995, they both left the Giardino for a short time to continue their training. Daniela Frutiger completed a marketing apprenticeship in Zurich, while Philippe Frutiger successfully graduated from hotel management school. They were both called back to Ascona in 1996, independently of each other, and in the course of their daily work together at the hotel, they discovered their love for each other. At that time, Daniela was back in charge of the spa, while Philippe was working as an F&B assistant. In this position, he joined the management team under Hans C. Leu as early as 1997. One year later, in 1998, the couple married in Ascona. From 2001 to 2006, Daniela and Philippe were responsible for the renovation and highly successful management of the Lenkerhof Alpine Resort in Lenk. Under their leadership, the company received numerous national and international awards.

The acquisition of Giardino Ascona and founding of the Giardino Group AG

After it was taken over by the couple in 2006, the hotel entered a new era. As part of the repositioning process, the CD/CI (Corporate Design and Corporate Identity) of its communication, concepts and architecture were completely redesigned. At the same time, in the winter of 2006/2007, the former Osteria Giardino was converted into the modern, urban-style gourmet restaurant ECCO. Just five months after the reopening, new Head Chef Rolf Fliegauf was awarded his first Michelin star. By November 2010, he had already received his second. At this point, Daniel Borer became the majority shareholder and the owner of Hotel Giardino. In 2008, Daniela and Philippe Frutiger founded the Giardino Group AG together with Daniel Borer and long-standing trustee Stefan Schmidt, with the aim of purchasing more hotels or taking them over as the operating company. This resulted in the acquisition of the Giardino Mountain and Giardino Lago hotels.

Constant change

During the restructuring process, the reception, bar and conservatory were also remodelled. Likewise, the spa, the Giardino di Bellezza, was completely redesigned; thanks to the improvements made in the treatment cabins, reception area and saunas, it was transformed into a real oasis of wellness. The biggest change, however, happened at the very heart of the hotel. New life was breathed into the garden and the old, original structures were uncovered. At the same time, more space was created for younger guests. This was followed by renovations in Ristorante Aphrodite and the spa lounge in the winter of 2007/2008. In 2009, all the rooms, suites and junior suites got a new bright and welcoming Mediterranean design. The man behind all of this was architect Rolf Balmer. In 2018, the kitchens were upgraded and the Ecco restaurant was moved from its former location next to the Hide & Seek restaurant (formerly Aphrodite) to the water lily pond. In 2021, the bar and the entire pool area were redesigned by internationally renowned architect Daniel Pouzet.

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Giardino Mountain, Champfèr-St. Moritz

Graubünden: a canton steeped in history

There are a few key facts about the history of Graubünden that you should definitely know. For example, it is the home of the now legendary nut tart, first produced in 1926 in Samedan under the name Pulttorte. You should know that, in the 1920s, British tourists started travelling here by car for the first time – to the horror of the Graubünden locals, who feared the resulting air pollution and who, at first, tried to ward off the motorised invasion using their hands, feet and even stones. You should also know that winter tourism in the Engadin was born exactly 150 years ago. And here’s what you absolutely need to know: the Giardino Mountain is even older than that – much older.

The first house in Champfèr

The building was first mentioned in 1718 under the title ‘Erstes Haus von Champfèr Richtung Silvaplana’ (‘The first house in Champfèr on the route to Silvaplana’). Later, it became known as Chesa Guardalej because of its special location – ‘Guardalej’ essentially means ‘look at the lake’. The first paying guests came to stay in 1913. Before that, it was a private house and a post office. Later, it was also used as a girls’ boarding school and briefly bore the name Pensionat des jeunes filles Theodosia. This is where French-speaking Swiss families would send their daughters to learn German. That was from 1929 to 1943. Just a short time later, the building became a hotel, which operated under the name Chesa Guardalej for almost 70 years.

From Chesa Guardalej to the Giardino Mountain

Now, let’s jump forward to recent history: in 2011, the historic building, along with the six other neighbouring buildings in the Engadin, was completely restored and renovated by the Giardino Group, of course while preserving its original structure. Nowadays, guests can sit in the former chapel, with its fauns and mythical creatures, and enjoy award-winning cuisine prepared by Rolf Fliegauf. And since no two rooms are the same, they were all designed and furnished individually, with the finest fabrics and high-quality, locally sourced wood – and of course, using state-of-the-art technology. And that’s why today, despite its history – or perhaps because of it – the Giardino Mountain is the youngest five-star hotel in St. Moritz-Champfèr.

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Giardino Lago

The little palazzo by Lake Maggiore

Enjoy some active relaxation! After an evening soaking in the view of the sparkling lake, there’s only one thing to do… Take a dip in the lake, then stroll along the Lungolago promenade and explore the città vecchia of Locarno. Here in this unconventional latecomer to the Giardino family, you can enjoy some drinks and beats in the roof lounge, as well as unforgettable nights on the terrace. It was love at first sight when Daniela Frutiger discovered the little villa in Minusio, on the shore of Lake Maggiore. After a complete renovation and makeover, the Giardino Lago opened in 2011. It has a total of 14 rooms and one suite. The Giardino Lago is located on the northernmost shore of Lake Maggiore in Minusio, a neighbouring town of Locarno. You can really sense the power of this place, as you can in so many destinations in Ticino, the Mediterranean soul of Switzerland.

Lakeside views guaranteed

The Giardino Lago is also home to the Lago restaurant, which boasts a sprawling terrace and a view of the lake. Meat dishes from the grill are a particular speciality here. The steaks are grilled in an original Southbend broiler from the USA. There are still only a few of these American grills in Europe and they can reach temperatures of over 800°C – so they’re not for beginners! Other specialities are the antipasti, a staple of Italian cuisine – though here at Lago, the dish is reinterpreted by head chef Francesco Leone. On the first floor of the villa, there’s a roof lounge measuring 400 square metres. Up here, you’ll find drinks, snacks and a DJ, who’ll provide the perfect soundtrack for a day under the Ticino sun.

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Giardino Group und Giardino Services

The Giardino Group has been operating successfully in the Swiss hospitality, gastronomy and spa industry for many years. And that’s in all areas, from data analysis, planning and the implementation of hotel-relevant concepts, to the development of business plans, revenue management, communications and marketing.

Founding of Giardino Services

Based in Zurich, we’re not just a consulting service; we demonstrate our knowledge and expertise on a daily basis for Giardino Hotels and their associated restaurant and spa brands. Founded in April 2021, Giardino Services enables us, as experts in hotel management, to share our experience with other companies in the form of our services. We provide our clients with professional and tailor-made support, helping them to set the right priorities when it comes to revenue, finance, strategy, marketing and graphics, and guiding them on their road to success.

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