E XCLUSIV E
LIFES T Y LE
M AG A ZINE
GS TA A D
Issue 2 | 15 February 2019 CHF 3.50
ROUGEMONT Planned landfill causes controversy
READY FOR A THRILL? The winter sport series for adrenalin addicts
ART AND ART DE VIVRE HRH Princess Marie Gabrielle of Savoy in conversation with Bernard Piguet
NO PRIVATE SCHOOLS NO GSTAAD? This tabloid header sounds a little dramatic. It is true, though, that Gstaad would not be the Gstaad we know today, had not international private schools discovered our far-off valley in the Swiss Alps. Le Rosey, the second one to be built, is still here and stronger than ever. It all began a little earlier with the Chalet Marie José in the second decade of the twentieth century. The Belgian royal family sent their offspring to Gstaad to the Chalet Marie José. King Juan Carlos and his brother Alfonso were pupils at the school. And so were Jacky Kennedy’s children. Ernest Hemingway is reported to have visited Gstaad because he wanted to see a friend’s son, who was at Marie José’s. GstaadLife wants to revive the history of this school and is looking for people who remember their schooling days or who might have some old photographs that date back to the active years of the school. Spread the word or get in touch with us to share your story via email@example.com! Best regards,
Markus Iseli, Publishing Director
CONTENTS LOCAL NEWS Planned landfill causes controversy
Easier motoring in Turbach
A new attraction at the Wasserngrat
Healthy sleep, healthy aging
11 kilometres of toboggan fun
Exclusive sales exhibition
Classic Cars and Music 2019
Regal fireside chat
GSTAAD LIVING 18
ARTS & CULTURE Elevation 1049: an inspiring weekend of art
New Gstaad book
Do you remember Chalet Marie José?
Anne Rosat: 50 years of papiers découpés
SPORTS & LEISURE Winter sports series: Suggestions for thrill seekers
An imperial art
Winter at its best for the 7th The Alpina Cup
5th and 6th places in Miami for the GYC Racing Team
Cover Photo: Courtesy of Piguet; HRH Marie Gabrielle of Savoy and Bernard Piguet in 2017 at the occasion of the auction of the art collection of Molly de Balkany, the princess's late sister-in-law GstaadLife, Anzeiger von Saanen, Kirchstrasse 6, P.O. Box 201, 3780 Gstaad, Phone: 033 748 88 74, Fax: 033 748 88 84, www.gstaadlife.com Management Board and Publisher: Frank Müller, firstname.lastname@example.org Publishing Director & Editor in Chief: Markus Iseli, email@example.com Contributors: Alex Bertea, Anna Charles, Guy Girardet, Justine Hewson, Bernard Piguet, Arianna Proto Layout: Michael Matti, Epu Shaha Advertising: Eliane Behrend, firstname.lastname@example.org, 033 748 88 71 Subscriptions: Esther Brand-de Groot, email@example.com, 033 748 88 74 "AvS" after the author of an article indicates the the text is based on material from the Anzeiger von Saanen. Contact the editor for more information.
GstaadLife 2 I 2019
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There’s been a landfill shortage for many years in the Saanenland and Pays-d'Enhaut. Now, a new project plan to deposit excavation material in Rougemont is starting to cause considerable controversy.
t present, most trucks drive with their load of excavated material from the Saanenland and Pays-d’Enhaut up to Grandvillard near Bulle in the canton of Fribourg. A solution for a local landfill site is urgently needed, according to André Reichenbach, mayor of Rougemont. The plan is to deposit the excavated material at the L’Ougette site outside of the village on the main road to Saanen. This location is ideal because it’s on the main road. Lorries don’t have far to drive and there’s no need to build new roads. Then, the brook would undergo conservation work and the whole area turned
into a green site. The project should be completed in four to six years, with no trace remaining of the landfill site in Rougemont, according to Reichenbach. The Rougemont municipal council approved the project in October 2018 by a large majority. Upon this decision, a storm of indignation spread over the municipality. Opponents of the landfill project founded the organisation Les Amis de Rougemont and listed their objections, which totalled 144. However, these have all been rejected and the ball has landed in the canton of Vaud’s court. If the canton agrees, opponents could then launch a referendum. The area along the bypass of Rougemont, where the landfill should be built
PLANNED LANDFILL CAUSES CONTROVERSY
If necessary, they intend to go as far as the Swiss federal court and have tabled various objections against the landfill. For example, they argue that the Rougemont region has more landfills than any other neighbouring region and that the environmental impact of the project hasn’t been properly assessed. They also fear that limiting the work to four to six years isn’t realistic and that it could go on for longer due to extension requests. Reichenbach says that these objections are fuelled by panic: “Much of what people are expressing is misrepresented and exaggerated.” Max Moratti, contractor and project manager, states that plans for the excavation works would be as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible. Nevertheless, upon completion, there would still be earth, clay deposits and some stones left over. As these can’t be recycled, they’d have to go to landfill. Both sides are ultimately pursuing the same goal, namely to preserve the landscape, nature, quality of life and appeal of the region. The question as to whether the landfill site at L’Ougette can provide for this is dividing the municipality into two camps. Those in favour see the landfill as a simple necessity that could even enhance the landscape in the long run. Opponents see it as a project with significantly negative consequences. In these circumstances, a rapprochement between the two sides looks unlikely. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS
GstaadLife 2 I 2019
The Swiss boutique law firm with offices in Geneva and the Valais has been active since 2017 in the heart of Gstaad.
MC Attorneys LLC was co-founded by Gilles Crettol and Béatrice Stahel, initially Geneva business lawyers. Two associates, Catherine Lagger-Fournier and Céline Moos as well as a trainee attorney complete the team. Their philosophy is centred around the needs of their clients. They address cases with energy and assure a high quality and personalization of their services. They are available, reliable, solution-oriented and work pragmatically. Finally, they consider internationality a must. The services of MC Attorneys LLC are adapted to institutional clients (local, national, or international) who are already active and operational or who wish to implement or develop their presence locally, as well as to wealthy individuals who wish to take up residence in Switzerland. They are also the ideal interface for people with a main or secondary MC ATTORNEYS LLC MC AVOCATS SÀRL – MC RECHTSANWÄLTE GmbH
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MC Attorneys LLC’s scope of services includes: • Providing all business law services (drafting and negotiating a large variety of contracts) • Dealing with company related legal issues (labour law issues, contractual issues or disputes with commercial partners) • Providing advice to institutional clients as regular external counsels • Monitoring domestic and interna- tional litigations and arbitrations • Assisting non-Swiss high net worth individuals with taking up residence in Switzerland (residency permits, acquisition of real estate, lump-sum taxation, etc.) and with the organisation of their estate, inheritance and tax planning.
You will also benefit from their privileged connections within the local economic network (in particular asset managers, real estate agents, bankers, notaries, accountants, auditors, tax specialists) and international partners, whilst remaining perfectly independent.
More generally, Béatrice Stahel and her colleagues provide advice in a wide range of legal fields, including that of banking law and real estate law, under their various aspects
You have high quality standards and need bespoke legal advice. MC Attorneys LLC offers its services either in English, French or German and can also provide services in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese through its Geneva office. Co-founding partner Béatrice Stahel (dual citizen GB-CH), a member of the Swiss bar since 2007, and dedicated associate Céline Moos are looking forward to receiving you with full discretion in their chalet-style offices with a spacious conference room in the building above Charly’s tearoom.
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Meetings by appointment
Béatrice Stahel, Gilles Crettol, Catherine Lagger-Fournier, and Céline Moos (from left)
GstaadLife 2 I 2019
Courtesy of MC Attorneys LLC
SWISS BOUTIQUE LAW FIRM IN GSTAAD
Plans are afoot to provide more passing places in Turbach. A second event was held at the end of January to deliver information and set out the proposed plans. Then, in the spring, the Saanen municipality will vote on the construction project. 14 measures are planned in the spacedsindicated on this map. Courtesy of department of infrastructure
EASIER MOTORING IN TURBACH
he road to Turbach has many a blind bend and there are long sections without any passing places. In addition, the various existing passing places aren’t very well positioned and, in some cases, have a poor design. Consequently, this route can be intimidating to many drivers who aren’t used to reversing manoeuvres. Their only hope is that the driver of the oncoming vehicle will be a good-natured local who is used to reversing on this route. The situation is frustrating for many, including locals driving back down to work after lunch and repeatedly having to avoid the oncoming traffic. If two large vehicles meet head on, this can cause serious problems because there’s simply no room for both. A feasibility study and public involvement
The department of infrastructures has worked out a feasibility study and interested parties have been invited to take part. All in all, 25 peo-
The project area covers the whole of Turbach and also includes part of the access road via Bissen (Scheidbach).
ple have signed up for this opportunity. An injection of fresh ideas is paramount because the topography presents a real project challenge. The road runs mainly through very steep terrain, so slope reinforcement is a major area to consider. Specific project areas include a passing place where a little hill needs to be flattened, another with a tree in the way and yet another where a house causes confusion. The plan is to analyse existing passing places to establish the spots with expansion potential and any redundant areas. There’s also a focus on finding areas where new passing places can be created with the least amount of effort. Additionally, some places require extended crash barriers, often with reinforce-
ment by strong support structures. Another matter for consideration is how to expand passing places without encroaching on seating areas for hikers. Finally, yet another preoccupation is how to manage the debris from the works and assess whether earth etc. can be used for filling in at other locations. Every square meter is important and part of careful planning. The next step is a municipal meeting
The cost of the construction project is estimated at CHF 700,000. There will be a vote on the project at one of the next municipal meetings. Ideally, work will start in spring 2020. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS
GstaadLife 2 I 2019
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This season, a new timed ski
With an app, the performance on the new timed ski course can be viewed later, including a video of the run.
course has been set up on the Wasserngrat. Using an app, you can review your own performance once finished.
here must be many skiers who would love to know what it feels like to be a professional ski racer. Imagine standing by the starting hut. Your body is poised from top to toe and you’re ready to muster all your strength for the upcoming few minutes. By the side of the slope, people are cheering as the Treicheln bell sounds. You push off hard with your poles and are on your way! Focusing in earnest, you curve through the gates as the cameras roll and head towards the finish line, where the crowd is cheering you! Then, you snatch a quick glance at the screen: Did you make the grade?
until you finally break through the light barrier to finish. Two years ago, Hansruedi Steiner, managing director of Wasserngrat 2000 AG wanted to offer skiers such an opportunity. This year, it all came together. In terms of finances, the Eagle Club Gstaad and the Institut Le Rosey have played a role in implementing the plans.
train on the mountain, so a timed ski course is ideal for the Wasserngrat. People love opportunities like this.” Steiner finds the timed route exciting because it’s open to everyone. He particularly likes the camera: “Friends and families can compete against one another and then go away and analyse their different ski styles using the app.” It’s easy to take part, then register
“The Wasserngrat already has a lot to offer,” enthuses Philippe Gudin, general director of Rosey Aventure SA, who cut the red ribbon for the official opening. “The mountain really draws people in with its wonderful food and superbly prepared ski slopes. Many racers love to come and
Just like the real thing
You can get a true feeling for what it’s like to race by using the new timed track: From the start hut with the sound of the Treichel bells, to pushing off to launch the timer, then down the ski route as the camera pans in on you for up to two minutes
There’s a sign at the start hut explaining how to download the Skiline.cc app and register. All you need is a valid ski ticket. You can even use the timed course and benefit from being filmed without signing up in advance. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS
HEALTHY SLEEP, HEALTHY AGING Hästens Store Saanen supports
Healthy Aging”, intended to emphasize the importance of sleep in overall health at any age. This focus is purposefully broad in meaning, surrounding the message that quality of life can be improved with healthy sleep. Conversely, when sleep fails, health declines, decreasing quality of life. Sound sleep is a treasured function and one of the core pillars of health.
World Sleep Day on 15 March 45% of the world’s population are threatened by the burden of sleep problems. It is estimated that sleep deprivation costs the US over $400 billion a year, with the UK losing $50 billion or Germany $60 billion. 15 March is the 12th annual World Sleep Day, an internationally recognised awareness event bringing researchers, health professionals and patients together. 2019 will incorporate the slogan, “Healthy Sleep, Courtesy of Hästens
A NEW ATTRACTION AT THE WASSERNGRAT
“Hästens has been working on sound sleep for more than 160 years now,” explains Stefan Ryter of Hästens store Saanen. “The bed you choose decides the quality of your life. That’s why we place such high demands on exact craftsmanship and natural materials. Whoever belongs to the threatened 45% should not hesitate to visit us.” Hästens Store, Dorfstrasse 66, Saanen.
GstaadLife 2 I 2019
11 KILOMETRES OF TOBOGGAN FUN The Saanenland now has three new toboggan runs between Saanersloch and Horneggli. New toboggan runs have been set up, covering 11 kilometres and suitable for experienced sledders, beginners and children.
ew winter attractions in the region include three toboggan runs for different experience levels between Saanenmöser and Schönried. Just like the region’s ski slopes, all toboggan runs are checked for safety. The Saanersloch Run is the most demanding of the new toboggan runs. Anyone who’s up for this slippery challenge should make sure that their shoes have good breaking ability. Wearing helmets is also compulsory on all three toboggan runs. While the first part of this toboggan run fully lives up to the term “de-
manding”, the second half can be tackled with more ease. After completing the 4.1 kilometres, which takes about 45 minutes, you’ll arrive back at the Saanersloch gondola lift valley station. Hornberg is the place where the family and child-friendly toboggan run begins. This 3.4-kilometer Hornberg Run has long straight stretches and is suitable for beginners. On the way, you can see the ski slope and actually cross this three times.
route”. Starting on the Horneggli, one of the runs passes the fondue huts that were moved from the Rellerli to the Horneggli. Notably, transport facilities, gondola lifts and chairlifts have been adapted to take guests with sledges. Also, if you don’t have your own equipment, you can hire this from the Saanersloch cable car and Horneggli chairlift valley stations. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS
The third toboggan run, the Horneggli Run, is very much an “indulgence
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eaman Schepps, Sheffield and Watchbox have a joint sales exhibition at the HUUS Hotel. The iconic shell earrings, which stand for the brand Seaman Schepps today, embody the characteristics of their jewellery. They represent the effortlessness of style, innovation in design, playful boldness, and the unconventional ap-
by Watchbox, a premier international seller of pre-owned fine watches, and Sheffield, a family-owned leader in fine estate jewels based in Geneva; and it is the first time clients can evaluate, sell or trade their own pieces.
proach to materials that are part of every piece. Seaman Schepps has been coming to Gstaad for 15 years to exhibit and sell their jewellery. 2019 also marks a new beginning, though. It is the first time that they are located at the HUUS Hotel; it is the first time that they are joined
The sales exhibition lasts until 17 February.
Courtesy of Seaman Schepps
CLASSIC CARS AND MUSIC 2019
he organisational team of the Classic Cars and Music of Saanen is proud to announce that the third edition will take place on Saturday, 10 August 2019 thanks to the generous support of the three main sponsors, RH FINANCE, HĂ¤stens and SaanenBank.
spend the day in this open-air car museum while appreciating the conviviality of the village of Saanen.
Once more, Saanen will be hosting veteran, vintage and classic cars, dating from the early years of automobiles to the late 60s, while music bands and mini orchestras will be entertaining visitors. Car and music lovers as well as Saanenland enthusiasts will have the opportunity to
Children may choose to be entertained by the Menuhin Festival Discovery programme while parents can enjoy a meal or a drink in one of the numerous restaurants or tearooms of the village. This event is part of a three-day car rally for vintage car owners. Should you own one and should you wish to participate in the rally or only in the event in Saanen, do not hesitate to contact the organisers. See you in Saanenâ€Ś email@example.com
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GstaadLife 2 I 2019
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Every person is different and therefore needs to embark on a different journey to find their place in the world. This is why Expedition Discovery, after an initial assessment, plans a personalised, holistic journey to suit the client’s requirements and needs. Locations, activities, therapies and optimum duration are chosen individually together with a team from a pool of trusted professionals and experts in their fields. Expedition Discovery can be designed to be relaxing or mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging, or a combination of both to make the client a more resilient person at the end of this journey. Experiential travelling of this kind enables people to re-evaluate their own principles and values. A unique feature is that each client has a dedicated executive protection specialist at their side during the entire journey, who acts as a mentor, helps with logistics and takes care of the client’s protection.
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HRH Princess Marie Gabrielle of Savoy and Swiss auctioneer Bernard Piguet discuss Gstaad, art and l’art de vivre. You are a Gstaad habituée and regularly visit the Saanenland. When did you first come to Gstaad?
I first started coming to Gstaad in 1954 to spend time with my brother. During his schooling at the then all-boys Institut Le Rosey, I kept him company while he was here along with my sisters and our nanny. Like him, my Belgian cousins were also at school here in Gstaad but at Chalet Marie José. I think it was in the late 1940s when my mother’s brother, Léopold, and his family arrived. How would you describe the Gstaad of this era?
With no church or cinema, in those days the Gstaad Palace was the centre of village life. Simplicity reigned supreme. Money had no currency. In how far has it changed or remained the same over the decades?
What I have noticed most throughout my years in Gstaad is that no architectural errors have been made. All the new construction that has appeared is all in keeping with the surroundings. It is very respectful of the character of the place and of the environment. This is most unlike other ski resorts. Over time I have also observed the different waves of visitors attracted to Gstaad. Snow – or rather the threatening lack thereof – may pose difficulties in the future…
I believe the Saanenland remains attractive whether it snows or not. It is a beautiful spot, surrounded by such picturesque scenery and magnificent mountains; pastoral as well as bucolic.
HRH Princess Marie Gabrielle of Savoy and her brother, HRH Prince Vittorio Emanuele, in the garden of the Gstaad Palace, 1958
All photographs courtesy of HRH Princess Marie Gabrielle of Savoy
REGAL FIRESIDE CHAT
“Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté, / Luxe, calme et volupté.” In these lines Charles Baudelaire might as well be enamoured with the Saanenland, when he evokes order, beauty, luxury, peace and pleasure. Do you have a particular time of year that you prefer for your visits to the region?
When I skied, I enjoyed the winter months a great deal but these days I appreciate it all throughout the year, irrespective of the season. I still visit Gstaad often at weekends and during the holidays. I feel very at home in Gstaad as I am surrounded by friends and people whose company I enjoy. I have so many happy and fond memo-
ries here. One thing I still love doing is riding in a horse-drawn sleigh. It brings back such precious memories of rides with my father during my childhood. I love seeing Gstaad from the seat of a horse-drawn sleigh. To me, there’s just something special about it. You created the Foundation Umberto II and Marie José of Savoy in 1986. What is the aim of the foundation?
As the histories of France, Italy and Switzerland are intertwined with the House of Savoy, so too are Gstaad and my family. To that end, I felt it my duty to honour my father and the House of Savoy by creating a foun-
GstaadLife 2 I 2019
GstaadLife 2 I 2019
dation in Switzerland that bears his name. It aims to preserve the collections of books, paintings, miniatures, drawings, prints and photographs regarding the history of the House of Savoy. My books further underscore this. Is the collection of artefacts accessible to the public?
The collection the foundation holds is not open to the public as such but access is granted to museums, universities and academic bodies for study and exhibition purposes. Most recently, I lent 12 religious shrouds or Saint Suaire prints for an exhibition in Turin, Italy. The original Saint Suaire was in my family for some 530 years. My father then left it to Pope Jean-Paul II. What inspired you to create this foundation?
My father. As you, Mr Piguet, do with your children, my father took me to many museums as a child and I remember admiring many collections. A life-long bibliophile, the walls of his house in Portugal while in exile were lined with bookshelves. If daughters adore their father, I was no exception. With charm, wit and erudition, he punctuated the halcyon days of my youth never spewing venom. My father educated me, including in the appreciation of art. What period or kind of art are you particularly interested in?
Though my books focus on court life as well as royal taste in jewels and the decorative arts, I’m most at home in the eclectic style of the 19th century, like the poetry of Baudelaire. Before immersing yourself in the world of art at the École du Louvre in Paris, you received a degree in Italian, French and Spanish interpretation from the University of Geneva.
Yes, aside from the École du Louvre in Paris, like your own mother, I pursued no history of art but rather an interpretation diploma in Italian, French and Spanish at the University of Geneva after secondary school, the Liceo Scientifico in Madrid. I speak 5 languages at varying levels: French, Italian, English, Spanish and Portuguese. My mother tongue is Italian. These days I use French most often, on a daily basis that is. I am at ease reading a book in French or Italian, that doesn’t make much difference to me. During summers I attended the painting courses of the Oscar Kokoschka at the “Sommer Akademie” in Salzburg. Dare I say, tempi passati. Hopefully you will remain faithful to Gstaad and the Saanenland?
As for me, Bernard Piguet, I need no passionate entreaties. Gstaad remains a purveyor to royal households.
HRH THE PRINCESS MARIE GABRIELLE OF SAVOY HRH the Princess Marie Gabrielle of Savoy is the daughter of Umberto II, last King of Italy, and his wife the Queen Marie José, born Princess of Belgium, daughter of King Albert I of Belgium and Queen Elisabeth, Princess of Bavaria. Queen Elisabeth was the goddaughter and niece of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, “Sissi”. Born in the midst of WWII just before France capitulated, HRH is living history and has been a lifelong resident of Gstaad.
BERNARD PIGUET Bernard Piguet, like his surgeon father, did not answer the call of his family’s Swiss private bank but rather his passion for the commerce of art and the art of commerce. After studying at the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne, Piguet pursued further training in the history of art in London before joining Sotheby’s Geneva, after which he now runs the auction house that bears his name.
At the Eagle Club with her mother, Queen of Italy, born Marie José of Belgium, and Nelson Seabra in the late 80s
Opposite page: Gstaad, 1956.
ou may be surprised to learn that Le Grand Bellevue is one of the oldest hotels in Gstaad. Dating back to 1912, it first opened its doors as a ‘Cure House and Spa’, offering visitors a place to relax and convalesce.
informal dishes such as burgers and sandwiches), wherever you want to eat (in LEONARD’S restaurant, at the bar, in your room, on the terrace, …). “It’s about delivering whichever culinary journey the guest wants,” explains Cynthia.
In 2013 the hotel underwent a yearlong renovation and re-design project under the leadership of new owners Daniel and Davia Koetser. The hotel re-opened in December 2013, staking its claim as the only large five-star establishment to be categorically situated “in Gstaad village”.
But how is the Bellevue investing to make this food-led strategy a reality?
The Bellevue clearly has an enviable location, but as I learned when I interviewed Daniel Koetser and Cynthia Kummer, Bellevue communications manager, this is just the beginning. Family-owned and family-run
I am surprised to learn that Daniel is not just the owner of the hotel; he runs it too. Throughout our meeting I see first-hand the kind of highly personalised guest experience this creates. The hotel is more country house than razzmatazz glamour, creating a warm environment in which guests feel at home. Take LEONARD’S, the hotel’s main restaurant. It’s an elegant space with vaulted ceilings and muted colours – formal without being austere. It also gives a sense of what the Bellevue is all about: to be the culinary centre of Gstaad by serving exceptional food.
For starters there’s the recent appointment of Marcus G. Lindner as head chef for LEONARD’S. With two Michelin stars to his name, Chef Lindner’s experience and flair drives the direction of his kitchen. Then consider the Bellevue’s recent acquisition of the Chesery under the continued leadership of Michelin-star chef and long-time Gstaad restaurateur Robert Speth. The Chesery will continue as a standalone restaurant, but the establishments work closely together and also collaborate on the external catering, offering Le Grand Catering. Add to this the rustic Le Petit Chalet, a fun Krug pop-up restaurant and sushi bar and I understand the culinary adventure on offer here. Hotel Strategy
This food-led approach feeds into a broader vision for the hotel: to make
Le Grand Bellevue – and Saanenland – a culinary destination. This makes a great deal of sense. There is a growing global interest in food quality and people are willing to seek out and travel to places that deliver exceptional cuisine, where they can indulge in the very best. By recognising this trend and delivering extraordinary food at the Bellevue it’s clear the hotel is driving to make Gstaad a go-to destination for a top culinary experience. Looking forward, the hotel also has plans for an events-based conference centre that can accommodate two to three hundred people. This plugs a gap in the existing Gstaad market for hosting mid-sized events like weddings and business gatherings and will increase global awareness of what Gstaad has to offer. Arguably this will have a positive impact on the local economy by bringing new guests to Saanenland and will drive up hotel occupancy across the region. Gstaad: culinary destination
Make no mistake, the Bellevue is a grande dame hotel offering every luxury and comfort you could expect from a five-star establishment. By putting food at the core of its strategy it demonstrably welcomes anyone who likes to eat well – visitors and locals alike. And who can disagree with Le Grand Bellevue’s ambition to help put Gstaad on the culinary map? That’s a vision I’m sure many are happy to get their taste buds behind.
What does this mean in practice? At the heart of the Bellevue’s culinary strategy is a Michelin-star kitchen. Absolutely excellent food regardless of what you want to eat (fine dining, the daily menu, or more
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Celebrating fine dining at Le Grand Bellevue Courtesy of Le Grand Bellevue
GSTA AD LIVING
Between 1-3 February, Elevation 1049 united numerous national and international artists, performers and guests in Gstaad. Everyone in attendance drew great inspiration from the activities, enjoyed lively discussions and also made friends. Doug Aitken’s Mirage Gstaad keeps changing in appearance along with its surroundings.
ARTS & CULTURE
ELEVATION 1049 AN INSPIRING WEEKEND OF ART
here were some real novelties during the Elevation weekend in and around Gstaad, with all kinds of art performances taking place. Some events even involved direct audience participation. The highlight of the three days of art was Mirage Gstaad, a house of mirrors created by American artist Doug Aitken. In the summer, he and curator Neville Wakefield went hiking in the area around Gstaad, looking for a suitable location. By way of the background to this, according to Aitken: “We tend to think that a work of art is finished when it leaves the artist’s studio. However, my works only start to take shape when exposed to the outside environment.” Aitken confirmed that they searched for a long time, finally finding a good location above Gruben. “I fell in love with this place right away. It’s a lonely corner, yet you can see the chalets from there, which is really magical.” So, how did the house of mirrors get from Los Angeles to Gstaad? Aitken
laughs, not really wishing to divulge any details. In the end, he reveals that the individual components for Mirage Gstaad were all made to measure in Switzerland, then individually transported by lorry to the site. There’s another Mirage house near Palm Springs out in the California desert. Aitken has also experimented with mirrored geometric shapes underwater. On Sunday morning, he showed a short film with an overview of his work in the cinema at The Alpina Gstaad. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Bringing art to the people
For some time now, Doug Aitken has been working with land art, liberating art from museums, taking pieces out into nature and also into the cities and to the general public. The house of mirrors will stand in its position above Gstaad for two years. Does the artist worry about the weather affecting his exhibit? He says that the passage of time will definitely have an effect on his work, but this is what interests him. “My work is fleeting, it’s constantly changing and evolving.” Depending on the weather, the house of mirrors can be seen from a distance, but sometimes it’s hard to find. Aitken explains how, exhausted from the long flight, he arrived in Gstaad, then, in the evening, he tramped up the mountain through deep snow to find his work of art. It was freezing cold but he was brimming with excitement to see the house of mirrors, “But when we got to the spot, suddenly, it had gone! Incredible! I couldn’t see my own creation! Just like a mirage, it had completely disappeared into the nocturnal landscape.” That, he says, was one of his favourite moments and he would never forget this memory of Gstaad, “It was absolutely amazing!” JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS
ew n e Th k o o b Gstaad ! e r e h is GSTAAD
The path to becoming a world-famous resort
by Gottfried von Siebenthal-Imhof
When the first tourists came to Gstaad in 1905 on the newly constructed railway line, this coincided with the start of a wonderful transformation of the farming village into a world-famous resort. In the following years, many hotels were constructed including the world-famous Palace Hotel as well as half a dozen boarding schools. That is how the world came to Gstaad and its name spread throughout the world. Unlike virtually no other tourist region, Gstaad has found a way of striking the right balance between cosmopolitanism and authenticity whilst staying true to itself and its architectural style. Through the stories of the past, the development of this unique village is demonstrated, and the soul of its inhabitants – who have always believed in the potential of their village – is tangible in the pictures. The new book GSTAAD – Der Weg zum Weltkurort supplements the book “GSTAAD – eine Reise in die Vergangenheit” (a journey back in time) which was published in 2002 and is now out of print. Most existing chapters have been expanded, and 15 new chapters have been added (illustrated with 150 additional photos). The book is written in German but it also includes a detailed summary in French and English. CHF 98, 30/23 cm, ISBN 978-03818-172-9, 404 pages, bound, hardcover with 550 images
Buchhandlung Cadonau (bookshop), Gstaad I Buchhandlung Au Foyer (bookshop), Saanen Rougemont Interiors, Gstaad I Müller Medien AG, Gstaad I Bahnhofkiosk Gstaad Author Gottfried von Siebenthal, Tel. 033 744 45 67
ARTS & CULTURE
NEW GSTAAD BOOK What defines Gstaad and makes it so special? To understand this amazing town, you need to look back to the past.
fter the devastating village fire of 1898 and the poverty of the 19th century, the residents of Gstaad were looking for different income streams to diversify from trading in timber, cheese, and farming, which was very dominant within the region. Tourism looked like a viable option, but Gstaad was hard to get to. Finally, in 1905, the Montreux – Interlaken railway opened and the line went through Gstaad, a little-known place at that time. The railway was the first electric line in the Alps. Within a few
years, ten hotels had sprung up, including the now legendary Gstaad Palace Hotel. The builders were all locals who believed in the future of tourism in Gstaad. Thanks to the fast modern railway connection and contemporary hotels, Gstaad was the ideal location for building private schools. Indeed, the Belgian royal family set up a private school here in 1913, followed in quick succession by the Le Rosey. In addition to its main centre on Lake Geneva, Le Rosey constructed a winter residence in Gstaad. This marked the beginnings of the town as we know it today. Students from royal backgrounds and the wealthy aristocracy laid the foundations for
a select clientele who have remained faithful to the town to this day. Today, Gstaad still has just as many cows as inhabitants, which is a tribute to the harmonious integration of tourism. Moreover, everything still feels real. Gstaad is brimming with unspoiled nature and international flair. Preserving the countryside and the strict building regulations (which only allow chalet buildings) have helped Gstaad to become a world-class spa resort. Gstaad has a genuine vibe, but it’s also a very discerning place where every guest will feel comfortable and welcome.
GOTTFRIED VON SIEBENTHAL Born in 1946 into one of the oldest local families in Gstaad, Gottfried von Siebenthal-Imhof is married with four children. From childhood, he felt a great sense of commitment to “his village”. Among others, he’s been a member of the management board for the tourist office and has also spent eight years working for the municipal council. His decades of campaigning for a car-free Gstaad and a bypass have been honoured with the title “Mister Gstaad”.
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halet Marie José was the first private boarding school in Gstaad. It was founded in 1912 and temporary home to royals from Belgium, Italy and Spain amongst others.
Chalet Marie José around 1950
GstaadLife is reaching out to its readership to find, document and preserve information and memories of and about this school. Did you go to school at Marie José or do you know someone who did? Then let us know and write to email@example.com!
Courtesy of Isabelle Jolly-Nève
PICCOLI VIRTUOSI GstaadLife met with Miguel Negri, director of the Piccoli Virtuosi Music School, which opened in Château-d’Oex in 2018. What are the objectives of the music school?
We aim to offer professional musical education to children, starting at a young age. When students graduate at 18, we want them to have attained a level that will permit entry into any prestigious music university – no matter where this is located. Music is like a sport. If you want to succeed you need to start learning at an early age. What criteria do you apply for acceptance of students?
The most important is talent. However, it’s also essential to have a commitment from both the child and the parents. More important than a student’s starting level is the ability to learn, to understand new concepts and make progress. Do you follow a specific teaching method?
Yes, over the years I’ve developed my own method. I combine the techniques of David Oistrakh – who followed the famous Russian violin tradition – with the intuitive creativity
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of Yehudi Menuhin, which I learned during my studies at the Menuhin Academy in Gstaad. Do your students attend regular school?
Yes, they go to the Henchoz College in Château-d’Oex. Students who prefer to study in English attend the JFK School in Saanen.
How do students manage music education together with their schooling?
We schedule music lessons in the afternoons. Each student has three individual lessons a week on the main instrument, violin or viola. The rest of the time is dedicated to learning piano as a secondary instrument and to studying music theory. What support have you received from the municipality?
The local community has welcomed the idea of a specialised music school in the region. The mayor, together with communal and Cantonal authorities, attended our opening event last December. We believe that a cultural project like ours is a positive addition to the region and that this relationship will continue to grow. Concentration is key
ARTS & CULTURE
DO YOU REMEMBER CHALET MARIE JOSÉ?
ARTS & CULTURE
50 YEARS OF PAPIERS DÉCOUPÉS
nne Rosat’s works of art are on display in many museums and collections around the world and her exhibitions in major cities – New York, Paris and London – have raised international awareness of the Swiss paper cutting tradition.
mism; the use of layers – a technique that adds depth and contrast; the introduction of special and embossed papers; and the addition of gold and silver – reminiscent of the illuminated manuscripts of the middle ages.
Originally from Belgium, Rosat came to the Pays- d’E n h aut over sixty years ago. Her passion for paper cutting was sparked when she sat down to copy a work by the famous artist Johann Jakob Hauswirth as a present for her husband. This challenge led to a passion for paper cutting that has only grown stronger over the years. Rosat has developed her own style, allowing inspiration to guide her compositions and choice of colours. Early on, the famous paper cutter Christian Schwizgebel encouraged her to introduce colour into her creations. Rosat has re-interpreted the traditions of paper cutting in a number of ways. These include the use of colour – often shades of red – to add vibrancy and dyna-
Rosat’s creations typically depict events of local village life, including the iconic InAlp when the cows move up to the mountain pastures. She says that commissioned works of art are the most challenging but she tries to accommodate the spe-
cial requests of her clients as best she can. The Galerie Paltenghi in Château-d’Oex is hosting a special exhibition to celebrate Anne Rosat’s fifty years of paper cutting from 10 February to 23 March. Rosat was delighted to be invited to hold this special anniversary exhibition at the Galerie Paltenghi, as it was here, in 2015, that the municipality of C h ât e au- d’O e x awarded her the Bourgeoisie d’Honneur. She feels it is the most appropriate place to celebrate her 50 years of paper cutting – here in the heart of the region that has fostered so much creativity and inspiration. Sixty-two works of art, created over the past two years, are on exhibit. All are on sale and prices range from CHF 900 to 12,000. The artist will be present at the vernissage to be held on Sunday, 10 February, from 2pm to 7pm. GUY GIRARDET
Galerie Paltenghi firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 (0)79 379 54 19
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SPORTS & LEISURE
WINTER SPORTS SERIES: ENDING SUGGESTIONS FOR THRILL SEEKERS A part of us is always in search of a thrill and holidays are the perfect occasion to go in search of something beautiful and new, something different from everyday life.
he digital era has changed the way we are experiencing the world, everything is only a click away, and today’s travellers are more likely to look for adventures and activities that offer a real thrill of authenticity. This my be part of the explanation why extreme sports have become increasingly popular, attracting larger numbers every year, while a decline has been noted in other outside activities that are considered to be more traditional. What drives people to chase for spine-tingling, heart-in-your-mouth experiences? Extreme activities offer the chance to push the frontiers. Prudent folks may shake their heads when considering the risks, but taking the challenge is a way to feel truly alive. It is not only a matter of adrenaline. Practising an extreme sport means getting outside of your comfort zone, confronting and surmounting fears, while boosting self-confidence and the ability to deal with your limits. In terms of sporting activities, winter can offer some of the most riveting and intense challenges that one may take, and the sub-zero temperatures don’t put off the adrenaline seekers.
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For those who search breathtaking downhill rides, the ultimate sports are snow rafting, snow tubing, hammerhead sledding, snow kayaking and shovel racing. Thrill seekers who have no fear of heights can choose between snow kiting, base jumping, speed flying and heli-skiing. The icy surfaces are the ideal setting for extreme activities such as ice climbing, ice diving, ice surfing and ice yachting. Disciplines such as snow biking, snow scooting, K-track and snow crossing are the ultimate exciting alternatives to traditional biking and motor bike rides. Those who were in Gstaad between 24 and 27 January had the chance to admire the Snow Bike Festival, a mountain biking stage race that took place on the snow-covered trails and slopes. Gstaad is not commonly associated as an extreme sports spot. However, this winter wonderland has a lot to offer, not only to those seeking leisure and comfort, but also to those who like some adventure with their winter holiday. With five mountain landing sites, the region around Gstaad is one of the hot spots in Switzerland for heli-skiing. In just a matter of minutes, a helicopter drops you on the top of a mountain, away from cable cars and groomed slopes, where free riders can enjoy the powder and breathtaking descents into the valley. The snow parks in Saanenmöser and on the Glacier 3000 offer the ide-
al setting to those who want to practise freestyle. Frozen waterfalls in Lauenen and in Gsteig are the perfect place for ice climbing, a discipline that is the winter counterpart of rock climbing and consists in ascending inclined ice formations, cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice. Daytime and night-time sledding trips from Eggli, Wispile and Sparenmoos are a tradition, but in the new era of winter sports the ultimate device is called snowcart, a high-tech sled that allows exciting downhill rides. A holiday in Gstaad is a dream come true and those who wish to add some thrill to their dreams will certainly find several opportunities. When asked why so many people want to climb the dangerous peak of K2, one of the climbers responded, “The bigger the dream, the bigger the risk.” If you do decide to embark on a winter adventure, make sure you’re aware of the risks and make sure that you are taking all precautions: stay safe, wear the right gear, check the weather conditions and always consult the local experts. Once the seatbelts are fastened, the adventure can start! ARIANNA PROTO
THE SEASON WITH A DOUBLET AN IMPERIAL ART Napoleons I and III, James II, and George VI. Gstaad’s skaters carry on the majestic tradition.
s difficult as it may be for today’s guests to believe, in the early part of the 20th century ice skating was the primary winter draw for guests in Gstaad. Prior to the 1934 construction of the funicular ‘Funi’ sled on the Wispile, visitors wanting to ski would have to hike up practice hills on foot or in skis in order to take a run; mountain-skiing required long climbs and skins. Skating, curling, and ice hockey have been an integral part of Gstaad since tourism grew with the arrival of the MOB railroad in 1904 and Gstaad’s first winter season in 1907/08. According to Gottfried von Siebenthal’s indispensable Saanenland histories, the Grand Hotel Alpina had the first natural ice rink at a firstclass hotel during the 1907/08 winter season, which apparently lasted only two weeks. Skating options increased the following season with the construction of the 3,500 square metre village ice rink in 1908/09, and the Park Hotel, built in 1910, offered a natural ice rink in winter over its tennis courts. In 1912, Oskar Reichenbach’s Eisbahn AG purchased an additional 5,000 square metres to add to the village ice rink, expanding it to an amazing 11,000 square metres! Stretching from the current Charly’s Tea Room to what would become the Grand Hotel Bellevue in 1913, it offered more than a hectare of skating area, occupying a space greater than 38 tennis courts, bigger than London’s Trafalgar Square!
In 1914, the newly-built Gstaad Palace raised the bar for grand hotel skating, constructing a massive natural field of ice measuring over 5,000 square meters, stretching from the current Palace pool house to the Oldenhornstrasse. It was divided into three parts – one each for skating, curling, and ice hockey – with little walls between sections. Gentility was the order of the day. According to hotel pater familias EA Scherz, on sunny afternoons the Palace offered apéro tables on ice with skating waiters in white tie and tails; ice galas, with skating clowns and ice dancing, provided amusement for the guests. Skating and curling instructors originally wore lounge suits with plus fours, and tuition was of the highest calibre: Lausanne’s Alfred Mégroz, winner of Gstaad’s 1915 international Winter Sports figure-skating competition, was a long-time instructor, as was more recently Miss Mary, a former Holiday on Ice star. Over time, Gstaad’s natural ice rinks contracted in number and size, the result of climate warming and evolving priorities. In 1998, Eisbahn AG installed an artificial rink on their Unter-Gstaad property, providing a smaller, but less climate-dependent, venue for skating and hockey. In 2010, the Park Gstaad installed their own artificial rink, marking their century-long commitment to this most graceful of winter arts. Today, options abound for Gstaad’s ice-minded guests. Miss Mary still teaches at the village ice rink, inspiring the children of former students who remember her fondly from her days at the Park and the Palace. The Park Gstaad’s Laurent-Perrier Ice Dome provides a cosy-chic atmosphere with DJ accompaniment, from where one can observe skating and curling on a complimentary rink open to all visitors. Hockey at the village rink and curling at the Sportszentrum are vibrant parts of Gstaad’s winter scene. And natural ice rinks are available whenever the weather’s right from Saanenmöser to the Lauenensee. So, if you feel like partaking of the Qing dynasty court’s favoured winter diversion, break out the blades and take a stately glide in the Saanenland’s regal air. And remind yourself you’re in good company. ALEX BERTEA
Court esy of Gstaa d Palace
Rudolf II practiced it. So did
With all eyes on The Alpina Cup, the event comprised a slalom race at the Wasserngrat and an evening hockey match between two very competitive teams on the Gstaad ice rink. This time, it was really close. Rounding up a wonderful day, the joint Alpina Gstaad gala dinner sponsored by the hotel was a worthy conclusion.
t the end of January, the two schools Gymnasium Gstaad and the Institut Le Rosey competed in winter sporting events at the seventh edition of The Alpina Cup, which has become a spectacular tradition. Pupils and teachers from both schools did their best at skiing and ice hockey. Picture book conditions
“It’s awfully cold,” said one student, shivering behind the starting gate. In addition, more than 50 of his classmates, guests and teachers were battling it out for the fastest times. Conditions on and around the race track were absolutely fantastic. The sun shone down from a deep blue sky. Nevertheless, the air had a real bite with the cold, helping the piste to keep its grip for the final skiers. A good mix of skiers and snowboarders were out there for the start of the giant slalom. Some tried to find a sunny spot to wait in. Others jumped up and down to fight the cold and their nerves. They motivated one other, no matter which team they belonged to and there were no signs of any language barriers.
Gstaad high school students are unbeatable skiers
Pupils from the top forms of Gymnasium Gstaad included skiers with competitive and racing experience. Accordingly, the fastest local high school girls didn’t let anyone get the better of them and took the first five places in their category. Competitive athlete Julie Trummer set the best time of the day. She’s been very successful in collecting FIS (international ski federation) points this season. In second place was Jasmine von Siebenthal, followed by Jessica Tschanz. Places 4 and 5 were also secured by Gstaad pupils, thanks to Marion Schenk and Michelle Herrmann. In the boy’s categories, Michael Knöri scooped top position for Gstaad. However, the competition from Le Rosey was hot on his heels. Louis Luftman and Hadrien Pratte-Ness took the other podium spots. Sarah Tschanz from Gstaad High School won the snowboard competition, followed by her schoolmate, Felix Hoyer. Fun on and off the piste
Amateur ski students didn’t disappoint either, kicking up the snow and
displaying spectacular manoeuvers as they passed through the gates. “Too direct an approach,” said one of the few skiers who dropped out, giving the televised commentary. As a group of schoolgirls made their way through the gates, their priority was to safely cross the finish line. “I’m aiming to be tucked up snug in my bed tonight,” said one of the skiers when asked about her aim. The course was set by racing boss and teacher at Le Rosey Patrick Zürcher. It was demanding but not overly challenging. Commentators Joannah Spencer and Christoph Däpp, who represented both schools, delivered a bilingual race report as the girls and boys, guests and teachers from both schools crossed the finish line. From the piste to the ice rink
As the sun started to set, participants made their way down to Gstaad, where the ice hockey match kicked off on time. Some lingered long enough to get changed and then went on to spectate, dotted around the edge of the ice rink with waffles and punch, courtesy of the main sponsor, The Alpina Gstaad. Temperatures dropped well below zero. The cold and its icy nip took many of the spectators by surprise and the two judges, Nils Kunz and Marco Romang, rubbed their chilly hands. However, the players on the ice rink were starting to sweat. Fighting hard in the freezing cold of the night: the two hockey teams after the match, which ended with a draw
SPORTS & LEISURE
WINTER AT ITS BEST FOR THE 7TH THE ALPINA CUP
The best skiers of the day (from left): Hadrien Pratte-Ness, Louis Luftman, Julie Trummer, Jessica Tschanz, Michael Knöri
Working together to make it possible: Patrick Zürcher (Le Rosey, racing boss), Chrisoph Däpp (Gymnasium Gstaad, headmaster), Rob Gray (Le Rosey, headmaster and academic director), Tim Weiland (The Alpina Gstaad, general manager), Andrew Spencer (Le Rosey, hockey team captain), and Frank Müller (organisation and responsible for the Gstaad hockey team)
A team of high school students, seniors and novices from the Gstaad-Saanenland hockey club got the match off to an explosive start. They were quick to score goals, crushing their opponent, Le Rosey. Teachers, students and guests from the opposing team were no match for the locals. Taking a clear 6-2 lead with the first third of the match gone, the Gstaad ice hockey players thought they were safe. Demoralised by the sudden onslaught of shots raining down on the goal in the first few minutes, the team Le Rosey goal keeper roared in anger. This seemed to have an effect and, in the second third, spectators enjoyed a more balanced match. In the final third, not only did Le Rosey launch a counter-attack against the full-on play they’d been met with, but they even scored a goal to take the lead. The Gstaad team equalised literally in the last minute. The match ended in a 12-12 dead heat. In the end, there was a draw to pick the match winner
and the Gstaad team came out on top. The best hockey player of the day on the Saanenland side was Raphael dos Santos. For team Le Rosey, the nomination went to Hadrien Pratte-Ness. Benefitting from the evening to warm up
A successful day of sporting events was followed by a triumphant finale, with a joint dinner at The Alpina Gstaad. Once nice and warm inside, the pupils, students, guests and teachers chatted about the day’s events, with exciting discussions and lively exchange taking place. Tim Weiland, general manager at The Alpina Gstaad, and Rob Gray, headmaster and academic director at Le Rosey, both extended a warm welcome to everyone. They emphasised the good relations between Gstaad and the Institut Le Rosey and hoped this relationship would continue to flourish. “It’s an honour for The Alpina Gstaad to be involved with pro-
moting young people,” said Weiland, explaining the hotel’s commitment as the main sponsor. “We’re delighted to have facilitated this event, strengthening links between Le Rosey and Gstaad.” Rob Gray also commented on the valuable connection between the educational institute and Gstaad: “We often ask ourselves if our pupils get something out of coming to Gstaad for just nine weeks of the year,” said Gray at the start, before answering: “They certainly do, because Gstaad is a special place. The connection in Gstaad between Le Rosey and the locals is far stronger than in Rolle, the institute’s headquarters.” Everyone feels very connected to the Saanen region. “It’s like a love affair,” he said, describing the relationship between Le Rosey and Gstaad. “So, let’s carry on.” As part of this, The Alpina Cup is a permanent fixture and an extremely positive event. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS
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The world’s leading Olympic sailors, including 34 Olympic medallists, competed in the second round of the Hempel World Cup Series in Miami, Florida, USA. More than 650 sailors from 60 nations raced on the waters of Biscayne Bay in the first big event of 2019.
s every year, the Sailing World Cup Miami marks the start of the Olympic sailing season after the winter break. It is important to show excellent performances during this qualification year for Tokyo. Four sailors of the GYC Racing Team competed in three different classes, Nils Theuninck / Finn, Eliot Merceron and Nicolas Rolaz / Laser and Mateo Sanz Lanz / Windsurfing. Despite unstable weather conditions, which fluctuated between light breezes and heavy gusts, two GYC athletes clearly stood out.
Nils Theuninck in the Finn achieved a very good 5th place. He will be the next SST sailor to secure a national quota spot this coming May. After circling the buoys in third position, he opted for a time-consuming option that made him fall back to the very bottom of the fleet before finally catching up and finishing sixth in the final race. “The wind was very unstable, I tried to do the best I could during this tricky Medal Race! It’s a really good regatta for me overall. I think I’ve improved a lot here in Miami; I’m really looking forward to racing in other big events soon!” said Nils Theuninck after the race.
This mistake made him fall back to sixth place in the overall ranking. The main thing is that he can tackle the rest of the season with increased self-confidence. With 18 months until the Tokyo 2020 sailing competition, now is the time for possible medallists to do an honest self-assessment and figure out what weaknesses they need to work on. GSTAAD YACHT CLUB
Bursting with confidence
The windsurfer Mateo Sanz Lanz also showed an outstanding performance and would have almost climbed the podium of the medal race. Given the extremely weak wind conditions during the last race, the lull specialist had all the trumps in hand to win a medal. Unfortunately, he crossed the starting line just under a second before the start.
Sailing Energy/World Sailing
SPORTS & LEISURE
5TH AND 6TH PLACES IN MIAMI FOR THE GYC RACING TEAM
Mateo Sanz Lanz (GYC) 6th Finn
Nils Theuninck (CNP/GYC) 5th Laser Standard
Eliot Merceron (GYC) 20th NicolasRolaz (CNM/GYC) 85th
e thought we’d come and stay with you over halfterm. That’s alright isn’t it?”
When you move abroad, especially to a destination as beautiful as Gstaad, you quickly become everyone’s favourite relative. We learned this a few short weeks after arriving in Saanenland. A friend of mine has a theory about family visits. It goes like this: if you live really close to your relatives they will drop by frequently – for a cup of tea perhaps – but won’t stay for long. If you live further afield – a couple of hours’ drive – you won’t see them much at all; the journey’s too long for frequent visits, yet too short to warrant an overnight stay. If you live a long way away, however, beware. Your family may not visit as frequently as those in the next town, but whenever they do come to see you they staaaaaaay. For a long time, if you’ll let them. When our (to remain nameless) relative decided they’d like to join us for a week’s skiing, we were far from settled. Still hunting for our ideal home, we were living in a short-term, semi-furnished, rented apartment. We had beds, a sofa, a kitchen table and chairs, but not much else. But of course we said yes (“it’ll be lovely to see you!”) then began to figure out how exactly we were going to host them.
It was a trifle galling, but I resigned myself to a drive to Bulle, if not Montreux, to get everything we needed. I was certain there was no way of kitting ourselves out locally.
Sense of perspective
I am delighted to report I was proven utterly wrong. We used a mixture of large and small shops in Gstaad, but learned it’s perfectly possible to live ‘locally’, even for such a long list of household goods. You don’t just find posh frocks and watches along the Promenade!
I clearly remember when some American friends came to stay. They were lovely guests, eager to see as much of Switzerland as possible. One morning they told us they were going out for a drive. “Great,” we said. They asked us for suggestions and we drew up a shortlist of options: Gruyères, Château de Chillon, or perhaps Villars.
Four days good
Many years have passed since that first visit. Since then we’ve hosted countless friends and relatives. So many, in fact, that we’ve got it down to a fine art. My advice to newly-minted expats in this situation? The ideal duration for any visit is four days: guests arrive on Thursday and depart on Tuesday. This gives you enough time to cram in the sights and sounds, as well as make time for relaxation. And, yes, I have been known to create itineraries for my guests. I’m not sure my parents would agree, but I find it’s a great way to make sure we don’t waste any time. If it’s good enough for travel agencies, I figure, it’s good enough for us.
But it’s not all take, take, take where visitors are concerned. They also give a wonderful sense of perspective.
On their return our friends appeared somewhat disgruntled. Had something gone wrong? “Oh Montreux was beautiful,” they enthused, “but all the shops were shut.” We looked at them in surprise. “But of course they were – it’s Sunday.” And then it hit us. It hadn’t crossed our minds to mention Sunday closing. Had we become so acclimatised to the Swiss way of life we could no longer call ourselves expats? ANNA CHARLES
Beware of visiting family and friends when you live in a place like Gstaad!
Our household belongings were still in storage and as it made no sense to buy duplicates of everything, we were getting by on the bare minimum. But now there was no avoiding the fact that we had to acquire extra crockery, cutlery, duvets, pillows, bed linen, coat hangers, and on and on.
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50th Birthday Thanksgiving Mass for Alan Nazar Antoine Ipekian Saturday, 16 February 2019 at 6pm Catholic Church, Gstaad
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