History

It started because of the mineral springs that originated in the Val Sinestra. The healing power of the „aua forta“, meaning „strong water“, had already been well known for a long time in the area. It seemed to help with conditions of the nervous system, anaemia, skin conditions and rheuma. At the beginning of the 19th century, there is supposed to have been a small bathing hut, where people, with primitive means, led mineral water into a wooden basin and put preheated rocks in it to achieve the right temperature. The “visitors” (mostly locals) accessed the area via Vnà for the springs were not very accessible from the direction of Sent. When the Wellness culture started to become more important in the Lower Engadine, interest in Val Sinestra’s potential was aroused, and initiatives for research and improvement of the accessibility were taken. In 1898, partners Töndury, Pinösch & Co. signed a lease contract with the municipality of Sent. The first plans were to build on a field near Tschern. The land was bought and the engineer Scherrer researched possibilities on how to get the mineral water to this location. He came to the conclusion that this was technically and financially impossible. So it was decided to start building closer to the mineral springs. The first small hotel (the Berghaus) was opened on July 3rd 1904. The medicinal water was bottled and sold all over the place. The results were so favourable (both medically and in occupancy) that is was soon decided to build a larger hotel with 120 beds, according to a design from the architect Karl Koller from St. Moritz. He built the hotel in a rational style, with little to distract from the space and surroundings themselves. The only concession was the “Senter Giebel” on the south side. A true technical highlight was the placing of the required scaffolding on the steep and protruding rocks. A specialist was hired for this complicated and dangerous task, the famous bridge builder „Baumeister Richard Coray from Trin“. It should be noted that most of the materials, such as wood and stone, were sourced locally and other materials had to come by horse and wagon. Therefore the construction of the large hotel took three long years. The new Kurhaus opened in 1912, but after 1914 its slow decline had already begun. A new law was enforced which meant that medicinal water could only be sold through pharmacies. This, of course, had a large financial impact. During World War I the Kurhaus was cut off from the outside world and therefore its high profile guests. Even after 1918 the Kurhaus wasn’t able to recover itself, despite praises of the “strong water”. After the crisis of the 1930s followed World War II and after that more modern medication came onto the market. The Kurhaus was no longer sustainable. In 1951 the „Familienausgleichskasse des Spenglermeisterverbandes“ took over and tried their luck by adding some modernizations. Particularly Dr. Albert Nadig (1873 – 1956) put his stamp on Kurhaus Val Sinestra; he worked here during the last 40 years of his life as the “Kurartzt” (physician). In the black and white silent film made in 1955 , made for marketing purposes, you can see how things were done in those days. Apart from day-to-day life from both guests and staff, you can see how Dr. Nadig received his patients and how medical staff interacted with them. The maintenance costs of the enormous building, the mineral springs and the immediate surroundings were huge and the modest income of the summer intake didn’t meet those costs. Finally, in 1972, the Kurhaus was declared bankrupt. Val Sinestra has been a holiday resort with Dutch staff and an international clientele since 1978.