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Issue 6 | 25 August 2017 CHF 3.50

HOTEL RATINGS The Saanenland stands out

TRANSHUMANCE How often farmers move their cattle

SWEET AND COOL WITH A TWIST Linda and Sathya Narayanan produce locally to go global


pm i ly Da – 7 m a 6 r om

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INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY The profile interviews of this season were all conducted in the light of innovation and ­sustainability. What makes a region like ours unique and strong? What does it take to keep it healthy and prosperous? Which ways will lead into a future that’s promising for the land and the people who live in and off it? We certainly couldn’t offer the answer to any of these questions. What we hope we achieved, was to trigger your own thoughts and provide input for discussion – and discussion is dearly needed. Questions must be asked and answers must be found if a region is not to stagnate. Our interviewees gave their own interpretation of innovation and sustainability, their opinion of what the region needs, and what can be done to keep moving f­orwards. The variety in our ­profiles shows that there is no silver bullet. It all comes down to individuals, groups and the general public who care and are willing to get involved for a region.

CONTENTS LOCAL NEWS Gstaad Palace prepares for Gildo's goodbye


Saanenland sweeps Bilanz hotel ratings



Sweet and cool with a twist

GSTAAD LIVING New water supply station at Saanen’s airfield


How often do Saanenland farmers move during the year? 12

ARTS & CULTURE Wall paintings in Gsteig depict William Tell


Menuhin Festival


SPORTS & LEISURE Ojjeh scores the podium at Spa


First vintage cycling festival in Gstaad


Gstaad Yacht Club's polyhedral activities


LIFESTYLE In memory of Liselotte Nopper-Lappert



Expat adventures

Best regards,

Markus Iseli, Publishing Director

Cover Photo: Takumi Furuichi Masthead: Müller Medien AG, GstaadLife, Anzeiger von Saanen, Kirchstrasse 6, P.O. Box 201, 3780 Gstaad; Phone: 033 748 88 74, Fax: 033 748 88 84, Management Board and Publisher: Frank Müller, Publishing Director: Markus Iseli, Contributors: Anna Charles, Davina Gateley, Guy Girardet, Anne Christine Kempton, Alexis Munier Layout: Epu Shaha, Aline Brawand Advertising: Eliane Behrend,, Phone: 033 748 88 71 Subscriptions: Flurina Welten,, Phone: 033 748 88 74

GstaadLife 6 I 2017



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GSTAAD PALACE PREPAR Gildo Bocchini, the gourmet voice of the Gstaad Palace for 49 years, is finally hanging up his apron. Bocchini AGENCY

RUCI GMBH Monsieur Sathya Narayanan +41 33 744 47 67


was a tour de force in the Saanenland, beloved by guests and hotel staff alike. The Cesena, Italy, native will retire at the end of this summer season. CLIENT

Lasercolor scale ≠ 1:1 ADOBE CC: AI + PS

Bocchini was made the first maître d’hôtel in 1990, ­managing the Palace’s five restaurants with aplomb. The bistro – Gildo’s – is even named in his honour. His discretion and intimate knowledge of his guests’ likes and dislikes helped Bocchini cater to them for five decades and earned him a true following. Stepping in to fill his shoes is successor Andrea Buschini. For 15 years he has worked at the Palace, first as commis de rang (summer 1990), then as chef de rang. In 2006 Buschini became the first maître d’hôtel for the lobby bar, and from winter 2013/14 he worked as a deputy of Bocchini.


Valid at our ice cream stand on the Promenade Gstaad (between Credit Suisse and Fuhrer Tobacco)

Along with this news, the Palace released a statement that Romuald Bour, director, will also be moving on. After 18

The magazine Vinum has bestowed the Swiss Wine List Award 2017

intensive workload, the wine list, and the unique wine cellar bring challenges that only experienced staff can conquer.

on the restaurant La Bagatelle at Le Grand Chalet, Gstaad. This local win, in addition to many recent others, proves the region continues to excel in all aspects of the hospitality industry. This latest success is not the first the restaurant has garnered. For many years the wine menu has been praised by publications such as Wine Spectator, World’s Best Wine List, and Gault Millau. Now, for the first time under the patronage of the Swiss Sommelier group, 253 wine lists were submitted in the category Sommelier’s Best to determine the top wine menu. With the absolute maximum score, La Bagatelle was awarded top honours.

sented. From the most prominent producers to the unique vintages and grapes, there are options galore, and all for good value at correct prices. Swiss wines are the best-sellers at La Bagatelle.

The diversity of the wine list is unparalleled – almost all wine-producing areas worldwide are repre-

While one part of the success belongs Pedro Ferreira, he insists the true value is in the team as a whole. The

“We want to make the guests happy and a paradise for wine lovers,” says Pedro Ferreira, long time co-director (together with Chef Steve Willié) of Le Grand Chalet, who is responsible for the list.

Photos: Pierre Khim-Tit



Co-directors Pedro Ferreira and Steve Willié and the Grand Chalet cave.

RES FOR GILDO'S GOODBYE Gildo in the beginnings of his time at the Gstaad Palace (below). Andrea Buschini will take over the reins (right).

Photos: Gstaad Palace

years of service, the Alsace native will take on a new ­gastronomic challenge of his own. Bour held ­various positions during his tenure including cashier, food and beverage manager, deputy director, and for the last two and a half years, director. Replacing him is Vittorio Di Carlo, who trained at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and has worked at the Palace since last year after experience with the Four Seasons and Mandarin O ­ ­ riental, amongst other luxury chains. While the hospitality industry is ever-changing, Bocchini and Bour were Gstaad staples. Although they will be missed by guests, their ­absence may well be more difficult for Palace staff. ALEXIS MUNIER

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The Swiss economic magazine Bilanz has released its annual hotel ratings, with Saanenland hotels earning top marks. The Alpina Gstaad has swept the awards, with kudos in several categories including Best Holiday Hotel – Switzerland 2017.

“A great dream has been realised with this award, only five years after our opening,” says Patrick Krummenacher, Director of Sales and Marketing at The Alpina Gstaad. With this honour, the hotel shows its powerful effect on the whole region’s hospitality industry. This is a ­ d ifficult title to defend, as most hotels do not make the top spot in consecutive years. “We must continually strive to improve service,” says Krummenacher. It’s hard to improve on perfection, though, as The Alpina Gstaad is a super-luxurious boutique hotel, which already accommodates nearly the guests’ every wish. The Alpina Gstaad isn’t the only hotel in the Saanenland to make the Top 20 list, with three other establishments present. The Gstaad Palace, the Park Gstaad, and Le Grand Bellevue each earned excellent scores. In addition to the holiday hotel ratings, hotel staff in the Saanenland has stormed the list for Ten Best Employees in Switzerland. Local staff has taken nearly a third – three places – on the exclusive list. Günter Weilguni from Huus Hotel Gstaad in Saanen is Hotel Entrepreneur of the Year, Franco Paloschi from The ­Alpina Gstaad is Restaurant Manager of the Year, and Alex Rüdlin from Park Gstaad is Hotel Chef of the Year.


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Best holiday hotel in Switzerland, The A ­ lpina Gstaad (above) Franco Paloschi makes for more kudos for The Alpina as Restaurant Manager of the Year (right).

Photos: The Alpina




Photo: HUUS Hotel

Günter Weilguni has been elected Hotel Entrepreneur of the Year.

Photo: Park Hotel

Axel Rüdlin has only been at the Park Gstaad since last autumn and has already been awarded with the title of Hotel Chef of the Year.

Weilguni’s award was enhanced by a stellar review of his achievements: “With perseverance for the peculiarities of the Saanenland, he has teamed up with investor Marwan to wake the once sleepy Steigenberger, giving it a radical cure and turning it into a hotel dream world.” “The award is a huge surprise for me,” laughs Weilguni, “as I learned of it, I was speechless.” “This is advertising for the whole Saanenland and testifies to the high quality of the hotels in the region,” he says. Lavishing praise on Paloschi, the ranking description states: “The food tastes so good when it comes from Paloschi, orchestrated with Italian grandezza.” Paloschi knows the likes and dislikes of all his guests and even with full occupancy, runs a tight ship.

feeling to stand on the mountains and to see the world from above,” says Rüdlin. Besides the large hotels listed above, one smaller hotel also stands out. The Romantik Hotel Hornberg in Saanenmöser. Owners Brigitte and Christian Hoefliger – von ­Siebenthal are the third generation to run the hotel, bringing a special ambience to the property. Says Bilanz: “Here, their team lives with a certain ethos, unsophisticated hospitality, so that you do not feel like simply in a h ­ otel, but like a guest in a cosy country house feels.”

Axel Rüdlin was described as “a stroke of luck for the hotel” by the Park Gstaad. The German chef has worked at the Park Gstaad since 2016 and adores living in the region. His cooking style was described by the rankings as “sovereign of the regional trend, combining local and luxury products.”

Last but not least, taking spot 30 on the 50 Best Holiday Hotels – Switzerland list was the Wellness & Spa Hotel Ermitage, Schönried.

“To me, Gstaad means beautiful scenery and the unique


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SWEET AND COOL WITH A TWIST The four profile interviews this summer explore different perspectives of innovation and sustainability in the Gstaad region. In this issue, Linda and Sathya Narayanan tell us about their dreams and visions with a down-to-earth ice cream business.

Sathya, I understand you are originally from Chennai, India. What brought you to Schönried?

Sathya: I came to Switzerland in 2000 to do a bachelor’s degree at the Glion Hotel School and have been here ever since. I met my wife Linda, who comes from Schönried, in the Saanenland. What made you decide to make ice cream?

Sathya: I always wanted to have a business of my own. To begin with I frequently made the Indian equivalent of ice cream – kulfi – for Linda and myself at home. The milk in the region is so good and an excellent basis for ice cream. This gave me the idea to develop kulfi as a local product using this wonderful milk. Linda and I made a few changes to the original kulfi recipe and developed our own unique product: Ruci, an ice cream with an Indian origin and an Indian flavour! In 2015 we made a presentation to the Coop and, after tasting our ice cream,


GstaadLife 6 I 2017

they really liked it. They decided it would make an interesting addition to the selection in their shops so, in April 2016, they placed their first order with us: we were commissioned to make ice creams for their supermarkets all over Switzerland. Where do you make the ice cream? And what do you think makes it so special?

Sathya: We make it at the local milk cooperative in Saanen. This enables us to source the milk directly from the farmers in the Saanen and Gstaad areas. The cream comes from Schönried. The cows live in this wonderful environment, feeding off the lush green grass in the beautiful mountain pastures. Undoubtedly, the main ingredient – the milk – is really first class. We feel this is a significant plus for our ice creams and we carefully pick and choose the other ingredients. How do people like the exotic flavours?

Linda: They like to try them. Not

many people are familiar with mango in a milk-based ice cream as it is normally used in sorbets. That makes it both exotic and interesting. We use the Alphonsos mango, a variety from India that adds a creamy richness to the ice cream. People love it. Another flavour people are unfamiliar with is the almond ice cream – this is also popular. We have four kulfi flavours that contain cardamom – almond, mango, lassi and pistachio – and these are sold across Switzerland in major supermarket chains and ­g rocery stores. What different flavours of ice cream do you produce?

Sathya: We offer more than 30 flavours: almond, banana, bubble-gum, caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee, hazelnut, lassi, mango, pistachio, raspberry, stracciatella, strawberry, vanilla and white chocolate, plus a range of other fruit flavours. We also provide special custom flavours to the hotels. In our Ruci gelateria stands we have at least 25 flavours for people to choose from. Was the business aspect new to you or did you already have a business background?

Sathya: After I finished my hotel management course in Glion I

Photo: Takumi Furuichi

The wooden Ruci stand in the Promenade with family support: Beat Schwander, Sathya Narayanan, Alice Schweizer, and Linda Narayanan (from left).

worked for eight months in the hotel industry, then switched to finance. I had nearly a decade of work experience in the finance sector, where I worked first as an analyst for a hedge-fund then, later, as a portfolio administrator at RH Finance in Saanen. Have you received any help from the local community?

Sathya: Yes, indeed, many people from the local community have been very helpful. For example, we designed a unique wooden kiosk as a kind of symbol for Ruci itself. The local carpenters Bach and Perreten were very supportive and helped us create it. When you see our kiosks, they are immediately identifiable with Ruci ice cream. We also received help from Gabriela Matti and Credit Suisse, who gave us permission to sell our ice cream in the Gstaad Promenade, where we have a kiosk at the moment. We are also grateful to Fuhrer Tobacco, Zwahlen-Hüni und Elizabeth Worbs for their kind support. Are any of your local family involved with Ruci?

Linda: Yes, they are a great help – we have my parents, who live in Schönried, and also my uncle (my father’s brother) and his wife, who live in Zurich. They love to come up to the region to help us. For exam-

ple, during the recent Beach Volleyball in Gstaad, they staffed the Ruci stand for the whole week. Where do you see Ruci in five years?

Sathya: Well, we would like Ruci to be a global brand, that’s for sure. In the short term, we would like to get it sold in as many places as possible in Switzerland; in the medium term we would like to extend to the European market and, in the long term, around the globe. Would it be possible to scale the local supply you now have to serve this larger market?

Sathya: Absolutely. There’s a huge amount of milk available in Saanenland. We can still use the local Saanenland milk and continue to grow, that’s not a problem. As you possibly know, there are more cows in Saanenland than people. We realise that it’s an ambitious goal but we don’t think too much about it, we just do it! We try to do our best and what comes will come. We can’t really control anything in the end. But we do have our dream and our vision, which is to see Ruci as a global brand. What is the legal structure of Ruci?

Sathya: We are a privately held SA. We found some good investors who believe in our project, so we decided to open our capital space a little. It is still majority-owned by the family but we also have a few shareholders, who are passionate about our project and involved with us. In the long run, we would like to be a public company listed on the stock market. Luckily for me, Linda is a great partner. She is very focused and gets things done. The atmosphere we have created within and around our company is very pleasant. Do you need a patent and specific quality control to conform to the legal aspects regulating food production?

Linda: Yes. We have had to get certification from the federal authorities

to produce and sell ice cream. They came to inspect the premises to see if they were suitable. We were also required to put in place a plan to ensure hygienic practices and our employees have to be trained, so they know the rules concerning, for instance, what they can/cannot do and what clothes have to be worn. The certification process is very straightforward and we’ve had great help from the federal authorities. I see that you have included the Swiss cross in your Ruci logo. Do you have to meet any specific requirements to use it?

Linda: Yes. The regulations forbid the use of the Swiss cross unless a high percentage of the manufacturer’s ingredients are sourced from Switzerland. If you want to incorporate the Swiss cross in your trademark, you need at least 80% of your ingredients to be Swiss. We have such excellent products in this country and we are happy to support whatever is produced around us, especially up here in the Saanenland. We also want our brand, our ice cream, to be transparent – open and straight-forward so that our clients can see what it is, what’s in it and where it comes from. Our Ruci logo incorporates several aspects but a significant feature is the Swiss cross. We wanted to use the Swiss cross because it is recognised internationally as a symbol of quality. Ruci is patented in Switzerland and is the trademark of the company. I understand that Ruci is a Sanskrit word?

Sathya: The word Ruci is used in many Indian languages. It means “good taste”. I have great respect for Sanskrit. It’s one of the oldest languages and, as such, is a source language for many Indian and other languages. Sanskrit is not only an ancient literary language, it also gives form – a depth and reality – to its words. Hence: Ruci – good taste – our ice cream! GUY GIRARDET

GstaadLife 6 I 2017


In order to ensure adequate drinking water supplies for the future, a new water supply station is being built at Saanen’s airfield. The main construction is due to begin in the coming weeks, and the plant will become operational in 2019.

Valuing every drop

Snow during the months of April and May is not normally a cause for celebration. However, Arno Romang, who oversees the mains water supply of the municipality of Saanen, relishes every raindrop and snowflake. Indeed, snow is certainly his preferred of the two. Romang says that the melting water acts like “an injection” into the soil because it seeps slowly into the earth. The entire region of Saanen municipality lives off this precipitation from hail, mist, rain and snow that feeds the groundwater levels. Maybe surprisingly, it is necessary to be mindful in regards to water supplies. For most of spring until about May the water levels increase. In summer months, however, the sun is so strong that most of the precipitation evaporates. Added, over 90 per cent of the precipitation in the surrounding overgrowth is lost because grass, plants and trees absorb the water. Rainfall in spring has not fallen in large amounts this year and water from melting snow and ice is reduced, with streams and rivers therefore having lower levels. Although groundwater levels are good, in comparison to previous years there has definitely been a reduction. Water consumption

The normal water consumption in


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the region of Saanen municipality is between 8 to 9m litres per day. In the peak seasons, it can be around 13m litres. There are no restrictions on the usage of drinking water but thankfully, people use drinking water sparingly and many have flow regulators installed. There are occasions when levels are low, for example in summers with little rainfall when lawn sprinklers are used. Or, during winter people might leave taps running to stop pipes from freezing although this is forbidden. Added, swimming pools are not to be filled between December and February when water is sparse. New water supply station

The planned works have been in the pipeline since 2003. Although improvements to the system were made in order to reduce losses through renewing piping and making other improvements, it was not enough to meet the projected increase in water consumption. In peak times the usage of the mains water supply indicated that without a new facility the supply could not be guaranteed in the medium and long term. The maximum pumping capacity of the new station will be 12,000 litres per minute, certainly enough to meet future needs for 50 years. After extensive geological surveys, the area to the east of the airfield was deemed an ideal location, with the required storage capacity for the water catchment area. In 2006, the first exploratory drilling took place and nearly 14 years later the project will finally be realised. Sebastian Erler, deputy head of infrastructure for the project, explained that securing various permits, licences and adhering to regulations for protection zones

Photo: Unknown



Photo: Unknown

Inside view of one of the steel pipes to filter the water (left). The construction site with the 67-ton clamshell (middle).

Photo: Anita Moser

Project manager, Arno Romang, and deputy head of infrastructure, Sebastian Erler (right).

has been a complicated process. It entailed working with different agencies, including the Cantonal Office for Water and Waste as well as the Saanen municipality. The cost of the entire project is estimated at CHF 14.3m. On the eastern side of Saanen’s airfield construction work has already begun. Three groundwater filters have been positioned and work on the main plant is expected to begin imminently. The main construction will take two years, with completion in summer 2019. Romang says that in ideal circumstances it could be finished by autumn 2018. However, he believes it is unrealistic. Construction is determined by weather conditions and other factors. Not least are the complications of working at an airport, as the flight schedules must be taken into account. For example, during glider flights no work can be carried out. Water filtration

Three filters for groundwater remediation have already been placed to a depth of 23 meters and are surrounded by washed gravel. The filters were positioned in the ground using an innovative method, via a 67-ton clamshell. Using this method ensures that the surrounding ground is not too densely packed so the water can reach the filters. There is a slow groundwater flow, which is preferred, in order that the larger components in the soil are not carried along with the water. To protect the area from contaminants, environmental protection zones are also in place. Precipitation is the main source of groundwater in the longer term. There is a relatively large catchment area, estimated to be between 800 to 1,200 litres per m2 per year in the region. This comes from the mountains and slowly seeps into the ground. After about a year or so it flows through into the groundwater streams. As long as there is an average of 1,000 litres per m2, there is enough water. If not, it is possible to adjust the current depths of the filters from 23 metres to 60 metres. Water pipeline construction

The construction work on the airfield will not impact the local population. However, the laying of 1.7 kilometres of pipeline will inevitably cause some traffic problems. The pipes will deliver water to the reservoirs in Gstaad

and Saanen and also to the reservoir for Schönried and Saanenmöser. For the supply in the direction Gstaad, the pipes being laid will have an internal diameter of 30cm and on the Saanen-Schönried side, they will have a 25cm diamater. They are made of high quality materials and have a cement coating that will protect them from corrosion and other external damage. The new plant will be connected to the existing network and once construction is completed, the current water plant Chappeli will be taken offline. Emergency water supplies

Should the water treatment plant fail, a back-up supply must be available, as required by the canton. The mains water is drawn from Enge in Lauenen, which covers the water consumption needs in winter. If there is an event such as an avalanche that damages the pipes in Enge, there would be no water in December and January in Gstaad and Saanen. The new plant will guarantee that even in an emergency there will still be a water supply. It also works the other way round in case the Saanen plant fails. Luckily, all eventualities have been covered. DAVINA GATELEY / AVS





t’s nearly that time of year again. Farmers and their families will begin descending from the alp, where they have spent much of the summer. They will lead their Simmental cows, beautifully adorned with flowers and with cowbells ringing, along the streets of Gstaad. One might even catch a glimpse of a horse and cart accompanying them. In the spring, the families move with their cows, goats and even pigs from the pastures in the lower valley, to the Vorsass, the medium altitude pasture. About a month later the families and their livestock move further up the mountain to the alp pasture land, where they remain for around 80 days. This movement is termed transhumance in

English, the seasonal cycle of moving livestock for ­g razing. The local word to describe this event comes from züglen, a Swiss-German word meaning to move. The Züglete in early September marks the descent from the alp back to the Vorsass. In October, they return to their farms in the valley, where they will spend eight months in total. The families move like this up to four times a year, living and working wherever nature dictates, where the pasture is best for their cattle. During the summer, much of the milk produced is used to make alp cheese, which is well-known for its special aroma and distinct flavour. It is deservedly famous well

Vorsass – Medium pasture land

Spring and autumn – 1,200 to 1,500 metres

Talbetrieb – Valley farm

Winter – 1,000 to 1,200 metres

Molkerei – Dairy


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Milk processing for the milk from dairy farms during winter. Sometimes milk is delivered during the summer from the alp.

For the third time, an official event will be held to celebrate the tradition of the transhumance. This year the Züglete event will be held on 2. September along Gstaad’s prom-

enade, where farmers, families and their livestock will pass through at 30-60 minute intervals. It is steeped in tradition and certainly a highlight of the year. There will also be food and market stalls, children’s activities and music. Well worth a visit! Timetable of events for Züglete:


Infographic: Gstaad Authentique

beyond the Saanenland. Some farmers also deliver milk to the dairy in the valley, where it is used to produce cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other products.



Alpbetrieb – Alp pasture land

Summer – 1,500 to 2,000 metres

Käsegrotto – cheese storage

Cheese aging facility – cheese storage

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Wall paintings discovered in the semi basement of a farmhouse in Gsteig depict William Tell shooting an apple off his son’s head. The paintings date to 1642, 100 years before Friedrich von Schiller popularised the folk story in his eponymous play.

A knight raising his glass to the observer (above) The house has been in the Linder family for 200 years (below).

Photos: Anita Moser




he astounding discovery was made in the 1990s in a seemingly “normal” farmhouse in Gsteig. While renovations of the house and wall paintings which began in 2015 have given some clues about the seventeenth century paintings and the history of the house, many questions still remain unanswered.

At first glance, the house on Müligässli in Gsteig appears to be a standard farmhouse, two sitting rooms deep and two wide, explains architect Matthias Trachsel who also works for the Swiss Heritage Society (Heimatschutz). However, a detailed survey of the house revealed that the structure of the cellar does not match the wooden structure above it. “It isn’t the same house... maybe. We can’t be sure”, says Trachsel. A wooden beam was discovered in the semi basement that dates to 1515, a lot older than the wooden structure above it, which has been dated to the mid-seventeenth century. “This suggests the wooden structure that is here today had a predecessor,” explains Fabian Schwarz from the Swiss Association for the Preservation of Monuments (Denkmalpflege). It is still unclear what the exact purpose of the original house was, but the current thinking is that it was an inn or tavern for tradesmen. At the time it was built, the house occupied a very significant location on the old main road through ­ Gsteig. Merchants traveling over the Col du Pillion, Sanetsch or Chrinnepass would have passed the house on their route regardless of which direction they were going. Trade was extremely important to these valleys; while wine and fruit was imported from the south, cheese and meat was exported. The merchants needed lodging and a place to trade their goods, something that the house on Müligässli could have provided, according to Schwarz. Prior to the discovery of the wall painting, the semi basement rooms of the farmhouse were a boiler room and workshop. Studies suggest the paintings were made just after the original wooden structure was erected, around

AM TELL – 100 YEARS BEFORE SCHILLER 1642. The entryway, with its vaulted ceilings, depicts a veritable garden of Eden abound with vines, flowers and cherubic infants while a knight on horseback raises a friendly toast to passers-by. The scene ends with a puzzling image: the letters INRI, the initials for the Latin title that Pontius Pilate had written over the head of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 19:19), with John and Mary Magdalen alongside suggest a crucifixion is being depicted. Despite strenuous efforts to prove it, restorer Michael Fischer concedes: “We haven’t found a cross, so it would be wrong to say that the painting is of a crucifixion.”

ry. Speaking about the artist, Fischer states: “His work shows us that he really could paint and draw very well. And quickly. If you pay close attention to his work, you can see drops of red and black paint that came off his paintbrush. This suggests that his brush was plump with paint. He was clearly in his element and very practiced. He was also technical-

ly skilled, otherwise the paintings would not have survived this long.” The find has naturally piqued the interest of many people in the region. Two guided viewings of the wall paintings have already been held, both of which were very enthusiastically attended. ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON / AVS

Despite this rather murky interpretation, the images located on the ­opposite wall of the semi basement are instantly recognizable. The paintings are of William Tell shooting an apple off his son’s head, with Albrecht Gessler, the legendary fourteenth century Habsburg bailiff on horseback riding past his castle. “This is an astounding depiction because it was created over 100 years before Schiller was even born. It is also very surprising to find it in Gsteig,” says Fischer. The name of the artist responsible for the wall paintings remains unknown. At the time, it was not uncommon for such artists to leave their work unsigned, and if they did sign it would typically just say something like “Peter, painter from Bern”, as is the case in the Church in Scherzligen. It is possible that the artist responsible for the paintings in Gsteig travelled over one of the passes to reach the village, perhaps from the Valais or even from Italy. ­Several other wall paintings by the same artist have been found across the Canton of Bern, for example in the Castle of Thun, in the Monastery in Interlaken or in the Gampelen Recto-

William Tell with his crossbow with Gessler's hat on the right (above). A representation of Gessler on horseback on the way to his castle (right)

GstaadLife 6 I 2017


Since its founding in 1957, one of the Menuhin Festival’s main tenets has been to foster and promote the talent of exceptional young artists. A concert conducted by the Gstaad Conducting Academy left the audience electrified and excited about the future of classical music.

astic performance of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto under the direction of the highly professional Hee-Beom Jeon from South Korea, but it was her spontaneous improvisations of well-known melodies suggested by the audience that really thrilled. This was where her raw talent and passion for music came to life. Klieser followed the direction of 22 year old Austrian, Katharina Wincor, in his second performance of the night, which saw him play Mozart’s French horn Concerto No. 3.

of five music academies linked to the Gstaad Menuhin Festival. It offers rising conductors an opportunity to work with a professional orchestra – the Gstaad Festival Orchestra – and to give concerts under the supervision of experienced conductors. The Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden, who was recently named new music director of the New York Philharmonic, has been heading the Gstaad Conducting Academy and the Gstaad Festival Orchestra throughout 2017.

Students of the Gstaad Conducting Academy showcased their talents and experimented with their craft at the recent “Variations and Improvisations” Menuhin Festival concert at the Church in Saanen. On the programme were the overture of Mozart’s opera La Clemenza di Tito, two of Mozart’s four Horn Concertos, Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Haydn’s London Symphony No. 104. No fewer than eight different conductors from the Academy took their turn to conduct soloists Felix Klieser (French horn) and Gabriela Montero (piano), and the Gstaad Festival Chamber Orchestra. The Gstaad Conducting Academy was established in 2014 and is one

The concert began with Gergely Dubóczky from Hungary conducting Mozart’s opera overture. The program continued with German soloist Felix Klieser performing Mozart’s Horn Concerto Nr.2 led by the American conductor, Joseph Stepec. The award-winning French horn player – who was born without arms and works the keys of his instrument with his feet – drew in the audience with his uplifting interpretation. Venezuelan native, Gabriela Montero’s performance delighted spectators with her enthusi-

Photo: Shelley Mosman

Photo: Maike Helbig



As a finale, the Gstaad Festival Chamber Orchestra performed Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 conducted by four different conductors. As the Symphony was played out it became apparent that the performances that preceded were the perfect build up to this very moment. While the orchestra really came into its own under Petr Popelka (Czech Republic), Georg Köhler (Germany) and Piero Lombardi Iglesias (Spain), it was Gonzalo Farias, the 34 year old Chilean, who forged the closest connection between the music and the musicians, electrifying the audience in the 4th Movement of the Symphony, which ended the concert. It was a privilege to see so many talented artists from around the world perform over the course of a single evening. All of their stars shone bright that night, and it was impossible not to leave feeling excited about the future of classical music. ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON


GstaadLife 6 I 2017

After years of challenging performances at Spa, local racer Karim Ojjeh has finally scored a coveted place on the podium. Coming in third, the gentleman driver showed he has made significant progress this year.


especially at the notorious passage of Raidillon. At 240 km/h before the hill, all it takes is a slight lift and up you go.

ccording to an after-race report by Ojjeh himself, the first free practice was disastrous. The schedule only allowed for 25 minutes, and with three red flags it only lasted 10. In this extreme case, Ojjeh was grateful that he knew the circuit well.

The qualifying round was difficult, as there was obvious frustration at times due to traffic. Rather than stopping to get a clear lap, Ojjeh decided to keep pushing and eventually find his rhythm. This technique paid off, with him qualifying on third ­position.

The second free practice was better, and Ojjeh’s confidence was building,

Photos: Karim Ojjeh



At the qualifying race, it was clear Ojjeh needed to work on his starts.

He lost nearly five positions just at the start on the first corner. There was a big crash behind him after this corner, and cars spun in front of Ojjeh at Les Combles, the first chicane. Full course yellow (all cars at 80 km/h) was deployed, followed by the safety car, with all cars trailing behind the safety car. By the time all the cars were evacuated, the team had only eight minutes left to race. Ojjeh managed to step up his game after the restart and finished on fifth, with the fastest lap of the race – an impressive feat. During the main race Ojjeh had a better start at position five but still got passed by four cars. Another major accident occurred at the final chicane of the first lap and it took the marshals close to 20 minutes to move the car, leaving him 12 minutes of racing. At the restart behind the safety car, Ojjeh had sunk to ­position six. With three laps to go, he passed two cars in one lap, regaining status to position four. The third placed car was five seconds ahead, and at the end of this next lap, Ojjeh caught up and passed him in the last chicane. Although he was too far behind to catch up to the other cars, he nonetheless finished on third ­position. The last 15 minutes of the race were truly thrilling, and we congratulate Schönried resident Ojjeh for his well-earned honours at Spa. The last 15 minutes of the race are available for viewing at this link: ALEXIS MUNIER

GstaadLife 6 I 2017


The Saanenland’s emphasis on becoming a cycling region has scored another notch on its belt with Bergkönig. The first annual Swiss Vintage Cycling Festival will take place from 26-27 August and feature about 200 competitors racing on 1986 and older bikes while dressed in vintage clothing.

Bergkönig, literally “King of the Mountain”, celebrates cycling as it was in the good old days. Entrants must compete on bikes that are at least 32 years old or produced with pre-1987 features. They must be made of steel and may not have brake lever shifters or discs.

time fan of the Saanenland. The idea came to Beeler last summer, when the Tour de France rolled through the Saanenland serenaded by a folk festival. Beeler’s long-term goal is positioning Bergkönig on the international agenda of vintage of classic car events.

Today’s racing bikes are made of the lightest, strongest materials and employ high-tech features. Yet despite their stellar performance, many young people are opting for trendy vintage bikes, especially in urban areas. In either case, the bicycle is enjoying a renaissance of sorts – from hobby cycling to daily commuting, more and more people are giving up their cars and committing to life on two wheels instead of four.

Five routes will be available to participants: The Bergkönig, which is very demanding at over 100 km long with 2400 m of climb, and four loops of the “Pedaleur-de-Charme” which vary from 18 to 85 km. Patrick Bauer, Product Manager Bike, Gstaad Marketing GmbH, has also had a hand in the creation of the festival by defining the routes. Most portions are performed on roads that are not for public vehicle use, with just a few places on main streets.

The race is the brainchild of Alex Beeler, vintage car lover and long-

“We want the participants to enjoy the activity,” says Beeler, a marketing and communications professional by day. “It’s about the spirit of the bicycles of the past.”

The race is expected to be a tourist hit, bringing a wave of participants and onlookers to the region. The main attraction on Saturday is a sprint from the pedestrian zone of Gstaad to the Palace Hotel. There will also be a colourful market with historical bicycles, spare parts, accessories, and clothing in the village centre. Swiss racing legends like Urs Freuler, Gilbert Glaus, and Thomas Wegmüller are also expected to attend the event. ALEXIS MUNIER / AVS

Swiss cycling icon Urs Freuler, here at the Tour de Suisse in 1985, will participate at he Bergkönig in Gstaad.

Photo: RDB / Schweizer Illustrierte / Dölf Preisig




GstaadLife 6 I 2017

11th GYC Rally & Yachting – from the snow to summer sun

Since 2006, the Gstaad Yacht Club in collaboration with the Gstaad Automobile Club has organised an annual classic car rally, combining a beautiful car drive with remote-controlled model boat sailing. For the first time the GYC welcomed a second category, “Modern cars”, boasting ­ luxury, high-performance cars. On Friday evening, all the pilots and co-pilots met at the GAC for the traditional get-together and registration. Another premiere was the following nocturnal challenge, up on the Lac Rétaud, where drivers had to show their skills in a slalom and a parking competition. Due to the wind conditions a rowing competition was organised instead of model boat regattas. In the fabulously renovated mountain restaurant the evening continued with an aperitif and a dinner party. The next morning, with the last clouds disappearing, the participants started their engines and headed to their second special stage on the Grimsel. Making their way through the snow-covered mountains they followed the instructions through Goms down to Reckingen for a traditional lunch at the restaurant Joopi. In the afternoon the cars followed the route through Visp down to Gampel and up to Goppenstein. By car train all the participants made their way to Kandersteg. Just before the finish line in Wimmis the 20 cars were challenged in the last special stage by driving an average of 40 km/h on the last 4km. Finally everybody got together for the prize giving dinner at the GYC Clubhouse. The winner with a 1973 Jaguar E-Type was followed by a 1960 MGA 1600 Win Cam and a 1980 Morgan 8+.

Photos: GYC



GYC’S SPEAKERS AT THE CLUBHOUSE The GYC’s Speaker’s Series started with its member Timothy Müller accompanied by Charles Barber, member of the board of the young and ambitious non-profit organisation Switzerland for the Oceans. Their goal is a fundraising to improve the vitality of the oceans. Raising CHF 100,000 to support the oceans through a charity cycle ride from Zurich to Monaco is their first project. On another occasion, Jean-Yves Ollivier invited for a screening of Plot for Peace, an impressive documentary, which tells the unknown story behind the release of the world-wide icon Nelson Mandela. In a Q&A after the film Jean-Yves Ollivier gave an insight into his involvement and how heads of state, generals, diplomats, master spies, and anti-apartheid fighters helped end apartheid. Zolaykha Sherzad, an Afghan woman who was educated in Switzerland and lives in New York, also visited the GYC. She presented Zarif's efforts to revive the traditional craftsmanship by creating a timeless and unique collection of jackets and coats. Zarif acts as an ambassador, sharing the rich cultural heritage of Afghanistan and its people with the rest of the world.


GstaadLife 6 I 2017


(19 November 1923 – 17 April 2017)


iselotte Nopper-Lappert and her husband bought the Hotel Christiania in 1953. At the time it was a modest establishment with just ten beds. In 1978 Nopper, now a widow, renovated and expanded the hotel to accommodate an additional 28 beds. She also added a restaurant and in 1991 oversaw the menu expansion to include Lebanese and Egyptian cuisine. She was not afraid of trying out new ideas. Nopper retired officially in 2001, but in practice never. She may have handed over the reins to her daughter Isabelle and son-in-law Nagy, but continued to be actively involved in the hotel until her final days. “She loved to work in the laundry,” recalls Nagy. “We always encouraged her to relax and slow down, but she never listened.”

ers, with the levels of contribution adjusted to the size of hotel. “When it came to the Christiania, the smallest hotel in the group, a financial contribution in keeping with its size was hesitantly suggested. But Mrs. Nopper shook her head, wagged her finger and declared her establishment would contribute double the suggested amount. “Mrs. Nopper was very generous,” reflected Scherz, “she was ready to spend money to support the local community. This was very important to her.” Force of Will

I first met Mrs. Nopper in 1991. Exquisitely dressed in tailored jackets and three-inch heels, to me she was a force of will. I learned early on there was no second best with her. If you were going to do something, you did it right.

Community Spirit

Mrs. Nopper was long a well-respected figure in Gstaad and an active member of the region’s hotel association. I asked Ernst Scherz of the Gstaad Palace how he would remember her. “I knew Mrs. Nopper since the time her husband worked at the Palace,” Scherz told me. “Then she and her husband ran the Ermitage at Schönried before establishing the Hotel Christiania.”

After visiting the Christiania for two seasons with my then boyfriend, we announced our engagement. We hoped for a wedding in Gstaad. But were we not already Monsieur et Madame?

hotelier), “this is wonderful news! Wonderful! But of course you must choose St. Niklaus-Kapelle , the little chapel in the centre of the village.” “Is that even possible?” we asked, assuming we would need some special permission. We were foreigners and didn’t even live in the canton of Bern. Mrs. Nopper cast aside these concerns and went out of her way to help. She put us in touch with the people who made it happen. She was invaluable. Legacy

Nopper’s legacy is plain to see. Hotels come and go, but The Christiania continues as Gstaad’s smallest fourstar hotel offering good old-fashioned hospitality. She may no longer be bustling around the hotel laundry or making sure our glasses are full, but Isabelle and Nagy continue her tradition of treating guests as family. Long may this continue. Liselotte Nopper-Lappert is survived by her daughter Isabelle, son-in-law Nagy, grandchildren Georgette, Nathalie and Raphael, and great-grandson Noah.

“Well then,” she continued after the briefest of pauses (ever the discreet


What was she like?

“I remember chairing a meeting of local hoteliers at the time when Saanen airport’s runway was in need of refurbishment,” Scherz told me. “We agreed this was a key project for attracting guests to the region and were discussing each hotel’s financial contribution towards it. I ran a kind of auction, seeking bids of financial support from the hotel own-


GstaadLife 6 I 2017

Photo: Anna Charles



“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” So wrote the philosopher Francis Bacon five hundred years ago. I think his words still resonate today.


e knew the move to the Saanenland would broaden our sons’ minds and offer new perspectives. But we wanted a smooth transition so initially sent them to the JFK school in Saanen. This offered continuity in language and curriculum, but lacked the immersive French they needed to make friends with children down the road. We decided to enrol them in our local school in Rougemont. Our boys were about to embark on an expat adventure of their own.

Summertime, summertime

Culture shock number one: Swiss school begins in August.

rospect, I think we over-reacted a bit. OK, a lot. While the other children wore their everyday clothes to school, to my (now) embarrassment, we bought our sons a surrogate uniform of blue trousers and green polo shirts, which they wore every day. The legacy of this decision lives on. Just the other day an ex-classmate of our now 18-year-old son ribbed him about “that school photo with you wearing your green shirt.” Cringe. Food! Glorious food! Culture shock number three: c hildren get sent home for lunch. ­ Every day. Woah!

September had always been our ‘back to school’ month, but that year we found ourselves in the Rougemont schoolyard on 27th August. There was something decidedly odd about lining the boys up for school in what was, to us, still the summer holidays. We put away our Cliff Richard record earlier that year. Uniform

Culture shock number two: no school uniform. In my experience, “school” and “uniform” go together like “bread and butter” or “gin and tonic”. I like school uniforms. They avoid the one-upmanship of who’s wearing the latest fashion and who has the coolest shoes. They also speed up the act of getting children dressed each morning. To have no uniform was odd. In ret-

No more packed lunches of regulation cheese sandwich, apple and chocolate bar? No more signing up for “school dinners” of sausage rolls, pizza and chilli? There are benefits to the go-homefor-lunch system, certainly. It enables the school to avoid the gnarly (and no doubt costly) issue of funding and providing school lunches, allowing the authorities to focus on educating the children. It also proved lovely to sit and chat with our boys in the middle of the day. But we were lucky. Our boys went to the same school so it was no big deal to collect them after morning classes, feed them and walk them back for the afternoon session. Friends of ours were not so fortunate. With children at more than one school in different towns their lunchtimes were a logistical night-

Photo: Anna Charles



mare. A Harry Potter time-turner would have come in handy. Parlez-vous français?

As a serial ex-pat I have got used to living a little on the periphery of ‘local life’, but I was super-impressed with the school authorities’ commitment to helping foreign students integrate. Our boys’ timetables were modified to accommodate extra French lessons and their language skills came on leaps and bounds. Inevitably there was room for confusion now and then. A couple of weeks into term I recall our middle son excitedly telling us the names of his classmates, including ‘Yann Twah’ and ‘Yann Kat’. We were pleased: he was ­making friends. It wasn’t until several weeks later we learned this was the teacher’s shorthand for distinguishing between the third (“trois”) and fourth (“quatre”) Yanns in his classroom. I never did learn their real names. Nor, for that matter, what happened to Yanns one and two. Perhaps they’re off on their travels, Francis Bacon style. ANNA CHARLES

GstaadLife 6 I 2017



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Le Grand Bellevue 033 748 00 00,

Hotel des Alpes Saanenmöser 033 748 04 50,

Park Gstaad 033 748 98 00,

Hotel Solsana 033 748 94 94,

The Alpina Gstaad 033 888 98 88,

Hotel Spitzhorn 033 748 41 41,

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Ermitage, Wellness & Spa Hotel 033 748 04 30,

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Boutique Hotel Alpenrose 033 748 91 91,

Hotel Bellerive 033 748 88 33,

Golfhotel Les Hauts de Gstaad 033 748 68 68,

Hotel Ermitage 026 924 25 00,

CLUBS Rotary Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings every Monday 12 noon Gstaad Palace (033 748 50 00), President: Rot. Pascal R. J. Rey (079 776 66 02) Secretary: Rot. Markus Iseli (033 748 92 08) Lions Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings each first and third week of the month on Thursdays, either at 12 noon for lunch or at 7 pm for dinner. Meetings in Ermitage, Wellness & Spa Hotel, Schönried, 033 748 60 60. For details and programme contact Arthur Reuteler, president, 033 744 51 33,, Soroptimist International President: Ursula Breuninger 033 744 05 80 Programme: Patricia Glauser Edreira 076 426 16 11 Club des Leaders President: Jean-Sébastien Robine

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GstaadLife 6 I 2017

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

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

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GSTAADLIFE, 25. August 2017  

The exclusive news and lifestyle magazine of Gstaad.

GSTAADLIFE, 25. August 2017  

The exclusive news and lifestyle magazine of Gstaad.

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