After meeting at Giardino Hotels’ first property in 1994, Daniela and Philippe Frutiger always maintained a romantic relationship with hospitality. Philippe—co-CEO of the Swiss firm along with his wife Daniela—is a chef by education, while Daniela is a trained beautician and pharmacist. Together, they have managed to build a four-property company that also encompasses the Dipiù beauty and cosmetics line.
Philippe was never short on conviction when it came to his career. “I love cooking and I always had a passion for good cuisine. I enjoy the beautiful things in life—traveling, hotels, discovering new places, and meeting new people. I knew early on that the hospitality industry was the right place for me,” he explains enthusiastically. While traveling extensively and staying in hotels around the world, Philippe would observe the front-of-house performance and infer the behind-the-scenes modus operandi down to the last detail, similar to the way a theater director watches people act. This critical eye comes naturally to Philippe, and has proven invaluable in both learning the industry ropes and in the development of the Giardino Hotels.
While Philippe was seemingly destined to become a hotelier from the get-go, Daniela’s path was less direct. Although there was always a voice in the back of her head nudging her towards hospitality, Daniela tried her hand (and proved her mettle) in the beauty and pharmaceutical industries before making the leap. “My grandmother always thought I was made for the hospitality business,” she explains, “but it took me a while to get there. I first worked as a pharmaceutical assistant, but it soon became clear to me that I wanted to work with people and care for them.”
After finishing her beautician training in Stuttgart and going to a medical practitioners’ school in Munich, Daniela left her native Germany to work in a hotel spa in Arosa, Switzerland. This first taste of hospitality was the catalyst for a career that would lead to her position as co-CEO at Giardino Hotels.
However differing Daniela and Philippe Frutiger’s paths have been, they converged at a perfect moment—at Hotel Giardino Ascona, the hotel’s first property and the springboard of the firm’s success. “My first visit there was in 1992. I had taken on a job at the spa. When I saw the hotel, it was love at first sight!” says Daniela. It was a love that would soon include Philippe. “We complete each other,” says Philippe. “We enjoy the same things, and we share the same values. We exchange our opinions and thoughts, and respect each other and the opinions of others. But mostly we have fun with it. Hospitality has become a part of our lives and it never gets boring.”