top of page





  • Directly next to the forest, 100 meters above the valley floor at 1,630 meters above sea level, was the “Forest Sanatorium”, which opened in 1911.

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Lauritz Heinrich Jessen, a pastor's son from Westerhever on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein, moved to Davos with his family in 1904.

  • His wife was suffering from tuberculosis and he had to go to a spa in Davos. The “Villa Oberhof” he bought, the “small forest sanatorium Oberhof,” accepted boarders who were mildly ill. Jessen opens a private practice above the Hausmann pharmacy in Davos Dorf. The number of patients increased and things became crowded in Villa Oberhof. Jessen rented the Villa am Stein, which was in great need of renovation.

  • Baron Fritz von Gemmingen from near Heilbronn in Germany was willing to borrow money to purchase land for a private house “Villa Hochheim”, so that the two houses “Villa am Stein” and “Villa Oberhof” were used exclusively as “Villa Sanatorium Oberhof”. could be used for international clientele.

  • Jessen was successful; he thought about building a larger sanatorium. And again his friend from Gemmingen helped him financially. The “Villa Oberhof” was demolished and the “Forest Sanatorium Professor Jessen” was opened in its place on July 4, 1911.

  • At Christmas it was already filled with 90 people. The German doctor Friedrich Jessen also found recognition among the people of Davos. As a board member of the Davos Kurverein, he recognized the threat to the landscape posed by the uncontrolled building boom of the pre-war period. He managed to save a large piece of land in the heart of the village for the spa park. Davos is still grateful to him for that today.

  • From March to September 1912, Katia Mann recovered in the new sanatorium. In May/June there was a momentous three-week visit from her husband Thomas Mann. His famous novel “The Magic Mountain,” published in 1924, was initiated by this stay.

  • During the First World War, Jessen was able to fill the sanatorium with patients from other countries because there were no Russian clients. But horrendous price increases ate up the income. Inflation leads to the sanatorium's debt.

  • From 1920 there was a new beginning. War victims were now the patients, and people seeking relaxation from Europe and America arrived.

  • In 1927, Friedrich Jessen decided to hand the sanatorium over to his doctor son Harald for health reasons. He returns to Hamburg with his family. Davos began to suffer from the global economic crisis. Harald Jessen's last years of life were overshadowed by existential concerns; in 1935 he succumbed to a malignant illness. A month later, Friedrich Jessen also died at the age of 70. He remains unforgettable to the reader of The Magic Mountain as Hofrat Behrens - although he - like the author Thomas Mann - refused to see him as the role model for the novel's character.

  • ​In 1938 the von Gemmingen-Hornberg family acquired the entire area.

  • From 1934 to 1957, the Davos Dr. Joos E. Wolf as chief physician at the “Forest Sanatorium”.

  • The “Forest Sanatorium” was open to tuberculosis sufferers until 1957. Because of the new and effective drug therapies, patients gradually stopped coming. The owners of Gemmingen-Hornberg decided to convert the house into a hotel.

  • The “Waldhotel Bellevue” was built in various construction stages. In order to free itself as quickly as possible from the stigma of being a tuberculosis sanatorium, a lot of historical material was destroyed.

  • In 2003, the hotel owner Wolf Eckart von Gemmingen and the managing couple Barbara and Michael Thomann decided that they wanted to follow the concept of a “light and air hotel”. The architectural team Pia Schmid and Hans Jörg Ruch - winners of the architectural competition - were commissioned with the new building and renovation. With sensitivity to the historical building structure, the renovation was completed in two construction stages.

  • In 2006 the hotel was increased by one floor. Two junior suites were created from eight old rooms. Ten spectacular panoramic double rooms, two spa suites and an exclusive Thomas Mann suite were part of the 50 rooms on offer. Historic Davos loungers on the balconies invited you to relax. The guest looked into the Davos mountains through the balcony grilles, which were replicas of the originals. In front of the exposed old fireplace with a black marble cover, you could indulge in dreams in replica original armchairs under Art Nouveau lights. The original coffered ceiling in the dining room has been restored.

  • The newly created “Waldhotel Davos”, which has been under the management of Marietta and Jürg Zürcher since July 2021, is building on its spectacular past after more than 100 years.


  • Today the building of the former forest sanatorium in Davos has been preserved. It has been renovated and now houses the “Waldhotel Davos”, a modern hotel with luxurious accommodation. However, the history of the forest sanatorium in Davos remains as an important milestone in the treatment of tuberculosis and as part of literary history through "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann.

bottom of page