Paradise is only three hours' drive from Milan. That is how long it takes to reach the Engadin, one of the most beautiful and seductive valleys in Switzerland. We are in the Canton of Grisons, the most mysterious of the 26 that make up the Swiss confederation. Here everything seems to coexist in perfect harmony.
Especially the extremes. The majestic nature with castle-like hotels; the tough temper of the inhabitants with the sweetness of their houses (whose walls are often dotted with verses of poetry); the perennial glaciers with turquoise lakes; the existentialism of Giacometti with the symbolism of Segantini; the glamor of Sankt Moritz with the refined tranquility of Pontresina.
And right here, in this municipality of 2,200 souls, which multiply to become 30,000 in the high season, is one of the flagships of the region: the Grand Hotel Kronenhof.
A legendary place, founded in 1848 under the name of Locanda Rössli by the Gredig family and transformed into an accommodation facility in 1870 thanks to the Swiss architect Nikolaus Hartmann.
In 2016, the hotel underwent an important restyling work by the French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon (whose last act will take place at the end of July with the opening of the new presidential suite).
One of the keys to fully understanding this great work of modernization are the colours: at the Kronenhof, for example, grays and blues dominate.
Nuances which, in addition to counteracting the large white walls of the original structure, are an evident homage to the nature that surrounds this 5-star Superior hotel, so beautiful that it ends up in the exclusive list of protected places by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage as a historical monument and as a jewel of Alpine neo-baroque architecture.
Monsieur Pierre-Yves' facelift involved various areas of the complex, which in 1898 was remodeled into three wings built around a central courtyard.
First of all the rooms: 28, including rooms and suites, all designed as apartments where the entrance areas are functional, the extra-large bathrooms with separate showers and toilets, the hyper-spacious walk-in closets, the highly sought-after lights and the external panorama enhanced in every glimpse.
Then the entrance, where a pair of sliding glass doors almost seem to anticipate what will be admired shortly thereafter; the central corridor in oak parquet restored and surmounted by frescoes by the painter Otto Haberer on the ceiling restored to its early 1900s splendour; the Play&Smokers Lounge, featuring a billiard room, poufs and green sofas, mirrors and classic paintings on the walls; the scenic lobby, with impressive panoramic windows overlooking the Roseg glacier.
And again: the fireplace room, called the 'Chimney room', in which the iconic Eames armchairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1956 shine with their own light; the reception hall, nicknamed Salon Julier; and four outdoor yoga platforms, located in the park with panoramic views of the valley and surrounding mountains.
However, the real flagship of the project is the spectacular Kronenhof Bar, already a point of reference for the inhabitants of Pontresina and international travellers, because it summarizes all the poetics of the transalpine designer in just a few square meters , known for his very personal way of mixing tradition and modernity as in a perfectly balanced drink.
The space in question is immersed in bright red and the inevitable midnight blue.
The wood paneling behind the counter is embellished with illuminated relief decorations by artist Jane Puylagarde. While a refined golden chandelier by Charles Paris chez Rubelli reinterprets the shape of the crown, symbol of the hotel.
In short, every detail of this suggestive cocktail bar makes the atmosphere perfect for tasting a Havana Attendant or a Magenta Redemption, two of the signatures of the very rich menu.
In the Engadine Rochon has brought an evident luxury, but always told in a low voice. Here in Pontresina, in fact, whispers dominate but never shouts.
To achieve this balance, the designer originally from Saint Nazaire used velvet, silk and leather and made them protagonists of the restyling. He has amalgamated materials, fabrics and furnishings in order to create an elegant and at the same time relaxing environment.
Today someone would call it 'cozy', we limit ourselves to simply defining it as welcoming.
"Our philosophy has always been clear," said Rochon, who was also responsible for the restyling of the legendary Kulm Hotel in Sankt Moritz. “We don't want to create just a decoration, but a whole atmosphere…”. And at the Kronenhof the goal was definitely achieved.