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Issue 3 | 21 June 2019 CHF 3.50

5G New technology, old fears

MÄRZENWASSER Are you a believer?

PHOTOGRAPHY? Irene Kung takes photography to a new dimension



WATERCOLOURS We are very happy to introduce a new feature in the magazine. It is colourful, funny, elegant and always topical. Isabelle Fregevue creates beautiful aquarelles and is doing so for GstaadLife now. She has a unique style, which is highly recognisable and most enjoyable. It's the lightness of her brush that grabs my attention with all her illustrations and the ease with which she transforms an idea. Her scenes are such that I would love to join them right away. We hope you won't mind her occupying page 5 this season to introduce a topic that we cover in the magazine. For starters we make use of this opportunity to congratulate the mountain railways BDG and Andrea Scherz, GM of the Gstaad Palace. They both won big earlier this year. Sometimes it's good to have an outside view, which may be less critical or just more optimistic than the inside view. If one tends to lament the downsides of some developments and sees the difficulties more prominently than the opportunities, the awards show that many efforts bear fruit. I hope you will enjoy your stay in the Saanenland. Best regards,

CONTENTS LOCAL NEWS Andrea Scherz is Hotelier of the Year


The BDG is the achiever of the year


5G triggers big fears


New GM for the Ultima Gstaad


Will Gstaad soon be more expensive than St. Moritz?


New facilities for heating network


Post office in Saanen



New dimensions of photography

GSTAAD LIVING Operating theatres are open again


Investment projects in the municipality of Lauenen



It’s not for drinking…

SPORTS & LEISURE When it comes to combatting stress, mountain hiking comes up trumps


Gstaad Yacht Club Centenarian of the Year 2019 – Carlotta


LIFESTYLE Largest square emerald cut diamond in history



Expat Adventures Markus Iseli, Publishing Director Cover Photo: Guy Girardet

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, frank.mueller@gstaadlife.com Publishing Director & Editor in Chief: Markus Iseli, markus.iseli@gstaadlife.com Contributors: Alex Bertea, Anna Charles, Guy Girardet, Justine Hewson Layout: Michael Matti, Epu Shaha Advertising: Eliane Behrend, advertising@gstaadlife.com, 033 748 88 71 Subscriptions: Esther Brand-de Groot, subscriptions@gstaadlife.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.

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


Into Nature’s tranquillity CONTE ST



Awards abound! Let’s raise our glasses to Andrea Scherz (Gstaad Palace) and the mountain railways BDG GstaadLife 3 I 2019


Andrea Scherz has been award-

Andrea Scherz is not just the general manager, he also owns the Gstaad Palace, one of the few luxury family-run hotels in Europe.

ed the Hotelier of the Year 2019 accolade by the renowned journalist and hotel critic Karl Wild.

Many well-heeled guests only stay at one place when in the Bernese Oberland: The Gstaad Palace,” writes hotel critic Karl Wild. The reasons come in droves: “This fairy-tale castle with battlements, bay windows and turrets is unique and one of a kind. The facilities and services are world class.” That’s not all. The hotel has character, charm and history into the bargain. Not all of the five luxury hotels in the town hold so many aces. Then, of course, we come to the family that owns the hotel, the Scherz family. “Andrea Scherz manages the dream hotel, now into its third generation, with as much passion as his father and grandfather before him.” He has seen many changes in his 18 years as general manager: new competitors have sprung up, billionaires who were once his guests now have their own chalets. And yet, Wild says: “With many successful years in the past, last winter’s occupancy rates at the Gstaad Palace were better than ever before. Every year, around CHF 4m is invested in the hotel.” The main person responsible for this great success story is Andrea Scherz, who sincerely deserves the award of Hotelier of the Year, which is long overdue in Wild’s view.

Owner and hotel manager

Scherz is the director of one of the last owner-managed luxury hotels in Europe. As the owner, he has dedicated himself to the 90-room Gstaad Palace Hotel since 1996. “This prestigious hotel in Oberbort, Gstaad is a


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Courtesy of Gstaad Palace



real ‘family affair’,” writes the Gstaad Palace in a press release. “I was born and raised with a sense of hospitality. My grandfather Ernst and my father Ernst Andrea (who still helps me to make important decisions) passed on their passion for the hotel industry to me. My mentors have always reminded me of our main goal: There is no such word as ‘no’ at the Gstaad Palace”, explains Scherz. He ads about the award: “This honour brings me great satisfaction – not just for me personally, but above all, for our talented, comprehensive team of up to 300 individuals. Every day, we work hard to preserve our tradition of hospitality. This can be challenging as we are now living in a time where the entire luxury hotel industry has never been as demanding as it is today.” The hotel industry runs in the family’s blood

It’s true that quality runs in the family’s blood. In 2015 Andrea’s father, Ernst Andrea, was honoured with the Leading Legend Award by Leading Hotels of the World. “I entered the hotel industry voluntarily. It really interested me and I was driven by a spark of madness, which is intuitive to every member of the

Scherz family.” The Gstaad Palace was a kind of playground for Scherz. Numerous personalities have been regular guests there since his childhood, including Roger Moore, Roy Emerson, Yehudi Menuhin, the former president of France, Jacques Chirac and the former prime minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher (who even wrote her memoirs at the Gstaad Palace). Hotels from the region

As in every year, the hotel rankings list contains a number of the region’s hotels: In the best holiday hotels category, the Gstaad Palace was 4th. Le Grand Bellevue Gstaad was 7th, the Ultima Gstaad 9th, the Alpina Gstaad 13th and the Park Gstaad in 15th place. In the Nice Price Hotels category, as in previous years, the Hotel Spitzhorn in Saanen scooped a podium place, coming in 3rd. The Hotel de Rougemont was 7th, HUUS Gstaad 8th and the Romantik Hotel Hornberg in 13th place. The Wellness & Spa Hotel, Ermitage was listed in the Wellness Hotels category as in every year. This year, it came in 7th place. BASED ON AVS/BLANCA BURRI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

The Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad (BDG) has really scooped up the awards at this year's Skiareatest Winter Awards and has been presented with the prize for the highest achiever of 2019. Managing director, Matthias In-Albon, was awarded the Bergbahner of the Year 2019 award and the Saanersloch gondola lift won the architectural trophy.


n 17 May, the 24th ceremony for the 2018/19 Winter Awards took place in Tyrol. Gstaad received awards in seven categories, according to a press release. In addition to being awarded the best achiever of the year 2019, BDG was awarded the Gold Pistengütesiegel (Slope Quality Seal), the International Pistengütesiegel for their toboggan runs and Gold for the best guest information system. Matthias In-Albon received the Bergbahner of the Year Award. The Pistenleitertrophy (Piste Leader Trophy) went to Walter Reichenbach and the architectural trophy to Elisabeth Wampfler from Jaggi Architektur & Innenarchitektur. Plans are moving forwards in Gstaad

The BDG is particularly pleased about the awards because a lot has happened in Gstaad in the last few years: Six mountain houses have been renovated along with considerable investment dedicated to technical snowmaking. The new Saanersloch lift cost 30 million Swiss francs and 15 million will be invested in the

Eggli gondola lift, due to open this winter. The International Skiareatest awards show that the forward-thinking strategy applied by BDG has been fruitful and has paid off. In-Albon receives the Bergbahner of the Year Award

The Bergbahner of the Year Award includes the entire Alpine area. As managing director of BDG, Matthias In-Albon has achieved a lot in the last four years. He took over the management of the BDG after a run of previously negative figures and headlines, applying a very drastic remedy. This involved a process that can only be mastered if you consciously try to push outside of the comfort zones, to quote In-Albon. Hence one of the reasons why he’s so happy about the destination’s outstanding performance and his nomination: “We’ve achieved our ambitious goals and are proud to say that people are speaking of Gstaad in positive terms again. However, to get to this point, we’ve been forced to make many uncomfortable decisions in recent years.”

The Pistengütesiegel and the Architectural Trophy

The strength of the team behind the BDG was highlighted by the international Pistengütesiegel Gold Award. In-Albon was also impressed with the Piste Rescue and Safety Trophy and the Best Guest Information System Award. The Pistenleitertrophy (Piste Leader Trophy) shows great appreciation for Walter Reichenbach. Every winter’s night, 195 kilometres of ski slopes are prepared to end up in tip-top condition. The Architectural Trophy awarded to Elisabteh Wampfler from Jaggi Architektur & Innenarchitektur just goes to show the level of international enthusiasm for the new Saanerslochbahn. This pioneering new railway, with stateof-the-art technology, is considered a role model. Last winter, visitors from near and afar were inspired to come and experience the Saanerslochbahn. BASED ON AVS/BLANCA BURRI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

The award winners: from left to right: Klaus Breuninger, Elisabeth Wampfler (both Jaggi Architektur & Innenarchitektur), Isabella Eder, Walter Reichenbach, Matthias In-Albon, Heinz Brand, Jannik Sager (all BDG)




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There’s one topic currently causing major concern in Switzerland: The new 5G mobile network. This controversial communication technology is also finding its way into the Saanenland.


he expansion of 5G is starting to polarise. Opponents claim that the frequencies are harmful to health and responsible for stress and cancer. Also, they claim they can trigger the death of bees. Fears have grown to such a level that a moratorium on the expansion of 5G has been obtained in the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Jura. Meanwhile, the Federal Offices for the Environment (Bafu) and Communications (Bakom) have asked the cantonal and local parliaments to stop their proceedings. They justify this by asserting that radiation protection is an issue for national government and that the moratoria exceed the authority of the municipalities and cantons. Proponents argue that frequency bands already in use for 3G and 4G will be used for the new 5G network.

tennas as these are areas authorised by the municipalities. A Swisscom application for construction was published in the Amtsanzeiger on 5 March and was about converting the existing antennas on the Allmistrasse in Saanen. The communications giant plans to replace these antennas. The local neighbourhood has raised two objections, says Michael Herrmann of the building inspectorate when asked about this matter. Opponents are expressing their fears about 5G emissions. When asked to comment, Swisscom said: “Our building applications are neutral in terms of technology and it’s the frequency that counts, not the generation of mobile communications.” This means that the expansion isn’t necessarily related to 5G and various frequencies can be transmitted even using the existing antennas. The communication company is trying to take the heat out of the situation: “Emission limits are just as strict for any generation they apply to.”

The Lauenen population is worried

Some Lauenen citizens are drawing people’s attention to the potential harmful effects of 5G. Jörg Trachsel, mayor of Lauenen, can understand these fears. “Radiation is by no means harmless.” There’s a great balance to strike to continue using today’s technology. The topic of 5G hasn’t yet been discussed by the local council. “As this isn’t a community matter, our hands are tied,” he adds. Radiation protection is a matter for central government

The State argues that radiation protection is regulated at national government level and the allocation of frequencies is also part of this. The situation is different for the physical development and expansion of an-

Swisscom justifies their position through studies

Blanca Burri




GstaadLife 3 I 2019

Swisscom explains that the frequency bands used for 5G have already been used for 3G, 4G and external transmissions by the SRG. These frequencies have been well researched, with several thousand studies over the last 40 years. None of these studies has revealed scientific evidence of damage from antenna installations while complying with international limits. Swisscom attaches particular importance to these limits: “Today, the limits for Switzerland are ten

times more stringent than in most European countries.” The telecom giant claims that 5G is using existing locations in its current expansion programme. They point out: “With the strict NISV rules in force, the industry will need significantly more antennas to utilise the full potential of 5G.” Just how many there would be in the Saanen region isn’t predictable at the moment. This means that based on the current levels of development, the technology cannot be used. Either locations need to be massively extended or limits need to be increased by the Federal Council. In both scenarios, it will be a hard job to overcome the will of the general public.

Courtesy of Ultima Gstaad

New GM Siomon Le Cossec and collection manager Laure Rüegger



Current mobile communication technology is reaching its limits. In Switzerland, the mobile data stream is doubling every year. Therefore, the 5th generation of mobile communication technology needs to be introduced. In addition, 5G is essential for the Internet of Things, like driverless cars. When is 5G coming?

Now! It is already installed in more than 150 places throughout Switzerland. When will 5G reach the mountains?

Swisscom is planning the network from the autumn of 2019. Can 5G already be used?

No. 5G-compatible devices will be released later this year.

NEW GM FOR THE ULTIMA GSTAAD After Byron Baciocchi and Max-Hervé George founded the Ultima Collection, they went on to successfully open a series of highclass luxury hotels in Gstaad, Crans-Montana, Megève, Geneva and Courchevel.


n 2018, the group employed nearly 150 staff across its various establishments. With additional hotels set to open by the end of 2020, the workforce will double to over 300 employees. The Ultima Gstaad has a new General Manager with over ten years of professional experience working for the Small Luxury Hotels of the World hotel chain. Appointing Simon Le Cossec should help to anchor the Ultima Gstaad firmly in the top hotels sector. When it comes to developing the group’s businessstrategy, the

thorough and rigorous approach of Laure Rüegger will be indispensable. She will take over the management of Ultima Collection. During her career in the hotel industry, Laure Rüegger has established a track record of managing hotels of the highest calibre, particularly in London and France. The managerial unit responsible for corporate development has over ten departments. These coordinate jobs and areas within Ultima, including operational matters, business strategy, finance and environmental protection, among others.

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WILL GSTAAD SOON BE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN ST. MORITZ? Gstaad comes in second behind St. Moritz in the market rankings for holiday apartments in the Swiss Alpine region. However, the impression is that the local region will soon take the lead. By contrast, second-rate locations are experiencing a price slump.


ccording to a UBS study published earlier this year, two contrasting trends have emerged over the last year in the property market for Swiss Alpine locations. First-class regions like Gstaad enjoyed a price increase of 11.3% per square meter for high-standard apartments. The Lenzerheide is an example of a second-class location and, by contrast, it saw a 7% price drop.

of the league table, with square meter prices of CHF 15,700 and CHF 15,000 respectively. The Engadine’s location prices have fallen by almost one percent over the past five years. However, it’s still 2.2% more expensive than Gstaad. As various sources report, holiday apartments in Gstaad could soon be more expensive than those in St. Moritz.

Gstaad will soon be more expensive than St. Moritz

UBS authors cite one of the reasons for the price gap as a higher proportion of vacant apartments in less ex-

St. Moritz and Gstaad are at the top

pensive areas, with a figure of 3.6%. These areas are strongly affected by the dwindling population, leading to a property surplus. Top locations have significantly fewer vacant properties, with an average rate of 2.5%. BASED ON AVS / SARA TRAILOVIC TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

Empty properties cause price squeezes



ince the autumn of last year, a new central heating plant in Schönried has been operating and supplies heat to 500 residential units. The proud double chalet is also the location of the Saanenmöser-Schönried fire brigade. The EBL is the owner and operator of the facility. A close working relationship between the EBL and the municipality of Saanen has paid off: by cost sharing to the tune of CHF 1.05m, the Saanenmöser-Schönried

fire brigade also found a suitable base in the magnificent double chalet building. The building is equipped withmodern heating technology. Thanks to the modern two-stage filtering plant, the maximum particle emissions are well below the legal requirements. 60% of the plant’s wood chips are supplied by Energie Holz Saanen AG and come from forests in the Saanenland. Obersimmental and the Pays-d’Enhaut each provide a

further 20% of wood chips. Currently, the plant is working to about 80% of its capacity. In early 2019, fire chief René Martin and his 22 firefighters moved into the new premises. The Saanenmöser-Schönried fire brigade now has more space for its small tank fire engine and respiratory equipment, as well as for the lead vehicle. BASED ON AVS/FRITZ LEUZINGER TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON



n May, the new post office in Saanen opened its doors. It replaces the former post office on Bahnhofstrasse. It is integrated in the Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus office space. The new post office area is in the form of a cube and equipped


GstaadLife 3 I 2019

with a set of weighing scales, a computer and other technical equipment. Customers can handle most of their transactions by themselves by following the instructions indicated on the screen. It all fits perfectly into the new post office.

The post office lies on the newly-designed village square. Customers are kindly asked to park their cars in the indoor car park or use other public parking areas. BASED ON AVS/BLANCA BURRI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

Irene Kung is a Swiss photographer and lives in the Saanenland. Her artistic career led her via graphic design, painting, etching and sculpture to photography, which she took up in 2006. She has achieved international fame and recognition with her unique style and most recently won the pitch for an art edition of the new Porsche 911. Irene Kung, thank you for meeting with GstaadLife. What brought you to live in this part of the world?

During my father’s military service, he had to march from Thun to Saanenland. The last part of the journey was steep and dark but, when he got to Saanenmöser, the magnificent view suddenly opened up. He had a very strong feeling that he wanted to build a house here – and this is how I came to be here now, in Saanenmöser. With your background in art, how do you see the relationship between art and photography?

I was a graphic designer for a few years before I learned to paint and I loved the opportunities that painting opened up for personal expression and self-development. Twelve years ago I switched to photography but still thought like a painter. Digital photography allows me to adopt an artistic approach to photography while getting results similar to painting. It comes naturally. Surprisingly, people reacted to my photographs as something new. For me, however, it’s like painting. I just use the camera as a tool. What made you switch from painting to photography?

I was inspired by a very good international gallerist in Rome, Valentina Bonomo, who came to see me. She was impressed by my photographs and offered me an exhibition. When she asked what I proposed to exhibit, I replied that I would photograph the Roman monuments. Valentina protested, saying that everybody had already done that. I mulled it over and some time later brought her to my studio, where I had a huge print of a

Irene Kung inspects a plot of Coming Home, one of her art edition pieces for Porsche.

Courtesy of Irene Kung



photograph I had taken of the Pantheon. When she saw it she immediately changed her mind and agreed to the monuments of Rome! My images were so different, a different approach and expression. That’s how it all started. There’s quite a lot of technology in digital photography. Did you find it a steep learning curve?

Yes, I don’t enjoy the technical side. But I got help, especially from my adopted son, who is a photographer in Italy. I have only learned the strict minimum on the camera and computer to get the results I want. I think you're being modest. There's a lot of technical wizardry in what you do!

You’re right. I even ended up buying a large plotter so I could personally

produce my own prints without having to send them out to a studio. I couldn’t figure out how to work the plotter at first and, when I called Epson for support, the technician was astonished to learn that I had such an advanced printer just for myself. However, he came out and explained everything and now I manage quite well. Can you tell us about the Porsche commission to take photographs for their 911 model?

I love Porsche and was both surprised and excited when they asked me to produce an art edition for the new 911. I had to submit a proposal, along with several other photographers, and Porsche ended up choosing me. So as not to resemble their advertising campaign, I concentrat-

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ed on producing something totally different: images like movie scenes where you don’t see the car immediately and can imagine what is happening in the scene. My first problem was to get an image of a place without people or a car. Everywhere in the city is so packed and timing is key. I always think of the image I want, then I work out how to get to it. I knew I wanted a photograph of a Porsche by night, a bit like in a James Bond movie, with a slight tension to the photograph. I had a time limit and needed to work fast. I started in September and finished by the beginning of December – a very short time for a project like this.

am able to feel what surrounds me and new truths arise. All of a sudden I dispose of time and vision. I communicate the essence of what I see and photograph. I don’t describe it with words as that would risk destroying the atmosphere, I wouldn’t be able to share the won-

Your photos all have a dreamlike quality. Can you comment on this?


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Moon Ride (top left), Coming Home (top right), and Dragon, all from the art edition series

Irene Kung

I am surrounded by more and more chaos. Phones ringing and buzzing, cars passing, someone talking or yelling, the noise of mostly useless news like violence, which I cannot do anything about. For me, however, the worst noises are the visible ones: electric poles, vending carts, dumpsters in front of historical buildings, horrible buildings next to, or even in front of, monuments. As a photographer, I have trained myself to ignore these bothersome noises. When I look for the right spot to take a picture, I don’t see the disturbing reality generated by the frantic world around it. I automatically cancel whatever disturbs me and I “silence the world” so as to be able to see and feel a monument as it is, or as it was centuries ago. First of all this silence puts me in a state of bliss then it allows me to appreciate small details such as the ravages of time on a particular monument. I feel the immensity of a contemporary or historical monument as an expression of the power of whoever built it. To me, as a photographer, silence is the relief in which I enjoy the present as well as being a working tool. When I “silence” this noisy world, I

derful experience I felt. To me the essence of a monument can’t be put in words, it has to be felt and shown. “To silence” the world does not mean to turn my back on reality; on the contrary, I see the world more clearly, I keep in balance with it and try to love whatever surrounds me.

to build my career slowly but this wasn’t quite how it worked. I had another exhibition, which wasn’t as successful as the first, and then yet another, with greater success. It’s a whole process and I learned to be patient. Single events aren’t as important as the bigger picture. Above all, I have to protect my passion to work, which takes much time and dedication. What are you working on now?

It’s an exciting time as I’m participating in a group exhibition, which will travel around the world, starting from the Contemporary Art Museum in Seoul. I also have a solo exhibition at the Museum Camera in Turin from 30 May to 28 July 2019. The curator of my exhibition in Turin gave me free reign so I decided to depict monuments and trees, showing the relationship between the two. I've noticed that you have a fascination for both trees and monuments.

Well, trees are also monuments. That is why the title of the solo exhibition in Turin is simply Monumenti. I have 18 works on display. I wanted to ask about your book and its title, The Invisible City?

So, you let your intuition guide you in terms of the subjects you choose and the final product?

Yes. It’s a fascinating process because I don’t think rationally, I just work without thinking and, at some point, the image takes me by surprise. How has your career as a photographer developed since you started?

As I mentioned earlier, I started twelve years ago at the end of 2006/ early 2007 with my first exhibition in Rome with Valentina Bonomo. My launch was such a surprise. It was a huge success. I thought I was going

A famous Italian writer, Italo Calvino, wrote a book called Invisible Cities. He emphasises that a city isn’t about the highest towers or the most extraordinary architecture. It’s more a question of how you feel. This can change completely according to your state of mind. When taking a photograph of a monument it is about my state of mind. It is totally personal and would probably be different for somebody else. Irene, thank you very much for sharing these insights with Gstaadlife. We we wish you all the best for your forthcoming exhibitions. GUY GIRARDET

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The new build for the Zweisimmen hospital has been promised for years yet the project keeps getting delayed. Therefore, Spital STS AG has responded, investing CHF 2m in the 40-year-old hospital. Outside, it’s cold and the rain hasn’t stopped for days. The wet weather is plain to see on the ceiling of the restaurant at Zweisimmen Hospital. Painted grey, the ceiling has several large damp patches. The entire building is aging. It was constructed in 1971 and now needs partial renovation. Overall, Spital STS AG is investing CHF 2m in the building. A refurbished, newly-equipped operating theatre

One of the first steps is to refurbish the surgical wing. “The furnishings and floors no longer complied with today’s hygiene standards,” explains site manager, Martina Gläsel. Spital

STS AG began planning the refurbishment early on, checking out all the necessary work procedures and processes and incorporating the latest findings into the refurbishment plans. After Easter, the surgical wing closed so the refurbishment could begin. For a time, all operations took place in Thun.

sons. The entrance area is spacious. Like the rest of the wing, the walls are decorated with mustard-yellow tiles. From there, two automatic doors to the left and right, leading into the preparation rooms, where the surgical teams get ready for operations and patients receive their anaesthesia. Each preparation room has an adjoining operating room.

The operating theatre is out of bounds to visitors

Hygiene is a top priority

Before the wing was thoroughly disinfected, the press had the chance to visit the premises. This was a bit like winning the lottery because going into the heart of any hospital is strictly prohibited for hygiene rea-

The sterilisation process takes place between the two operating rooms. All equipment and instruments must be free of germs. So, the first step after use is cleaning by hand and by machine. The full sterilisation proThe team looks forward to a smoother workflow: Patrizia Ledergerber Ruiz (Head of Surgical Technique) and Daniel Rindlisbacher (Head of Anaesthesiology) next to the sterilising machine that looks like an oven.

Blanca Burri




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Blanca Burri

Andreas von Weissenfluh and Hanspeter Streit (left) are responsible for the site management. Given the narrow time frame, planning was crucial, they say.

cess takes over an hour. A self-contained ventilation system provides completely germ-free air. “The old floor had several repaired areas, which made cleaning it very hard work,” explains Patrizia Ledergerber Ruiz, Head of Surgical Techniques. It simply had to be replaced. The new state-of-the-art light grey floor meets all of today’s requirements. CHF 2m invested

At the same time, renovation work took place on the roof of the surgical unit. To make sure the hospital can keep running in the medium term, further investments are planned: The telephone system, X-ray equipment, emergency monitoring, emergency pharmacy and dishwasher in the kitchen are all included to be replaced. Over the last two years, new hospital beds have been purchased. Investing in the building has long been a no-no because of the new

build plans. In contrast, equipment and devices were updated whenever possible. Martina Gläsel: “Every year, our budget is around CHF 400,000 to spend plus replacements that we can purchase after direct approval.” She immediately puts the high investment into context. Two new anaesthesia devices, including monitors, cost more than CHF 220,000. “The money goes so quickly.” Because medical devices have a lifecycle of around ten to twelve years, investment needs to remain high. Great place to work

Martina Gläsel and Patrizia Ledergerber Ruiz agree: “The Zweisimmen Hospital is part of the Spital STS AG and a great place to work.” They particularly like the direct official channels and the pragmatic way of handling matters. “We all know each other personally and can offer uncomplicated support across different departments. We invest a lot of passion in the company.” Nevertheless, this rural hospital has to fight for its employees. “For example, nursing homes, the Spitex service and the hospital are all competing employers in the care sector.” All medical specialists are already working in one of the local institutions, according to the head of the hospital. There’s a considerable skills shortage. Employees for the emergency department, operating theatre and anaesthesia department are recruited from far and wide. For this reason, Spital STS AG supports employees (including giving them financial support) if they wish to continue their education in the area. BASED ON AVS/BLANCA BURRI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

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Lauenen has done very well: in 2018, the municipality recorded CHF 1.2m more tax revenue than expected. The municipal assembly approved funding commitments for resurfacing, water supply and sanitation works. Municipal manager Hansueli Perreten presented healthy figures to the municipal assembly. In 2018, the overall budget closed with a profit of CHF 1m, whereas a loss of CHF 91,245 had been predicted. “We received much more tax revenue than expected,” he substantiated. Tax income collected from individuals came to CHF 400,000 higher than budgeted for and property gains tax reached CHF 800,000. “Tax income and property gains tax are always very difficult to budget for,” said mayor Jörg Trachsel. Even with only a few of the very wealthy moving home, the figures can be very much affected. Also, income from property gains tax is hard to calculate. These are the experiences of all municipalities in Saanenland. The capital held by the municipality rose to CHF 8.5m in 2018. Net assets amount to CHF 5,151 per inhabitant. Significant investments are planned

The 33 voters present voted for all three funding proposals that were

on the agenda. The Lauenenstrasse is being modernised, which is budgeted at CHF 515,000. The modernisation of three sections is planned for the spring of 2020. During the road surfacing, Lauenenseestrasse will have to be closed to traffic. Therefore, the work is planned before the main season begins and also before the start of the Postbus service to Lauenensee. Connection to the groundwater pumping station

Information was also provided about the planned connection to the Enge groundwater pumping station. The Lauenen water supply obtains water for Dorf, Trüttli and Fang exclusively from two capture springs in the Schönhalte. To comply with cantonal guidelines, the approved water supply plan envisages tapping into the Enge groundwater pumping and lifting station. There’s even work to do in Enge, where installations and technical equipment for the new connection need to be adapted. New hydrants also need to be fitted. A water supply contract to the tune of

around CHF 1.289m will be drawn up with the Saanen municipality and will run for 25 years. The next move is collaborating and discussing plans with the farmers involved. If everything goes to plan, the project will be completed in the summer of 2020. New sewer pipes

The new Gassmatt sewer pipe seems like peanuts compared to the large investment programme for the groundwater pumping plant and costs are estimated at CHF 65,000. This construction project plans to replace the defective waste water pipe. At the same time, a new rainwater pipe will be laid, running towards Blatterlibach. The construction project will start this summer. BASED ON AVS/BLANCA BURRI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON W

The connection to the water pumping station in Enge is planned for the summer of 2020.

Blanca Burri




GstaadLife 3 I 2019


IT’S NOT FOR DRINKING… Since June is the month of the spring Züglete, when the cows climb to the high alps for their summer forage, it’s an apropos time to relate a personal story about my first encounter with the Saanenland’s mystical remedy, Märzenwasser.


Blanca Burri

any years ago, I joined my first Züglete, walking with a family’s cows from their farm in the valley up to pastures on a scenic Berg. It was a long climb, with much time spent chasing wayward bovines and frequent missteps into mountainside mudholes up to my knee (at least I hope it was mud…). After several hours, we reached the Berg and relaxed outside the cheese-making hut in the warm sun. I was quite thirsty after the long hike, and my water bottle was empty. Theretofore unfamiliar with theconcept that the water running into Swiss cow troughs was eminently drinkable, I cast about for relief. One of the other guests pulled out a glass bottle of water, and I asked if I could have a sip. He shook his head, and then proceeded to rub that pristine-looking refreshment over his bare calves. I apologised for my confusion and asked him if it was some sort of naturopathic decoction or alcohol-based rub. “No,” he replied, smiling at my ignorance, “it’s march water. It’s not for drinking.” I left that day believing that mySwiss acquaintance had some sort of water-based medicinal remedy, knowledge of which he probably ac-

quired in the military, that soothed the muscles after a long march. Only later did I realise that it was ‘March’ water, or water melted from March snow. Claims of the efficacy of Märzenwasser (or Märzwasser) for and against myriad uses and conditions has a long history in Alpine regions. The German Oekonomische Encyklopädie (1773-1858) describes it as having an unusual purity and lack of turbidity, which allows it to be kept in sealed bottles for years without becoming fetid. The work goes on to say that it makes excellent washing water and contrasts its use with the ridiculous superstition of ‘Easter’ water, which silly young girls would secretly collect on Easter night and use throughout the year as a regenerative skin tonic. Other folkloric sources recommend using the water on berry bushes and fruit trees, so that bees will be attracted to visit them. One commentator noted that historically it was thought to be useful against a variety of conditions: intestinal worms, freckles, skin lichens, dandruff, eye diseases and even vermin, if you clean the floor with it or scatter March snow in suspicious spots.

Local opinion of March water generally runs high – 73% in a 2018 Anzeiger von Saanen poll – albeit with some dissenting skeptics, usually depending upon which end of the age spectrum one falls. Many housewives keep a bottle within easy reach for burns resulting from scalding or inadvertently touching hot cooking utensils. Dabbing water on the affected area is thought to prevent blisters and even scarring. For those who spend too much time in the sun without adequate sunscreen, March water rates equally well for sunburn relief. As noted in the introductory anecdote, it apparently even relieves muscle strain. Many Märzenwasser cynics scoff at a burn treatment that consists of, well, water. But, generally speaking, modern emergency medicine protocols recommend early cooling of first degree burns with – wait for it – cool running water, or with cool water compresses, if running water is not available (however, if in doubt, always consult your family physician!). So, naysayers be chastened. Chalkone up for the old wives, and their tales. ALEX BERTEA

GstaadLife 3 I 2019




WHEN IT COMES TO COMBATTING STRESS, MOUNTAIN HIKING COMES UP TRUMPS When it’s time to relax, many people prefer a countryside setting to their own home. This is one of the many surprising findings of a survey carried out by Swiss Tourism when they questioned potential future visitors from our country and from north-western Europe. Therefore, this year's summer campaign is dedicated to the theme of hiking. The online survey, representative of age, gender and education, had over 2,000 respondents from Switzerland and 800 from France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands individually. The study shows that the countryside is a place that people yearn for. Those from north-west Europe associate nature with harmony and recreation and rather than as a wilderness with no comforts. In particular, hiking in the countryside is seen as a complete contrast to the pressures of the digital meritocracy. Those who go out into the countryside usually do so without any kind of performance pressure. Nice weather and a good network of routes

The survey respondents indicated that the most important factors for a successful hike are mainly twofold: Nice weather and attractive natural landscapes. They long for well-kept, comfortable natural surroundings. Also, from their point of view, a good network of routes is essential. Compared to the five north-western European countries, the nature-loving Swiss are the uncrowned kings


GstaadLife 3 I 2019

and queens of hiking. Not only are the Swiss more active hikers than the inhabitants of other countries, but their walks take longer (an average of three hours) and they climb to higher altitudes. The average altitude difference is 500 metres higher than in other countries. Almost sixty percent of summer tourists go hiking at least once during their stay. So, hiking supports alpine tourism, because eighty percent of hikers go walking in the Alpine region. Hikers are getting younger

At first glance and given the demographics (with an aging population), the amazing result of this study was the younger average age of hikers. This isn’t because grumbling and sulking children are being forced to join their parents on hikes. In fact, young adults and their group of friends are getting out to explore over 65,000km of hiking trails in Switzerland. Proof of this can be seen in the fact that hiking has long since been a popular sport on social media. Summer and autumn photos dominate Instagram and Facebook. Hiking has been a trend for a few

years, especially for young people (18- to 35-year-olds). This is particularly the case for long-distance walking, which attracts significant interest among younger target groups. The Via Alpina is announced

Announcing the country’s long-distance hiking trails has been a particular feature of this year’s hiking campaign by Swiss Tourism. These routes include Via Alpina, which crosses Switzerland from Vaduz to Montreux in twenty daily stages, covering 390 kilometres. The route goes through six cantons, crossing 14 passes. Walkers must climb a total of 23,600 metres. In the western Bernese Oberland area, this hike goes from Kandersteg over the Bunderchrinde to Adelboden, then over the Hahnenmoospass to Lenk, the Trüttlisbergpass to Gstaad and on via the Eggli and the Col de Jable to L’Etivaz. You can see each individual stage in detail online. BASED ON AVS/KURT METZ TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

The 2019 Classic Boat Awards winners, in association with Classic Marine, have been revealed in a glitzy ceremony in April at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, in Knightsbridge, London. Now in its 13th year, the ClassicBoat Awards is a widely respected celebration of all that the magazine stands for, with the year’s best modern classic launches and restorations voted for by over 18,000 readers. Simon Temlett, Classic Boat’s publisher, said: “The Classic Boat Awards has grown over the past decade to become one of the key events for the classic world and a real celebration of the industry. This year’s event was as successful as ever and

we are excited to see how the event can grow in future years.” Marine group editor Rob Peake said: “The Classic Boat Awards celebrates outstanding craftsmanship and design, be that on a clinker rowing boat or a new J-Class yacht. This year we had a record 18,000 votes cast, which we see as a reflection of the growing interest in classic boats and testament to the quality of the work in the projects shortlisted.” GSTAAD YACHT CLUB

Classic Boat Liefetime Achievement Award winner and first person to sail solo around the world Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Carlotta's owner Michael Wright (centre) with Cindy Schoenrich and Manrico Iachia from GYC

Courtesy of GYC

Celebrity guests included Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and renowned folk singer Jim Radford, who sang for the 170 guests, among them major figures from the global marine industry. Those present travelled from across Europe, the Caribbean, the USA and Canada. Yachting historian and GL Watson scholar Martin Black was guest speaker and Chelsea Magazines group editor Rob Peake presented the evening. Royal Thames Yacht Club Vice Commodore George Ehlers was present, as well as Gstaad Yacht Club Commodore Manrico Iachia, who presented the Centenarian of the Year trophy. The GYC Centenarian of the Year went to Carlotta, a protection cutter built in 1899, recently restored in Canada and the UK and assimilated into the thriving pilot cutter fleet. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who is best known for becoming the first person to sail around the world non-stop and solo, south of the three great capes, from 1968 to 1969.

Courtesy of GYC



GstaadLife 3 I 2019


Graff Diamonds Limited


LARGEST SQUARE EMERALD CUT DIAMOND IN HISTORY With 302.37 carats, top D colour and exceptional clarity, the Graff Lesedi La Rona is a record breaking jewel. The discovery

Found at the Lucara Karowe mine in Botswana, the 1,109 carat rough diamond was the largest gem quality rough diamond discovered in over 100 years and the second largest ever found. The record-breaking stone was given the name Lesedi La Rona, which means “Our Light” in Tswana, the official language of Botswana. The acquisition

Laurence Graff was confident that buying the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona rough diamond would result in sensational polished gems, as he had already purchased a 373 carat rough diamond in May 2016, which was be-


GstaadLife 3 I 2019

lieved to have come from the same rough stone. The Lesedi La Rona presented a unique challenge to Graff’s expert gem-mologists. A scanner had to be custom built specifically for the Lesedi La Rona with brand new imaging software capable of probing its expanses. Cutting and polishing

After many months of analysis, a plan was put in place for the cutting and polishing of the Lesedi La Rona that was so precise there was absolutely no room for error. A rough diamond is a natural substance; a complex crystal with subtle nuances that only reveal themselves once the process begins. It was impossible to predict how long each stage would take. It took hundreds of hours to polish the table facet – the largest facet at the top of the diamond – alone.

The results

By the time the final finessing of the diamond’s facets had taken place, more than 18 months had elapsed and the diamond had passed through the hands of a highly skilled team of gemmologists and master craftsmen sharing decades of experience. The Graff Lesedi La Rona, as the principal polished diamond would be known from now on, weighs an awe-inspiring 302.37 carats and is a top D colour. It is not only the largest square emerald cut diamond in the world but also the largest highest clarity diamond ever graded by the GIA. Alongside the Graff Lesedi La Rona, a total of 66 “satellite” diamonds have also been polished from the world-famous rough diamond, ranging in size from under a carat to in excess of 26 carats.




Mind Mum's Rhubarb!

Anna Charles

t’s fair to say I don’t have green fingers. This aversion to gardening began at an early age with the dreaded Sunday visits to the family allotment. My parents encouraged me to join in, but despite turning out a crop of lavender-blue cornflowers and rows of crunchy radishes, I found the whole experience dreary in the extreme.

The Swiss look

It therefore came as a surprise to my husband and children when, after moving to Switzerland, I developed a burning desire to festoon our chalet with scarlet geraniums. I bought a load of flowers from one of the mega shops around Montreux and joyfully set about planting them in our window boxes. But it didn’t take long for my geranium adventure to turn into a disaster. Within two weeks the flowers basically fell apart. Undeterred (it was still earlysummer), I decided to give it another go. I had no time to drive far, so did what I should have done in the first place: popped up the road to the nursery set in the hills behind Rougemont. Whether it was down to thequality of the plants (my second batch did seem sturdier), or my determination to keep them alive (dedicating many hours to watering and deadheading), I achieved my goal. The geraniums prospered and the front of our chalet was a riot of colour. There was an unexpected side benefit, too: I discovered my eldest son’s secret cache of contraband Coca-Cola bottles. They were neatly lined up on a narrow ledge between the flower box at his window and the outer chalet wall. If he’d only volunteered to help water the plants, I would have been none the wiser. But perhaps the previous year had scarred him from getting in-

volved. It concerned an incident we now refer to as Mum’s Rhubarb. Mum’s Rhubarb

It all started harmlessly enough. Our garden was getting out of control and we decreed the whole family would spend Saturday afternoons tidying it up. I had suffered my parents’ allotment, after all… Three weeks in, my two older sons lobbied for a job change. They were sensible enough, they claimed, to mow the grass and promised to be careful. We agreed, leaving their younger brother to fill the newly vacant position of ‘picking up leaves’, and gave the boys a safety briefing. They also received strict instructions to not damage the rhubarb plant which grew in the north corner of the lawn. It was a bit puny, but I adore rhubarb and harboured a lingering hope the plant might snap back into life. All summer long the boys did a tremendous job. They worked as a team, listened to instructions and studiously avoided the rhubarb plant. They even stopped resenting our Saturday gardening sessions – until the day we hired a man to help out.

Autumn was approaching and we needed one last push to get ready for winter. That afternoon our boys took their customary break on the little terrace outside the kitchen. They supped their drinks and kicked back, happy to watch the gardener share the burden. Right up to the point when he ran the mower straight across the sacred rhubarb plant. Their whole summer’s worth of care and attention was obliterated in 30 seconds flat. It was my fault, of course. The plant still looked limp and I had failed to explain its significance to the unfortunate gardener. But our boys were apoplectic and resigned from gardening forthwith. Been there, done that

We moved to an apartment sans garden in Gstaad a few years later. While I still love rhubarb and know our terrace would look wonderful adorned with geraniums, I’m happy to have ‘been there, done that’ and marvel at our neighbours’ efforts instead. ANNA CHARLES

GstaadLife 3 I 2019


GSTAADLIFE IS AVAILABLE IN THESE HOTELS Gstaad Palace 033 748 50 00, info@palace.ch

Hotel Alpenland 033 765 55 66, hotel@alpenland.ch


Le Grand Bellevue 033 748 00 00, info@bellevue-gstaad.ch

Hotel Alphorn 033 748 45 45, office@alphorn-gstaad.ch

Park Gstaad 033 748 98 00, info@parkgstaad.ch

Hotel Bellerive 033 748 88 33, info@bellerive-gstaad.ch

Rotary Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings every Monday 12 noon Gstaad Palace (033 748 50 00), gstaad@rotary1990.ch www.gstaad-saanenland.rotary1990.ch

The Alpina Gstaad 033 888 98 88, info@thealpinagstaad.ch Ultima Gstaad 033 748 05 50, info@ultimagstaad.com ERMITAGE Wellness- & Spa-Hotel 033 748 04 30, welcome@ermitage.ch Golfhotel Les Hauts de Gstaad 033 748 68 68, mail@golfhotel.ch Hotel de Rougemont

Member of Design HotelsTM

Hotel Garni Saanerhof 033 744 15 15, hotel@saanerhof.ch Hotel Kernen 033 748 40 20, info@hotel-kernen.ch Hotel Landhaus 033 748 40 40, info@landhaus-saanen.ch Posthotel Rössli 033 748 42 42, info@posthotelroessli.ch Sporthotel Victoria 033 748 44 22, info@victoria-gstaad.ch

026 921 01 01, info@hotelderougemont.com HUUS Gstaad 033 748 04 04, welcome@huusgstaad.com Boutique Hotel Alpenrose 033 748 91 91, info@hotelalpenrose.ch Hotel Arc-en-Ciel 033 748 43 43, info@arc-en-ciel.ch Hotel Bernerhof 033 748 88 44, info@bernerhof-gstaad.ch Hotel Christiania 033 744 51 21, info@christiania.ch Hotel Gstaaderhof 033 748 63 63, info@gstaaderhof.ch Hotel Le Grand Chalet 033 748 76 76, hotel@grandchalet.ch

Alpine Lodge B&B 033 748 41 51, welcome@alpinelodge.ch Hotel Restaurant Bären 033 755 10 33, info@bären-gsteig.ch Sun&Soul Panorama Pop-Up Hotel Solsana 033 748 16 17, info@solsana.ch Hotel Valrose 026 923 77 77, welcome@hotelvalrose.ch Hotel Wildhorn 033 765 30 12, hotel@wildhorn.ch Jugendherberge Gstaad Saanenland 033 744 13 43, gstaadsaanenland@ youthhostel.ch


Hotel Olden 033 748 49 50, info@hotelolden.com

Ambulance 144, Police 117 Fire 118

Romantik Hotel Hornberg 033 748 66 88, willkommen@hotel-hornberg.ch

Medical Emergency: 0900 57 67 47

Hotel des Alpes Saanenmöser 033 748 04 50, info@desalpes.ch

Car Accident: 033 744 88 80

Hotel Spitzhorn 033 748 41 41, spitzhorn@spitzhorn.ch

Château-d’Oex Hospital: 026 923 43 43


GstaadLife 3 I 2019

Dental Emergency: 033 729 26 26 Police Station: 033 356 84 31

Lions Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings on Thursdays in the ERMITAGE, Wellness & Spa Hotel, Schönried 033 748 60 60. For details and programme refer to www.gstaad-saanenland.lionsclub.ch President: Aldo Kropf, 079 748 86 86 aldo.kropf@bluewin.ch

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

Club des Leaders President: Jean-Sébastien Robine www.clubdesleaders.com contact@clubdesleaders.com

Ambassador Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings every third Tuesday of the month, usually for lunch but for dinner in the last month of each quarter. Venue: Hotel Spitzhorn, 3792 Saanen, 033 748 41 41 President: Robert Stutz robertstutz@bluewin.ch Programme: Stephan Bettler stephan.bettler@werrenag.ch www.ambassadorclub.org

CHURCH SERVICES St Peter's Anglican Church English-Speaking, Château-d’Oex Service every Sunday, 5.30 pm

Zweisimmen Hospital: 033 729 26 26 Veterinarian: 033 748 08 58 / 033 744 06 61

www.stpeters.ch Contact: cliveatkinson@bluewin.ch

22 June – Early September: Outdoor Pool Season

Take a swim in our olympic outdoor pool surrounded by the beautiful alpine scenery and treat yourself to a break at our snack bar. Our pool is open every day from 9.30 am to 7.00 pm (weather permitting).

Every Sunday in July and August (except 25 August): Palace Brunch

Is there any better way than kicking off a Sunday morning with a big buffet and grilled specialties on our sunny terrace, accompanied by Swiss live music and entertainment for young guests? Welcome to our Sunday Brunch!

This Summer Season: A touch of India at the Gstaad Palace

This summer, the creations of our Indian chef Ravi are served daily on the Palace's traditional menu of Le Grand Restaurant. Don’t miss a visit on our La Grande Terrasse - not only to enjoy the wonderful summertime, but also to indulge in fragrant ingredients and exotic aromas surrounded by a beautiful mountain vista.

17, 24 & 31 July and on 7 & 14 August 2019: Mermaid Swimming Course at our Outdoor Pool

A few Wednesdays this summer, kids can take part in the Gstaad Palace Mermaid Swimming Course in our Olympic-sized outdoor pool. May every childhood dream come true with this unique experience. All the equipment will be provided.

26 July: White Night and season opening GreenGo night club

Be part of our traditional season kicking off White Night Party at the GreenGo night club and dance the night away at Gstaad’s place to be since 1971! Dress code: White

1 August: Swiss National Day

Celebrate Switzerland’s 728th birthday together with the Scherz family along a cocktail reception followed by a buffet of Swiss and international specialties, the traditional fireworks as well as a night of celebration at the Lobby Bar and our GreenGo night club.

4 August: Palace Kid’s Grand Prix

Big day for our small guests! Our Palace Kid’s Grand Prix with DJ, snacks and way more will create a fun atmosphere.

24 August: GreenGo Polo Night at the airport in Saanen

We host the famous Polo Party at the polo field in Saanen. Starting at midnight with an elegant dress code. Come and dance with us!



GstaadLife 3 I 2019

Profile for Müller Medien

GstaadLife 3/2019, 21 June  

The exclusive news and lifestyle magazine of Gstaad

GstaadLife 3/2019, 21 June  

The exclusive news and lifestyle magazine of Gstaad

Profile for mdruck