The Unterhus is a holiday home rental in the Graubünden region of the Swiss mountains designed by Peter Zumthor. Think mountain pine smells and a crackling fire in an incredibly beautiful environment!
How would you describe Chesa Wazzau in a nutshell?
Chesa Wazzau is a Swiss idyll out of a picture book: a typical Engadine house from the 17th century turned into a charming holiday home in Oberengadin, Switzerland. Staying here, you feel as if traveling back in time a couple of hundred years. The house was restored preserving its original character with vaulted ceilings, windows deeply embedded into the walls and the typical sgraffito decorations. It took many years of gentle and respectful renovation to create this idyll and retain the charm and originality of Chesa Wazzau. In fact it is an ongoing process – there is always something to do.
To you personally, what is so special about Chesa Wazzau?
About 30 years ago I was standing in the barn of Chesa Wazzau completely by chance. I hadn’t even set foot in the house and already knew: ‘This is it!’. The room was illuminated by golden rays from the sun which made their way through the carved wooden slats of the barn walls – the whole atmosphere and the light seemed almost sacral. My fascination continued with the house: the crude wooden doors, the old chests, the vaulted ceiling of the kitchen and the rear and front rooms, their elegant paneling, the simplicity of the ‘Jenatsch’ room and the ‘Sulère’ and of course the stately entrance hall of an Engadine house with its sloping ceiling. Then and now I enjoy the preserved architecture and living respectfully with it.
Please tell us a bit more about the furniture at Chesa Wazzau.
As already mentioned, my wife was responsible for the decoration. She put a lot of love, curiosity and patience into creating a homely and comfortable atmosphere. Much of the furniture at the holiday home was inherited, some pieces were already in the house and others have been with us for a lifetime. Her philosophy is that functionality and appearance must be in balance and that the care for our cultural heritage must touch the soul in order to create harmony. But of course this often changes, individual pieces disappear and something new comes along. We were always curious about the question how much ‘new’ does the ‘old’ and the ‘existing’ permit.
And you also have a nice collection of paintings on display in the holiday home?
It is probably my wife’s greatest passion to browse through second-hand and antique shops and bring home some treasures from the past. And she is especially keen on paintings. They are not distributed haphazardly around the house but follow a thematic arrangement. As such the rear Stüva (room) is dedicated entirely to the theme ‘animals’. There is an old black and white photograph of men on a bear hunt between a water colour painting showing cock and hen with their offspring and a drawing of grazing cows.
What would your perfect day look like?
I would start the day with a hearty breakfast together with the family around the big table in the ‘Sulèr’ followed by some Alpine skiing or ice skating on one of the frozen lakes. One can hardly get enough of this unique landscape with the picturesque mountain scenery, the clear lakes and the magic light that inspired legions of poets and painters. And still does.
For late afternoon I would recommend a spa treatment in the new ‘Mineralbad & Spa’ in Samedan. The spa is designed around a bathing ritual with treatments using heat and water to get rid of the everyday stress.
Alternatively I would take a stroll through one or the other renowned gallery of which there are several in the Engdaine – inspiring a somewhat different view of the familiar.
The perfect evening would be a cozy candle-light dinner with friends at Chesa Wazzau or in one of the fine restaurants nearby.
Looking back, what has been most rewarding about renting out the house as a holiday home?
We had some extraordinary encounters. Such as with the family from Abu Dhabi who arrived with their entourage – chefs, servants etc. Or the pianist family from Italy who preferred to bring their own piano for their stay. But most of all it is the compliments and nice comments from so many of our holiday guests who came back the next year.