History of the Hotel Bären
In 1875 a gentleman by the name of Donatz opened the Restaurant Rovinatsch on the top of the only road connecting the villages of Celerina and Crasta with St. Moritz. Coachmen, and their horses, used to take a short stop there on their way along the Engadin road as in those days the connection through the canyon of the River Inn did not yet exist. Bedrooms for overnight visitors were then added, although the area all around belonged to the Hotel Kulm.
In the 1890s Herr C. Stecher, who came from the Prättigau Valley, wanted to buy the Bären. He regularly went to have his coffee at the Restaurant St. Moritz (located at today’s Ender Sport) where he would ask the owner of the Pension Bären how much the Hotel would cost. The answer was always the same: “The Bären is not for sale”. But Herr Stecher was persistent and continued to ask. One day he got a different answer. “Stop questioning me, you could never afford the Bären. It’s worth a pocketful of Marengins” (pieces of gold with a value of CHF 20). Herr. Stecher got up, took his horse cart and drove to Samedan to the Thöndury bank, where he emptied his account. At the Restaurant St. Moritz the next day, he emptied his pocket of gold on the table. The owner was a man of his word and at last the Pension was his. At the Bären, local dishes such as tripe were served. The new innkeeper used to eat them all saying “you have to eat like a pig so that the customers see how good it is”. And so it was. People saw how much he liked his food and they followed his example and ordered a meal.
The business thrived and the restaurant and Pension now included a transport business with horse-drawn carts. By 1910 the owner of the Bären was a Herr Fehr-Beely. He enlarged the building to include two restaurants and 24 bedrooms. Next to the main building there were 10 rooms for his staff and rooms for storage. There was a bowling alley, a garage for the horse carts, a large stable for up to 30 horses, a pig stable, and a big hay barn.
After World War 1, the 1918 flu pandemic infected many people all over the world including the Engadin valley, and the hotel Bären briefly became a lazaret which was a quarantine hospital for patients with contagious diseases. At this time it was owned by a real estate company, the Immobiliengesellschaft A.-G., St. Moritz.
On the 30th of May 1921, Moritz Degiacomi, who had emigrated from Bonaduz to Maloja, signed a contract for a lease on the property, and three years later, on the 9th of October 1924, he and his wife Klara were able to buy the Hotel Bären outright for a down payment of CHF 30’000.- in cash, with a mortgage of CHF 200’000.–.
The county of Graubünden was the last area in Switzerland to allow cars on their roads in 1925, after which horse-drawn transport dwindled. The Winter Olympic Games in were held in St. Moritz 1928 (and again in 1948). Fortunately the Hotel Bären was located close to the Olympic Stadium, near to the finish of the downhill races, and at the starts of both the Cresta run and the Bobsleigh run.
The Second World War threatened the livelihoods of many inhabitants of the Engadin valley. The Degiacomi family with their three sons (Moritz 1920, Franz 1922 and Erwin 1926) survived thanks to their farm in La Punt, and the hotel stayed in private ownership. In 1956 Franz Degiacomi and his wife Herta took over the hotel Bären. Twice a year, when the hotel was closed between the seasons, the building would be redecorated inside, repaired outside and occasionally enlarged. A fourth and fifth floor were constructed, and today the hotel now has 100 bedrooms. In 1966, an 18 metre long indoor swimming pool was opened. From the third generation (Erich, Franz and Silvia) it was the daughter Silvia Degiacomi who since about 1990 decided to continue the family-run hotel business.