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January 27, 2017 - Issue 1 – CHF 3.50

EASY DOES IT Speed Limit Change in Schönried

ART ATTACK Gstaad Swells with Various Exhibitions

OUR MAN IN BERN Interview with Erich von Siebenthal










New, Successful, and Disputed Projects

It also got hold of our editor in chief, Alexis Munier, while she was running up and down the valley to chase the latest news and the best stories for this issue of GSTAADLIFE. Fortunately, she could finish most of the articles and my only obligation as her deputy is to welcome you to 2017!

the Profi le interview he tells us about his commitment to the Saanenland and what he deems worth fi ghting for.

We also report about a project that could successfully be finished, the birth house Maternité Alpine, which opened its doors at the beginning of this year. Another project has barely started: the cantonal engineering department made its plans public to make traffic in Schönried more secure. Most people agree about the need of action but not everybody is happy with the initial proposition of slowing cars down to 30 km/h. Speedy results are not to be expected in this issue.

Of course that’s not all from the magazine but it’s all from me for now. I let you discover the rest by yourself.

Finally, it is my pleasure to introduce Erich von Siebenthal, our representative in the National Council, who puts all his energy into political projects for our region. In

Photo: zVg

Photo: AvS

It’s hard to say what the new year brings if one isn’t into reading tea leaves (I only drink coffee) but I can tell you about a few highlights in this issue. Now that we all know again what snow actually looks

and feels like, we give you a brief update on the rail projects at the Eggli and the Saanersloch, which are well under way.

3 Letter from the Editor 18 Events Calendar

Local News

Publishing Director


4 Magazine

Best regards, Markus Iseli

Photo: zVg

Finally, after the driest December since the beginning of weather monitoring, the snow has arrived and winter temperatures got January in a firm grip. With the cold came the fl u and its grip seems to be just as tight as the frost.

Gstaad Living

14 Arts & Culture

7 Public Letter by the Municipality 14 Film Project to Focus on Gstaad 8 Birth House Opens to Public 14 Art Galore in Gstaad 9 Tempo 30 Project Debuts in Schönried 15 Avalanche of Art

4 Avalanche Protection on Col du Pillon Profile 10 Erich von Siebenthal 4 Hotel Valrose 5 Saanerslochbahn Sports & Leisure 13 Perfecting Perfection

Lifestyle 16 New Days, Olden Ways 17 The Story of a Challenge

GSTAADLIFE, Anzeiger von Saanen, Kirchstrasse 6, P.O. Box 201, 3780 Gstaad, Phone: 033 748 88 74, Fax: 033 748 88 84, // Management Board: Frank Müller // Publisher: Frank Müller, // Publishing Director: Markus Iseli, // Editor in Chief: Alexis Munier, // Contributors: Januaria Piromallo // Layout: Aline Brawand // Advertising: Eliane Behrend,, Phone: 033 748 88 71 // Subscriptions: Flurina Welten,, Phone: 033 748 88 74 // Cover Photo: © zVg



Avalanche Protection on Col du Pillon Towers Installed to Secure Mountain Pass Road The Col du Pillon is a busy road for many of the Saanenland’s guests, many of who live in Geneva and drive the pass weekly to reach Gstaad. Accidents, however, are numerous and the route is dangerously susceptible to avalanches. This winter, safety has taken top priority as two avalanche towers were constructed for prevention purposes. BY G S TA A DL IF E

Situated on the side of a steep mountain, the Col du Pillon road makes for a lovely – albeit difficult commute. When snow accumulated above the road in the past, helicopters were used release explosives to trigger avalanches. However, in bad weather or strong winds, this was an impossible task. Now, things have changed: with the addition of two

avalanche towers built by Wyssen Avalanche Control AG on both Bernese and Vaudois soil, it is now possible for excess snow to be automatically released. “With these new avalanche towers, we can provoke small avalanches from a distance, no matter the weather, and protect the road below,” said Bernhard Tschannen, technical director of Glacier 3000, the ski area which straddles the Col du Pillon. Masterful Masts Local authorities have sung the praises of the poles, suggesting they could also be installed in communities like Adelboden, Grindelwald, or Kleine Scheidegg. While They don’t come cheap, Said Paul Reichenbach of Gsteig has confirmed a cost of 300000 CHF, 70% paid

for by Canton Vaud, with the remaining 30 per cent picked up by the municipalities of Ormont-Dessus and Gsteig, as well as Glacier 3000. Saanen will also help with the costs, as due to its tourism strategy, it funds projects in Gsteig and neighbouring areas. “When there is perfect snowfall in Glacier 3000 and the road has to be closed due to an avalanche, it can be a big detriment to our business,” pointed out Reichenbach, on the importance of the posts as a boon for the ski area Glacier 3000. Construction of the towers was started in July 2016 and they were installed in the autumn. The work went according to plan, and began working this winter.

How Avalanche Towers Work

To trigger an avalanche, a coded command is sent from the control centre to the control system of the deployment box to initiate blasting. The deployment box contains 12 prepared explosive charges, which can be individually deployed by remote control. When the explosive charge is dropped, two igniters are pulled and the explosion is set off after a time delay. The charge remains hanging from a cord at a pre-set height above the snow cover, which is completely dropped after blasting. To reload explosive charges, the complete deployment box is lifted from the tower by helicopter and brought to a station building or warehouse respectively.

Hotel Valrose Blossoms in Rougemont Renovated Building Reopens After Years of Disrepair After many years of closure, the Hotel Valrose is no longer an eyesore, but the jewel of Rougemont. Completey renvated and refurbished, it has become a home away from home for guests and locals alike.

ing the sales price), transforming it into a cosy alpine hotel with heart.


The hotel boasts 12 rooms and a restaurant, which opened to the public in December 2016. The restaurant has remained delightfully free of over-the-top luxury touches, sporting neutral leather chairs and rustic wooden tables. It offers daily specials at only 19 CHF each, and a

Six investors came together for the project, including John Grohe and his friend Edgard Bovier, renowned chef of the Lausanne Palace hotel. They bought the building four years ago and have spent a total of 10 million CHF restoring it (includ-


“We’ve woken the Grande Dame from a long, deep sleep,” said Grohe, one of the hotel’s investors.


coffee has kept a standard Swiss tariff of just 3.70 CHF, making it as appealing for locals as it is for thriftier out-of-town guests. In addition to the main dining room, the restaurant has a stubli, fumoir, and for summer dining, an outdoor terrace. Fresh regional cooking is the name of the game at Hotel Valrose. But its Bovier lending his hand to creating seasonal menus? After the success of transforming the Valrose, the investor group has set their sights on another local project. Just

Photo: AvS

across the Bahnhofstrasse from the hotel, a large plot has been bought for the construction of a grand new building complex. It will feature a hotel, staff appartments, offi ces, and more, bringing up Rougemont’s profi le yet again. “Canton Vaud really helped with the Hotel Valrose fi nancing,” said Grohe, which is why the group dares to search out another project. The Canton is showing positive support, with Sandra Mordasini, of Service de la promotion économique et du commerce (SPECo), "We support future oriented buildings in the Mountain area." At the opening ceremonies, Rougemont syndic André Reichenbach was on hand to cut the ribbon. “I am happy,” he beamed, “The Valrose will be a meeting point for everyone, that’s important for Rougemont.”

The restaurant at Hotel Valrose is a gathering place for locals and guests alike

Saanerslochbahn Moves to Next Stage Eggli Cable Car Stalls with Objections


Saanerslochbahn Plans for a new Saanenmöser-Saanenwald-Saanersloch route were adopted in the autumn, and were under public review until mid-December. Most importantly, the BDG has reached an agreement with the landowner on whose property the new Saanerslochbahn will be built. A solution was found in November, just in time to avoid an expropriation procedure by the shareholders.

necessary before the replacement begins will be communicated shortly.

to be scrutinized more carefully before a solution can be found.

Egglibahn After the standard review period ended in November 2106 for the Gstaad-Eggli cable car, there were fi ve objections. Four of the objections will likely be resolved positively and should not pose a problem, while one involving a landowner will need

"This objection could delay the process," says In-Albon, firmly, emphasizing that this would be unfortunate because construction work is set to begin in the spring. An update from the BDG on the project is expected any moment.

Photo: AvS

The mountain railways company, Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad AG (BDG) has confirmed the status of two new rail projects. The Saanerslochbahn will soon progress to the next stage, while the Gstaad-Eggli line has been stalled while they resolve public objections.

“During the public review period of the Saanerslochbahn planning approval procedure, there were no substantial objections,” says Mattias In-Albon, CEO, BDG. Whether train replacement will begin in the spring, or whether more time will be

A mock-up of the new Saaneerslochbahn station in the snow



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Public Letter by the Municipality A Response Photo: zVg

For a couple of months, an open letter entitled “Greed and Fear ou Cupidité et Peur” has been circulating. The municipality of Saanen, which is also being criticised in this letter, now addresses the public to explain its position on the main claims. BY T HE MUNICIPA L I T Y OF S A A NEN

The letter entitled “Greed and Fear ou Cupidité et Peur” contains false statements that need to be corrected. It claims specifi cally that taxes are continually increasing, that more police forces are necessary, and that the villages need more small shops and bars to revive them instead of “Pharaonic” projects, the costs of which will bust the municipality’s fi nances. “Taxes are Rising” The tax base of the municipality of Saanen has decreased from 1.8 to 1.4 since 2002. Fiscal developments made it possible to lower it to 1.3 between 2011 and 2014. The canton of Bern has also kept its tax base on 3.06 since 2002, with the exception of the year 2008. Compared to neighbouring municipalities, which range between 1.5 and 1.94, Saanen in fact boasts an attractive tax base. This said, the results of federal and cantonal votes may cause a tax raise. However, this remains out of the sphere of infl uence of the municipality. “We Need Additional and More Active Police Forces” Political and administrative players recognise the importance of security for locals and guests. Therefore the municipality of Saanen finances additional security services for over 1m francs every year. Apart from the municipality’s own Ordnungsdienst, Saanen fi nances an additional three full-time positions in the cantonal police force to provide the local police station with additional resources. On top of this, Saanen hires private security companies to patrol every night. The municipality, cantonal police forces and local security companies actively exchange information on a regular basis and adapt patrols in terms of human resources, frequency, and location accordingly.

Fortunately, the security deployment proves to be effective. According to official crime surveys the number of incidents overall has been relatively low in recent years, but also in comparison with other tourist regions in the canton of Bern. Saanen is amongst the most secure municipalities in the canton, a situation it is not only determined to keep but further to improve with additionasecurity guards. Political and executive policy makers of the municipality of Saanen are convinced that the current security measures are reliable and flexible, and allow for the best possible security for locals and guests. “We Need more Small Shops and Bars to Revive the Villages” Article 14 of the building regulations of the municipality of Saanen on business areas aims at pushing small shops and bars on the ground fl oor of buildings. It ensures the organisation of buildings according to the needs of businesses that bring life to the streets of Saanen and Gstaad. It is highly desirable that these ground fl oors in business areas are occupied throughout the year by business and service enterprises with a high customer frequency. It is not within the power of the municipality, though, to enforce this. The freedom of trade leaves the issue wholly in the hands of the landlords and business owners, who decide

about the nature and the opening periods of a business. “We Don’t Need Any Pharaonic Projects with Operating Costs That Will Bust the Municipal Budget” This statement undoubtedly aims at the project “Les Arts Gstaad”. Initially, the location for this project had been foreseen for a car park and residential buildings. The municipality worked out various projects in this direction, none of which reached the final stage, though. After thorough evaluation of various locations for a cultural venue, the area Bahnhofplatz-Riedhubel was selected because the proximity to the village center has the capacity to revive the village. A cultural center would also valorise the village and provide Gstaad with a new image. A feasibility study and the architectural competition showed that the site is not only ideal thanks to its central location, but also provides the necessary leeway to realise an ambitious project despite the topographical challenges. The municipality decided that the project management needs to provide proof of the total fi nancing as well as set up an operational fund to cover defi cits, maintenance and renovation costs before the issue will be put before the municipal assembly. The municipality will therefore not be involved in covering operating and maintenance costs.



Birth House Opens to Public Pregnant Locals Breathe a Sigh of Relief


Maternité Alpine is made up of a group of dedicated medical professionals who had the idea to create a community-based birthing centre for the Saanenland and the Simmental. With the closure of both Saanen Hospital and the maternity ward at Zweisimmen Hospital, women were expected to make the long drive to Thun for medical assistance with childbirth. Planning History On 31 March 2016, a year after the closure of the Zweisimmen ward, Maternité Alpine filed preliminary documents required to obtain an operating license

through the governmental health and welfare department. The necessary permissions were secured in late October 2016, which allowed the centre to open on 1 January 2017. Next, the centre needed approval to be listed on the official hospital list, which was received in November 2016. The government council approved the operation, giving the centre an unlimited term performance order for midwifery. Compulsory basic insurance covers the cost of childbirth services in Switzerland, which is why the hospital listing was so important for the centre.

podium but were awarded an honourable mention. The centre is currently in a temporary location at Eggetlistrasse 5a in Zweisimmen, while a new facility is hoped to be built in the village as well. That project is expected to take several years to complete. Photo: AvS

Having cleared the two last hurdles for approval, a birthing centre for the Saanenland’s expecting mothers is now open in Zweisimmen. Known by its official name of Genossenschaft Geburtshaus Simmental-Saanenland, the centre is a welcome option for mothers who are not high risk and desire a midwife-led childbirth experience.

Local Support Maternité Alpine is highly supported by the local community, without whose dedication and contributions the project would not have been possible. Community support was evident from the beginning, and it was even named a finalist in the Prix de Gessenay innovation prize in 2016, as one of ten projects that didn’t make the

START 2017 HAPPY AND HEALTHY at Park Gstaad This season, families and couples should look no further than Park Gstaad to find their wellness fix. Offering an enthusing range of fitness options, all in an elegant and luxurious setting, this iconic Swiss hotel is the perfect place to kick-start the New Year. New for 2017, every Wednesday at 6pm guests can get moving with Park Gstaad’s invigorating Zumba classes. Fusing fitness, entertainment and culture blending rhythms from around the world, the classes will feature easy-to-follow choreography ensuring a total body workout. Getting all ages grooving, the hotel even offers special Zumba sessions for kids on Wednesdays at 2pm. Utilising the hotel’s top-of-the-range gym and fitness centre, guests can also partake in tailored training sessions with


a personal trainer. Ensuring time isn’t wasted on ineffective workouts, personal training at Park Gstaad guarantees results with challenging and engaging one-to-one sessions. Post-workout, the hotel’s 1,000 m² Spa is the perfect place to unwind and soothe tired muscles. With facilities including an indoor saltwater pool, Jacuzzis, saunas and Turkish hydrotherapy and balneotherapy baths, hours can be spent relaxing in this holistic hideout. Couples can also enjoy in the benefits of the Park’s Spa with the “Lover’s Leap Couples Package.” Allowing time to truly relax together this indulgent package includes a joint 50-minute Swedish massage in the Couple’s Treatment Room. Delivered by Park Gstaad’s expert therapists, each massage will tend to the unique needs of

the guest allowing for a calming and beneficial experience. Personal Training Sessions start from CHF 80.– per person for a 30-minute session, Lover’s Leap Couples Package from CHF 395.– per couple. For more information and to book phone 033 748 98 00 or visit:


Photo: AvS

This Tempo 30 graphic shows a potential solution for Kantonstrasse in Schönried

Easy Does It Tempo 30 Project Debuts in Schönried Schönried is taking Gstaad’s motto – Come up, Slow down – literally, as plans for the village to be transformed into a 30 km an hour zone are under consideration.

tions, and criticism. The information on the cooperation procedure for the redevelopment of Schönried was well visited and gave rise to many discussions.


For children, who, on their way to and from school, cross the Kantonsstrasse several times a day, it is a life or death matter during winter and peak traffic periods. There is also a lack of sufficient lighting on the road, making it difficult to see oncoming traffic.

There are two main reasons behind the Tempo 30 project. First, Markus Wyss, of Bern’s cantonal civil engineering department, has stated that times have changed and road planning does not revolve only around vehicles. Today, bicyclists and pedestrians and their individual needs have a role in infrastructure. Second, according to René Wüthrich, project manager of road construction, civil engineering department, Bern, there are serious safety problems on Schönried’s Kantonsstrasse – operational deficiencies and also security deficiencies. This includes insufficient visibility at exits and junctions, pedestrian crossing challenges, particularly in the eastern section of the village, and missing sidewalks. Parking is also a concern, with spaces perpendicular to the main road requiring backward manoeuvres into oncoming traffic. These types of parking spaces are no longer approved by the legislature. “Wild” parking in non-designated spaces is also listed as a danger along Kantonsstrasse. Public Project Viewing The public was informed of the project in late October 2016, and had until 22 November to voice their concerns, sugges-

According to the traffic, operation, and design concept, the road will be six metres wide and include space for on and off-road parking. There will be sufficient parking for customers of local shops and restaurants, giving a total of more spaces than is currently available. Another change is that the speed limit will be lowered from 50 km an hour to 30 and this will also be extended to the pits, forest mats, and to both Hubel- and old Hubelstrasse. “It makes no sense for drivers to slow to 30 km an hour on Kantonsstrasse and then immediately speed up 50 km an hour on adjoining village roads,” says Wüthrich. For pedestrians, a wide two-metre sidewalk will be constructed, providing walking space without any risk of danger from traffi c. Crossing will be easier, possibly with additional transverse aids. The street lighting will be canton standard and the overall situation will be a boon for the disabled as well. The extra space

will allow for trees to be planted, providing a touch of green on the road. Problem Zones Unfortunately the project has not solved all problem zones, for example, the through traffi c from Grubenstrasse in the direction of Gstaad. Delivery to the dairy remains unresolved, and so does the retention of the collection point for the ski school – currently at the railway station – as well as the optimisation of closing times on the railway crossing at Grubenstrasse. "This design concept is not chiselled in stone,” reminds Wüthrich, “but it is a possible approach to a solution." In the discussions that followed the project’s announcement, it became clear that not all Schönrieders were enthused. Some drivers are worried the changes will slow them down and increase driving times. According to Wyss, this is unlikely, as vehicles at 30 km an hour perform more quickly than those at a stop-andgo pace at 50 km an hour. Moreover, the 300-metre corridor at 30 km an hour would only slow drivers down by approximately 15 seconds. Information on implementation of the design concept, including time and a budget is not yet available. While the idea of Tempo 30 is seductive to many, it could be years before the first car rolls slowly through Schönried at only 30 km an hour.



Photo: Stahl Photographie

Our Man in Bern Interview with Erich von Siebenthal IN T ER V IE W BY M A RKUS ISEL I

Erich von Siebenthal was a member of the Grand Council of Bern from 2002 to 2007, when he was elected to the National Council. He is an outspoken representative of mountain regions. GSTAADLIFE met him to discuss his political motivation, his party, and his family. Mr von Siebenthal, what is the motivation for your engagement in politics? In the first place I am a representative of mountain areas, which are very important to me. And if you have family, the future for the generations that follows is fundamental. Which experiences from your childhood determined your close connection to your homeland? I grew up in a good and intact family with fi ve siblings. The political work of my father showed me early on that politics is crucial to preserve a home in this region. You mention the political work of your father. Was there an event in your youth that particularly shaped your political development? The time before elections were particularly interesting. The father’s involvement in elections is a very special


experience for a child. I was always sharing the excitement. Although you were a member of the Grand Council of Bern and have been one of the National Council, you haven’t had a mandate on a municipal level. Do you prefer forming the surrounding conditions for the development of your homeland rather than building it from within? I joined the SVP when I was 20 and participated in various commissions of the commune. In hindsight, I appreciate the time I could spend at home after the birth of our three children because I wasn’t as politically involved as I am now. In 2001 the party suggested that I run for office in the Grand Council elections of 2002. So the first step into active politics was proposed by others. It has never been my aim and at first I doubted my abilities to perform the task. However, I knew from my father that one has to take responsibilities and then one thing led to the other. What’s more important to you, to make politics as a representative of mountain areas or politics with a national concern? Politics for mountain areas, national and international politics are all linked. A clear distinction can hardly be made.


Sometimes it is quite difficult to realise what decisions will eventually benefi t mountain regions. Is there a mandate or project that’s closer to your heart than others? In connection with tourism and cable cars this is true for the return of the petroleum tax for piste bashers, which will take effect for the first time this year. It was a very long process and I contributed enormously to this outcome with my lobbying and countless personal conversations with my peers. It was difficult to achieve a majority, for which I invested a lot of time and energy. When you joined the SVP in 1978, did you fully identify with the party? Was your party affiliation an issue back then? It was clear to me that the party of my father and his colleagues is the right thing. I never had to question this. You say that your parents taught you openness and tolerance and that the Christian basis is a fundamental pillar in your life. Do you still feel at home in your party against the background of this as you did when you joined the party? The Christian basis is very important to me and it is a call to serve my coun-

try. This is a central aspect. After joining the Grand Council I quickly realised that politics on a cantonal level is quite different. There isn’t the same harmony within a party as you find it on a communal level, but one grows into this. I learned to find my own path within the party and to stand in for my positions. After my election to the National Council, when the voting out of Christoph Blocher caused some commotion within the party, I was absolutely clear on my affiliation with the SVP. Depending on the issue at hand there is party-political pressure but I insist on my decisions, which is being respected by now. On which issues does your opinion differ from the party line? There are only a few cases. I voted in favour of the Energy Act because I am convinced that we need to take this route. Back in 2011 I was one of two SVP members to vote in favour of the nuclear power phase-out. But we can’t switch off our nuclear power plants and then import nuclear power from other countries. To fill this gap with nationally produced energy we need the energy strategy. There is a large potential for renewable resources in Switzerland. We should use them wisely. You are a member of various organisation for the promotion and exploitation of the forest. What is your view on the potential of the forest for our region and in terms of energy policy? We have various possibilities. In the construction of buildings, one focus area is isolation. Wood delivers very good results. Additionally, wood is never just waste. In the end it can be used for energy production, which is another area with a lot of potential.

the single purpose of wood fuel is never profitable. The wood must be sold for construction purposes in the first place. The wood of lower quality and branches can then be used to produce wood chips for heating. The potential of this natural and renewable product should be exploited more profusely across Switzerland. How can this be achieved? In parliament I supported the idea that public construction projects are obliged to use Swiss wood. Unfortunately, the necessary majorities could not be achieved. Another opportunity lies in building awareness amongst future house owners. In the various organisations of which I am a member we try to show what difference it makes to use Swiss wood or even local wood – in ecological terms on the one hand and in terms of regional employment on the other hand. This is a message for the readers who intend to build a house sometime in the future. What about the cultivation of the forest, can you optimise this? Due to the topography in the Saanenland cableway extraction is the only possibility to get the logs out of the forest. On top of this, the forest is split up into many single lots with various owners. This combination makes an increase in effi ciency rather challenging.

You are alluding to wood chip heating systems, as they are in use for district heating in the Saanenland. Yes, exactly. Today we still have a surplus of wood fuel in the Saanenland. Unfortunately the market for regional wood is not doing well. In particular wood for construction purposes is being imported ever more frequently because some building owners primarily aim for the lowest price.

How do you consider the current state of energy generation from wood fuel in the Saanenland? I was involved in the planning of the wood chip heating plant in Saanen. It was an exciting project and it still is pointing the way. I hope the plant in Schönried, which is getting a bit long in the tooth, can be renewed and expanded. Gsteig and Lauenen also have one and, last but not least, I hope that private house owners consider the option of wood chip or wood pellet systems when renovations are due or when they build a new chalet. This, too, is a call to the readers to fi nd out about options for private houses. Technically, even electricity can be produced with wood. The residual heat remains a challenge, though.

So, should local would be used more extensively for the generation of energy? That’s correct, however, wood cutting for

Let’s return to your families. First the political family: the SVP is often seen as a polemical and controversial party from the outside. What do you tell

people who see your party in this light? The basic values of my party are neutrality, freedom, low taxes, and the autonomy of decision. With ongoing globalisation these values are strained and that’s what we point out. The same is true for private property, for which taxes and charges are rising. In order to receive visibility when discussing these issues, it is unfortunately necessary to have a harsh appearance at times. Opposite parties do the same. I have no differences with the values of my party but sometimes with the manner of communication. Though the media contribute their share as well. In various countries the political landscape witnessed a slide to the right. On the one hand, national values and economical isolation are on the rise and on the other hand international alliances are under close scrutiny. Do you welcome these developments, given that they roughly match with the values you just pointed out? It is crucial that these developments don’t turn into extremes. Left-wingpolitics, which dominated for a long time, sees a countermovement. I welcome this, reason and measure are key, though. Are your three children interested in politics as well? Politics shouldn’t be dominant in a family but of course they’ve seen a lot of it and they do show interest. Do you have controversial political discussion within the family? My family questions certain things, which I appreciate. This happens in particular when they get something from the media, which shows me that media coverage can be misleading. They often understand such points better after I explain the background and my view of a certain point or decision. How do you divide the time between your family, work, and your political life? You can’t fully control this. I am grateful that my children were almost adults when I was elected to the National Council. Otherwise you miss out on too much. It’s a daily challenge to make sure that my wife doesn’t miss out and that we have time together. It is important we take time for each other, which we preferably spend outside.



TRUST IN GSTAAD WEARS PINK Interview with Beat Weber Beat Weber stands out in Gstaad like the Pink Panther. The pink jacket of the real estate specialist is his trademark and he acts in just the same way as his openminded comic counterpart. He has been running the first RE/MAX Collection subsidiary at the Hotel Park Gstaad for two years. RE/MAX: Why have you chosen Gstaad as your place of work and the Hotel Park Gstaad for your office? Beat Weber: Gstaad fascinates me. The entire world meets here. People cultivate their community network like a big family. I like that. And the Hotel Park Gstaad offers both a discrete setting to establish contacts and an ideal environment to settle transactions. RE/MAX: You have only been in Gstaad for

2 years, but everybody knows you here. How come?

their large and complex business. My pink jacket certainly helps. It is my trademark.

Beat Weber: I work in a professional and discrete way, and operate quickly, just in line with the market pace and requirements. Fortunately, word of this has spread. I enjoy and respect the trust of my clients, who now also entrust me with

RE/MAX: What do you wish your clients for the year 2017? Beat Weber: I wish them good health and the fulfilment of their lifestyle dreams. There's only one time to live and it is now.


Lean ean Back and a Relax ela


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Beat Weberr Independent nt Rea Real Estate ate Agent | Consultant Mobile +41 79 613 32 48 | beat. | www. aad The RE/MAX AX C Collection ction G Gstaad c/o Park Gstaad Gstaa | Wispilen Wispilenstrasse 29 | 3780 Gstaad staad | Switzerland



Perfecting Perfection There are very detail-oriented people, and there are true perfectionists–and then, in a category all his own, there is Siamak Siassi. Winner of the 2015 Monza Historic and dozens of other competitions in Europe, the car enthusiast and longtime Gstaad guest has recently opened Agerra Detailing in Gsteig, which focuses exclusively on helping the world’s most expensive cars attain perfection.

Photo: zVg

Gentleman Driver Siamak Siassi's Quest for the Best


With his impressive stature and muscular build, it comes as a surprise Siassi is a champion racer rather than an Olympic wrestler. But when the topic of cars is approached, his warm brown eyes light up with an intense passion that gives away his secret. Finding Flaws An investment banker by trade and gentleman driver by heart, Siassi has spent the past few years investigating “micro-scratches”, the scratches, smears, and marks that are often only visible at night, in bright sunlight, and with special lights.

Photo: zVg

When a car is sold with a purchase price of half a million to several million francs, you’d expect it to arrive in fl awless condition. Yet a car that appears to be perfectly clean becomes frightfully less so under certain conditions. For avid collectors like

Agerra Detailing is champion Siamak Siassi's attempt to bring fl awless beauty to vehicles in the Saanenland and beyond Siassi, this is unavoidable, but simply not acceptable. “The factory finish and delivery process makes it impossible for even the highest quality car not to suffer micro-scratches,” says Siassi, Mastering Micro-Scratches To remedy this problem, Siassi has travelled the globe to research micro-scratches and their relevant solutions. Because every brand of car uses a different type of paint and finish, there is no singular coating that can both erase micro-scratches and prevent new ones from forming. “Each car requires a specialised technique to remove micro-scratches,” explains Siassi, “as well as a bespoke product to protect the vehicle from further damage.” He goes on to specify that while the western world prefers to fill in micro-scratches with waxes and similar products, this is nothing but a Band-Aid, or plaster. Looking for a true cure, Siassi travelled to Japan, home of the most sophisticated polymer developers in the world. There, he found that only fi ve men in the nation possessed the knowledge and skills to work at such a high level with luxury cars, literally erasing micro-scratches and rendering a car impeccable. Now,

one of them – master detailer Marumoto – is here in the Saanenland working on the region’s many valuable collector cars at the workshop Siassi has opened, Agerra Detailing in Gsteig. Agerra Academy As one of a handful of experts, it’s no surprise that master detailer Marumoto works in total solitude with black curtains drawn, protecting his trademark techniques from prying eyes. Yet, Siassi is determined to bring these particular skills to a greater audience, passing on the Marumoto’s knowledge to qualified detailers who are ready, willing, and able. In this vein, he has begun plans for an Agerra Academy here in the Saanenland, where detailers can study the fine art of perfecting the world’s finest cars. Jetting between his busy Geneva-based business and his homes in Monaco and Gsteig, Siassi is committed to sharing his discoveries with the world. While researching polymers and nanotechnology in Japan, he had the idea to create an Agerra line of products the very same that are used at his detailing facilities. “The goal is to expand as an Agerra franchise,” says Siassi, while insisting the company’s home base will always be Gstaad, “where our products will be used to service passionate collectors in other locations.”



Film Project to Focus on Gstaad Local Resident Dreams Big with Robert Steffens-Inspired Drama Photo: zVg

Gstaad is no stranger to Hollywood – or Bollywood for that matter – having been splashed across the big screen in films such as The Return of the Pink Panther and the Indian classic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Now, the village is set for another glamorous turn as one longtime Gstaad aficionado prepares an intriguing new film project. BY A L E X IS MUNIER

Yannis Siatopoulos has been coming to the Saanenland since he was a child. Since that first trip with his parents decades ago, Siatopoulos has kept happy memories of the region alive, looking forward to each and every visit. Now an official local resident himself, Siatopoulos divides his time between his homeland of Greece and his home in Gstaad. A EPFL-educated food scientist by training, he runs a food import and export business in Switzerland by day…and dreams of bringing Gstaad to the silver screen by night. He isn’t the first Siatopoulos to work on an international production – his father was author Dimitri Siatopoulos, whose book El Greco, the Painter of God was made into the 2007 film El Greco directed by Yannis Smaragdis. Inspired by Steffen Siatopoulos learned the story of Robert Steffen (1878-1923), the founder of the Gstaad Palace, several years ago, and was instantly intrigued. Steffen, an architect, faced multiple bankruptcies but was able to finally succeed in achieving his dream – the construction of the iconic Palace, which has come to symbolise Gstaad. “He was really an incredible man,” says Siatopoulos. “Despite many difficulties, Steffen showed a rare spirit of progress, insistence, kindness, and yet was very low profile – a trait which is very typical of Saanenland locals.” A few months ago, he decided to turn his research on Steffen into a feature film. Now in the planning phase, Siatopoulos has recently been to the Kustendorf festival hosted by Serbian director Emir Kusturica to discuss a collaboration, whose


Yannis Siatopoulos, left, with Serbian director Emir Kusturica films have won numerous awards at the Cannes, Venice, Berlin, and Moscow film festivals. Siatopoulos is also currently working with a writer in the region to finish the screenplay, which will focus not only on Steffen, but his fascinating relationship with Jane O’Sullivan, the wife of an American Senator, and Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis, a Greek national hero who was also for a time the country’s vice-king. Saanenland Specifics As an alpine resort that is only open half the year, Gstaad has suffered its share of difficulties too, over the years. With unpredictable snowfall and the strong franc, some say the pull of Gstaad isn’t what it used to be. Siatopoulos hopes to strength-

en the region’s reputation with his film, bringing in tourists to see the beautiful area for themselves. In the case of Bollywood films, this increase in tourism is evident, with busloads of Indian fans making pilgrimages to the shooting locations of their favourite cinematic scenes. “It’s my hope that the film will introduce the Saanenland to the new generation worldwide,” beams Siatopoulos, eager to share his love for the Bernese Oberland. While early Gstaad lovers and Hollywood elite like Blake Edwards, David Niven, and Elizabeth Taylor are no longer with us, with any luck, Siatopoulos will manage to usher in the next era of faithful Saanenland fans.

Art Galore in Gstaad Two New Exhibits Pique Local Curiosity A provocative wave of contemporary art is now on display in Gstaad at Chalet Saqqarah and the Gstaad Palace. BY G S TA A DL IF E

Yoann Morin has curated a collection entitled “Stop Thinking, Start Feeling” featuring postwar and contemporary artists like Shiraga, El Anatsui, Calder, and Abdulnasser Gharem. Juxtaposing paintings, sculptures, video installation, and robots, this exhibition raises questions of human feelings in modern capitalist society. It runs from 21 Jan to 21


Mar and is accessible by private viewing only via 033 744 55 51. Ivonne Glasenapp of Private Art House is exhibiting her fi rst collection in Gstaad from 28 Jan to 10 Feb at the Palace. Intriguing works by artists Jesús Curiá Perez, Jesús Miguel Rodriguez de la Torre, and Larissa Strunowa-Lübke will represent the theme of "human beings", exposing the artists' personal thoughts and approach. The exhibition is open to the public.

Avalanche of Art What do an unusual contemporary art event and an avalanche have in common? According to Olympia Scarry and Neville Wakefield, an avalanche’s traits of power, dynamics, and the unexpected are the curatorial point of departure for their ELEVATION 1049 – AVALANCHE exhibition.

Photo: Stefan Altenburger

ELEVATION 1049 Marks Second Edition in Gstaad


This year’s ELEVATION 1049 will run from 3 February to 18 March and will star a dozen installations in Gstaad itself as well as high in the surrounding mountains. The international programme of sculpture, performance, video and sound installations will no doubt bring thousands of excited onlookers to the region to experience artwork that is anything but traditional. What’s On Featuring both internationally established and emerging artists, ELEVATION 1049 – AVALANCHE is the brainchild of artists Olympia Scarry and Neville Wakefield, and is produced and supported by Maja Hoffmann’s LUMA & Foundation, with additional support by the event’s founding patrons and private donors. Amongst others, participants include Sarah Morris, Superflex, Michaël Borremans, and Alonzo & Calzadilla, who have chosen Gstaad resident Huck Scarry’s images to grace a carved totem pole. Highlights of the event also include a decorated MOB train and film about the mysteries of the order of the universe entitled Breaking into Trunks. The opening weekend is chock-full of interesting individual events, with both artists and organizers on-hand for the festivities. Specific Works Sarah Morris’s ‘Monarch’ is a 54 metre-long train that crosses the Swiss Alps and connects Montreux with Zweisimmen. Partnering with the MOB, the train has been transformed and occupied with Morris’ signature colours and forms. She describes the artwork as a “transportive vehicle to film a thought in action and my version of a caterpillar of the Monarch butterfl y.”

«Morning of the Poem» 2014, from Ugo Rondinone For Danish collaborative trio Superflex, the plight of the bearded vulture – the near extinct bird that recently re-established residence above the Diablerets peaks – became the departure point for a sculpture that looks both forward and backward in time. They say Pablo, the bird they identified for this work, is a direct descendant of the same vulture that dropped a turtle on the head of the Greek poet Aeschylus. Crafted by local artisans, the resulting sculpture takes the form of a totem where history, mythology, ornithology and speculation have been skewered on a timeline of tragedy extending from Greece to Les Diablerets, from Aeschylus to Pablo himself. Allora & Calzadilla’s ‘Breaking into Trunks’ takes the form of a meditation on the interior orders of the universe. Inspired by visits to the Gstaad-Saanenland it weaves together narratives drawn from the mysteries of music, physics and economics. From the hunt for resonant

‘Stradivarius Violin’ trees to the search for the mysterious Higgs Boson particle and the tally stick system used by local farmers, it traces a path through order and disorder, beauty and chaos. Second Time’s the Charm The natural beauty of the Saanenland was the inspiration for the inaugural ELEVATION 1049 that took place in winter 2014. That weeklong event brought a dozen Swiss artists to the region, setting their work created in materials inspired by nature against a backdrop of the native Alpine landscape. The brainchild of artists Olympia Scarry (granddaughter of famed children’s book author and illustrator Richard Scarry and daughter of Huck Scarry) and Neville Wakefi eld, ELEVATION 1049 was produced by Maja Hoffmann’s LUMA & Foundation and was just the fi rst in a series of site-specifi c exhibitions to grace the Gstaad area. For more information and a full programme, please visit



New Days, Olden Ways A Taste of Life in Saanen


Is this magic? No, we are in the historical centre of Saanen, a village dating back to the Middle Ages, where artisans and traditional craftsmen still have their ateliers. In the shadow of the ancient church, built in 1228, and where Andrea Bocelli gave his concert, people still know each other by name. Walking and dreaming in the narrow old streets with the smell of fresh all-

Photo: GST

Like in the olden days, in the morning I go shopping with my basket, filled with a bottle of fresh milk and warm croissants. After a fine day on the slopes I arrive on skis at the garden of Chalet Dorfflue, constructed with antique boiserie. My days are filled with off-piste skiing, hockey, and ice skating on Launeensee in this winter. Life is a wonder. grain bread enraptures the senses. The odours stream from Müller Bakery, one of the oldest of the region. Each night, grandma Müller, 85 years old, still prepares the mother yeast.

a small school with a big heart. Tiare still goes to the music school for lessons with her piano teacher and Bulgarian composer Roumen Kroumov, who is really the best.

Saanen is proud to be the anti-Gstaad – good prices, excellent quality, and even friendlier locals. Everything in Saanen is just more genuine.

After two decades in Gstaad, I’m now living in the cosy home of Romy Herzig, with a spectacular view on Les Aiguilles, embraced by a true Alpenrose sunset – and I’m having the time of my life!

My children went to the Kennedy School,

We are looking for


Apartments to sell in beautiful Saanen

• You are a native speaker of English or you have a native-like level of English. • You want to share your love for the region with guests and foreign residents. • You would enjoy writing about events, people, or the region for GstaadLife. Contact our Publishing Director, Markus Iseli, to find out more. Phone: 033 748 88 74 Email:



Überbauung «von Grünigen Matte» in Saanen +41 033 744 06 03

The Story of a Challenge Fabrizio Granero and his Magnum Opus


Imagine it in your mind’s eye: One thousand carats of sapphires in all shades of blue, purple, orange, and green… Eighteen thousand welds and 2,650 stones from the collection of a Russian princess, six months of meticulous work, and four master goldsmiths at work. What a necklace! The man behind it all is Fabrizio Granero, an Italian from Pinerolo (famous for its Panettone). Granero studied the art of jewellery creation in Valenza, the world capital of goldsmiths. He became a jewellery designer for Harry Winston, one of the world’s most iconic brands that has now been acquired by Swatch.

tion to fine jewellery, because for Granero, synergy is important.

neck, falling in a soft and wavy fashion on the décolletée.

“It doesn't make any noise; it doesn't pollute,” he says. “And it fits with Gstaad’s elegant ambience.”

“For me, it is the most beautiful necklace in the history of fine jewellery," recalls Granero proudly.

It is here, at his first-floor high-precision gemmological laboratory, that the exquisite sapphire necklace was produced. It’s as large as a scarf to wrap around one’s

And the price of this piece of art? “It’s priceless,” Granero laughs. “I’ve had a few offers but at the moment it’s not for sale– it’s my masterpiece.”

Photo: Januaria Piromallo

This is the story of a challenge. This is the story of research that leads one far from home, and the courage it takes for the journey. This is the story of the most amazing necklace in the world.

Granero opened his first boutique in Montecarlo when he was just 21 years old–his first devotees were Caroline of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, and long-time Gstaad guest Roger Moore. But according to Granero, Montecarlo’s time in the sun has (figuratively of course) come to an end. He moved his boutique to Lugano, and less than a year ago to Gstaad, where he began to plan big. When he was a young bachelor, Granero often came to the Saanenland on holiday with his jet-setting friends. Now, it’s no longer just a vacation spot, but his home. His boutique, located on the Promenade next to the Olden, is a true atelier of “haute joaillerie”. Here in Gstaad, Granero created a unique environment, an elegant parlour where he receives friends ranging from Jeffery Moonre to Sonja Kehl, for coffee or bread and salami. His boutique boasts a workshop where he wants to train the next generation, helping to bring the art of fine jewellery back to its roots. It will become his Beaux Arts school that also features sculpture and painting in addi-

Granero's magnum opus glitters with thousands of sapphires



Events Calendar Friday, 27 January 2017 to Thursday, 16 February 2017 24.1 – 29.1



39 International Hot-air Balloon Week



Swiss Folk Music Evening

**** * GSTAAD PALACE +41 (0)33 748 50 00,

St Peter’s Anglican Church 4.2 Various

Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad Classical Music Festival


Après-Ski Party with DJ 6:30 on the Promenade 8.2

27.1 – 11.3



Exhibition opening on 27. January, 5pm Lauenen

Swiss Folklore Evening Every Friday, 8:30pm at the Wildhorn



Howdy & Cowdy


10.2 – 11.2


The last installment of this epic race Saanen

Art Exhibition Maria Turn und Taxis Gstaad

Curling Sweepers Cup Daily Saanenmöser

Car Accident 033 744 88 80 Zweisimmen Hospital 033 729 26 26

Daily except Monday and Sunday

Château-d’Oex Hospital 026 923 43 43


Veterinarian 033 748 08 58/ 033 744 06 61


7pm – 10:30pm 11.2



Full Moon Bike Tour Saanenmöser

Igloo Village Tour


Full Moon Sledging on the Eggli Zweisimmen

Night Sledging

7pm – 10:30pm 14.2

Every Saturday, 6pm – 10:15pm Saanenmöser

Jass Tournament


every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday


10am – 4:45pm Schönried

Open-Air Curling Tournament 7pm 4.2 – 5.2


Björnstadlauf & National Cross Country Race Daily 4.2 – 5.2


Snow Cross Motoneige Swiss Championship


***** ERMITAGE, WELLNESS & SPA HOTEL +41 (0)33 748 04 30, *** * BOUTIQUE HOTEL ALPENROSE +41 (0)33 748 91 91, *** * GOLFHOTEL LES HAUTS DE GSTAAD +41 (0)33 748 68 68, *** * HOTEL DE ROUGEMONT Member of Design HotelsTM +41 (0)26 921 01 01, *** * HUUS GSTAAD +41 (0)33 748 04 04, **** HOTEL ARC-EN-CIEL +41 (0)33 748 43 43, **** HOTEL BERNERHOF +41 (0)33 748 88 44, **** HOTEL CHRISTIANIA +41 (0)33 744 51 21,

**** HOTEL LE GRAND CHALET +41 (0)33 748 76 76, **** HOTEL OLDEN +41 (0)33 748 49 50, **** ROMANTIK HOTEL HORNBERG +41 (0)33 748 66 88, ** * HOTEL ALPINE LODGE +41 (0)33 748 41 51,


** * HOTEL SOLSANA +41 (0)33 748 94 94, ** * HOTEL SPITZHORN +41 (0)33 748 41 41,

Rotary Club Gstaad-Saanenland


SGIS Junior Ski Championships



For further details please visit:

Exhibits in various locations of the region

**** * THE ALPINA GSTAAD +41 (0)33 888 98 88,

** * HOTEL DES ALPES SAANENMÖSER +41 (0)33 748 04 50,

11am – 6pm on the Promenade

Elevation 1049


Contact us at

Winter Market

Ice Skating on the Forellensee

3.2 – 19.3


Place your classifi ed ad here for CHF 17.– per line (plus CHF 20.– for the highlight box).

7pm – 10pm 17.2

9:30am – 4:30pm 3.2 – 26.2

Classifieds in GSTAADLIFE

Eggli Tuesday Fondue

Photo: Photocase

28.1 – 4.3

**** * PARK GSTAAD +41 (0)33 748 98 00,

**** HOTEL GSTAADERHOF +41 (0)33 748 63 63,

7pm – 10pm 11.2

Every Sat and Sun, 2pm


Police Station 033 356 84 31

Full Moon @ Horneggli

Nordic Testing


Medical Emergency 0900 57 67 47 Dental Emergency 033 729 26 26

Music at Lochstafel, 2pm 28.1 – 29.1

Important Numbers Ambulance 144, Police 117, Fire 118

6pm – 9:30pm

10.2 – 4.3

**** * LE GRAND BELLEVUE +41 (0)33 748 00 00,

**** * ULTIMA GSTAAD +41 (0)33 748 05 50,

Gsteig’s 24h Race

28.1 – 1.4 Contact:

Night Skiing at the Zückerli

Night Skiing at the Rinderberg 27.1 – 24.3

28.1 – 29.1

English-Speaking, Château-d’Oex Service every Sunday, 17.30 pm

7pm – 9:30pm

Découpage Exhibition by Regina Marti


Church Services

Landhaus, 8pm

Daily 27.1.– 4.2

Gstaadlife is available in these Hotels

Meetings every Monday 12h00 Palace Hotel Gstaad (033 / 748 50 00), President: Rot. Andreas Hurni (079 / 359 46 44) Secretary: Rot. Markus Iseli (033 / 748 92 08)

Lions Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings each first and third week of the month on Thursdays, either at 12 pm for lunch or at 7 pm for dinner. Meetings in Ermitage, Wellness & Spa-Hotel, Schönried, Tel. 033 748 60 60. For details and program contact Arthur Reuteler, president, 033 744 51 33,,

Soroptimist International President: Ursula Breuninger Tel. 033 744 05 80 Program: Patricia Glauser Edreira Tel. 076 426 16 11

Club des Leaders President: Jean-Sébastien Robine

*** HOTEL ALPENLAND +41 (0)33 765 91 34, *** HOTEL ALPHORN +41 (0)33 748 45 45, *** HOTEL BELLERIVE +41 (0)33 748 88 33, *** HOTEL ERMITAGE +41 (0)26 924 25 00, *** HOTEL KERNEN +41 (0)33 748 40 20, *** HOTEL LANDHAUS +41 (0)33 748 40 40, *** HOTEL SAANERHOF +41 (0)33 744 15 15, *** POSTHOTEL RÖSSLI +41 (0)33 748 42 42, *** SPORTHOTEL VICTORIA +41 (0)33 748 44 22, HOTEL RESTAURANT BÄREN +41 (0)33 755 10 33, HOTEL GELTENHORN +41 (0)33 765 35 91, HOTEL VIKTORIA +41 (0)33 755 10 34, HOTEL WILDHORN +41 (0)33 765 30 12,

SALES | RENTALS | ADMINISTRATION THE ADRESS FOR YOUR HOME IN GSTAAD SINCE 1970. Gschwendstrasse 2 | CH-3780 Gstaad Tel. +41 33 748 45 50 | Fax. +41 33 748 45 51 |





H AUTE J O A I L L E R I E Jewellery and Watches exhibition Gstaad Palace - February 16 to 19, 2017 BOUTIQUE CHOPARD GSTAAD: Promenade, +41 (0)33 744 90 44

Profile for Müller Medien

GSTAADLIFE, 27. January 2017  

The exclusive publication about the good life in Gstaad.

GSTAADLIFE, 27. January 2017  

The exclusive publication about the good life in Gstaad.

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