< ITALY | CAPRI: Grand Hotel Quisisana
Located is lush gardens overlooking the Mediterranean and just steps away from Capri town's central Piazzetta, the iconic Grand Hotel Quisisana has been the favorite of politicians and poets, royalty and rockstars since it opened in 1861. The history of the hotel goes back to mid 19th century, when the British doctor George Sidney Clark arrived on the island of Capri. Convinced that the island's mild climate was rich in health-giving virtues, he decided to settle in Capri and construct a clinic named "Quisisana" (here one heals). As the island became increasingly popular with tourists, the sanatorium was converted into a hotel in 1861.
On Clark's death, the Quisisana was left to his wife and children, who sold the property to Federico Serena, ambitious young butler who was later to become the mayor of Capri. Under Serena's supervision,
the edifice was extended to include a large west wing.
During the construction, bones of dinosaurs dating back to the Quaternary period were discovered. Now conserved in Capri's Cerio Foundation Museum, these fascinating findings testify not only to the presence of dinosaurs on the island but also to the fact that Capri would once have been joined to the mainland and the Sorrentine peninsula.
In the early 20th century, Capri became one of the preferred tourist destinations of members of the world's high society, all of whom sooner or later stayed at the Quisisana. One of the hotel's most illustrious guests was the German steel magnate Friedrich Krupp, who financed the construction of the path linking the center of Capri to the bay of Marina Piccola, where he used to moor his yachts, and which is still by far the island's most spectacular pathway.
When Serena died in 1913, the Quisisana's fortunes faded and it was purchased by the SIA (Italian Hotel Association) in 1918. In 1929, the famous Italian architect Gio Ponti was employed to design the hotel's theater. It was not until the 1960's that the hotel began to enjoy a revival, when the SIA was taken over by Felix Mechhoulam, a Mexican financier, who restored and renovated the interiors of the Quisisana. At the same time, Via Camerelle, the street onto which the hotel's kitchens used to open, became Capri's equivalent of Via Condotti in Rome, lined with a string of elegant boutiques.
In the mid 1970's the hotel passed into the hands of Max Grundig, founder of the famous German electronics company. Grundig also made improvements to the property, in particular to the laundry and kitchens. Unfortunately, these "improvements" had a negative impact on the theater. The stuccoes, for example, were transferred to the Quisisana's reception halls. In 1981, Grundig decided to sell, and the following year the Quisisana became the property of the Morgano family.
Today the Quisisana is an icon of the hospitality industry, in Capri and throughout the world. Royals, politicians, actors, writers, industrialists and singers have all graced the Quisisana's luxurious rooms with their presence. Hotel's golden book include names of: from Ernest Hemingway, Tom Cruise, Sidney Sheldon, Gianni Agnelli, the Savoy family, the Hohenzollern, Claudette Colbert, Jean Paul Sartre, Harry Graf Kessler, Pietro Gadda Conti, William Somerset Maughan, Ted Kennedy Gerald Ford, Sting and many more.
Facilities at the hotel include 3 restaurants, Il Quisi, Rendezvous, and the poolside La Colombaia; the "QuisiBeauty" wellness center, complete with gym, sauna, beauty salon and indoor pool; 2 tennis courts; and a panoramic outdoor pool with large sundecks, where all of the most glamorous social happenings are held. The theater has become the most sought-after events venue in Capri.
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