In Cinuos-chel, a village of about 80 souls which belongs to the municipality of S-chanf and borders the Lower Engadin, you will find the Hotel Veduta. It features 16 rooms, a restaurant, and a regulars’ table. Gudench – Gudi, as everyone calls him – Campell stands on the stairs in front of the entrance. He opens the door and invites us into his hotel. We sit down in a small room where various antlers hang on the walls. «It is the only room in the hotel where you find trophies.» Looking out of the window, we see cars drive by, and when the train crosses the tracks, we know that one more hour has passed.
As Gudi tells us about his life, about himself, he keeps one hand placed in the other, freeing it only when reaching for a glass of water. We come to know Gudi as a congenial, active and determined entrepreneur. And we know that he has been around. He is known as the host and manager of the ski school in Zuoz. Privately, he is a passionate hunter, married man and father to a daughter. Together with his wife Sabrina he runs the Veduta as the third generation of owners. When asked how fatherhood has changed him, we notice that he is momentarily speechless for the first time. Whereas he otherwise answers straightaway, this time he needs to reflect before he offers a very rational answer. From an organisational point of view, it causes no major changes; they are able to handle childcare as well as the business. And then he strikes a more personal note. «I enjoy being with my kid. I work less and deliberately take time to spend with her.» After his apprenticeship as a chef in Celerina and attending the hotel management school in Lucerne, 28-year-old Gudi took over the business in 2014. Deliberately? «Yes, I did this very deliberately. For me, it was clear that the Engadin is and always will be my home where I live and work. It makes me happy when something goes on, progresses. That I can keep the family enterprise in business, it makes me proud.»
In 1951, Gudi Campell’s grandparents established the business in Cinuos-chel. Just a few steps away from the hotel is where he grew up and where his daughter is growing up now. This means he is constantly in close contact with the guests, most of them regulars who have been visiting the Engadin for years, generation after generation, staying at the Veduta. «Over time, our relationships grew more personal, turned into friendships,» Campell says. «Growing up in a hotel also meant that there was always something going on – which, honestly, cannot be said about Cinuos-chel.» Today, Gudi realizes that it is this tranquility that his guests seek and appreciate. He needs it, too – quiet moments to retreat. In summer, once a week he is up as early as 5 a.m., riding his bike or putting on his hiking boots. Roaming the outdoors with friends. The Val Susauna, near Chapella, is one of his favourite places.
In this valley, we find a place of great importance for him – the hunting cabin at Alp Murter. He shows it to us, describing it as his place of energy. And we understand why. Surrounded by nothing but vastness, this small cabin stands in a clearing with a little lake on its doorstep. Here you are alone, you find time to reflect, to simply be - or, as far as Gudi Campell is concerned, to indulge in hunting. In doing so, he seeks recreation. «When I am out hunting, I never have to explain myself, it’s just ok to be there, no one ever questions my absence from places where I could be needed or my presence here.» He spends the better part of September here in the cabin. Then he also slips back into the role of a chef. «I don’t work in the kitchen anymore, but I often help with the service – that way I am in closer contact with my guests. Personal service is important to me.» He prepares a nice cut of meat. Venison. Brought down by himself. With risotto on the side. Tastes delicious. It’s a somewhat overcast autumn day. It has snowed and the trees have already changed colour.
He sits down for a minute, enjoys the tranquility and relates how important it is to him to serve his guests local venison that he himself has hunted. It is about knowing the whole chain, knowing where the meat comes from, and being able to not only serve his guests the meat but also convey a bit of Engadin culture with the traditional cuisine - hunting being a part of that. Speaking of cuisine – the Veduta has not only a reputation for local game but also for homemade Capuns. But back to hunting. Whoever listens to a hunter’s story may recognize elements of a fairytale. Not because the storyteller strays far from reality but because of the special way he communicates his experiences. A place where hunting is not allowed but where the focus is on the animals themselves is the national park which borders the municipality of S-chanf. Especially in autumn, visiting the park is simply a must. The stags mate from mid-September until about the beginning of October. Hundreds of stags are courting the females. «This is a real spectacle,» Gudi says. Not something one simply watches once and has enough. One has to come back. With that said, he lets us go and sends us on our way to explore his home, the Engadin, by ourselves.