The Quisisana by Mario Morgano
Around the mid 19th century, a British doctor named George Sidney Clark arrived in Capri. Convinced that the island's mild Mediterranean climate was rich in health-giving virtues, he decided to settle in Capri, to build a clinic in one of the most sheltered yet sunny corners of the island, ultimately given the hope-filled name of "Quisisana" ("Here one heals"). The island became increasingly popular with tourists, to the extent that Clark's sanatorium gradually took on the function of a pension, a transition that was formalised in 1861.
No longer a sanatorium but a hotel. At the time a room cost seven to eight lire a day.
On Clark's death, Quisisana was left to his wife Anna and his children, who took over its management. Their lack of vocation eventually led them however to sell the property to a youthful and ambitious butler, Federico Serena, who was later to become mayor of Capri.
Under Serena's supervision, the hotel was extended to include a large west wing (the excavation works during construction brought to light elephant bones from the Quaternary period. These relics, which are still conserved by the "Cerio foundation", are indicative of the presence in Capri of animals from the mainland and thus its former connection with the Sorrento peninsula).
Serena passed away after a long illness in 1913, leaving his children and widow in charge of hotel management. The difficulties encountered in the next few years by the Serena family however forced them to sell the property.
It was purchased in 1918 by the SIA (SocietÓ Immobiliare Alberghi), which incidentally had not one native from Capri amongst its shareholders. In the late 1950s it was sold to Felix Mechoulan, a Mexican financier, who decided to restructure it and renovate the interior, making it once again worthy to host guests from high society.
During the seventies the hotel changed hands once again, purchased by Max Grundig, head of the famous home appliance industry. Grundig also made improvements to the property, in particular renovating the internal service areas (laundry and kitchen), though at the cost of transforming half of the theatre. The remains of the superb plasterwork of those ceilings can still be seen today in the laundry rooms, unfortunately beyond restoration.
It was in this period that Capri became a favourite tourist resort and indeed that the hotel enjoyed its first moments of renown.
The Quisisana was particularly popular with the nobility. One of the most illustrious guests of the hotel was German steel tycoon Friedrich Krupp, who to assure a direct connection between the hotel and the yachts docked at Marina Piccola had built what was to be known as the "via Krupp".
In 1981 Grundig decided to sell, and the following year Quisisana was finally purchased by authentic natives of Capri, the Morgano family.
Quisisana is today synonymous with Capri and known throughout the world. Monarchs, actors, writers, industrialists and singers have graced its doorstep - from Ernest Hemingway to Tom Cruise, Sidney Sheldon to Gianni Agnelli, the Savoy family to the Hohenzollern. Not to mention Claudette Colbert, Jean Paul Sartre, Gerald Ford, Sting. And the list goes on.
The hotel can host as many as 300 guests, attended to by a staff of up to 140. Almost a small community. There are two restaurants: the Quisi and la Colombaia, near the pool. Another feature is the "QuisiBeauty" equipped with indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, sauna, Turkish bath, beauty salon, two tennis courts, all ready and waiting for the guests to enjoy. The theatre is the ideal venue for parties and special conventions.
In 1986 Quisisana became a member of "The Leading Hotels of the World", known for the exceptionally high standards required. And as every hotelier knows, quality is vital. Because while it is simple to improve standards, it is far more complicated to maintain them, day in, day out.
150 years of the Grand Hotel Quisisana
August 2011: Grand Hotel Quisisana reaches the grand old age of 150! It was 1861, the same year as the Unification of Italy, that the Quisisana first opened its doors to travelers visiting the island of Capri. To mark this most important of birthdays and in recognition of Grand Hotel Quisisana's outstanding contribution to the island's hospitality industry, Capri town council commissioned the creation of a 150th anniversary majolica plaque, which now takes pride of place on the hotel's legendary terrace.