E XCLUSIV E
LIFES T Y LE
M AG A ZINE
Issue 1 | 24 January 2020 CHF 3.50
LES SOMMETS MUSICAUX Ombretta Ravessoud celebrates
CLIMATE CHANGE BEWARE How it affects the region
Fraud in the Saanenland
GS TA A D
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“When the me is absent, totally, there is beauty.”
EXTENDED 0 02 to Easter 2 14. 12. 2019 – 12. 04. 2020 Tuesdays – Sundays 14.00 – 17.00 Free entry for students.
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J. Krishnamurti in Saanen 1961 – 1985 The Saanen Museum (next to the Tourist Office) is hosting a multiple-language exhibition on the philosopher and educator J. Krishnamurti. It highlights his work and long association with Saanen, where he gave public talks for thousands of people from around the world every summer from 1961 to 1985. On the following days, there will be a short video followed by an open dialogue: z 29 January:
z 13 February:
16.00–18.00 (Ger) – with aperitif
z 01 March:
z 22 March:
z 05 April:
WINTER SUCCESS Now it is official. We do not only have one of the most popular winter holiday resorts, some of the most exclusive hotels and some of the highest-ranking culinary establishments. Our region also boasts some of the most important and most influential business people in Switzerland. The business magazine Bilanz has ranked Matthias In-Albon and Daniel Koetser in their annual Who Is Who, an honour that is limited to 100 managers and business people. The Saanenland has always been forward-looking and innovative. It is well-established because ever since the MOB brought tourists to this corner of the Alps stakeholders have been striving for excellence in their fields. In order to stay at the top, the region must keep that spirit of innovation and the willingness to tackle challenges. The changing climate is one of them – if not the biggest one in the long run – for a winter destination around 1000m altitude. Flurin Riedi, managing director of Gstaad Saanenland Tourism, recently confirmed that this is one of the destination’s priorities. I may be too optimistic, but if our outstanding leaders in tourism, business and trade team up, warmer temperatures may eventually turn into opportunities. Best regards,
CONTENTS LOCAL NEWS Successful holidays
Eighth season for winter ambulance
Awards for Gstaad personalities
Coya to bring the ultimate luxury dining experience to Gstaad
Pichler is sold
Case of fraud extends into the Saanenland
Menuhin Festival waives donation
A world champion’s ski run
New managing director
A medico-psychosocial project in Château-d’Oex
European Children Aid
PROFILE Pulling the strings: Interview with Ombretta Ravessoud
GSTAAD LIVING Once upon a time
Good groundwater quality in the Saanenland
Winter tourism under pressure
The entire economy is affected
Life at Le Chalet Marie-José
ARTS & CULTURE Worldwide auction record for Anne Rosat’s work
A variety of musical discoveries
The ungraspable garments of gods
SPORTS & LEISURE Sailing feats at the end of the year
Markus Iseli, Publishing Director
Cover photo: Miguel Bueno 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, email@example.com Publishing Director & Editor in Chief: Markus Iseli, firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors: Alex Bertea, Anna Charles, Guy Girardet, Justine Hewson, Alan Ipekian1 Layout: Dorina Reichenbach, Epu Shaha Advertising: Eliane Behrend, email@example.com, 033 748 88 71 Subscriptions: Esther Brand-de Groot, firstname.lastname@example.org, 033 748 88 74 "AvS" in the author line refers to the Anzeiger von Saanen. Contact the editor for more information.
GstaadLife 1 I 2020
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Time to move at Le Chalet Marie-JosĂŠ GstaadLife 1 I 2020
Despite a difficult start, the tourism industry made very good results over the holidays.
irst there were storms, rain and snow. Then, on 26 December, the weather changed to a long-term high. Until 2 January, over an eight-day period, the destination was completely full. Flurin Riedi, managing director of Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus (GST), was thrilled: “Everywhere, restaurateurs, hoteliers, traders and the BDG are reporting record-breaking numbers. It’s terrific. We aren’t the only ones benefitting from the best holiday period in ten or fifteen years but we’re nevertheless very happy.” He puts it down to the good timing of the public holidays, the
wonderful weather compared to fog in the Swiss plateau and the overall performance of the destination, i.e. the combination of all its products. Glacier 3000 has been preparing its ski slopes since 9 November and had a very good start to the season. The winter storms in December made operations a bit tricky, says Bernhard Tschannen, CEO. However, with the great weather conditions after Christmas, the Glacier was able to build on the good figures from last year. The same goes for the Gstaad ski school. In the final week of the year, all 120 ski instructors were out and about with winter sports enthusiasts, enabling ski school director Jan Brand to show a very positive balance sheet. Above all, the atmo-
sphere was great, even though some slopes were quite hard due to the artificial snow. The positive media coverage, the spirit across the entire region, the many word-of-mouth recommendations, the new infrastructure and the combination of fog in the lowlands and sun in the mountains: According to Matthias In-Albon, managing director of BDG, these factors led to the dream figures recorded by the company over the festive period. In terms of traffic, the region reached its limits due to the influx of tourists. Parking spaces were full and the traffic sometimes caused tail-backs to the main street. BASED ON AVS/BLANCA BURRI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
EIGHTH SEASON FOR WINTER AMBULANCE What started as a pilot project in winter 2012/13 has proven its worth. Air-Glaciers again operates an ambulance at night during the winter
to be on site as quickly as possible in the event of another emergency.
season. The on-call service will continue until the end of March 2020. Another three years
he additional ambulance operates from mid-December to the end of March. As last winter, it is located at the Air Glaciers base on the Saanen airfield. “We need to be out in five minutes at the most,” stresses paramedic Ferdinand Eschler. Emergency doctors and paramedics
Air-Glaciers relies on a team of five paramedics and twelve emergency doctors. If the ambulance is called out, there is always an emergency doctor on board. The vehicle is rented from Spital STS AG and is integrated into their rescue service concept. Like all ambulances in the canton, it is coordinated through the cantonal emergency call centre 144. The Air-Glaciers night ambulance was deployed on 75 call-outs last winter. Air-Glaciers works closely with the
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STS AG emergency services and their cooperation is contractually regulated. When the Spital STS AG ambulance is deployed from its base in Saanenmöser between 6.30pm and 9.30pm, Air-Glaciers transfers its vehicle to Saanenmöser, which is the geographical centre for the Obersimmental and Saanenland valleys. If both ambulances are in use at the same time, an additional emergency vehicle from Gesigen will be deployed The winter ambulance has been around for eight years.
Both the Saanen authorities and the voting population back this additional service. The costs are borne by the public sector. On 13 September, an extraordinary municipal assembly of Saanen gave the on-call service the green for another three years. The service charge was unanimously agreed at a maximum of CHF 340,200 and approved for the winter seasons 2019-2022. BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
AWARDS FOR GSTAAD PERSONALITIES Matthias In-Albon and Daniel
A cause for celebration: Daniel Koetser (left) and Matthias In-Albon rank among the 100 most influential leaders in Switzerland in the Who Is Who of Bilanz magazine.
Koetser are listed amongst the 100 most important personalities in Swiss business by Bilanz magazine.
Aged 34, In-Albon is quite young for his position. The Valaisan originally graduated in industrial engineering from the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. He then served as the COO of the cable car company in Saastal. Once in Gstaad, In-Albon faced the task of breaking up the Gordian knot of stagnancy and overindebtedness. He did not disappoint in what proved to be one of Switzerland’s largest renovation projects in the mountain railway industry. Returns and guest numbers have risen again and In-Albon is now working on strengthening the summer programme, after kick-starting digitalisation of the company.
well worth experiencing what he and his wife Davia, an interior designer, have made of the establishment,” writes Bilanz. He calls his ideal picture “a mix of New York’s Soho House and Villa Feltrinelli, a kind of country home atmosphere.” The fact that others like this ambience is shown, among others, by Kirsty Bertarelli celebrating her birthday at the Le Grand Bellevue. In the meantime, Koetser has also made the Hotel Bellevue the first point of call for top cuisine, with two master chefs under contract: Robert Speth and Marcus Lindner. In addition, Koetser plans to expand the hotel with additional suites and residences and has already extended the seasonal opening hours. He recently brought in Fabian Nusser as a hotel manager. BDG/Raphael Faux
Rescuer of the Gstaad cable cars
or the seventh time, the business magazine Bilanz has identified the most important among tens of thousands of managers, entrepreneurs, researchers and investors in Switzerland. Two personalities from Gstaad are new to the survey: Matthias In-Albon, managing director of Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad (BDG), and Daniel Koetser, owner of the Hotel Le Grand Bellevue. The criteria for inclusion encompass power and influence, with a reach beyond one’s own organisation, a good network and frequently significant challenges. Only one representative per company is admitted.
Significant new talent A breath of fresh air at Le Grand Bellevue Gstaad
Daniel Koetser, a member of a Dutch gallery-owning family and with an MBA in hotel management, took over the Hotel Bellevue in 2012. “It’s
According to the business magazine, two things stand out in this year’s analysis. On the one hand, 53 of the 100 most important players are newcomers. This shows the dynamism of the Swiss economy and how
short-lived the presence of its representatives is. On the other hand, 39 positions are occupied by foreigners. This indicates Switzerland’s success in attracting talent from abroad. “Such top performers in the best positions in the Swiss economy yield considerable advantages.” In the “Who Is Who” supplement, Bilanz divided the country’s most important players into ten categories, each in alphabetical order. The two entrepreneurs from Gstaad are among the ten most influential leaders in the category “Gastronomy/Tourism”. BASED ON AVS/SARA TRAILOVIC TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
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COYA TO BRING DINING EXPERI An extraordinary fusion: Ultima Gstaad general manager, Simon Le Cossec, is excited to host COYA for a unique collaboration of culinary delight. COYA is famous for its sharing plates and dishes that are inspired by the versatile Peruvian cuisine.
From 7 February, the luxury hotel Ultima Gstaad will partner with luxury lifestyle restaurant COYA to bring a truly unique experience to the Swiss slopes.
he Ultima/COYA pop-up will see the globally renowned Peruvian dining group’s sensational sharing plates and spirit of adventure offered to visitors to the luxury ski resort from Friday, 7 February, until Sunday, 1 March. COYA’s month-long Ultima pop-up will include 23 dinners and three Peruvian carnival bottomless brunch experiences. Already famous in London and Dubai, COYA’s carnival brunches showcase the restaurant’s fun and vibrant atmosphere – with Peruvian and Incan décor, lush jungle vibes, music curated by COYA’s own music director, and of course, world-class food and drink. COYA’s expert mixologists will also be bringing their celebrated cocktail offering to Gstaad, taking over Ultima’s two hotel bars, The Lobby bar and The Shisha Bar, for the duration of the pop-up. Guests can look forward to COYA’s signature cocktails such as their Pisco Sour and Chilcano.
BOOK YOUR TABLE NOW! To book please call reservations on + 41 33 748 05 55, or email at Coya@ultimagstaad.com.
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THE ULTIMATE LUXURY ENCE TO GSTAAD Olivier Flamant, chief executive officer at COYA, the restaurant group with locations in London, Dubai, Paris, Abu Dhabi and Monte Carlo, talks about an exciting collaboration with Ultima Gstaad, international expansion and what is next for London’s most inventive lifestyle restaurant brand.
With outposts around the world, why have you chosen Gstaad for a pop-up location, and what is the secret to being successful in different countries?
The secret is to be surrounded by a team who shares your vision and ambition. This, I believe, is truly the key to being successful, and it makes all the difference globally. The lifestyle market is very broad in terms of positioning of a brand. Some markets have more potential than others in terms of financial performance and other markets offer a stronger brand value, so it is important to take this into consideration from the start. Gstaad is new territory for us and our first ski station pop-up, but we are really excited to bring COYA’s spirit of adventure to the mountains for 23 dinners and three Peruvian carnival brunches. I believe our award-winning concept will provide an unforgettable experience for Gstaad this season, and we could not think of a better partner than luxury brand Ultima. We share a passion for exceptional service, exceeding guest expectations and doing so in the world’s best locations. Tell us about the cuisine at COYA, and what’s interesting about Peruvian food?
COYA is a Peruvian inspired sharing concept restaurant, serving dishes which take influence from Japanese, Chinese and Spanish cooking tech-
Olivier Flamant, CEO at COYA, is looking forward to the first pop-up in a ski resort, bringing a suitcase full of flavours, colours, and sounds – the complete COYA experience.
niques to surprise and excite even the most seasoned guest. Our menus change seasonally but you will always find ceviche, plates to share, fish and meat cooked over our charcoal grill and delicious cazuelas. Our food is naturally healthy, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Peruvian cuisine is extremely diverse and interesting due to it being influenced by so many other colourful cuisines around the world. Our Pez Limon dish is a perfect example of this. Made with yellowtail, rice wine vinegar, mirin and jalapeños – what was a traditionally Peruvian dish, has been mixed with Japanese ingredients, such as mirin and daikon. What are the most popular dishes on the menu?
Our ceviches are by far the most popular across the board. In particular, the Atun Chifa, which is made with yellowfin tuna, sesame seeds, soy and garnished with a rice cracker.
What can we expect to see from COYA in the coming months in terms of new locations, menus, etc?
It is a very exciting time for COYA at the moment. After our pop-up at Ultima Gstaad we will open COYA Mykonos, and then COYA Doha later in the year. These new openings are part of a controlled worldwide expansion plan, with more locations planned for the next few years too.
GstaadLife 1 I 2020
SAANEN BANK MARKET VIEW 2019 â€“ an exceptional year for the capital markets
Last year proved excellent for all investors. Double-digit returns were achieved across a broad front. This outstanding annual performance was mainly attributable to the Federal Reserve Bankâ€™s monetary policy reversal. In the autumn of 2018, Fed Governor Jerome Powell was still forecasting three more interest rate hikes in 2019. In the end, there were three rate reductions and the Fed resumed its bond purchases. This about-turn brought new all-time highs for many equity indices around the world in the second half of the year. Little interest now in bonds as a source of income
But the trend on the interest rate side was also quite extraordinary. In mid-August 2019, the ten-year Swiss government bond yield fell to an incredible -1.19%. Just imagine: this investment loses more than 1% in value year on year without even allowing for any potential decline in purchasing power! In the light of the latest monetary policy trends, we must assume that this low or for the most part even negative interest rate environment will be with us for longer than we would care to predict. Dividends can make up for missing income
The negative interest rate environment and accompanying investment emergency continue to typify the capital markets. The interest rate uptick is now a remote prospect, es-
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pecially in Switzerland; this means that base rates will remain stuck in negative territory for a long time to come. Robust companies with stable cash flows and attractive dividends provide interesting investment opportunities in this environment. Expansive monetary policy continues to play a key role
Turning now to the year ahead, the underlying situation seems unlikely to change much. The capital market trend is shaped by central banks worldwide and their current policy means that the road ahead is perfectly clear. Just how paradoxical this situation is can already be seen now from the published key economic data. If these data are satisfactory and even better than expected, the market reaction tends to be subdued at present. But if the numbers are disappointing, investors anticipate an even larger flood of money from the central banks and the equity markets profit. An economic upturn is on the cards
Grounds for increasing optimism certainly do exist now that the economic cycle seems to have bottomed out. The global purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector, which had been heading steeply downwards since mid-2018, has been advancing again since the summer. It recently passed the 50 mark, pointing to a higher growth dynamic. Some risks and uncertainties undoubtedly also exist. Political sabre-rattling is becoming increasingly loud and the
trade war is likely to remain with us for a long time to come. The US Presidential election is already casting a long shadow and might have a significant impact on financial markets. However, the market players have already been crisis-tested in the recent past and therefore know how to deal with potential price fluctuations. Launch of a new mandate with focus on dividend yields
To resolve the problem of missing regular income streams, Saanen Bank launched a specific dividend strategy last autumn. We now offer our customers a comprehensive overall package in the shape of an asset management mandate at an attractive all-inclusive price. The strategy focuses on Swiss companies with strong fundamentals, which are able to distribute attractive dividends on a sustainable basis. For reasons of diversification, we spread our risks widely across different sectors of the economy. No single stock will represent more than 10% of our total investment. This strategy is only suitable for risk-tolerant investors who are willing to accept risks and fluctuations of their investments in equities. Interested?
Are you interested in optimizing your income from securities? If so, SB Saanen Bank advisors are at your disposal for a personal discussion. We look forward to hearing from you.
Pichler, the car dealer in Feutersoey, has a new owner. As of January, entrepreneur Beat Imwinkelried has been leading the exclusive dealership, which represents Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Bugatti.
A special moment
“Today is a special moment – a small step for mankind, a big one for the Pichler company,” Erich Pichler greeted those present. In 1986, brothers Othmar and Erich laid the foundation stone for the company, continuously developing the business in the years that followed. The company occupied a new building in the year 2000. “We thought this was going to be enough for the future ...”, said Erich Pichler. It was not enough. The company continued to expand over the next ten years, and a second building was constructed. “In 2003 we became the first Mercedes-Benz Classic partner in Switzerland.” Porsche followed in 2005 and Bentley in 2007. Four years
Othmar, Erich and Silvia Pichler handed over their company’s helm.
New owner Beat Imwinkelried (left) and managing director Chris Schenk
here was a spirit of optimism at the end of December in the Pichler showroom on the promenade in Gstaad. In the middle of the high season and with many friends, acquaintances and customers present, Othmar, Erich and Silvia Pichler officially handed over their dealership to Beat Imwinkelried. The 52-year-old entrepreneur has extensive experience in the automotive industry. His group represents the brands VW, BMW, Mini, Maserati and Ferrari. As he emphasised, he wants to leave the orientation of Pichler GFG AG unchanged and continue in the spirit of the two founders. Erich and Othmar Pichler will continue to be associated with the company as representatives. Chris Schenk has led the 17-strong team since 1 November. The new managing director, born in Bern, is “an experienced professional from my group,” says Imwinkelried.
PICHLER IS SOLD
later came the “crowning achievement in automotive engineering”, as Erich Pichler put it. “We became Bugatti partners.” The tide turned in 2012 and from 2013 to 2017 followed years of stabilisation and focus. The next chapter
A year ago, they started looking for a successor and found one relatively quickly in Imwinkelried. “He is not a talker, but a doer. He is not a shark, but a very straightforward and honest person. A professional in the car business,” says Pichler. He is delighted to write the next chapter in the history of this unique company together with the team, emphasised Imwinkelried.
Imwinkelried has been an entrepreneur since 2003, primarily in the automotive sector. The 52-year-old father of four boys grew up in Basel, which is where he feels at home. He has companies in northwestern Switzerland and primarily in Zurich – “and from today, also in the beautiful Saanenland”, he added. “I’m very happy and delighted that three beautiful car brands are now being added with Porsche, Mercedes and Bugatti.” Even though the company is now in new hands, Othmar and Erich Pichler do not intend to withdraw completely. “We will continue to look after the sales side,” emphasised Erich Pichler. BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
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For years he scammed shops, banks and private individuals in the Saanenland, Pays-d ’Enhaut and the Riviera region for services and money – a lot of money. Now he faces a prison sentence and subsequent deportation. The person in question is Simon Welsh alias Louis. How was this possible and how can you protect yourself?
I considered him a friend, we often went out for a beer together,” says Paul Andrews, owner of a local real estate agency. It all started when Louis, as he called himself, called him in a panic, said he had gone out in his recently deceased wife’s car without valid insurance and was promptly caught by the police – he urgently needed money to pay the fines. Andrews and his wife Jane were wondering whether this was a hoax, he says, shaking his head. They finally decided to help Welsh out because their son, who died of cancer at the age of 15, had gone to school with Louis’ daughter and the family was obviously considered rich in Gstaad circles. The friendly relationship was established two years ago, when Louis wanted to buy a chalet for his two children, a promise to his wife on her deathbed. The British liked the house, but since the family fortune was apparently invested abroad – he was talking about Monaco, Marbella, Dubai, Barbados, Moldova – the financing was complicated and opaque. And when the purchase contract was finally ready for signature, the notary suddenly left because he had to attend the funeral of the King of Romania. And that was not all: after a violent storm, there were several landslides in the region and the deal was finally burst. “Then Louis’ health problems began,” Jane Andrews continues. Breathing problems and a heart valve were causing him trouble. The couple repeatedly advanced him money. Plagued by ever-increasing doubts, Andrews finally called a friend who knew Louis better. Bad news: his real name was not Louis, but Simon Welsh. Now it was only necessary to google the name to know who he really was.
Paul and Jane Andrews are stunned that something like this could happen to them.
GSTA AD LIVING
CASE OF FRAUD EXTENDS INTO THE SAANENLAND
"Such a good person!"
“He was a funny, likeable and convincing personality,” Paul Andrews points out. Although they sometimes had their doubts, they always believed him. “We felt very sorry for the family, especially since we had just lost a son.” Welsh exploited this fact emotionally and in cold blood. “We thought, what a good man! He wanted to do something for his children, whose mother had died,” Andrews adds bitterly. “The fact that our children knew and respected each other was crucial for us to trust him.” Also, the fact that rich foreigners sometimes have to struggle with temporary liquidity problems is not unusual, Andrews says, because of the restrictive banking laws. “We believed until the end that he would buy a house, even after his true identity had been revealed,” he adds. Lucrative hunting grounds
“Every few years such an individual comes to the Saanenland and plays this kind of game because the hunting grounds are lucrative,” confirms a friend of the Andrews, who was
also scammed but does not wish to be named. “What Welsh has done in this region, he could not have done in London with the same ease, because the people here are trusting and good,” he emphasises. 30 months imprisonment for Welsh
In December, the Vevey regional court sentenced Welsh to 30 months in prison, less the 20 months he spent in pre-trial detention, and ten years expulsion for professional fraud. The 49-year-old Briton had already been convicted of similar offences in his home country. The sentence remained well below the six years the prosecutor had demanded. The accused benefited from the fact that certain offences had to be dropped due to lack of evidence and that only the frauds since 2016 could be assessed. According to the daily newspaper 24 heures, he was active for more than 10 years in the Saanenland, Pays-d’Enhaut and the Riviera, defrauding shops, banks, hotels, a private school and private individuals of services and cash worth almost CHF 2m. BASED ON AVS/MARTIN GURTNER-DUPERREX
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MENUHIN FESTIVAL WAIVES DONATION The board of directors of the Gstaad Menuhin Festival decided at its ordinary meeting on 28 December 2019 to temporarily waive the donation of CHF 25,000 by Theresa Sackler. In recent weeks, the partnership has become an increasing burden for the Gstaad Menuhin Festival due to criticism of the US pharmaceutical company Purdue, which is owned by the Sackler family and is closely linked to the opioid crisis in the USA.
n recent months, the Gstaad Menuhin Festival has repeatedly been associated with current developments surrounding the opioid crisis in the USA. The reason for this has been the festival’s commitment to donations by Theresa Sackler, the board of directors writes in a press release. “In recent months, the Sackler family has come under strong public criticism because of its close ties to the US pharmaceutical company Purdue, which is perceived as partly responsible for the opioid crisis in the USA,” it says. The board of directors and management of the Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy AG observed that the very good and established partnership with Sackler had become a matter of public interest in recent weeks. In addition, captious, contradictory or vague statements have led to general uncertainty and thus become a burden for the Gstaad Menuhin Festival. In order to fulfil its responsibility towards the region, the numerous partners, participants, visitors and the public authorities, the board of directors has therefore decided to waive Sackler’s donation for the time being. The board of directors, after a comprehensive consideration of all interests, is entirely oriented towards the well-being of the festival and emphasises that this decision is in no way directed against Sackler. Sackler’s donation amounts to CHF 25,000. “This is a private donation by Theresa Sackler. It did not come from the Sackler Foundation, as incorrectly communicated in the festival’s print and online media”, emphasises chairman of the board Aldo Kropf when asked. “There was no additional contribution from the Sackler Foundation or other foundations connected with the Sackler family.”
He has known Sackler for more than 20 years and they have a trusting relationship, emphasizes board member Hans-Ueli Tschanz. Sackler regrets the development and has taken note of the decision, he says. The board will now monitor future developments in this matter. BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER Advertising
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A WORLD CHAMPION’S SKI RUN The official slope of the world champion from Schönried, Mike von Grünigen, has received a prominent signage.
n the 3100 metre long slope on the Horneggli in Schönried known as the Mike von Grünigen Run (MvG Run) snow sports enthusiasts find everything that Mike von Grünigen expertly mastered with his ingenious giant slalom technique. Transitions into steep slopes, compressions, jumps and waves invite skiers to take to the pistes. Experienced skiers can perform their entire repertoire over 555 meters in altitude. In this way, the destination pays tribute to the success of the legendary Schönrieder.
Von Grünigen, former Swiss ski racer and two-time world champion, was one of the best in his sport worldwide from the mid-1990s to 2003. During this time, he dominated the giant slalom and, judging from the number of victories, is the second most successful athlete in this discipline after Ingemar Stenmark. Today,
he is committed to the promotion of young skiers and is often present in the ski area as a youth coach for the Schönried Ski Club. He also acts as an ambassador for Gstaad, which the skilfully carved wooden signage at the start of his run duly marks. BASED ON AVS TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
Multiple world champion and Gstaad ambassador Mike von Grünigen presents the new signage of the eponymous ski run on the Horneggli.
NEW MANAGING DIRECTOR The board of the regional association Pays-d ’Enhaut Region, Economy and Tourism has elected Myriam Dégallier as the new managing director. She will take up her post on 1 June 2020.
fter the departure of managing director Frédéric Delachaux, the association’s committee had been looking for a competent person to lead the organisation, which combines regional development with tourism. With Myriam Dégallier, they finally chose a tourism professional.
The graduate tourism manager and digital strategy specialist was deputy managing director of the Les Diablerets tourist office before taking on her current role as director of Estavayer-le-Lac/Payerne Tourism. Dégallier, originally from Les Diablerets, also served as councillor for Ormont-Dessus, where she was
primarily responsible for spatial planning. The board of the Pays-d’Enhaut Region, Economy and Tourism has chosen a candidate with a very good knowledge of the tourism sector, as well as regional and cantonal institutions. BASED ON AVS TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
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A MEDICO-PSYCHOSOCIAL PROJECT IN CHÂTEAU-D’OEX On Thursday, 7 November, the Cogest’ems Foundation invited the public to a briefing in Château-d’Oex. The idea behind this was to present details of the future medico-psychosocial institution Le Rond-Point, to be located in the upper part of the village. Plans will be revealed to the public in February. The three buildings that will be part of the future medico-psychosocial institution Le RondPoint shown in a 3-D rendering.
We’re very pleased with this merger," said Serge Gétaz, director of the Cogest’ems Foundation. The goal of the briefing last November was to present details of the future psychosocial facility Le Rond-Point with 43 beds, to be located in the upper part of the village. It will be built around the Pôle Santé health centre and part of the L’Etambeau land use planning map, which will also include a new Pays-d’Enhaut hospital and a new retirement home. Presenting the plan to the public will take place in early February, provided that the necessary permits to submit the application will have been obtained by then. Three separate buildings
The architects practice Siegrist Theubet from Biel, who won the architectural competition launched in June 2017, presented their project with plans, models and 3-D images. They explained all aspects in the context of constructing the three buildings, which will house adult and elderly psychiatric residents and the administrative offices.
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Start date: Autumn 2020
If there’s no objection to the publicly available plan, the earthworks and foundation digging for the future facility should begin in autumn 2020. The work is due to take two and a half years, ie up to January 2023. The total investment costs amount to almost CHF 15.6m. The construction of Le RondPoint is in line with the Cogest’ems Foundation’s desire to respond as effectively as possible to the changing needs and care of people with mental health problems.
Finally, the Foundation will have three facilities compared to the current four: the 43-bed Le Rond-Point medico-psychosocial facilities, the 13-bed Chanella and the 40-bed L’Ours nursing home, which makes a total of 96 beds. According to the press release, this represents an increase of ten beds and around ten jobs will be created.
BASED ON AVS TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
EUROPEAN CHILDREN AID In 2019, Gstaad resident Primo Frattali co-founded ‘European Children Aid’ (ECA).
CA’s charter is to fight the irregularities it sees in child custody cases between Germany and other European countries, to defend the rights of children and to provide assistance and act as an intermediary where such rights are violated. The ECA team comprises experts with a wide range of skills including psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers and journalists. Kidnap
Frattali has first-hand experience of the difficulties foreign nationals can face in child custody cases involving the German courts. In 2017 he and his German partner, both Swiss residents, had a daughter. When they separated, they agreed on joint custody. A few months later the mother had a passport issued for the child without Frattali’s knowledge and removed her to Germany. The Swiss authorities demanded the child be returned, Frattali brought a case of kidnap through the German courts, yet mother and child remain in Germany. “But this is not just about my case,” says Frattali. “Each year tens of thousands of families find themselves in this situation.” Family law
Frattali established ECA to drive for change and to help other parents avoid what he has experienced. He knows better than most that there is “no future” in employing legal action in the cases of child kidnap. He explains why. “Although article 24 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights af-
firms that EU member states must take into account the rights of the child (such as their right to protection, care, freedom of expression and regular personal contact with both parents unless deemed contrary to their best interests), how these rights get applied through national family law is up to each country. When a German judge makes a ruling, they routinely limit or ignore the rights of the non-German parent. In the case where both parents are foreign, the person more closely connected to Germany will receive preferential treatment. In Germany the courts are even authorised to amend custody decisions issued by family courts in other countries if they decide such action is in the best interests of the child.” Jugendamt
Such decisions are heavily influenced and driven in Germany by the Jugendamt, the Youth Administration department. A municipal organisation, it was established to promote the well-being of children, in that the child’s well-being corresponds to their stay in Germany, to speak only German and to assimilate only German culture. “But although it operates without government supervision, it enjoys astonishing powers,” says Frattali. “According to German Law, the Jugendamt must be heard by family courts and has power over such matters as parents’ access to their children and the removal and placement of children with foster families. The
Jugendamt may take children into care without prior consultation of a family court and there have been cases where the Jugendamt has refused to return children to their parents, even upon the order of the family court.” The ECA has a specific goal focused on respecting the rights of children. Lobbying for change
ECA has achieved positive results since its inception, notably getting children returned to parents or ensuring that custody is split between parents as determined by foreign (non-German) courts. But there is still much to be done, including lobbying in Brussels for much-needed reform. In March, ECA will hold a meeting with the European Parliament in Strasbourg to discuss and highlight the issue. They have invited journalists and will also hold a press conference to spread the word. But in the meantime, ECA will continue to assist foreign parents who find themselves caught in custody disputes. “It is important to remember we are doing this for the children,” says Frattali. “As minors under the law they cannot defend themselves. So it is essential we do this for them.” ANNA CHARLES
For more information contact ECA’s head legal office:
Kanzlei Welten +41 31 318 41 41 kanzleiwelten.com
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PULLING TH Les Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad celebrates the 20th anniversary. Ombretta Ravessoud, the festival’s director, talked to GstaadLife about her love for Gstaad, her background in engineering, and her passion for the Sommets Musicaux, which she helped build up over the last twenty years.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and your relationship with Gstaad?
I have a strong emotional attachment to Gstaad: both through my family and my work. My husband spent much of his childhood in Gstaad. His parents rented a chalet for the summers in Schönried and he came to the mountains regularly. Soon after I met him, he brought me to Gstaad. Later on, we rented a chalet and my children took their first steps and learned to ski in Gstaad. I love the beauty of the region and really like to walk and hike up here. My professional life also regularly brought me to this area. In my first job I was an engineer and took care of regional trains such as the Montreux Oberland Bernois (MOB). I used to come up here to conduct brake tests on the straight stretch of line at Flendruz. I was in charge of quite a few regional trains. At that time, the MOB had great financial potential – it was a private company and, in addition to the trains, had hotels in Montreux. I also worked with the little rack train on the Rochers-de-Naye. Where did you study engineering?
I studied at the Ecole d’ingénieur de Genève. After I graduated, I went on to the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where my professor persuaded me to improve my skills in electric traction and to study further in this field. He was the person who taught me everything. He subsequently became director of the MOB and he became my first employer. This was a very important industrial period for Switzerland. It was also a good time for me because I was lucky enough to be one of the first women engineers employed in this field. I was in the sales department and dealt with foreign customers who were interested in our trams and trains. I was in charge of the electrical part of the train; the mechanical part was done by another company. I had a direct link with the company directors and used to go to Bern regularly. In fact, being in the sales department, I was the link between the customers and the rest of the company that dealt with the electronic components.
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My attachment to Gstaad is still very, very strong. When Thierry Scherz invited me to join him in the Sommets Musicaux I probably wouldn’t have said yes so spontaneously if it had not been an event in Gstaad. What are your emotions as you approach this important 20th anniversary of the Sommets Musicaux?
This question takes me to the emotional side of the festival. I met Thierry in 1998. We worked together with a lot of passion for the festival, we worked day and night – at any time, at any moment. He became part of my family; part of my life and my husband and children knew him very well. After three or four years of hard work we could already see that the festival was well received by the people of the region and that internationally renowned artists were happy to come here. It was very rewarding to see that all the work we had done had been successful. Our good fortune in being accepted by the region was certainly thanks to Thierry and the positive image of the Palace in the region. After two years we were fortunate to obtain the support of our main sponsor, the private Rothschild Bank, which has supported us for the past 14 years, enabling us to continue and to attract high-quality artists.
E STRINGS It’s wonderful to have reached the twentieth anniversary and to have achieved the quality that the festival represents. I can assure you that when I arrive at the beginning of the festival, I am very excited and when it’s over, it’s a big void. I understand that you handled the 2015 festival on your own?
In the summer of 2014, when Thierry passed away unexpectedly, I didn’t ever ask myself if I would continue alone. I didn’t hesitate; I said “I’m going on”. Thierry was in charge of the programming and he had already done it for 2015. I was in charge of finance, communication and everything else. The 2015 festival went ahead as planned. In the meantime, I started talking to the violinist Renaud Capuçon. He had performed in Rougemont the previous year and I met him then. Thierry had a cold the day he came so it was I who accompanied Renaud and took care of him before and after the concert. We chatted informally as we drove around and he talked about how he loved the mountains and how happy he was to be in this region. At that time there was no question of Renaud becoming artistic director but, when Thierry died, one of our patrons put
me in touch with him. That’s how the contact was made. He came to the 2015 festival and, after experiencing the atmosphere of the local churches and Gstaad, he started preparing the programme for the 2016 festival. We were honoured to make two new appointments in 2016: Vera Michalski-Hoffmann as president of our festival and Renaud Capuçon as artistic director. Our goal is to continue to attract world-class artists and to offer an exceptional programme. Renaud provides us access to renowned artists who normally play in large international venues. This year for instance our programme includes artists such as Philippe Jaroussky and Martha Argerich, who normally fill halls with thousands of people; here the capacity of the church will limit the audience to just 200-250 people. During the festival, the public has an opportunity to come and spend a wonderful week with these great musicians. Both the Sommets Musicaux and the Menuhin Festival draw great artists. How do you explain this?
Originally Thierry took care of the programming side of the festival. He was passionate about classical music and had a vision of attracting the best artists. Now we have Renaud who knows all the artists and has played with many of them. Having an artistic director who is himself an internationally renowned artist makes it much easier. Another factor is the warm welcome that we offer the artists when they come to Gstaad. You can say that all festivals, all cities, give a warm welcome to the artists but we also provide a moment of rest for them. They are in the mountains; there is the pleasure of being in a unique place. Gstaad is a very beautiful region and the artists are sensitive to this. They have their rehearsals, then the concerts and afterwards dinner. Sometimes artists come for two days and ask to stay on for two or three more days because they like the area so much. What are the differences between the Menuhin Festival and the Sommets Musicaux?
The Sommets Musicaux is held in winter, it’s only nine days. Our festival is smaller, more intimate. We hold all our concerts in the churches, so the audiences have a
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Left: "Part of my family; part of my life": Thierry Scherz invited Ombretta Ravessoud to join him in the organisation of the festival. They became very close friends.
Below: Renaud Capuçon has been in charge of the programme as artistic director since 2016.
Gstaad, as well as our evening concerts in Saanen and Rougemont. For our 20th anniversary we have two additional concerts: one in Rougemont on Sunday morning and the other in Saanen on Monday morning for children; both events are free. After working on the festival all year long, the greatest gift for us, the organizers, is when we meet the artists and go to the concerts. It’s a gift for the public too. I’m not an artist but it’s a privilege to finally meet the artists and to be reunited with our loyal audience. I’d like to add one last thing: despite all the events and other cultural activities in the valley, we have managed to find our place without creating problems or upsetting the balance. We get on very well with the Menuhin Festival team and we invite each other to our respective concerts. Our planning also includes cooperation and coordination with the churches, the schools and the
direct proximity with the artists. We also host dinners for the artists and the public can participate. The intimate side of our festival is very important: the closeness between us (the organizers), the artists and the public. How long does it take to organise the festival?
We work on the festival all year round. Renaud is already working on the 2021 programme and I have started drawing up the contracts. Each year Renaud organises the programme on a theme; this year it’s the piano, next year it’ll be the violin. We have maintained the concept of three venues – three churches – since our first festival in 2000, with one concert on the opening day and two on the other days. We don’t plan to expand the festival and the dura-
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tion is still the same: we start on a Friday and close the following Saturday, a week later. We always have a series of afternoon events for young people in the St. Niklaus chapel in
hotels. We are a very small community and between us we make these events happen harmoniously. GUY GIRARDET
Anzeiger von Saanen reader Alice Huguenin-Kämpf from Schwerzenbach sent in this photograph, which shows one of the buildings at the centre of Saanen (Coiffure Marti today). She writes: "The photo dates back to my grandfather Johann Friedrich Kämpf (called Fritz). My grandfather was born in 1861 and had seven children, two sons and five daughters. The oldest child, Gustav, was born in 1896 and the youngest child, Hans, in 1905, so I assume this photo was taken around 1910." The recent picture shows that the structure of the building has not changed since.
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ONCE UPON A TIME …
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GOOD GROUNDWATER QUA The current water report from the National Groundwater Monitoring Centre, Naqua, is causing great alarm. This isn’t only due to nitrate and pesticide residues from agriculture that affect the quality of groundwater. Another reason is the use of artificial, long-term substances from industry, businesses and households that seep into the groundwater. Despite this, the Saanenland still enjoys outstanding water quality.
ith around 600 measuring points throughout Switzerland, Naqua, regularly carries out tests. The water report recently published by the Federal Office for the Environment (Bafu) shows that affects on groundwater resources are particularly severe in the heavily agricultural and densely populated Mittelland area. In addition, even dry periods can lead to a scarcity of drinking water. Since groundwater reserves are only replenished very slowly, the water can still contain persistant substances that were banned many years ago. They include the herbicide Atrazine, which was de-authorised in 2007, according to the report. Naqua monitoring stations in the Saanenland show that the region’s groundwater has been slightly affected but that levels are below the threshold. Basically, the water quality in the Bernese Oberland is good – and in Saanenland, it is even better. Pesticide sales are in decline
Many pesticides that are used in the Saanenland are available in the Landi. In general, both concentrates and ready-to-use mixtures are available. Therefore caution is necessary when comparing quantities, explains Mario Cairoli, managing director of the Landi Simmental-Saanenland. “Sales of synthetic pesticides are in decline. On the other hand, there is an increasing supply and demand for organic products,” says Cairoli. The commonly-known and highly controversial pesticide Glyphosate, found in products like Round-Up,
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has not been available in retail to the public since 2016. Agriculture alone isn’t to blame
Often, when the public talk about poor groundwater quality, they lay the blame on agriculture. However, farmers defend themselves. Jörg Gander, a farmer from Feutersoey, admits that he regularly uses three crop protection products in his dairy and Alpine farming business and for rearing young cattle. “We use Picobello to kill off thistles. We also use Simplex for bitter dock and Harmony SX extensively every two to three years in late summer, treating a maximum of one hectare a time.” He cites three reasons for this: First, his cows need good, weed-free grazing. Second, without crop protection products, in a few years’ time, there would be nothing but weeds in the fields and no more grass. Third, the are belonging to his farm is too large to simply pull up weeds, a task that would leave no time for anything else. Gander appeals to people to be cautious when dealing with pesticides and emphasises that the information provided by the manufacturer should be followed to the letter. This includes maintaining the right distance from watercourses, ensuring the precise ratio between the concentrate and water, as well as sticking to vegetation growth times. He is convinced that working strictly according to guidelines will prevent any harm to the environment. “After all, we are responsible for nature and want to leave the land behind in a healthy state for our children.”
“We manage our farm according to Bio-Swiss guidelines and do not use any toxic chemicals,” says Christoph Bach from Turbach, organic farmer and president of the Saanenland Agricultural Association. He runs a dairy farm and an Alpine farm and admits that weed control is actually very intense. The additional food he needs to buy is expensive too. He believes that agriculture is neither innocent nor the main culprit for poor groundwater. “Water samples in Switzerland are good,” he reminds us. In this context, he also states that there are other ways that groundwater can be polluted: private allotment owners and gardeners, industrial chemicals, cleaning agents, drug residues and railway companies when keeping track ballast weed-free.
LITY IN THE SAANENLAND Organic on the label, toxic inside
Caution is advised when buying pesticides. Not all products are organic despite this claim, which is clear when buying products at Landi with the organic label. For example, Sanoplant Bio Maag. There are four hazard warnings for this product. Is it organic or not? Cairoli points out that every consumer needs to be made aware of what they are buying in store and
should read the packaging details. He notes: â€œIn Switzerland, pesticides are only sold after passing a strict approval process. It is important that these products are used properly.â€? Consider the alternatives
Environmentally friendly products and procedures exist, says Cairoli. Different measures are required according to the crop, the weather
or pests. To avoid weeds, we could, for example, use weed mats, miscanthus or bark mulch from Swiss production. Also, there are methods for fighting pests by using microscopic roundworms that penetrate the maggots, reproduce and then fight the pest, without endangering other insects. For example, this works when fighting the vine weevil, the fungus mosquito or the gar-
The Landi sells a wide range of pesticides: Customers should seek advice and follow instructions to the letter to avoid undesirable effects.
The current water report from the National Groundwater Monitoring Centre, Naqua, is alarming. Among other things, nitrate and pesticide residues from agriculture affect groundwater quality. In Saanenland the water quality is still excellent.
den chafer. On the other hand, the animals that feed on these insects miss out. The same is true for plants in that are Effective Microorganisms (EM). Soils treated with EM have a sustainable water balance, which can reduce erosion, according to EM Switzerland. Likewise, the plants that grow from these soils are productive, pest- and disease-resistant and rich in vitamins. BASED ON AVS/KEREM S. MAURER TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
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WINTER TOURISM What concrete effects does climate change have on the tourist destination of Gstaad? The ongoing rise in temperature will significantly worsen the conditions for winter sports operations. At the same time, the summer could become more attractive for guests.
limate change is manifesting itself in the Saanenland similarly as in the rest of Switzerland: dry, hot summers and warmer winters with more precipitation in the form of rain. For Gstaad as a tourist destination, these scenarios could have a negative impact specifically on the winter season, during which the majority of revenues are generated from tourism. More precipitation, less snow
As in the whole of Switzerland, winters with higher precipitation are also expected here. At the same time, the
zero-degree line is expected to rise from 850 to 1250 up until 1500 metres by mid-century, according to the National Center for Climate Services (NCCS). For Gstaad, this would mean that around half of the ski resort could expect more days of fresh snow – right? Christoph Marty denies this conclusion: “Overall, the warming is stronger than the increase in precipitation.” The scientist works at the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research and specialises in snow and permafrost as well as winter sports and climate. “Only areas above 3,000 metres can expect more
snow during the next century.” What needs to be taken into account here though, is the harsher weather conditions at such altitudes. In view of the rising zero-degree line, areas between 1500 and 2500 metres, which includes the Saanenland, will experience the greatest change in the course of the next century, explains Marty. "Precarious winter prospects"
The local winter sports area extends from the lowest valley station in Rougemont at 973 metres to the highest mountain station La Videmanette at 2157 metres. “From a purely business point of view, ski resorts with mountain stations at around 1600 metres are already a zero-sum business at best – even with artificial snow”.
THE ENTIRE ECONOMY IS AFFECTED Winter tourism makes up a considerable part of Gstaad ’s economic strength. How do local institutions react to the extreme predictions of climatology?
t is difficult to gauge how long it will be worth maintaining Gstaad’s slopes and cable cars if the entire economy of a region depends on winter tourism. Winter tourism creates countless jobs and boosts the added value of Gstaad’s goods and services. Matthias In-Albon, managing director of Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad AG (BDG), emphasises this when he says that "Christmas time alone accounts for 25% of annual turnover." If they had not invested in the snow-making systems three years ago, today’s seamless operation would not be possible, which is unavoidable to remain competitive in the industry today.
assembly awarded the BDG CHF 19m for the years 2018 to 2022 (3.8 million per year). 1.8m of this goes annually into the winter infrastructure, including artificial snow making and the maintenance of snow groomers. Winter tourism should thus remain attractive. It has to since the BDG mountain cable cars generate almost all of their sales over the winter. The fact that Gstaad receives financial support is no exception: the vast majority of Swiss ski resorts can only survive through subsidised services. The federal government and the cantons also make a considerable contribution to maintaining structures in the mountain regions.
Strategy of year-round tourism
In April 2018, the Saanen municipal
Flurin Riedi, managing director of
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Gstaad Saanenland Tourism (GST), is aware that climate change will affect tourism. "I see the future in year-round tourism," he says. "Winter operations are absolutely essential for the time being." However, he believes that guaranteed snow services should be offered to non-skiers and this does not only make sense from a climate point of view. According to the Avenir Suisse think tank, winter sports are also being affected by digitalisation and the ageing of society. According to the tourism expert’s estimations, tackling the issue of climate change requires more strategic action. "We need to be visionary in our thinking and in terms of where we’ll be in 20 to 30 years." He adds, "When reviewing
UNDER PRESSURE Nevertheless, the expert for climate and winter sports assumes that artificial snowmaking will continue to be expanded, because for destinations such as Gstaad, winter sports are the anchor point for the entire regional economy”. Marty estimates that snowmaking will be able to compensate for the lack of snow in the medium term. “But there will always be greater costs to keep the ski operation running.” Snow is a complex phenomenon
Compared with areas in the east of Switzerland at the same altitude, Gstaad is less sure to have snow. Marty cites regional differences as the reason for this: “Ski resorts at a similar altitude to Gstaad are practically all located in eastern Switzerland in the eastern Pre-Alps, where
the destination’s strategy, which is due in 2020, we’re going to define concrete steps." On the glacier snow remains
Areas such as Glacier 3000 will have no shortage of snow in the foreseeable future. CEO Bernhard Tschannen says: "Our area has always benefited from guaranteed snow, which is why winter operations run from November to May." Since the ski area is located at over 3000 metres altitude, the average snowfall could even be greater. However, despite guaranteed snow, the glacier area is likely to offer fewer skiing days over the longer term, as climate changes could exacerbate weather events that are already harsh at this altitude. From winter to summer tourism
While more extreme (and hotter)
there is usually more precipitation in winter than in the Saanenland”. On the other hand, the Saanenland can expect more hours of sunshine. Environmental changes
Climate change is not only bringing about many changes for tourism, but also for nature and agriculture. Such influences are already noticeable today. Thus, the melting of glaciers causes landslides and floods. Also, heavy precipitation increases in summer, as the warmer air can hold more moisture. The persistent heat and drought are giving farms a hard time, although the rising vegetation zones could increase yields in the foothills of the Alps. Streams dry out and the production and protective function of the Pre-Alpine forests suffers from
weather is likely to be a feature in the lowlands in the near future, Gstaad can look forward to an increasing number of pleasantly warm summer days. People plagued by tropical nights are likely to be more frequent visitors to the mountains with cooler temperatures and waters to bathe in. Faced with rising temperatures, the summer season could extend into October in the future. This in itself sounds promising. However, there is a catch: "Summer tourism on its own has a negative budgetary effect and is financed by the winter economy," says In-Albon. In order to promote year-round tourism, more than 50% of contributions (CHF 2m), are used for summer operations, especially when in financing new facilities and extending opening times in the spring and autumn. Profitable year-round tourism is still a dream of the future.
the infestation of pests such as bark beetles, which take advantage of the warmer temperatures. Gstaad’s winter tourism is most likely to face a lot of pressure. However, this will not happen at once. The quantities of snow are subject to strong fluctuations and are very difficult to estimate. “Individual snow-rich winter months are also possible in the future,” says Marty. “The changes are not linear.” It is also to be hoped that the Paris Agreement will at least be partially observed. In this case, the Saanenland would still be faced with changes, but winter tourism in particular would face far fewer challenges. BASED ON AVS/SARA TRAILOVIC TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
The situation is different with Glacier 3000. Tschannen says: "Today, walkers and people on foot make up 70% of visitors compared to 30 percent of skiers over the whole year." The CEO attributes the successful expansion of year-round tourism within about ten years to new offers such as the Peak Walk by Tissot and the summer toboggan run, as well as the major advertising and sales initiatives offered in Asia, among others. Winter tourism is indispensable
In view of the enormous importance of the winter sports industry for the Saanenland as a whole, the institutions and municipalities will surely continue to support and maintain winter sports despite precarious future prospects, while the value of this strategy remains under continuous review. BASED ON AVS/SARA TRAILOVIC TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
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LIFE AT LE CHAL Le Chalet Marie-José was the first of many private schools in Gstaad. Over the winter issues, GstaadLife dips into the history of the school, looks at the life pupils led there, and gives a voice to former students
ife at Le Chalet Marie-José was very strictly organised. It evolved over the decades but the school never lost touch with its roots. Having started as a sanatorium, Le Chalet Marie-José maintained a strong focus on health and physical fitness, its two founding principles. A few practices that were kept until the 1970s do indeed evoke images of a sanatorium. But culture and education were held in high regard, too, and all of this was organised within tight schedules and unshakeable rules. If you were a good fit, the experience most likely turned out to be positive. If you did not conform, things were undoubtedly less pleasant. Mens sana…
A large part of the day was spent outdoors. What good was the healthy climate in the Swiss Alps if one did not spend time breathing the fresh mountain air? Consequently as many activities as possible took place outside. Every morning from 10am the children were busy moving their bodies. The list of activities seems endless. In winter they went skiing, ice skating, played hockey, or went tobogganing. In summer, the region provided ample opportunities for the students to hike, swim, and play tennis. There were alpine excursions with picnics and outdoor games near the school. Thursdays were reserved for longer expeditions up the Rubli, Moléson, or a long hike from Sanetsch to Sion for example. This may come as no surprise for a school in Gstaad. However, the discipline with which the outdoor activities were scheduled show their impor-
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tance at the school. Whenever possible classes were also held outside. A small pavilion with an open front provided space for about a dozen pupils. A former teacher remembers the challenge of balancing five full inkpots to the classe de plein air, as it used to be called. The outdoor siesta was also a fixture in the daily schedule, although it was a siesta in name only. Pupils had to spend half an hour on their backs, then turn over and spend the next half hour on their tummies. During this cure d’air et de soleil no talking and no fidgeting was allowed – which did not stop pupils from talking and fidgeting, of course! Mind your manners
It was the school’s responsibility to make sure the pupils were healthy.
It was also the school’s responsibility to instil manners into the young minds and hearts. Or so it was determined by Ms Racine. Doubtless, as head of the school she must have felt an enormous pressure given the illustrious family trees of the children in her care. As a result, rules were strict and punishments inevitable. The rulebook had to be followed to the letter and the central role played by physical exercise meant that some pupils had a hard time. The fact that any breach was strictly punished did not make it easier. Young ones who wet their bed, children who struggled to follow the vigorous outdoor programme, or even tough-minded characters who naturally opposed authoritative figures were not natural fits.
Above: Dressing up for dinner Left: If the weather permitted, even lessons took place outdoors.
Courtesy of Charles-Edouard Racine
Right: The cure dâ€™air et de soleil: a strictly observed routine after lunchtime. In the background the grounds of the outdoor pool of the Gstaad Palace can be seen.
One of the highlights of the school year: the perfomance of the school play
Courtesy of Charles-Edouard Racine
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For many – and this includes students and employees alike – the institute was too strict and the punishments on the young children too harsh. At least in one point this approach was fair: all children were treated the same. Whether they were royal offspring, came from rich industrial families or were the descendants of showbiz celebrities, the same rules and consequences applied to everybody. One of the punishments for disobedience is now generally remembered with a smile. Each day the children changed into their evening dress for dinner: girls wore beautiful dresses and did their hair; boys wore a jacket and tie. Any students caught misbehaving or cheating in class were not allowed to change for dinner and thus had to show up in their day clothes. On another note: pupils knew they had to finish their dinner. If they did not, the leftovers were served for breakfast the following
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day. Although, in view of the alternative – porridge – leftovers from dinner may not always have been a bad choice… Opportunities
It was not all gloomy, though! The children received a sound education in a wide variety of subjects, even Latin. Musical education was also a major part of life at Marie-José. Students enjoyed the free time they were allowed to spend outside. The boys were known to build huts in the nearby woods and teamed up ‘against’ the girls. Mixed teams played football and other games. Many a first kiss must have taken place outside the walls of Marie-José. Amongst the highlights were the plays performed at Christmas and at the end of the school year. For weeks beforehand preparations were underway, and costumes prepared. Every play was a great event
for the staff, the children and the parents, who joined the audience the night before collecting their children. The excitement of seeing their parents for the first time after months and of returning home the following day must have made these performances even more special for the children. How to summarise life at Marie-José? It was strict but good. Demanding and rewarding. It imposed restrictions and offered opportunities. Which side prevailed depended on various factors: how long you stayed, a few weeks over the summer or the whole year; whether you boarded or were a day student; whether you were happy to be surrounded by other children 24/7 or preferred a little solitude from time to time; and how adaptable you were to fit into that tight grid, which could be a source of joy and sorrow. MARKUS ISELI
A year ago, this magazine reported, “Anne Rosat’s works of art are on display in many museums and collections around the world and her exhibitions in major cities – New York, Paris and London – have raised international awareness of the Swiss paper cutting tradition.” Thus this sale is the result of a long successful career. The Hüsy in Blankenburg currently hosts an exhibiton of her work alongside paper cuttings by another famous artist, Ueli Hauswirth. ALAN NAZAR IPEKIAN
The work sold, dated 1976, represents typical scenes of Alpine life. Courtesy of Piguet
easuring 80x59.5cm, the 1976 work depicts events of local village life, including the iconic Züglete or transhumance, when the cows move up to the mountain pastures. Estimated at CHF 3,0005,000, it realised a staggering CHF 16,200 – a world record for the artist. The work sold after 5 minutes of fierce bidding in the room and on the phone at Geneva’s Piguet auctioneers’ December 2019 sale. The price includes the buyer’s premium. The auctioneer did not specify who bought the work.
Courtesy of Anne Rosat
ARTS & CULTURE
WORLDWIDE AUCTION RECORD FOR ANNE ROSAT’S WORK
GstaadLife 1 I 2020
As part of the 14th Gstaad New Year Music Festival, the soprano Lisette Oropesa performed with the pianist Natalia Morozova. They performed works from the baroque to the late romantic period in the Rougemont church. Twelve-year-old Alexandra Dovgan gave a piano recital in St.-Niklaus chapel in Gstaad.
hen was the last time you caught your breath in surprise? Anyone who is passionate about concerts and frequently attends will agree that this is fairly rare and only happens when expectations are well and truly exceeded. Top performances are always expected from well-known stars but expectations not always met. However, if you sit in a concert at a small music festival where the names of the artists are unfamiliar, the surprise is all the more intense. This is how the audience found the performance by Lisette Oropesa and Natalia Morozova in Rougemont church. The warm timbre of the soprano was already very moving at the start of Handel’s "V’adoro pupille" by Giulio Cesare. There followed songs by Schubert and Schumann and the audience was witness to the singer’s incredible vocal range. The interaction with the pianist Morozova, who perfectly responded to the soprano, was very harmonious. Her playing was never too loud nor soft, not too dominant nor hesitant. The pianist impressed with her superior technique and fine musicality throughout the concert. In addition to her outstanding vocals, Oropesa used just the right amount of acting to infuse the pieces with feeling and expression. The opera singer breathed life into the aria “Come dolce all’alma mia (How sweet is the sound of your voice for my soul) from Rossini’s “Tancredi”, as well as Debussy’s “Romance”,“Beau soir” and “Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maison”. The performance was perfectly tailored to the informal setting at the Rougemont church.
GstaadLife 1 I 2020
Pianist Natalia Morozova (left) and soprano Lisette Oropesa.
ARTS & CULTURE
A VARIETY OF MUSICAL DISCOVERIES
A future star pianist?
Grigory Sokolov thinks highly of Alexandra Dovgan, who is only twelve years old. He predicts a great future for her. The audience witnessed her impressive skills as this focused young lady began her recital with Beethoven’s “Pathétique” sonata. As the name suggests, the composer expresses – in simplified terms – the gravity and tragedy inherent in Human life. Although still very young, the pianist showed remarkable musical maturity, but the question remains as to whether a little more maturity might help her approach this work. Without the true experience of deep pain, misfortune and despair, it is hard to do justice to the “Pathétique”.
Chopin’s playful waltzes and Mazurkas suited the young artist much better. She did not get carried away by the rapid tempos or other exaggerations. In accordance with her age, her rendition was well thought out and mature. The same went for the various pieces by Rachmaninov, with the preludes she played at the end, which marked the pinnacle of her recital. If you closed your eyes and just listened to the music, it seemed almost unreal that such a young person was playing. Knowing that this was achieved through countless hours of hard practice, everyone hopes that this talented girl will never lose her joy in music. BASED ON AVS/ÇETIN KÖKSAL TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON
ARTS & CULTURE Public domain/archive.org
THE UNGRASPABLE GARMENTS OF GODS
armers in the Saanenland love it because they do not have to deal with snow. The ski industry hates it because of its snow-killing effect. But between this love-hate dichotomy, the Föhn provokes a range of strong emotions that inspire literary and poetic musings, and can torment the senses, both psychologically and physically. Generically, a Föhn is “a warm, dry wind that descends in the lee of a mountain range.” The south Föhn (Südföhn), which blows northward in the Saanenland, usually happens when moist air causes precipitation to build up against the Alps in the south, but it can also occasionally occur without the preceding rain. Its initiating mechanisms include synoptic pressure fields, orography, and adiabatic compression, and although scientists have been arguing about its exact characteristics since the early 1800s, it seems wise to sidestep that debate. The term Föhn comes from the Latin ventus favonius, a version of the Greek Zephyr, or west wind, that the Roman god Favonius personified. The earliest mention seems to be from the Roman poet Horace (65-8 BC), who waxed about Favonius in his Odes (1.4), saying the “touch of Zephyr and of Spring has loosen’d Winter’s thrall.” But, by whatever linguistic path Horace’s wind transformed into
the Föhn, he was clearly not talking about the Alpine version, which comes hurling in from the south with something more than a ‘touch’. The vehemence of Favonius’ gauzy garments have stirred ample expressive accounts. Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell (1804) has the protagonist using the Föhn to help a refugee escape the clutches of the Austrian Gessler on the Lake of Lucerne. In Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale The Ice Maiden (1862), he called it “an African wind” that scattered the clouds into fantastic shapes. Hermann Hesse, in his first novel Peter Camenzind (1904), extolled the “sweet Föhn fever” (Das süße Föhnfieber) of spring that gave the mountain air a crystalline clarity, and especially tormented women by robbing them of their sleep and caressing all their senses. But the brush of Favonius’ cloak has a darker side, the so-called morbus ventus favoni or ‘Föhn disease’. Anxiety, headaches, flushing, shortness of breath, heart palpitation, insomnia, tinnitus, loose bowel movements, diarrhea, excessively rapid digestion, and “increased sexual desire with premature deflation of semen," have all been attributed to this maligned wind. Popular belief accredits the Föhn with increased car accidents, suicide attempts, strokes and heart attacks. It has even, appar-
ently, been used as reasonable cause for insanity in a legal defense. Is there any scientific basis to this? Numerous medical studies have been conducted on the effects of the Föhn, accreting around a few main theories. One hypothesis holds that positively charged air ions created by the wind elevate levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a major role in emotional disorders. Others have looked at infrasound, or sound levels below the level of human hearing that can cause anxiety and physical symptoms in susceptible populations. A recent conjecture from scientists at ETH Zürich posits the Föhn’s effects may be due to rapid atmospheric pressure fluctuations induced by climate-related gravity waves that can disrupt human mental activity. Regardless of its manifestations, the Föhn’s effect on the Saanenland certainly has not dampened the winter holidays – Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus reported record-breaking figures at hotels, restaurants, and ski lifts from 26 December to 2 January. There is even talk about building new parking structures to handle all the traffic. So whatever other anxiety this weather phenomenon has produced recently, it is not currently presenting at our local ski lift’s till. ALEX BERTEA
GstaadLife 1 I 2020
U23 Vice World Champion Finn Class GYC sports member Nils Theuninck had an excellent sailing week before the holidays in Melbourne (AUS). Finishing 14th overall, he was able to take the vice world championship title in the U23 category, thus securing his place in the Swiss national team for the year 2020. “Generally speaking, it was a great week, especially since I qualified for the national team. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t make it into the Medal Race in the last race, after sailing in the top 10 all week. At the same time, I am happy about my U23 runner-up title. In January I’m going back to Melbourne to continue training hard.” At Sail Melbourne, to which Theuninck referred, he sailed 2nd in the final overall ranking, news that came in last minute before the editorial deadline. Winning the 44th Christmas race
Another outstanding result was achieved by GYC Sport member Eliot
Courtesy of GYC
Merceron, who won the 44th Christmas race in Palamos, Spain just before the holidays. He then also left for the World Championship in Australia. After a great 2019 season with top 30 finishes in the World Champi-
onships and 15th place in the Olympic Test Event, he is working with his coach Daniel to prepare for this crucial year 2020 with the goal of reaching the Olympic Games in Tokyo. GSTAAD YACHT CLUB
Above: Eliot Merceron wins the 44th Christmas race at Palamos, Spain. Left: Nils Theuninck on the podium as runner-up to the U23 world championship title.
SPORTS & LEISURE
SAILING FEATS AT THE END OF THE YEAR
GstaadLife 1 I 2020
EXPAT ADVENTURES Sliding and gripping
Chess on ice
It became very clear very quickly that curling is a lot harder than it looks. Stepping on and off the ice was weird. We were given special shoes to wear – a ‘slider’ shoe, which you use to glide over the ice, and a ‘gripper’ for kicking off. Or something like that. What we lacked in style, we made up for in enthusiasm. The most exhausting – and hilarious – role
Curling is often called ‘chess on ice’ because it’s a highly strategic game (not a conclusion you’d have reached watching our efforts, though). It requires huge skill and dexterity to judge how hard to throw the stones, when to sweep and when to stop. But curling is not without incident, even for the most experienced player. Take Ben Hebert at the 2007 Canadian Open. He was warming up rink-side, swinging his broom back and forth. As he drew his arms back in a particularly exuberant flourish, the brush head detached itself from the handle and flew through the air to land among the audience. Hebert sprinted across the stadium to check no-one was hurt before gallantly presenting the broom handle to the astonished spectator holding the brush head.
ll of a sudden, I find myself surrounded by people who are fanatical about bowls. You may know the game – it’s a bit like French boules, but on a square of manicured grass called a bowling green. First my parents took up the sport. They’ve been playing for about eighteen months; my Dad even coaches the ‘youth’ team (anyone under 40!). Then two weeks ago I learned my mother-in-law has joined a bowls club and even plays competitive matches in her local league. Who knew? Winter cousin
But I do understand the attraction. For bowls has a winter cousin, which goes by the name of curling. First invented on a frozen Scottish loch in the 16th century, it involves two teams, each with four players, taking turns to launch and guide heavy stones down a strip of ice to a circular bullseye target several metres away. I have first-hand experience of this sport. It was about five years ago, on one of those grey, rainy days we occasionally get in December. Skiing was out of the question and while part of me would have loved to lounge around at home waiting for the weather to improve, we had friends to entertain. So, we booked a curling session and trundled off to the Gstaad sports centre to give it a go.
was that of ‘sweeper’. This basically involves brushing the ice like a frenzied demon to reduce friction and influence the direction and speed of the stone as it whizzes by. The harder you sweep, the faster and straighter the stone moves. It’s a bit like scrubbing a stubborn stain out of a carpet while you slide alongside it, desperately trying to stay upright. Like I said, hilarious. We all came a cropper on more than one occasion. But we were a load of amateurs, so what would you expect?
It’s easy to understand the appeal of curling. It’s open and accessible to all ages and abilities, the basic rules are easy to grasp and it’s immense fun to play with a group of friends. We’re lucky to have excellent curling facilities in Gstaad and I encourage you to use them. There are instructors available who can show you the ropes or why not drop by to watch players compete in a tournament? You can even book an hour of curling with shoe rental plus a pizza or burger and a drink for a special price (pre-booking required). So, what’s stopping you? Why not give it a go? ANNA CHARLES
GstaadLife 1 I 2020
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