G R A N D H O T E L PA R K · 2 9 W I S P I L E N S T R A S S E · C H 3 7 8 0 · T H E A L P I N A G S TA A D · 2 3 A L P I N A S T R A S S E · C H 3 7 8 0 ·
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June 27, 2014 - Issue 3 – CHF 3.50 excl VAT
WELL, WELL, WELLNESS The Ermitage‘s Daniel J. Ziegler
SURVAL OF THE FITTEST All-Boys, All Gstaad
SAVE THE HIGH STREET Mandolyna Theodoracopulos
ACCUSTOMED TO HER FACE Honorary Citizen Dame Julie Andrews
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The Saanenland – My Secret Garden Sure, the Saanenland is beautiful in every season. Whether you’re here permanently, several times a year, or just that crazy week between Christmas and New Year’s, you know that it’s a magical place with a certain “Je ne sais quoi” found nowhere else in the Alps. Especially covered in a fresh blanket of snow. But when this winter wonderland melts into spring, what is revealed is a secret garden of delights. You can hike up stunning peaks and down winding green valleys, indulge in an afternoon apertif – or nap! – in a luxurious ﬁve-star hotel or quaint mountain hut, dine on haute cuisine or wood-ﬁred raclette, or simply gaze up at a midnight sky full of stars. Summer is kind to us here in the Saanenland. Warm, sunny days give way to late afternoon showers and breezy nights. Wildﬂowers dot the hillsides; the scent of freshly cut grass ﬁlls the air. It might not last long, but oh what a season! Like so many of us, I happily trade Geneva’s leafy lindens for Gstaad’s evergreens, and ﬁnd the recreation, rest and relaxation I need in this, my secret garden. Resting On Our Spring Laurels The off-season did prove especially busy for local news. Roadworks have begun again from Saanenmöser to Zweisimmen. Gstaad International School has closed its doors, and is being reborn as Surval Gstaad, which now boasts the distinction of being the only all-boys school in Switzerland. And the Ermitage Wellness & Spa welcomes a new director, the notable Daniel J. Ziegler. One of the biggest names in the industry, Ziegler couples his expertise with a contagious enthusiasm and winning smile seemingly born to his new home, proving
once again that hospitality is indeed the lifeblood of the Saanenland. The Bloomin’ Loverly Julie Andrews Every secret garden holds a special treasure – and in this edition ours is the incomparable Julie Andrews. The Academy-Award-winning star of stage and screen – not to mention the New York Times best-selling author of two dozen children’s books – has graced our village and our pages with her elegance and equanimity. My admiration for Dame Andrews has only grown in such sweet proximity, as will yours when you read her story. Every Garden Has Its Pests And every rose has its thorn. Our lovely secret garden is now home to a new pest of the worst kind. Whether climate change is or isn’t to blame, ticks have now invaded the Saanenland. While this isn’t pleasant news, protecting yourself is as easy as getting vaccinated, dressing appropriately, and using a preventative spray. Don’t leave home without it. Bulbs & Butterﬂies The best gardens boast daisies and orchids, carnations and roses, violets and tulips. The simple and the luxurious side by side. Gstaad used to be a garden of such diversity. It’s changed, they say, since Julie Andrews’ ﬁrst days here in the 1960’s. Mom and Pop shops have made way for designer boutiques and big-name brands. Yet, perhaps all that’s needed to replant this happy blend of ﬂorals is a spark of authentic local enthusiasm. In “Save the High Street,” Mandolyna Theodora-
copulos explores clever ideas that could help reestablish the Saanenland as a place where people from all walks of life blossom together. Just as it was in the Gstaad of yesteryear, when farmers and billionaires mingled freely at garden parties. Renowned local pianist Roumen Kroumov and his soprano wife, Xiuwei Sun, are doing their part to sow the seeds of the Saanenland’s musical landscape. Januaria Piromallo tells the enchanting tale of this couple’s laudable efforts to spread classical joy. Despite a busy performance career, Kroumov takes time to visit the Saanenland each week, giving lessons to talented youngsters at the local music school. How Does Your Garden Grow? Here at GstaadLife, we are always adding to our garden of talent. So I’m thrilled to welcome artist and designer Benedikt Schnippenkoetter. The internationally minded Schnippenkoetter has made his home in the Pays d’en Haut for nearly two decades. His detailed drawings feature objects and characters well known to locals and guests. Hot air balloons, classic cars, and volleyballs are just some of the reminders of a Saanenland summer that grace his June artwork. No matter what your tastes or talents, you can ﬁnd your own respite here in the Saanenland. Go for a walk, get a massage, drink a martini. Whatever your pleasure, indulge it. Whatever your desire, satisfy it. Whatever your dream, begin it. Because that’s what summer in your secret garden is all about. Best regards, Alexis Munier Editor in Chief
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR // GSTAADLIFE
Benedikt Schnippenkoetter Tel: 076 725 3225
Magazine 3 4 14
Letter from the Editor By Alexis Munier Cartoon By Benedikt Schnippenkoetter Events Calendar
Local News 6 6 7 7 7
The Beach Is Back In Town – Gstaad Grand Slam Music In Motion At The Menuhin Festival Gstaad Plan B, For Boys – Gstaad International School Innovation Prize Honours Locals Work Resumes On Zweisimmen-Saanenmöser Road
Gstaad Living 8 9
The Ermitage Wellness & Spa Welcomes CEO Daniel J. Ziegler The Saanenland – Tick-Free No More
Honorary Citizen Dame Julie Andrews
Last Word 15
The Pianist & The Butterly
Save The High Street By Mandolyna Theodoracopulos
Cover Photo: © Mark Nolan www.marknolan.ch
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KATEGORY // GSTAADLIFE
Photo: Jonas Bach
The Beach Is Back In Town July 8 – 13 Will See Top Teams Compete The tents are under construction, the bleachers installed and the sand poured. Within just a few weeks, the Saanenland will be ready to host the 15th annual Gstaad Grand Slam. BY GSTAADLIFE
This Grand Slam is one of nearly a dozen events in the World Tour, pulling in professional beach volleyball players from around the globe. Given its mountainous backdrop and quaint village feel, Gstaad stands in stark contrast to other Grand
Slams, which are played in urban locales like Beijing, Sao Paulo and Rome. The brainchild of local businessman Ruedi Kunz and his wife, former Swiss national team beach volleyball star Mägi, the Gstaad Grand Slam has won the hearts of players and fans alike since its inception in 2000. Little more than a decade later, Gstaad is considered one of the favourite events by supporters who travel the world just to be here for the weeklong event.
Come rain or come shine, the Gstaad Grand Slam has a varied program of both matches and entertainment planned. Red Bull will again host the bar and several DJs will spin during the weekend. A concert given by William White will take center stage Sunday at noon, bringing the popular singer-songwriter’s new album, “Open Country” to the public. After a week of competition by teams from around the world, the ﬁnals will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 12-13.
Bring On The Summer Strings Menuhin Festival Gstaad Runs All Season Long This year’s performers at the Menuhin Festival Gstaad will be doing much more than going through the motions. A varied programme set to the theme ‘Music in Motion’, the two-month long festival will present the very best and brightest in both traditional chamber music and innovative blended genres.
Carmen, which features plenty of ﬂamenco-inspired themes.
“Motion, locomotion, walking and hiking are essential to life and lifestyles”, explains Musical Director Christoph Müller. “The motive of hiking or walking-tours was an expression of the growing sense of individual self-fulﬁlment, the search for identity.”
The idea of ‘motion’ is cleverly interpreted by festival organizers, with concerts including Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise (Winter’s Journey) and Bizet’s opera
The Menuhin Festival Gstaad will run July 17 to Sept. 6, with concerts held in the region’s historic churches and giant tent.
LOCAL NEWS // GSTAADLIFE // ISSUE 3 // JUNE 27 2014
Plan B(oys) Innovation Competition Hello Surval Gstaad After 52 years, Gstaad International School is no more. In operation since 1962, the all-boarding institution was one of four private schools in the Saanenland-Pays d’en Haut. BY GSTAADLIFE
As the next stage it its development, Gstaad International School will be reborn as Surval Gstaad. As the only all-boys school in Switzerland (the last in operation closed in 1971), Surval Gstaad will provide a curriculum and activities tailored to the needs of young males. “The outdoor environment and excellent facilities in the Gstaad-Saanenland region provide the setting for a tremendously exciting all-boys education,” says future Headmaster Tim McConnell-Wood. “I very much look forward to welcoming our ﬁrst students in September 2015.” Last year, Gstaad International School announced plans for a luxurious new campus within Hotel Alpine Lodge. From 2015 onward, the campus will provide the home for Surval Gstaad. Located between Saanen and Gstaad, it will be comprised of two chalets, indoor and outdoor pools and a modern ﬁtness centre, as well as bright, spacious classrooms and common rooms. While Alpine Lodge will continue to operate as a hotel, attracting guests to its rooms and restaurant throughout the year, it will also host the student population in its entirety. A sister school, Surval Montreux, has thrived since 1961. One of only two all-girls schools in Switzerland, the student body has grown in recent years, highlighting the revival of single-sex education. “A single-sex environment allows boys to soften their competitive edge, develop more collaborative skills and be themselves without the distraction of girls,” insists McConnell-Wood. The two schools, Surval Gstaad and Surval Montreux, plan to schedule joint activities several times a year, for both social and educational purposes.
Prix de Gessenay Honours Locals The début prize, given out by the working group Gstaad 2020+, honoured local innovations that contributed to the positive economic development of the community. Individuals, companies, clubs and schools were all eligible to apply, in two separate categories.
While only completed projects were considered for any of the 3,000 CHF, 1,500 CHF and 1,000 CHF prizes, a special “Excellent Innovative Idea” prize was given to Ursula and Jürg Kappeler for their ‘Kids for Kids Tour Guide’ project, which is still in the implementation phase.
Sponsors for the prize included main partner Saanen Bank, as well as Chaletbau Matti and Chopard, while the awards ceremony and luncheon were hosted by donor Gstaad Palace.
The Prix de Gessenay (named after the French term for Saanen) named three winners in each category. For Business/ Agriculture/Tourism, Ferdinand Eschler took top mention for “Night-Emergency Doctor-Ambulance Air-Glaciers Gstaad-Saanenland”. Fredy Wälti’s “E-Bike Rental” and Jacqueline Wegink’s “Hamilton Lodge Zweisimmen-Gstaad” came in second and third place, respectively. In Sports/Society/Culture, Simon Bolton’s successful “Gstaad Winter Games”, inaugurated last season, came out on top. This was followed by “Ride on Music” by Xquisit Events Gstaad and “Gstaad Literary Autumn” by Beat Michel.
Roadworks Encore Saanenmöser to Zweisimmen Affected With the arrival of spring, the decade-long renovation of the road from to Saanenmöser to Zweisimmen has resumed. However due to budget cuts, the work plan has undergone several changes; namely repairs which were scheduled to be completed in 2014 will now be completed by 2015. The current stage of roadworks on the Riedli-Gruebi portion will last until mid-September 2014, at which point a winter pause will be taken before resuming in April 2015. BY GSTAADLIFE
The road is being renovated in “halves,” meaning one lane will be sectioned off and worked upon while the other lane supports all trafﬁc. Stoplights on both sides of the stretch of construction mean drivers who encounter green lights will proceed directly, while those that hit red could have a waiting time of up to 10 min-
utes. Workers are on-site from 7 am to 5 pm weekdays. Thanks to the decision to do the roadwork in phases, any increase in trafﬁc should be minimum. Ofﬁcials estimate that, on average, driving times between Saanenmöser and Zweisimmen will run just a few minutes longer than usual. The road was originally constructed in the 19th century and rebuilt in the 1940’s and 50’s, and was long overdue for a full makeover. With drainage difﬁculties, the potential for landslides and little to no existing shoulder, ofﬁcials say the 10-year plan was absolutely necessary. The ﬁrst four stages will run from 2014 to 2016 for the Mosen Ried to Reichenstein portion of the road, while the roadworks on the Reichenstein to Saanenmöser section will run from 2017 to 2022.
LOCAL NEWS // GSTAADLIFE
Photos: Wellness- & Spa-Hotel Ermitage
Schönried’s Ermitage Welcomes Award-Winning Hotelier Daniel Ziegler, CEO When thinking of ﬁve-star luxury, Gstaad’s big four – The Alpina, Grand Hotel Park, Le Grand Bellevue and Gstaad Palace, come immediately to mind. But lest we forget, the region’s ﬁfth ﬁve-star, the Ermitage Wellness & Spa, sits perched above in Schönried. With founders Heiner Lutz and Laurenz Schmid retiring, CEO Daniel J. Ziegler is leading what some call the region’s homeliest ﬁve-star hotel into a bright new future. BY: GSTAADLIFE
While Lutz and Schmid have decided to leave the operative business behind, the Ermitage will remain in the Lutz family, with Jürg and Elisabeth Lutz, Heiner’s brother and sister-in-law, taking over ownership of the hotel. Spending time between their homes in the Saanenland, Zurich and Lake Thun, Lutz and Schmid plan to remain active in the hotel they built up from scratch by serving as board members.
Putting The Ziel In Ziegler The mastermind of this new operation is Daniel J. Ziegler, CEO of both the Lutz hotels, Beatus (Merigen on Lake Thun) and the Ermitage. As the only person honoured twice with the ‘Best Hotelier’ award from Swiss magazine Bilanz, Ziegler brings his decades of expertise and deep love of hôtellerie to the Ermitage. Previously known for his work as director of Le Vieux Manoir in Murten, Ziegler became an industry-wide name by transforming the then unknown Eden Roc in Ascona into one of the most celebrated Swiss holiday hotels. “Hospitality is the motor that keeps me running,” says Ziegler. “Our emphasis is on quality assurance, the development of future strategies and the continuous training of staff.” Ziegler’s love of hospitality developed at an early age. As the son of a successful Swiss businessman, Ziegler grew up in México-
GSTAADLIVING // GSTAADLIFE // ISSUE 3 // JUNE 27 2014
City attending his mother’s glamorous parties and high society dinners. “My mother was an extraordinary hostess,” recounts Ziegler. “Everything I learned about attention to every beautiful detail and embracing guests with a warm, personal welcome I learned from her.”
Begin The Beguine The Ermitage has come a long way since Heiner Lutz and Laurenz Schmid bought the property in 1977. Originally a humble traditional chalet which served as the local golf course clubhouse, Lutz and Schmid set their sights on creating a luxurious haven. Here, they blended their touch of very Swiss, cosy elegance with wellness and spa treatments. Under the motto “Wellness with real care”, the partners installed a Solebad – the ﬁrst saltwater pool in the Swiss Alps, and their reputation as a ﬁrst-class wellness resort continued to grow. After a complete renovation in 2011, the hotel has been thoroughly modernised. Attention has been given to each exquisite
detail; from hand-selected seasonal ﬂoral arrangements to colourful local art (think cows and Alpine huts) which graces the walls. All 96 rooms share similar amenities, including steam showers and walk-in closets. Three friendly staff guides lead guests on daily hikes for all levels, and even teach gymnastics and ﬁtness classes in the wellness area. Whether dining al fresco on the sunny terrace or sitting in the Brunnenstube in only a bathrobe, the sound of a bubbling brook can be heard. In the latter, guests may read, relax and even have a light breakfast or lunch, without ever having to put on their clothes. Spanning more than 3500 m2, the hotel’s wellness area boasts two pools, a ladies-only sauna, relaxing rooms,
and a series of saunas and steam baths infused with a variety of fresh Alpine herbs. Home Is Where The Hotel Is The Ermitage Wellness & Spa Schönried ob Gstaad is unique in another way; it’s the only ﬁve-star hotel in the region which doesn’t shut its doors in-between seasons. So if you have your heart set on a luxury spa day or freshly shaken martini in April or November, there’s only one destination which ﬁts the bill. “We offer year-round respite from the glitz and glamour of the Promenade,” says Ziegler. “With all the amenities and services expected from a ﬁve-star, the Ermitage prides itself on creating a home away from home feel, time after time.”
Parasites In The Saanenland Tick-Free No More
BY: ALEXIS MUNIER
While tick bites themselves are harmless, diseases spread by their bites are not; both Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme Disease may be transmitted. For those who spend large amounts of time outdoors, including hunters, farmers, mountain guides and avid outdoorsmen, a TBE vaccine is highly recommended. Detecting Tick-Borne Disease The Swiss Federal Ofﬁce of Public Health estimates that 20 – 25% of European ticks are carriers. Yet reassuringly, only 1.5% – 3% of bite victims will contract an illness. It is important to watch for symptoms of TBE and Lyme Disease for several weeks following a tick bite. Only one in three people infected with TBE will show symptoms. These include headache, fatigue and muscle pain, but can develop into encephalitis or meningitis, which may result in severe brain and
motor-skills damage or death. Over 10,000 outdoor enthusiasts are infected each year in Europe, with 200 losing their battle, according to tickalert.org.
body) and pull straight out; Remove any remaining mouth parts of the tick from the skin afterward; Discard or save the tick to have analysed.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that sometimes presents with a bulls-eye or ring-shaped rash surrounding the bite area. Other symptoms to watch for are similar to TBE ﬂu-like chills, fever and fatigue. If detected early on, antibiotics can be taken to minimize contraction of the disease. When left untreated, it may attack the heart, eyes, joints and nervous system. It can also go into remission and reoccur many years later, leaving sufferers with lifelong vulnerability.
In most other European countries, ticks may be analysed by mail using a kit sold at pharmacies (no such product or service currently exists in Switzerland). However, just because a tick is a carrier does not necessarily mean the bite victim will contract any illness.
Better Safe Than Sorry Precautions to reduce the risk of tick bite include wearing long pants and sleeves and spraying generously with a tick repellent. Ticks which are too small to be seen by the naked eye may be hidden in clothing. When returning from the outdoors, remove your clothes immediately and do not take them into other rooms.
Vaccination – Tick The Box Summer in the Saanenland is ripe with mountain activities; following precautions and discussing possible vaccination with your doctor with ensure you make the most of the region’s great outdoors. For more information, Europe-wide statistics and helpful hints are available at www.tickalert.org. Photos: zVg
Whether ticks have become more resistant to our harsh winters, have increased along with the deer population, or more likely, have acclimated to altitudes which have higher temperatures as a result of global warming, these dangerous parasites are now found in the region up to heights of 1500 metres.
There are several ways to remove ticks, but experts agree on the best method: Remove the tick using a pair of tweezers – specially designed tick-removal tool exists as well; Grab the parasite as close to the skin as possible (not around its swollen
GSTAADLIVING // GSTAADLIFE
10 Photos: Mark Nolan
It’s A Jolly Holiday With Julie Saanerin Dame Julie Andrews Kapälliplatz came alive with the sound of music on Friday, June 6, when Dame Julie Andrews was presented with honorary citizenship of the Saanenland. BY ALEXIS MUNIER
The British actress, singer and writer Andrews is best known for her roles in ﬁlms Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965). As a child star on the British vaudeville circuit, she began wowing audiences with her extraordinary soprano voice and a kind, sincere manner that epitomises Andrews to this day. Let’s Start At The Very Beginning Andrews and her late husband Blake Edwards discovered the Saanenland in the 1960’s, and quickly fell in love with the place. They soon purchased a chalet, Fleur de Lys, which sits perched above the village. Here, the couple spent countless time, Andrews calling the village a “last paradise in a crazy world”. Andrews introduced other stars to the area, including Elizabeth Taylor, setting the stage for Gstaad to grow into the well-known village it is today.
She Must’ve Done Something Good Saanen City Council President Aldo Kropf ofﬁciated the ceremony, during which both English and German were spoken. He recalled the generous gifts both Edwards and Andrews bestowed upon Gstaad, most famously the more than 1,000 Christmas lights she offered in the 1970’s. “For 12 years you paid the maintenance of these delightful Christmas decorations. The Julie-Lämpli – as we call them here – can still be seen all over the Saanenland and are still very much appreciated!” said Kropf, with gratitude. But Andrews’ commitment to the region didn’t stop there – for many years she appeared at Gstaad’s Grand Slam tennis tournament to hand out the trophies to the winners. She and Edwards also founded the ﬁlm score festival CINEMUSIC, which ran for ﬁve years in the mid-1990’s. Andrews used this opportunity to bring friends like Roman Polanski and Liza Minnelli to Gstaad, sparking their interest in the Saanenland
and adding a welcome sheen of understated glamour to the village. Victor/Victorious A radiant Andrews, dressed in bright blue silk blazer, took to the podium and was presented with an oversized, framed copy of the honorary citizenship document. “I am so happy to now be a Gstaaderin,” Andrews smiled, with tears in her eyes. The open-air ceremony also included the unveiling of a sculpture, “Sitting Duck” made by Edwards, and generously donated to the community by Andrews. Musical entertainment replete with music from both Edwards’ and Andrews’ films was played by local students. Afterward, devoted fans had the chance to greet Andrews personally at an apéro. Judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd and their roaring applause to her heartfelt speech, it’s clear the Saanenland is just as enamoured of its most beloved celebrity resident as she is of it.
Julie Andrews‘ Written Response To Her Nomination As Honorary Citizen:
PROFILE // GSTAADLIFE
Andrews in Gstaad Andrews is only the 11th person to receive honorary citizenship of Saanen. Others include Yehudi Menuhin, the violinist and conductor who made his home here and founded the internationally renowned Menuhin Festival Gstaad, which brings thousands of concertgoers to the region annually. The last person before Andrews to receive honorary citizenship was Mike von Grünigen, a champion Swiss skier who won many several World Cup competitions in Giant Slalom. While Andrews now visits Gstaad just a few times per year, she and Edwards used to divide their time between homes in Los Angeles and Gstaad. Their children were educated at the John F. Kennedy International School in Saanen, which allowed the couple to spend large amounts of time in the Saanenland. Julie Andrews with Aldo Kropf (left) and Gottfried von Siebenthal (right).
The Full Text Of Andrews’ Speech, June 6, 2014, Gstaad: “Grussech Mittenand, Bonjour tout le monde, Hello Everyone. Ich bin so glücklich, das see jetz ay Gstaaderine bee. Merci mille fois et Vielen Dank. I am so very happy to be here n Gstaad on this beautiful day. Forty-six years ago my husband Blake and I wanted to come to Switzerland for a vacation. Friends of our recommened three different places: The actress Deborah Kerr recommended les Grisons; the ﬁlm director Billy Wilder recommended the Ticino; and our great friend David Niven recommended Gstaad. Blake asked his assistant to Auskundschaften all three places. The place he came to was Gstaad. He telephoned us and said, “I really don’t think I need to go anywhere else because it’s so perfect here.” So we came for our ﬁrst holiday and thus began a love affair with Saanenland that continues to this day. We were immediately embraced by the community. I will never forget, on our ﬁrst day in the chalet, noticing a handsome young man and woman walking up the hill. They welcomed us to Gstaad and wished us much
happiness in our new home. They were our ﬁrst good friends, Gottfried von Siebenthal and his sister Anne Marie. But there are so many others who made us feel at home. The ski teacher, philosopher, nature man, Walter Ludi, was our friend to the end of his days and tactfully guided us toward living gracefully in the his peaceful community. Hedi Donizetti nurtured us and fed us superbly at the Olden. She and I sang together occasionally, especially at Christmas, and she, too, has remained a friend to this day. I have to mention dear Leonie Hurlimann, who has taken care of us from the very furst day we came here. Also Teddy Romang, the Ryters, the Kublis, the Wittwers, the von Grünigens, and the Mulleners … to mention but a few. Gstaad was the center of our universe for many years and still is. We worked here, placed here; we raised our children here. Some of the happiest times in my life have taken place in Gstaad and continue to this day. You are honouring me in two very signiﬁcant ways this morning. First, with this unique gift of honorary citizenship for which I am deeply grateful and truly touched. Unlike Michael
PROFILE // GSTAADLIFE // ISSUE 3 // JUNE 27, 2014
von Grünigen, I didn’t even have to win the World Cup in the Giant Slalom. I think I’m a very lucky lady and this presentation is so meaningful to me. Thank you. As some of you may already know, my husband Blake was a ﬁlm director, a writer and a producer. He was also a ﬁne painter and sculptor. Sadly I lost my dear Blake three and a half years ago but he also hoped to give Gstaad one of his sculptures, and it has been my pleasure to make that legacy come true today. I know Blake is smiling at this sweet ceremony. A great many of Blake’s recent sculptures had a gentle sense of humour about them and this one which we are about to unveil, entitled “Sitting Duck” is no exception. I think I highly appropriate that this whimsical bird has made his home by the fountain for, as we know, all ducks love to be near water. Can you imagine the joy I will receive every time I come into the village: He will be sitting here holding court and greeting young and old alike. I hope he will give you as much pleasure over the years as Gstaad has given us. Thank you very much.”
The Pianist & The Butterfly Roumen Kroumov Accompanies Xiuwei Sun, For Life The Saanenland is home to many power couples, but few are as romantic as pianist Roumen Kroumov and soprano Xiuwei Sun. Their story is as dramatic as an opera and as haunting as a symphony. BY: JANUARIA PIROMALLO
Bulgarian by birth, Kroumov began playing when he was just seven – and quickly became known as a child prodigy. Now aged 45, the talented pianist has played all over the world, from the stage of the Menuhin Festival to the National theatre of Beijing. He has made numerous recordings for radio and television and been honoured with several distinguished awards – including the Médaille d’Or of the Académie Internationale des Arts in Paris (1992) the Italian Presidential Medal of Honour (2002). While Kroumov continues to perform worldwide, he has made his home in Switzerland since 1996. Deeply attached to the Saanenland, he is committed to helping local children further their pianistic talent, by teaching at the Musikschule Saanen. The Butterﬂy Lovers Love can strike any time, anywhere – even
on stage. Years ago, Kroumov was at the piano while Chinese soprano Xiuwei Sun was singing the role of Abigaille in Verdi’s Nabucco performing at the Festival d’Avenches. As she likes to recount, the notes of “Va Pensiero” ﬂew over her, wrapping her in a hug. Xiuwei turned to Roumen and gazed into his eyes – and a love story was born. That brief glance took only a second, but it appears to be lasting a lifetime. Married in 2008, the couple honeymooned in Beijing, where Xiuwei Sun was the guest star performing as Turandot at the opening of the Olympic Games.
prano in their respective careers as well. Kroumov is known for his beautiful performances of the Chinese musical works The Butterﬂy Lovers and The Yellow River, which he played at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts, under the baton of Chinese conductor Chen Zuohuang. Whenever he plays The Yellow River, his Chinese muse is often sitting in the ﬁrst row with tears in her eyes – because she knows that when he plays that famous Chinese composition, he’s playing it for her.
With a repertoire including Tosca, Macbeth and Madame Butterﬂy, Xiuwei Sun has performed at the world’s most celebrated opera houses – from Verona to Hong Kong. Known as the Maria Callas of China, she’s performed in Nabucco with Placido Domingo and even sung for the late Pope John Paul IV at the Vatican.
When their busy careers allow them, the couple loves spending quality time together in the Saanenland, where they own a home. Here, Xiuwei prefers listening to the sweet song of the birds than rehearsing any current projects. But whether on stage on in real life, they both share the same deep appreciation for nature and a musical philosophy of life.
When Two Musical Comets Collide The music they make together as a couple has inﬂuenced the pianist and his so-
“Music is all around us,” says Kroumov. “All you have to do is listen … and you will be all the better for it.“
LIFESTYLE // GSTAADLIFE
Events Calendar Friday, June 27, 2014 through Friday, July 18, 2014 Fri, Jun. 27
Fri, Jul. 4 – Sun, Jul. 13
Sun, Jul. 13
Open-air concert, 8 pm
Traditional alpfest with live music, 12 pm
Sat, Jun. 28
Football – Friendly Match BCS YB vs FC Lausanne
Sun, Jun. 6
Feutersoey Wed, Jul. 16
Alpine Fest on Walig Music from 10:30 am to midnight Sun, Jun. 6
Gstaad Thu, Jul. 17 - Sat, Sep. 6
Gourmet dinner in the air, 7:15 pm
“ABC Xenegugeli”, Posthotel Rössli, 3 pm
Sat, Jun. 28 – Sun. Jun. 29
Tue, Jul. 8 - Sun, Jul. 13
Wed, Jul. 2, 9, 16
Various concerts and recitals in different locations.
**** * GRAND HOTEL PARK +41 (0)33 748 98 00, firstname.lastname@example.org **** * LE GRAND BELLEVUE +41 (0)33 748 00 00, email@example.com
Sat, Jul. 12 - Sun, Jul. 13 Zweisimmen
**** * THE ALPINA GSTAAD +41 (0)33 888 98 88, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vintage Car Meeting
Fri, Jul. 4 - Sun, Jul. 13
Sat, Jul. 12
Food, drink, live music and classic cars Saanen
Davidoff Saveurs Gourmet Week
Swiss Music Fest
Culinary masters serve as guest chefs
From 6 pm onwards at various locations
For further details please visit: www.gstaad.ch
Classifieds Teacher gives private lessons in German and French.
Important Numbers Ambulance 144, Police 117, Fire 118 Medical Emergency 0900 57 67 47 Dental Emergency 033 729 26 26 Dental Care Center 033 744 15 45 Police Station 033 356 84 31 Car Accident 033 744 88 80 Zweisimmen Hospital 033 729 26 26 Château-d’Oex Hospital 026 923 43 43 Veterinarian 033 748 08 58/ 033 744 06 61 For additional useful numbers please visit www.gstaadlife.ch/usefulnumbers.html
Clubs Rotary Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings every Monday 12h00 Palace Hotel Gstaad (033 / 748 50 00), President: Rot. Christian Sieber (026 / 924 45 25) Program: Rot. Pascal Rey (026 / 925 10 00)
Lions Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings each ﬁrst and third week of the month on Thursdays, either at 12 pm for lunch or at 7 pm for dinner. Meetings in Ermitage, Wellness & Spa-Hotel, Schönried, Tel. 033 748 60 60. For details and program contact Philippe Werren, president, 033 748 84 00, email@example.com, gstaad-saanenland.lionsclub.ch Soroptimist International President: Franziska Brändli, Tel. 079 636 13 33 Program: Gabi Thoenen, Tel. 033 748 11 11
EVENTS // GSTAADLIFE // ISSUE 3 // JUNE 27, 2014
***** ERMITAGE WELLNESS & SPA HOTEL +41 (0)33 748 04 30, firstname.lastname@example.org *** * HOTEL ALPENROSE +41 (0)33 748 91 91, email@example.com
079 257 65 94
**** * GSTAAD PALACE +41 (0)33 748 50 00, firstname.lastname@example.org
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour
Every Wednesday on the Rinderberg, 1 pm Gstaad
Gstaadlife is available in these Hotels
58 Menuhin Festival Gstaad
Mountain-Boarding for All Ages
www.allsaints.ch/chateaudoex Contact: email@example.com
Gstaad Grand Slam
English-Speaking, Château-d’Oex Service every Sunday, 17.30 pm
Cheesemaking Tour At Alp Topfelsberg, 8:30 am
On the Schützenboden pitch, 3 pm Sat, Jun. 28
St Peter’s Anglican Church
*** * GOLFHOTEL LES HAUTS DE GSTAAD +41 (0)33 748 68 68, firstname.lastname@example.org **** HOTEL LE GRAND CHALET +41 (0)33 748 76 76, email@example.com **** HOTEL ARC-EN-CIEL +41 (0)33 748 43 43, firstname.lastname@example.org **** HOTEL BERNERHOF +41 (0)33 748 88 44, email@example.com **** HOTEL CHRISTIANIA +41 (0)33 744 51 21, firstname.lastname@example.org **** HOTEL GSTAADERHOF: +41 (0)33 748 63 63, email@example.com **** HOTEL OLDEN +41 (0)33 748 49 50, firstname.lastname@example.org **** ROMANTIK HOTEL HORNBERG +41 (0)33 748 66 88, email@example.com **** STEIGENBERGER ALPENHOTEL AND SPA +41 (0)33 748 64 64, firstname.lastname@example.org ** * HOTEL ALPINE LODGE +41 (0)33 748 41 51, email@example.com ** * HOTEL DES ALPES BY BRUNO KERNEN +41 (0)33 748 04 50, firstname.lastname@example.org *** HOTEL BELLERIVE +41 (0)33 748 88 33, email@example.com *** HOTEL ALPENLAND +41 (0)33 765 91 34, firstname.lastname@example.org *** HOTEL ALPHORN +41 (0)33 748 45 45, ofﬁce@alphorn-gstaad.ch *** HOTEL KERNEN +41 (0)33 748 40 20, email@example.com *** HOTEL LANDHAUS +41 (0)33 748 40 40, firstname.lastname@example.org *** HOTEL SAANERHOF +41 (0)33 744 15 15, email@example.com ** * HOTEL SOLSANA +41 (0)33 748 94 94, firstname.lastname@example.org ** * HOTEL SPITZHORN +41 (0)33 748 41 41, email@example.com *** POSTHOTEL RÖSSLI +41 (0)33 748 42 42, firstname.lastname@example.org *** SAANEWALD LODGE +41 (0)33 744 69 69, email@example.com *** SPORTHOTEL VICTORIA +41 (0)33 748 44 22, firstname.lastname@example.org ** LE PETIT RELAIS +41 (0)33 744 35 65, email@example.com HOTEL RESTAURANT BÄREN +41 (0)33 755 10 33, firstname.lastname@example.org GASTHOF GELTENHORN +41 (0)33 765 30 22, email@example.com HOTEL VIKTORIA +41 (0)33 755 10 34, firstname.lastname@example.org HOTEL WILDHORN +41 (0)33 765 30 12, email@example.com
Save The High Street A changing town is a simple reality and Gstaad is no exception. One can either get on board, get involved, or putter on with no recourse or involvement while the traditionalists and preservationists battle the developers and futurists. The planning, redevelopment, or evolution of a place never pleases everyone, unfortunately. A balance between the past and the present might seem mediocre, but perhaps it is the only way forward. BY: MANDOLYNA THEODORACOPULOS
When thinking of what Gstaad was and what it is becoming, I remind myself that longing for the past is a fruitless endeavour, and that nostalgia can lead to general malaise if not out and out despair. Not everything contemporary is tragic, after all, where would we be without Facebook? Of course towns and villages change over the years; some grow, some atrophy. We’ve all experienced this type of transformation in cities we visit and in our own home towns. People come and people go, shops open and close, buildings go up while others fall into disrepair. Maratea is a village in Italy I recently had the pleasure to visit. Maratea has no more than a dozen shops, and only a handful of restaurants, most of them empty. Across from one of the forty churches in the village, I found Brando, a linen shop which has been open since 1888. The inside was a marvel, practically a time warp. Nothing looked like it had been touched since the 1950s. I spent an hour speaking to the owner, whose grandfather had started the business. Charming Giuseppe was well dressed and smelled like a gentleman should smell. We spoke, me in bad Italian and he with great enthusiasm. I asked if he had any tablecloths that hadn’t been produced in China. He shufﬂed off for a moment and returned from the recesses of his shop to produce the most beautiful hand sewn tablecloths one rarely sees today. I bought two. They were €120 each and had been made by ladies in the village. The equivalent, I thought to myself, would be almost impossible to ﬁnd in Gstaad and if they exist at all, would likely cost ﬁve times
the price. Needless to say, I was thrilled, but also a bit sad. Unlike Maratea, Gstaad is moving ahead. It also has old world charm. The question is, how do we strike a balance? How do we keep small artisanal businesses and local linen shops open while also catering to fashionista shopaholics who only like famous brand names? I hereby offer my services, with all due respect to the Swiss, who are not known for having the best taste. Herewith are my suggestions for the future of the Gstaad high street. It should be noted however, that the Greeks are not known for having the best taste either. 1. Haberdashery Shop – Gstaad needs one. A plastic button won’t always do. A lady needs ribbon and boob tape, often last minute. There isn’t always time to drive down to Bulle when you are trying to get to Valentino’s for dinner. 2. Dry Cleaning – An excellent dry cleaner is a must. The local cleaner needs the know-how to handle the needs of the haute couture crowd and at fair prices. With so many well-dressed ladies, this market still hasn’t been tapped. One of the Bachs should get on this! 3. Consignment/Vintage Shop – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! 4. Save the Bowling Alley! – No village with a fabulous relic like the one at the Roessli in Feutersoey should allow it to be closed. Fun and games are for everyone. 5. Bring Back the Apple Pie! – Affordable cafes where kids and average people go for a hot chocolate in the afternoon are part of a village’s charm. Does Switzerland need another watch shop or art gallery? Stop checking your gold and diamond watch or trying to take in a bit of pseudo culture and start spending some quality time with your kids eating cake.
7. Jewellery – Gstaad isn’t the diamond district. Obvious displays of wealth are obnoxious. No one with a few mill to spare and any taste is going to buy a diamond in a shop after skiing anyway. That’s only for amateurs and the nouveau riche, who catch on, eventually. 8. Galleries – Bad art is easy to come by. Bad art galleries, even easier. If you want to sell something to suckers, open a cool gadget shop like Conran where people can ﬁnd good gifts and keep up with the latest technology. 9. Dresses – Fancy dress shops open on Gstaad high street as if people still wore white tie for dinner. Nowadays women wear long dresses no more than a few times a year. This shameless attempt to cater to Arabs and Russians is embarrassing and makes the village look like a Vegas hotel lobby. 10. Money, Money, Money – Gstaad does not need any more hotels or a convention centre. It needs a decent clinic or a serious library. If you want to make friends or have your name on a plaque, ﬁnd the next Bernini and build a fountain instead. Better yet, use your brain and come up with an original idea.
6. Parking – Encourage people to walk by making discreet parking lots. It’s good for their health, good for the environment, and reduces trafﬁc. It also means more natural views and less unsightly concrete.
LAST WORD // GSTAADLIFE
KATEGORY // GSTAADLIFE // ISSUE 3 // JUNE 27, 2014
The exclusive monthly publication about the good life in Gstaad