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Issue 8 | 28 December 2018 CHF 3.50

TRY THE D-LINE Saanersloch is up and running

SKIJORING Horse power on the snow

FESTIVAL DE BALLONS Fred-Paulin Gétaz on one of the most colourful events


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Gschwendstrasse 2 | CH-3780 Gstaad Tel. +41 33 748 45 50 | Fax. +41 33 748 45 51 |

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Gschwendstrasse 2 | CH-3780 Gstaad Tel. +41 33 748 45 50 | Fax. +41 33 748 45 51 |

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Gschwendstrasse CH-3780 Gstaad Gschwendstrasse Gschwendstrasse 2 2 | 2CH-3780 | |CH-3780 Gstaad Gstaad Tel. +41 33748 748 4550 50 Fax. +41 33 748 45 Tel.Tel. +41 +41 3333 748 4545 50 | Fax. | |Fax. +41 +41 3333 748 748 4545 51 5151 | | |

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EACH DROP A REMINDER It all started so well. Just before the opening event of the new Saanersloch cable car, temperatures dropped and a modest layer of white magic covered the Saanenland. Just enough to make it all glitter in the sunlight and to prepare the pistes (with a little help from the snow guns). Hopefully we'll be back there by the time you read this. As I am writing it, rain has been pouring for days. Dearly needed rain, of course, but still, don't we all wish for some snow over for the festive season?! Unfortunately, this kind of winter may become more and more common and white Holidays an exception. Every single drop is a reminder of this. It's a tough outlook for a region highly dependent on snow for tourism. Luckily, high-stake players are diversifying their offers and joining forces to create unique experiences that don't solely depend on snow. While we absolutely need new winter sports facilities and offers, the more long-term goals must also stay in focus and require serious efforts as temperatures may be changing for good. Best regards,

CONTENTS LOCAL NEWS Director Sébastien Epiney leaves Gstaad From anywhere to Gstaad Airport Fancy fondue blend YourGstaad employer platform wins award Robert Speth’s cuisine on board SWISS New car or rather a new bed for Christmas? A happy day for Gsteig A great meeting place Open day at Saanersloch The D-Line Flagship project Eggli

5 5 5 6 7 7 9 11 12 12 13

PROFILE Fred-Paulin Gétaz on one of the most colourful events


GSTAAD LIVING Gstaad dairy gets green light for new site The police and fire brigade moved to a new location

19 20

ARTS & CULTURE Robert Steffen and the Gstaad Palace A slightly different kind of travel guide Marilyn Monroe in Gstaad What’s your frequency? CinemArt

21 22 23 23 23

SPORTS & LEISURE Success for young breeders from Saanen GYC: Racing Team news and SUI awards On a film set with Karim Ojjeh Winter sport series: Skijoring

24 25 26 27

LIFESTYLE Markus Iseli, Publishing Director

A brief history of…Christmas lights in Gstaad



Expat adventures Cover Photo: © Cédric Chevalley

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 & Editor in Chief: Markus Iseli, Contributors: Alex Bertea, Anna Charles, Guy Girardet, Justine Hewson, Anne Christine Kempton, Yannis Siatopoulos Layout: Aline Brawand, Michael Matti, Epu Shaha Advertising: Eliane Behrend,, 033 748 88 71 Subscriptions: Esther Brand-de Groot,, 033 748 88 74 "AvS" after the author of an article indicates the the text is based on material from the Anzeiger von Saanen. Contact the editor for more information.

GstaadLife 8 I 2018


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DIRECTOR SÉBASTIEN EPINEY LEAVES HIS POST AT GSTAAD SAANENLAND TOURISMUS Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus (GST) is facing a significant change. Director Sébastien Epiney has decided to leave the tourist organisation and return to Valais for personal reasons.

Sébastien Epiney will leave his post as director of Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus by the end of the winter season.

“We very much regret his departure but respect his decision,” said David Matti, president of GST, quoted in a press release from late November. Back to Valais

Various developments in his family and personal circumstances have meant that Epiney is going back to Valais, according to the report. He is leaving a place he’d become very fond of and had helped to develop through his great commitment and presence. A succession plan is in place


The GST executive board had initiated the first steps to find a successor. “We hope to find a suitable successor as soon as possible,” announced Matti. It has been agreed that Epiney will continue his duties at GST until the end of the winter season and will assist with the search for his successor. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS



What do you get if the heads of a dairy and a

Thanks to companies like Jetfly, owning a jet is not

brewery come together? A beer fondue, of course.

necessary to access the Saanenland by air.

Jetfly is a Luxembourg-based enterprise, with a fleet of 21 Swiss-manufactured Pilatus PC-12 and four twin jet Pilatus PC-24 by December 2019. It is the largest Pilatus fleet in Europe. Fast and pressurized, these aircrafts offer a level of comfort and equipment that can be found on larger business jets. Their versatility enables Jetfly to access large international airports as well as smaller airfields, like the one in Saanen. Saanen is a well-known destination for their pilots, who profit from special trainings for accessing airfields with challenging approaches as the one of Gstaad Airport. With 180 annual aircraft movements from and to the Saanenland, Jetfly pilots know exactly how to approach the local airport and passengers can relax until they step out into the fresh mountain air. Jetfly offers absolute discretion and care-free packages with catering, limousine transfers or any other special requests their passengers may have.

Gstaad Dairy has this new special blend on offer for curious cheese lovers. The partnership between Gstaad Dairy and Saane Gutsch Bier, a locally produced beer, was officially launched on 19 December. In a market that has known many developments to make sure our taste buds don’t get bored by the eternal winter classic, beer is not your prime suspect. Champagne and truffles are favourite festive blends, but René Ryser, managing director of Gstaad Dairy, and Jürg Domke, brewer of Saane Gutsch, now offer an enticing alternative with their beer fondue. It is not just about keeping taste buds on their toes, though. “We are expecting better visibility for our brands with this new product,” Ryser explains. And Domke adds, “the cooperation between Gstaad Dairy and Saane Gutsch creates a win-win situation for the two enterprises.”

GstaadLife 8 I 2018





he shortage of skilled workers is a major issue throughout Switzerland, including in the tourist region of Saanen. The Saanenland is experiencing a shortage of apprentices due to demographic changes. That’s why more and more hotels and restaurants are looking for trained restaurant professionals, chefs, chambermaids, wine waiters, general assistants, barmaids etc. Making it easy to finding jobs

Employees are the most important asset in every business. Since it became apparent that there was a shortage of skilled workers, the

Gstaad-Saanen Hotelier Association wanted take steps to counteract this, launching in 2008. YourGstaad combines forces and seeks joint solutions through collaborating. This helps to accomplish the various tasks for every hotel and catering business. YourGstaad’s main task is to provide a common online platform for employers where jobs are advertised and employees can apply for these. This means that all vacancies in the catering and hotel sectors appear on the YourGstaad website. A broader reach

other major online job platforms. For example, if you click on YourGstaad’s ad on the home page of, you’ll be redirected to the website. Here, all employers are displayed and all jobs in the Gstaad area are visible. “This helps us to draw attention to the wide range of jobs on offer and the great businesses in the Saanenland, attracting employees to our region,” says Christian Hoefliger, president of the Hotelier Association. This is something that a lone company can’t afford to do and it’s something that many companies don’t have the resources to achieve.

In addition, YourGstaad features on JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS




All free positions are uniformly displayed on the website.

Applications can be submitted directly via the website

Employees can be recruited via highly frequented platforms such as

New: with a single click an unsolicited applications can be sent out to all YourGstaad employers.









On all the hotels (members of the Hotel Association) Specific information for potential employees About the Saanenland



S Müller Medien, Flo Schmid







Free flats


BOOKINGS +41 33 748 79 79 |




Discounts in the region and Staff Partys

Social network






All open positions are advertised online.



From 5 December to the beginning of March, the region of Berne is featuring in the SWISS galley kitchen. As part of the Swiss Taste of Switzerland venture, Robert Speth from the Chesery restaurant in Gstaad will be treating passengers to exclusive dishes. Swiss International Airlines (SWISS) is introducing all the culinary diversity of the Bernese Oberland to flights from 5 December to the beginning of March 2019. During these three months, guests in SWISS First and SWISS Business classes on intercontinental flights from Switzerland are able to enjoy selected menus from Robert Speth. He has chosen various dishes and incorporated regional delicacies like Hobelkäse and Tomme de Rougemont. As a renowned top chef, he’s also the head chef at the

Chesery institution in Gstaad, part of the five-star Le Grand Bellevue hotel and contributing significantly to the reputation of Saanen as a culinary destination. Speth ensures simplicity while maintaining the highest standards in his restaurant. You won’t find any fussy decorations or complicated combinations – the focus is on delivering an authentic taste through outstanding products. The top chef was awarded 18 Gault&Millau points for his work. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS



he question may sound silly, but it is not. Buying a new car for Christmas is a classic. A perfect bed may represent a similar investment and is a beloved self-donation too. As Stefan Ryter, owner of Hästens luxury bed store in Saanen confirms: “Holiday season is our strongest working period.” period”. “A car may bring you further”, he continues, “but you should always keep in mind ther,” that there is no object in life you spend more time with than your bed. It’s impact on personal performance and happiness is truly significant, so one should select carefully!” Same investment? “Prices of most Hästens beds compare to a midsize, but for custom-made Vividus, the finest sleep in the world, you might get a luxury sedan.” sedan”. Sandra and Stefan Ryter in their Hästens Store in Saanen

Raphaël Faux



GstaadLife 8 I 2018


to reach a compromise, the political risks remain unpredictable for the capital markets.

Return of market fluctuations

Global events of recent months have shown impressively that the capital markets may be subject to more fluctuations in the future. After almost 10 years of rising equity markets, investors are now reacting more sensitively, especially to political news. Politics has seldom had a greater influence on the stock markets than in 2018. Based on that, what can be expected from the capital markets in the coming year?

No recession in sight

While the US will remain the draught horse of the global economy in the new year, growth rates are likely to weaken slightly in the other major economic regions in 2019. However, this slowdown will still be far from a recession and can be viewed as normal in the context of the current economic cycle, which has already lasted 10 years. Inflation is also likely to remain unchanged at moderate levels, enabling the large central banks to begin or continue pursuing a more restrictive monetary policy – albeit in rather homeopathic dosages. Should the intended normalisation be successful, the strong Swiss franc could also depreciate somewhat by the end of the coming year.

Solid corporate profits and attractive valuations offer a good environment

There is little cause for concern from the companies’ point of view. Despite slowing somewhat, the momentum of the economy remains positive, which will help companies to achieve sustainable cash flows and stable profits. In addition, most of the markets are now attractively valued and are therefore likely to offer opportunities for investments, especially for value investors. Investments in emerging markets also deserve special attention. They suffered above-average in 2018, in particular as a result of the trade dispute, but could be among the winners again in 2019.

Consequences for our investment policy

In our view, equities will continue to offer the most attractive balance of opportunity and risk in 2019. In light of the signalled interest-rate normalisation and the resulting increase in market volatility, we privilege a global and broadly diversified portfolio including first-rate equity securities with attractive dividend

Political stress factors remain

The seemingly never-ending trade dispute between the US and China is likely to preoccupy the capital markets again in the new year. Given the importance of this matter – at the end of the day it is about no less than economic and technological market leadership for the two major powers – an agreement still seems to be far away. Political influences are difficult to evaluate in general, as the politics of consensus do not appear to be “in” at present. Although we do expect reason to prevail and the parties involved in the trade dispute, the Brexit negotiations as well as the argument surrounding Italy’s budget


GstaadLife 8 I 2018



SAANEN BANK MARKET VIEW yields, which should create added value for the shareholder throughout the economic cycle, due to their robust business models. Furthermore, it would seem advisable to hold securities from defensive sectors given the generally worsening economic forecasts. Our cautious approach to bond investments will remain unchanged. The persistently low risk premiums are only insufficient compensation for the credit risks taken on by investors. Gold, on the other hand, will remain a valuable portfolio component in our opinion. Bullion can be particularly precious in times of uncertainty and can help to preserve a portfolio’s value. Implications for your portfolio

Are you interested to know whether your portfolio is ready to deal with the challenges that the new year will bring? If so, the client advisers at SB Saanen Bank will be delighted to provide you with personalised advice. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

Gabi and Christian Hefti reopened the Bären in Gsteig.

Hans Bettler



The Bären, built in 1756, is something of a feature in Gsteig. Owned by the municipality of Gsteig since 1822, it was abandoned about ten months ago. The community didn’t seem quite the same after the closure of such a prominent business and local restaurant. After several failed attempts to relaunch the Bären, people were beginning to think it may be doomed. The local authority asked Gastro Bern for an expertise, which turned out quite positive. It encouraged the local council to look for another leaseholder. Opportunity knocks

Several interested parties responded to the invitation to tender, including Christian Hefti and his wife Gabi

from Lucerne. Christian had grown up in Feutersoey. After careful consideration and numerous meetings, this technically skilled couple decided to take on the new challenge and were bold enough to move from the lovely canton of Lucerne to the mountain village – a real stroke of luck for the Gsteig community. Blessed with considerable motivation, the Heftis had been refurbishing the hotel and restaurant in careful preparation for its reopening. Tastefully redesigned

Many locals and visitors accepted the invitation to the open day and followed the signs marking the way through the premises. To greet them, an aperitif and delicious warm

savoury snacks were served in the lounge. A fire blazed in the grate and everyone was welcome to enjoy a raclette. In the wine cellar, the marvellous collection of wines was there for all to see. Landlord and chef Christian Hefti served up Bratwurstversuecherli and french fries in the contemporary kitchen. For dessert, a tasty, sweet cake was on offer in the Bärestube. The hosts had set up a delightful, tastefully decorated long table in the Sanetschstube (the former Bärestübli). Upstairs, the hotel rooms feature a simple décor and comfortable furnishings, with paintings by Gabi Hefti hanging on the walls. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS

GstaadLife 8 I 2018



THE JADE-STONE DETOX POD: AN ELEVATED WELLNESS EXPERIENCE FOR THE DISTINGUISHED INDIVIDUAL Jade is the most efficient natural far-infrared heat absorber of all the semiprecious stones. Its 6,000 years-old healing power was recently combined with the benefits of far-infrared (FIR) heat and crafted in the Jade-Stone Detox Pod. Now making its debut in Switzerland all the way from L.A!

In the practice of Ayurveda jade is one of the most important stones for balancing the heart chakra. Ancient cultures have long revered jade for its emotional healing and well-being. When FIR-heat passes through jade stones it penetrates deeper into muscles, joints and or-

gans. It increases blood circulation ,which leads directly to pain relief and healing. Heated jade stones relieve back and muscle tissue pain, hypertension and arthritis. They aid in detoxification by strengthening the body’s filtration and immune system.

skin while the head remains pleasantly cool and unobstructed.

The temperature inside the JadeStone Detox Pods can be adjusted up to 85C, also the intensity of the infrared lamps. During use, the healing effects of the 440 heated jade stones can be felt immediately through the

For purchasing or renting our JadeStone Detox Pods anywhere in the world please get in touch:

You can now enjoy the benefits of the Jade-Stone Detox Pods in your professional Spa or Health Centre, or in the privacy of your own home after sports or as a regular health boost.

Email: Website: Mobile: +41 (0) 79 660 7838



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To add to the fine array of restaurants and cafes in Gstaad, there’s now a new coffee lounge and drinks bar. On 6 December, brothers Ahmet and Murat Bicik and their team opened the doors of their new venture. They’ve called it Bro's. Inside, elegant metal bar stools blend perfectly with the contemporary wooden decor and warm-coloured soft furnishings. Managing directors Ahmet and Murat Bicik have been working hard since September to get Bro’s ready. According to Ahmet Bicik, it only took seconds to choose the name for their business. The two brothers thought Bro’s was the obvious choice for their new project.

aroma of coffee pervades and guests can enjoy an evening drink with friends in a comfortable atmosphere. “When we opened our business, we wanted to provide an all-year-round meeting place for locals,” said Ahmet Bicik, explaining the concept behind Bro’s.

The people behind Bros

Ahmet and Murat Bicik had previously spent a long period working together at the Arc-en-ciel restaurant. They wanted to put their wealth of experience into their own catering business. They invited Cloé le Pallec to join them, whom they also know from their time at the Arc-en-ciel and who also brings considerable expertise to the new venue. A great idea for a meeting place

Bro’s welcomes everyone to enjoy a bite to eat or a drink from early in the morning to late at night. The wonderful

Combining forces to reach new heights

The fact that the Chesery Club is very close (in fact, it’s directly opposite) isn’t a problem in terms of competition. Both businesses want to take advantage of their proximity to offer joint events, providing an exciting, all-round evening programme for late-night revellers. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS

Joining forces to open their own venue (from left): Ahmet Bicik, Cloé le Pallec and Murat Bicik

Jenny Sterchi




OPEN DAY AT SAANERSLOCH On 15 December, 4,500 winter sports enthusiasts attended the opening ceremony for the new Saanersloch cable car in Saanenmöser. The many visitors who attended all enjoyed numerous attractions and made the most of the pristine ski slopes.

On Saturday morning, the first gondola set off to transport the first group of winter sports enthusiasts up to Saanersloch. There had been much interest in the opening ceremony, drawing a crowd of 4,500 people to Saanenmöser to enjoy rapid yet smooth rides up to the mountain station. Featuring a glass dome design, the two stations enjoy unique world-

wide significance. Naturally, they’ve attracted considerable attention. The weather offered a big helping hand

The cold snap and the snow shortly before the opening ceremony came just in time. These weather conditions meant that the season’s first winter sports enthusiasts were greeted with

THE D-LINE The new Saanersloch cable car, called the D-Line by the manufacturer, is the most modern model available on the market. A striking feature of the new design is that the individual stations are no longer enclosed in the conventional sense. For example, the mechanism of the middle station is housed in a glass dome. Access to and exit from the gondolas is easier and more

straightforward than before. Most noteworthy is that the design of the valley and mountain stations features open spaces and very few angles, making the facilities appear very welcoming and user-friendly. Notably, there are fewer support

poles holding the transport cable that runs up to Saanersloch. With an emergency power system and two independent braking systems, the new cable car fully complies with today’s safety standards. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS

mountain station Saanersloch


52 main rope with

a diameter of

16 masts


Müller Medien AG, Flo Schmid

69 gondolas

valley station Saanersloch


GstaadLife 8 I 2018


10 people

per cabin

2,000 people can be


per hour

slopes in ideal conditions. The steelblue sky and the snow-covered landscape provided the ideal backdrop for snapshots of this symbolic day. Winter sports instructors from all the region’s ski schools offered free lessons to showcase the offerings under the promotional slogan of “A free trial with our ski instructors”. There was also a treasure hunt with some great prizes and young musician Nickless gave an open-air performance at the mountain restaurant to get everyone in a party mood.

FLAGSHIP PROJECT EGGLI The new Eggli gondola lift and Berghaus project is making progress. The gondola will be renewed over the next year. Meanwhile, as soon as financing is secured, work on the Berghaus will start and last until 2020. Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad (BDG) is increasing its share capital by CHF 6m to help

The gondola lift – a showcase project

finance the project.

This ambitious project worth CHF 29m went without a hitch and was completed on time. According to Thomas Rentsch, representing the client, everyone involved should be really pleased with the culmination of a great collaboration project. Matthias In-Albon confirmed that the gondola lift construction marked the start of the BDG’s future strategy, following their renovation phase.

The structural design plans were approved last summer and the building permit to replace the gondola lift was granted in the autumn. The BDG has also recently received building permission for the Berghaus. “We’re making swift progress and plan to get cracking in spring of 2019,” says Heinz Brand, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the BDG. The Porsche gondolas need to be ordered in January. If everything goes according to plan, work to rebuild the cable car will start in the spring, with the grand opening in December 2019. Club de Luge at the Berghaus

Tourism Director Sébastien Epiney also issued a statement to confirm the far-reaching significance of this project: “Skiing activities are still the most popular pass-time in a mountain resort. However, the market is stagnating worldwide and even going into decline in Switzerland. As a result, many mountain railway and gondola lift companies are no longer able to finance new projects. This makes it all the more important to update our facilities to stay ahead of the game. In the future, only the best will survive. The new Saanersloch gondola casts a positive light over the entire region.”

When the BDG was restructured in January 2016, the new Club de Luge pledged CHF 8m. The deal is to use this money for the new Eggli gondola lift. In return, investors intend to set up a private club in the Berghaus Eggli, similar to the Eagle Club or the Gstaad Yacht Club. The BDG will receive these funds in January. When the plans go ahead next year, the Berghaus will be replaced by a new building. Brand emphasises that the new Saanersloch and Eggli construction projects have only been possible thanks to the support of private investors.



A share capital increase of CHF 6m

The two new Eggli construction projects will cost the BDG a total of CHF 18m. This breaks down as 14.75m for the gondola lift and the administrative complex and 3.25m for the Berghaus. The share capital increase of 6m that was approved by the annual general meeting in 2016 now needs to be set in motion. Part of this capital comes from the construction partners who conduct the work. As in the case of the Sportzentrum and the Saanersloch, they will receive 5% of the construction sum in the form of shares. Brand is confident that the remaining CHF 3.6m will also be raised in the months to come.

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GOOD NEWS FOR GOURMET LOVERS A week filed with greek delights

Celebrate the magic of Greece during a week filled with Greek splendour. From 27 February to 9 March 2019, celebrated chef Yannis Baxevanis and his team will be running the kitchen at Gildo’s. Be prepared to enter a gourmet culture of Olympic dimensions created by a Michelin star chef famous for deliciously deconstructing Greek cuisine. Since ancient times, the Greeks have been well versed in the art of celebration; modern Greeks are none too shabby in this department. So, after dinner, head over to our legendary GreenGo Nightclub and join our guest DJ at the White Party. Don your breeziest white attire, and dance the night away to glamorously groovy Greek beats. Light up in Style

Our Fumoir has always been a gourmet smoker’s paradise – and it just gets better: with the upcoming update, a brand new humidor will guard the finest tobacco rarities the world has to offer. Providing total control over the environment and just the right amount of humidity to our tobacco treasures, it adds perfect pleasure to the uniquely elegant atmosphere of our Smoking Lounge. So, come in and light up in style! And while you’re at it, how about a round of chess or backgammon? For maximum comfort, interior designer Marina Nickels has created extra seating, complete with games and books. What better way to while away the winter hours? India comes to Gstaad, Bollywood to the Gstaad Palace

Originally from Delhi, Ravi Bajaj has lived in Manchester since 1997. He used to cook for the guests of the world-famous Taj Hotel in Mumbai, now he is head chef in his own enterprise: With his innovative DILLI concept, he caused quite a stir in the Indian restaurant scene of Britain. For the past five years, Ravi Bajaj has been guest chef at the Gstaad Palace. While here, he usually offers three or four of his classic dishes, such as the tandoori chicken with its vibrant red colour that stems from saffron. Ravi’s recipes have style. His classics come with a certain twist, a trace lighter, a trace more playful. Together with head chef Franz W. Faeh he offers Palace guests a delightfully exciting menu at our Grand Restaurant during the entire winter season – a treat for eyes and taste buds alike.

Reservations on +41 33 748 50 00


Hammam ritual

Relaxed kids make for happy parents. So let the little ones experience pure bliss, have fun and unwind in a suitably stylish manner. The Rainbow Menu offers specific treatments designed especially for children, using only organic and vegan products. How about a sleeping beauty massage, or a fairy fingers manicure for your little princess? The Mermaid Swimming Course, available for children aged from eight years onwards, makes every kid’s dream come true – but don’t wait to book, there is limited availability!

Enter a universe of warmth, light and colour with our Hammam Ritual. Combining ancient wisdom and modern formulas, the hammam invites your senses on a journey to total relaxation. Immerse yourself in the enchanting tales told by wholly natural ingredients, inspired by the majestic landscapes of Morocco. Then return, refreshed and fully recharged, to our beautiful winter palace in the Swiss Alps. Life is amazing!

Enlightening Shiva Ananda treatments

Possibly the most enlightening spa experience of this winter: the traditional Shiva Ananda treatments include luxurious body and facial therapies inspired by the Indian master Anand Kambli. Rejuvenate and purify your mind, body and soul with two hours of Shiva Ananda Rejuvenation and Purification Therapy®. Relax and get inspired with the Abhyangam Body Massage or the Shiva Ananda Head Massage (including neck and shoulders), or let the Shiva Ananda Herbal Kizhi Therapy invigorate your senses.

GstaadLife 8 I 2018



FLYING HIGH Fred-Paulin Gétaz presides the International Balloon Festival in Château-d'Oex, which is not just

and in ensuring that the programme maintains a level of interest for balloonists as well as the general public.

hot air. Thank you for meeting with us. Can you tell us a little about the history of the Château-d’Oex Balloon Festival?

In the early 70s, Charles André Ramseier spent some time in the United States, where he had the opportunity to go hot-air ballooning in New Mexico. He was so enchanted by the experience that he was determined to bring the sport to Château-d’Oex. The opportunity presented itself in the late 70s when, as head of our tourist office, he met the German pilot, Hans Büker. This chance encounter led to the creation of the first Féstival de Ballons, held in Château-d’Oex in February 1979. Since then it has been held every year, always in winter, and has grown progressively over the years and become internationally renown. How and when did you get involved with the festival?

During my military service, I worked in telecommunications in the army unit seconded to help during the 1994 festival. At that time there were no mobile phones so the army trained the ground crews and organisers to use radio for their communication. In 2002 I joined the organizing committee in a technical capacity and last year I was elected president. What is your responsibility at the festival?

The organizing committee has 25 members and 60 volunteers. I focus on assuring the long-term sustainability of the event, in strengthening our role as a centre of excellence,


GstaadLife 8 I 2018

The 2019 festival will again last nine days, from 26 January to 3 February. Each year we attract some 60 to 70 entries. Security concerns limit the maximum number of balloons we can accept to 80; we already have 60 registered for 2019. We are delighted that this includes three new teams that have never flown in Château-d’Oex.

by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones in the Breitling Orbiter; and it’s the 40th anniversary of the inauguration of the pilots’ association, Le Centre Alpin Ballons à Air-Chaud. What activities are planned for the public?

In addition to the daily balloon flights and competitions, we have many ac-

Hot-air ballooning in this region is challenging so we tend to get pilots who have significant mountain-flying experience. Some pilots refer to the festival as the Formula One of alpine ballooning. We continue to develop Château-d’Oex as a centre of excellence for alpine hot-air ballooning and provide ongoing training throughout the event. During the 2019 edition, workshops will focus on meteorological applications and tools, the use of radio for communication between balloonists and ground control, and restrictions with respect to other aircrafts. In terms of innovation, the Fondation Espace Ballons is conducting a feasibility study, in collaboration with the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, to develop a hotair balloon simulator. This would be used to train new pilots and to give members of the public an opportunity to experience what it is like to fly a hot-air balloon. 2019 is an important milestone for us for three reasons: it marks the 41st edition of the International Balloon Festival; it’s the 20th anniversary of the amazing round-the-world trip

tivities for both adults and children. Passengers can take part in balloon rides with departures each morning and afternoon – weather permitting. We also have a number of new events planned. On Saturday Bertrand Piccard will make a commemorative flight in a model of the Breitling Orbiter to celebrate the anniversary of his famous flight. Later in the day, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones will give a presentation on this remarkable event, followed by a fondue evening and music. The additional activities and animation organized on the weekends include flights by

nity to make and fly their own balloons. Volunteers from the Association Ballons Pirates will show them how to construct balloons out of papier maché. The balloons will be launched at the end of the day and can rise up to 1,000 metres in the air.

Undoubtedly one of the most striking events in the programme is the famous Son et Lumière Night-Glow – scheduled to take place on Friday, 1 February 2019. The balloons are lined up on the hills behind Château-d’Oex and inflated in unison. Their gas burners light up the night sky and, with the mountains as a backdrop, it’s very dramatic. To make the event even more spectacular, members of the Swiss Ski School ski down the s u r r o u nd i n g slopes carrying lighted torches while pa rag l iders, illuminated by flares attached to their backs, drop down from the night sky.

What are the competitions for pilots?

Chris Berger Photography

blimps and “cloud hoppers”, flights by balloons with unusual shapes, model balloon flights, aerobatic displays, and paraglider and parachute performances. Members of the public can also take helicopter rides with Air Glaciers.

What activities do you have for children?

On Wednesday, 30 January, we have a special children’s day with a number of activities. This includes a treasure hunt – inspired by a similar event that was extremely successful during the festival Aux Pays des Enfants held in Château-d’Oex in 2018. The same afternoon Michèle Piccard, the wife of Bertrand, will be available in the Landi hall to dedicate the book that she has written for young children, L’Avion Qui Vole Avec le Soleil, about the solar impulse. Children will also have the opportu-

The programme of the festival always provides opportunities for pilots to perfect their skills, particularly flying in Alpine conditions. We will have a series of competitions that test the pilots’ skills and dexterity, as well as their ability to read the wind conditions. These include: 1. the Two Gruyères Competition, where each pilot has to fly down the valley to Gruyère, drop a marker on a target in the centre of the courtyard of the château and then fly on to touch down in a nearby field; 2. the Hare and Hounds Competition, where the leading balloon (the hare) takes off a few minutes before the other balloons (the hounds). After about 45 minutes flying, the hare lands and unfurls a fabric cross which the hounds then have to hit with their markers; and 3. the David Niven Cup, where the objective is to cover as much distance as possible in one flight. In 2019 we will have two categories for this competition: the category David Niven for conventional balloons and a new category for balloons equipped with a double envelope, the Piccard-Jones eco-trophy. These balloons remain aloft approximately four times longer than a conventional balloon, using the same amount of fuel. Their extra flight time should enable participants to cover up to 500 kilometres. What does the festival bring to the region?

It has a significant economic impact. The balloon festival has become a permanent fixture on the international ballooning calendar and Château-d’Oex has become known internationally through it. Last year we attracted some 35,000 visitors, many

of whom stayed locally in apartments, B&Bs or hotels in the region, including Saanenland and Gruyère. What role do marketing and communication play in the event?

Since the Balloon Festival is subject to good weather conditions, we need to assure that we have an excellent communication with the public. The publicity is handled by the tourist office of the Pays-d’Enhaut. Social media has become particularly important and during the 2019 festival the public can follow events on our website, our Facebook page, our Instagram account and on YouTube. Two young YouTube enthusiasts will accompany Michèle Piccard throughout the festival and regularly post their coverage of the events. We also maintain a hotline with the latest information during the festival. We even have a local radio station – The Radio Bus – which will broadcast from the take-off zone each day. This is a local radio station that is animated by school children from the Pays-d’Enhaut and the Riviera region. What is the budget of the event and how is it sponsored?

Our budget is approximately CHF 1m. Much of this is provided by our sponsors. Businesses that wish to support the festival can choose between five different categories of sponsorship. Thank you and very best wishes for the success of this upcoming event! GUY GIRARDET

Web: Facebook: @festivaldeballons Instagram: festival_de_ballons Hotline: +41 (0)26 924 25 24

GstaadLife 8 I 2018





41 Festival international







Avec le soutien des Communes de Château-d’Œx, Rossinière, Rougemont et Saanen, de Pays-d’Enhaut Région et de la Loterie Romande

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GSTAAD DAIRY GETS GREEN LIGHT FOR NEW SITE The building permit for a new dairy in Gstaad has been issued. Construction is scheduled to be completed by spring 2020. The development will include milk reception and processing facilities as well as a warehouse. New site to boost production

The new building will be a single-storey purpose-built structure with a collection and delivery area, production and storage rooms, and an office space. According to the dairy cooperative president, Jürg Romang, while the initial project was estimated at CHF 8 to 9m, it is now estimated at CHF 10 to 11m. The higher costs are mostly due to the fact that the original plans had assumed the 30-year-old dairy equipment would continue to be used at the new site, whereas the final plans include practically all new equipment. “We will have a larger cheese maker, which will enable us to process more milk per batch and create reserves,” explains René Ryser, managing director of the Gstaad dairy. “Maybe we won’t have to make cheese on Sunday, which would not only benefit the employees but also the neighbours. In our industry it is now almost common to do without Sunday production, especially since there is storage available for milk delivered on Sundays”, he says.

Thanks to the new expanded facilities the Gstaad dairy’s range of cheeses will be expanded somewhat with new products such as Gstaad mountain cheese made from pure Simmental milk. As far as exports are concerned, it is a matter of weighing up the opportunities and risks. “If we want to export cheese, we are in a different price segment from selling it domestically,” says Ryser. “It’s dangerous to produce cheese and sell it cheaply. It could work in the short and medium term, but in the long term it would be a risk for our business.” Financing secured

Financing for the project has been secured. “A large part of it comes from the cooperative’s own resources,” explains Romang. In addition, the project is being financed via an interest-free loan from the Bernese Foundation for Agricultural Credits and subsidies granted by the confederation, canton, and municipality. “No bank loan is planned at the moment,” says Romang. Gstaad’s dairy shop remains open

The site of the current dairy in the centre of Gstaad, which is owned by the cooperative, is over 50 years old and in need of renovation. “The new site will free up a lot of space in the existing building and we will have to consider what to do with it or perhaps even with the entire building,” said Romang. Despite the uncertainty, the shop will continue to be run as usual until further notice. ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON / AVS

GstaadLife 8 I 2018


The old fire brigade building at Spittelweg 7 has been out of service since the beginning of November and is due to be demolished. The police station, fire brigade and tenants there have moved into a new building at Gsteigstrasse 14. As planned, the fire brigade, police station, security service and tenants in the three apartments moved to the new building on Gsteigstrasse 14 on 1 November. The ideal location for the police ...

The Gstaad police station and other members are now housed in a new leased building that belongs to the municipality of Saanen. Offices for the 13 employees working for the Bern Cantonal Police are on the first floor. Dino Dal Farra, media spokesman for the Bern Cantonal Police, said that the new location on the main road has advantages from a policing point of view. It’s a good idea to have a police station on a connecting road, in this case, running from north to south. “This allows patrols to get out faster and arrive at the scene a lot quicker.” From this point of view, the new location has a distinct advantage over the old one. “Also, the fact that the fire department’s depot is in the same building makes it easier to coordinate operations for certain events.” Last but not least, in terms of infrastructure, the new building has rooms equipped with the latest technology. ... and fire brigade

When asked to comment, fire brigade commander Christian Brand said that the new location was ideal for the Saanen fire brigade too. The move went smoothly. Pre-

viously, the fire brigade depot in Saanen was cleared and, shortly before the move, the same happened for the depot in Gstaad. The fire brigade depot is on the ground floor in the new building. The three double gates have been designed to meet the height specifications of the new vehicles with auto aerial ladders. The offices, toilets and cloakrooms are located on the mezzanine floor. The district police and fire brigade will share a room on the upper floor: The fire brigade will be using this as a training area and the police as an administrative reporting room. An open day in the spring

The fire brigade is planning an open day in spring 2019 along with the Bern Cantonal Police, although an exact date has not yet been set. A national Swiss Fire Brigade Day will also take place in August 2019, in which Saanen will participate. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS

The new building at Gsteigstrasse 14 in Gstaad provides room for the police and the fire brigade.

GstaadLife 8 I 2018

Anita Moser






eaving Montreux and climbing the mountains by MOB you feel joy and a happiness as the train heads towards the Saanenland. You dream of snowy winter landscapes or green hills sprinkled with colourful fowers. However, it has not always been that idyllic. Before the times of modern comforts, people had to fight against primitive nature and harsh weather conditions. Tradition has it that they have always had a fighting spirit. It must have taken persistence, passion and time for entire generations to dominate the elements and finally transform them into something familiar and endearing – a homey place. The Saanenland is a miracle of human resilience and the fruit of continuous efforts. Throughout the ages its people integrated with and absorbed the beauty of nature and evolved a culture that reflects it in their physical features and manners.


Robert Steffen’s story

In the early 1900s, Robert Steffen (1878-1923) felt inspired by the area’s extraordinary beauty. His adventurous and progressive mind dreamed of a monumental building that could leave its mark on Gstaad and the Saanenland. Meanwhile, the train between Montreux and Zweisimmen had been built and arrived in Gstaad, providing the necessary infrastructure for tourism. He eventually took the decision to pursue the project to which he was to dedicate all his energy and financial resources. As the Palace was being built, WWI had begun, which dramatically changd the face of Europe. Meanwhile, Steffen was fighting his own battle, struggling against hardships and financial difficulties. Although he went bankrupt, he persevered in securing loans to conclude his masterpiece. The end of WWI finally saw Steffen’s dream accomplished but his health had already deteriorated and though only in his mid-40s he died. Robert Steffen’s legacy

Today, 100 years later, we enjoy one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, which is admired by the entire world. Needless to say it’s not only an emblem of our area but also a Swiss and European landmark. As a hotel, it is owned and managed perfectly by a well-known Gstaad family. I was fortunate to first know it when I was visiting with my parents decades ago. Recently, the idea of a feature film on the adventurous life of Robert Steffen and his Gstaad Palace miracle has been taking shape in my mind. The story has it all: a great location as a backdrop, an inventive and adventurous protagonist who struggled but persevered – and died early. My friends Serbian film director Emir Kusturica and the Italian actress Monica Belucci are enthusiastic about the idea and encouraged me to come up with a film script. I am therefore looking for a talented writer, who would like to be part of this project and could write a script for this film. YANNIS SIATOPOULOS

Robert Steffen with his wife Luise

Courtesy of Gstaad Palace

We are looking for a talented writer who wants to be part of this project by writing a film script on the story of Robert Steffen and the Gstaad Palace. Historical sources, guidance and assistance will be provided. If you are interested send your contact details to

GstaadLife 8 I 2018



A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT KIND OF TRAVEL GUIDE Farrol Kahn‘s book on Gstaad is about local personalities who live and work in the region. He'd now like to obtain pictures for the book and is running a photo competition. Portraying a completely normal way of life

Visitors derive great entertainment and pleasure from things that are part of the normal daily routine for locals. Farrol Kahn is using this to arouse the curiosity of potential visitors to the Saanenland. He’s already written several similar guides. For example, in his book about Montreux, he gave an overview of this Mediterranean city, including the kinds of intricate details he could only portray through having contact with the people who live there. Why are the people here so friendly?

For Farrol Kahn, this question is the focus of his book and he uses it to encourage people to visit the Saanenland. We’ve all seen the “glamorous pictures of Gstaad” and the Saanenland as a retreat for the “rich and famous”. That’s why he’s consulted the locals to find out about the origins of the charm and friendliness he’s encountered in the Saanenland. “The traditions that guests benefit from are still an active part of everyday life here,” explains the author with much enthusiasm. “People

Jenny Sterchi

Writes authentic travel guides: Farrol Kahn

make their living through traditional crafts.” He is convinced that this authenticity has a great appeal. The opportunity to identify with the people featured in the book will attract potential visitors. Public figures who were born and raised in the Saanenland and have spent most of their lives here tell their story in this book. The reader will learn things that even locals may be surprised to read. This will help the reader to identify with “everyday life”. Interest is aroused by the unique roles and unexpected events that the main characters in the book live out on a day-to-day basis. Who‘s Farrol Kahn?

The author Farrol Kahn is very much a cosmopolitan character. Born in South Africa, his life journey has taken him through New Zealand, Greece, Great Britain and Switzerland, where he’s now settled. He chose to be an author through a desire to exert an influence and move people through his writing. In both his specialist books (such as The Curse of Icarus: The Health Factor in Air Travel), as well as in his

travel guides, he combines well-researched facts with well-founded data and subtly appeals to the reader to take on board the subjects he’s dealing with. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS

THE PHOTO COMPETITION Faroll Kahn is looking for photos for his book on Gstaad that reflect the authenticity described above. “Who better to provide photos than the people who live here and know the Saanenland,” says the author, explaining his plan to include locals and guests in the design of his book through his photo competition. Those entering the competition are free to choose the subject of their photos. Photos could be, for example, the yodel club during rehearsals or a farmer milking his cows. All subjects are welcome. Entrants could also take photos of their favourite place in the Saanenland or maybe a picture of something completely unique to the area. Anyone between the ages of 8 and 80 can take part. Photo resolutions should be as high as possible (min. 1 MB) and sent to A jury that will include the author will choose the ten winning pictures after the closing date on 31 January 2019. These photos will then be published in the book on Gstaad.

Joanna Blanquart White is exhibiting her collages of Marilyn Monroe at the Atelier Buch und Bild in Gstaad. The artist began her work on Marilyn by complete chance in 1972. Marilyn Monroe was only 36 years old when she died and the circumstances surrounding her death are still unclear. It is a mystery to this day whether she was murdered or committed suicide. In 1972, on the tenth anniversary of her passing, the newspapers, magazines and photo journals were full of Monroe pictures and Blanquart White was struck by these.

symbol. Her work is a way of continuously showcasing Monroe’s role. Titles like Belle et Tais-toi or To Bed Not to Bed express these sentiments. “Monroe slowly started to represent my colour palette, my colours, my brush, my black and white. She took on her own form,” says the Englishwoman. For a limited period of time, Blanquart White’s beautiful collages,

colourful designs and illustrated poems are on show at the Atelier Buch und Bild in Gstaad. Joanna Blanquart White’s work is also on sale. JUSTINE HEWSON / AVS

Atelier Buch und Bild Kirchstrasse 7, Gstaad Tue-Fri 2pm-6pm Sat 10am-4pm

At that time, she’d moved to Geneva and had been an artist and cosmopolitan for many years. “I found myself in a difficult situation with three small children.” She doesn’t know exactly why she began to cut out and collect Monroe pictures back then. However, at some point, she started collecting them and then made collages out of the many thousands of pictures. By cutting, sticking and shaping, she framed tributes to the 1960s sex

Joanna Blanquart White (centre) with her son Shahn White and Petra von Claveren for the Atelier Buch und Bild






Elevation 1049, an art concept with

Returning in January 2019, CinemArt is a film series presented by Hauser & Wirth in collaboration with the Ciné-Theater in Gstaad. A special programme open to the public will offer unique insights into the lives and work of significant international contemporary and modern artists, including a selection connected to Hauser & Wirth’s programme. Featured artists and wellknown personalities from the art world include Alberto Giacometti, Eduardo Chillida, Max Bill, Hans Josephsohn, Jenny Holzer, Pablo Picasso, Arshile Gorky and Piero Manzoni.

site-specific outdoor exhibitions, visits the Saanenland for its third winter iteration.

The basic concept of outdoor installations strewn over the region remains the same but his upcoming edition, entitled Frequencies, will introduce new elements. Over the official opening weekend 1-3 February a group of visual and performing artists will present live performances in various locations. Thematically the 2019 edition will revolve around the notion of frequencies, which Doug Aitken’s installation Mirage Gstaad will literally reflect with an architectural installation that mirrors the light, the sky and interacts with the surrounding landscape. His work will remain in place for the duration of two years. As in previous years, Elevation 1049 is curated by Neville Wakefield and Olympia Scarry.

Screenings will take place throughout January and February 2019 at the Ciné-Theater in Gstaad. The programme begins on 4 January 2019 with a screening of Final Portrait (2017). The film follows Alberto Giacometti and the American writer James Lord’s off-beat friendship, after Lord sits for a portrait by the artist in 1964. Directed by Stanley Tucci, it is an insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity and chaos of the artistic mind. Programme and tickets:

GstaadLife 8 I 2018


Young breeders from the Saanen region have shone during the 25th Berner Junior-Expo that took place in Thun in the middle of November. They scooped five victories in various categories and four further podium places. The Berner Junior-Expo is an opportunity for young breeders from the region to show off their best cattle, including cows in their first and second lactation. About 500 animals from the Simmental, Swiss Fleckvieh, Red Holstein, Holstein, Brown Swiss and original Braunvieh breeds were at the show in Thun. Young breeders from Saanen enjoyed great success with a total of nine podium places, including five wins in various categories.

The Simmental Malto Alena with breeder Jonathan Trachsel brought home one of the victories





TRAIT 4 . 1 . 19 . . . FINAL POR DEPTH OF AIR E H T . A ID L IL H C . . . 11 . 1 . 19 . 18 . 1 . 19 . . . MAX BILL ENMASS DAS ABSOLUTE AUG OHN. BILDHAUER S H P E S JO . . . 19 . 1 . 5 2 NY HOLZER 1 . 2 . 19 . . . ABOUT JEN E PICASSO 8 . 2 . 19 . . . LE MYSTER GORKY 1 5 . 2 . 19 . . . WITHOUT I. ARTISTA N O Z N A M O R IE P . . . 22 . 2 . 19

A cinematic journey into the art world. Programme winter 2019 Screenings every Friday at 5:30 pm throughout the winter season 2019 at the Ciné-Theater in Gstaad


GstaadLife 8 I 2018



15 participants are nominated in five categories and wait for your vote! On Saturday, 23 February 2019, the best sailors in Switzerland will be honoured at the 6th SUI Sailing Awards in Berne. This month began the final phase with the announcement of the nominations. Two GYC Racing Team members are on the list in the category for Male Sailor of the Year 2017-2018: Mateo Sanz Lanz (Windsurfing) and Nils Theuninck (Finn). Votes from the public will determine the winner of the Public Award. Additionally, 30% of the votes from the public will be considered for the overall results. Votes are open until 31 January 2019 on Successful GYC Racing Team in autumn

The GYC Racing Team members Eliot Merceron, Mateo Sanz Lanz and Nils Theuninck successfully concluded their racing season 2018 with the Olympic week in Enoshima in September 2018. During three weeks the athletes had the possibility to race in the waters of the Olympic Games. The regattas in Enoshima kicked off with the World Cup, where Mateo Sanz Lanz won silver in the RS:X windsurf class. With multiple top ten rankings, the other GYC Racing Team athletes also achieved promising results. Laser Standard sailor Eliot Merceron finished 24th in a fleet of 59 participants. Nils Theuninck qualified for the Medal Race. After a break of five days the races for the Olympic week started and all the GYC Racing Team athletes managed to finish the competition in the top ten. Eliot Merceron finished in 8th position, Nils Theuninck in 6th and Mateo Sanz Lanz made it all the way up and took the victory at the final competition before the winter break.

Nils Theuninck dominates Swiss Finn Championship

With the success over the complete competition and the victory in the Medal Race, Nils Theuninck became well-deserved Swiss Champion in the Finn class with an amazing lead of 24 points. The competition took place in the middle of November. In a close fight for the silver medal, Christoph Burger moved up to 2nd place and Jßrgen Eiermann followed in 3rd position. After the great result at the World Cup in Enoshima, this title is proof of Theuninck’s great talent and gives hope for more successes in the future. The sailing season 2018 was packed with many hours of hard work on the water for trainings and regattas. The sailors now enjoy a period of rest and recuperation before heading to Miami for the next round of the World Cup Series in February 2019. GSTAAD YACHT CLUB

Nils Theuninck at the Swiss Finn Championships in Morges

Sailing Energy/World Sailing


Mateo Sanz Lanz (left) celebrating his success at the World Cup Series in Enoshima

GstaadLife 8 I 2018


Racing driver Karim Ojjeh from Schönried has recently starred in a BMW commercial. Filming took place last September in Schönried and Gstaad. The backdrop could hardly have been a more idyllic as the late summer sun blazed down in a cloudless sky above the Rellerli on the day that the two-person camera team began filming in the Saanenland. The two film specialists had already filmed Ojjeh during a race in Budapest. The fact that he won that race was a great bonus for the film. Reporting on successful BMW motorsport racing drivers

The BMW company planned to make a documentary on the BMW customer races. They chose three amateur racing drivers and decided to make a short film about them. Among others, they chose Ojjeh. He’d enjoyed an excellent season with impressive results. Before the last race of the season took place in Barcelona, he was already celebrating winning the championship title in his category.

The documentary aimed to follow the racing driver around on the track, as well as in everyday life. He invited the film crew, Magdalena and Markus, to the Rellerli to show them his homeland. “This view practically moves me to tears,” enthused Magdalena, the camerawoman. After taking shots of his home in Schönried, the three then went to Gstaad. Ojjeh’s commitments

In addition to motor sports, Karim Ojjeh also runs his own clothing brand and supports the management team of the Ruci restaurant in Gstaad. The clothes from his collection helped to set the scene when filming took place, as well as Ruci ice cream – something Ojjeh absolutely loves. The camera team were very much impressed by the Saanenland and presented the protagonist in a great light. “He’s a very likeable actor and gives spontaneous answers when interviewed. He’s also happy with practically every shot” agreed Magdalena and Markus.

TITLE WIN FOR KARIM OJJEH Karim Ojjeh is champion in the 2018 Blancpain GT Sports Club. The Team Boutsen Ginion Racing driver in the BMW M6 GT3 laid claim to the title at the penultimate race weekend of the season at the beginning of September after winning the main race at the Hungaroring. This was Ojjeh’s first title in the Blancpain GT Sports Club. His sixth class win of the season also saw him win the trophy for overall victory in the Titanium Cup. Congratulations!


Ojjeh in action – for once not behind the steering wheel but in front of the camera

Jenny Sterchi




GstaadLife 8 I 2018


WINTER SPORT SERIES: SKIJORING Grainy black-and-white photos of skiing in glamorous Gstaad during the 1940s and 50s often portray some aggressively brash styles considering the technology of the day: laminated wood planks with un-releasable Kandahar bindings, leather-basketed bamboo poles. These people were the edgy forerunners of today’s extreme generation, engaging in long-distance jumping at the Matte, screaming plunges down the Wasserngrat, and…racing on skis behind horses. Come again? Since at least 1922, visitors to Gstaad have been racing around tracks on skis pulled by galloping horses, a sport known as skijoring (Skijöring in Swiss). Derived from the Norwegian word for ‘ski driving’, in its broadest definition the sport consists of a person on skis being pulled by an animal or motor vehicle. The sport’s ancient anteced-

ents are unclear, but may go as far back as 4,500 BC to the Sami people in northern Fennoscandia, where reindeer were used as draught animals to pull small toboggans or skiers. The earliest written account of a skier being pulled by an animal comes from China sometime during the Yuan and Ming dynasty period (1241-1644), and states that “tens of dogs pull a person on a pair of wooden boards”. First seen in competition at the 1901 Nordic Games, and later as a demonstration sport at the 1928 Winter Olympics in St Moritz (its solitary Olympic appearance), skijoring was originally considered a military competition, being a method of transporting military dispatches in winter. Since the early 1900s, skijoring has become popular as an unconventional wintertime spectacle, with competitions such as White Turf in St Moritz garnering considerable international exposure.

Variations abound. Horses, ponies, and dogs seem to be the preferred quadrupedal motive power, but some choose to be pulled by snowmobiles, motorcycles, and automobiles. In the 1950s, a skier achieved 175km/h being towed behind a low-flying plane. Bentley Motors, in a 2012 promotional event with ski partner Zai in Gstaad, towed sixteen-time world skijoring champion Franco Moro and accompanying journalists behind a 2012 Bentley Continental GT. GstaadLife readers don’t have to go to these extremes to experience the rush of this thrilling hybrid winter sport: the 2nd friendly skijoring competition in Gstaad will be held 2 February 2019. 

ALEX BERTEAässe-events/ skijöring-turnier-gstaad.

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GstaadLife 8 I 2018


Adobe Stock


A BRIEF HISTORY OF… …CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN GSTAAD Midwinter, or the hibernal solstice, is the longest and darkest night of the year, when our planet tilts its northern reaches furthest from the sun’s warm embrace, when man most craves light. Since time immemorial, humankind has striven to keep the winter dark and cold at bay and has pined for the revitalization that comes with spring. Torches, wax tapers, and the display of evergreen boughs were used during the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which ran for a week from 17 to 24 December (Julian calendar). This popular, pagan, end-of-autumn festival, eventually coopted by Christian Rome into the Church’s calendar, involved wreaths and greenery, over-eating, drinking, singing, gift-giving and overall joyful celebration – by torch, taper and candlelight. Sound familiar? Although they certainly existed earlier in northern Europe, the first documented Christmas tree appeared in Strasbourg in 1604, and the first historical mention of Christmas trees adorned with candles appeared in southeastern Saxony in 1737. At the time, candles were comparatively expensive, restricting the custom to upper-class households, who could presumably afford to rebuild should they accidently burn down their houses. The first strand of electric lights was created by the inventor Thomas Edison, and hung outside his Menlo Park, New Jersey lab during the 1880 Christmas season – whether these count as Christmas lights is a matter


GstaadLife 8 I 2018

of definition. In 1882, Edison’s associate Edward H Johnson is credited with first stringing 80 red, white and blue electric lights on a Christmas tree, which he displayed to the press and public from his Manhattan townhouse parlor window on a rotating platform. Johnson also pioneered the tradition of doing more each year: in 1884, he had 120 lights on his tree. Fast-forward to Gstaad in the early 1970s. Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards had recently bought chalet Fleur de Lys, and Andrews thought it a pity that the town’s gently-sloping roofs she found so endearing disappeared at night during wintertime. So, to give Gstaad some sparkle, Andrews purchased 1,000 Christmas lights for the tourist office, something that would have far exceeded the bureau’s holiday budget. In a spectacularly generous display of incandescent holiday good cheer, Andrews funded the utility costs and maintenance of the socalled Julie-Lämpli along Gstaad’s Hauptstrasse for the next dozen years. Since 1991, the munificent tradition of maintaining those twinkling gabled eaves is carried on by the Dekorationsgruppe Gstaad. Six people working on a voluntary basis, often in the evenings, install and maintain some 78 rooflines of lights along

the Promenade, providing that effervescent holiday brio that so defines Gstaad in December. The legacy of Andrews’ illumining inspiration is well served by her civic-minded successors. The idea caught fire. For example, BKW-ISP, a local electrical services group, provisions an additional 140 chalet roofs with illumination, along with installing lights on trees, wreaths and balconies for approximately 75 subscribers. Until two years ago, those strands had individual bulbs, which would necessitate arduous acrobatics to fix should one fail high above. Today, strings of LEDs, with their inherent reliability, alleviate the worry of frequent replacement, and sadly deprive us of stories of rooftop derring-do around the Christmas hearth. Torches, tapers and candles, those most traditional of all Christmas lights, can still be found everywhere in the Saanenland, both indoors and out, bathing entryways, windows and rooms with their warmth and timeless glow. We’re not so different from our ancient forebears. Our hearts cheerfully anticipate the waxing of the light in the new year. Frohe Festtage and Joyeuses Fêtes to all! ALEX BERTEA

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Traditionally the Trechlerclub Gsteig ring out good luck for the New Year in the streets of Gstaad.

Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true

So wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson in one verse of his 1850 poem Ring Out, Wild Bells. Saanenland is no exception in making bells a central element of New Year’s Eve celebrations. But here in Switzerland the bells in question are, of course, cow bells. While some campaign to have bells removed from cows’ necks, claiming the constant clanging makes the animals unhappy, it’s not only cows that lug these huge lumps of clanging metal through the streets. Trechlerclubs

If you’re in Gstaad on New Year’s Eve you would need to be very unlucky or hiding under a log to miss the traditional cow bell parade through the village. The procession of the local Treichlerclub starts at 9pm at the Molkerei then heads along the Promenade through the centre of town. On the parade’s return trip it winds its way through various restaurants, delighting diners and hard-working hospitality staff alike. Guide timings for the parade are: Hotel Park Gstaad at 11pm, Restaurant-Bar Rialto at 11.30pm and Gstaad Palace at midnight with many other venues included in-between. I have been lucky enough to witness this parade many times and each year the rhythmic clanging of the approaching bells sends shivers down my spine. All conversation ceases and people crane their necks in the direction of the noise, eager to catch their first glimpse. The bell ringers (both men and women) march in formation, a dozen or so in a kind of pack. They each grasp a bell in




their hands and move in a half-swaying motion as they wend their way down the street, into restaurants and between tables and chairs. The bells come in all shapes and sizes from big to large to impossibly large. It must be a very effective workout. The bell ringers wear bright, embroidered smocks that don’t seem best suited to the harshness of deep winter, yet despite the total absence of coats, scarves and gloves the ringers seem unaffected by the frosty weather. I can only assume (and hope!) they receive sufficient celebratory sustenance to keep them warm as they go about their night’s work.

er strap. We get a brass plaque engraved with the newlyweds’ names and their wedding date and have this affixed to the leather strap. Love it or hate it you’ve got to agree it’s an original present. It usually goes down well, especially when we tell the happy couple it brings good luck. At worst we get bemused looks, but most of the time it is taken in the spirit as intended. There is also a definite upside to giving a cow bell as a gift. Everyone’s heard tales of couples receiving three toasters or two coffee machines, despite the most organised of wedding present lists. We are always more than certain our present will not be duplicated.

Lucky bells?

Many believe that ringing bells at New Year drives out evil spirits and brings good luck. At some point since moving to Switzerland we translated this into creating a new family tradition of our own: whenever we’re invited to a wedding we give a cow bell to the happy couple. We organise this at the veritable treasure trove that is the Quincaillerie Daenzer shop in Moulins. There we buy a shiny new cow bell and leath-

And now, I suppose, we can be certain to receive no further wedding invitations following this admission of the gift we bear. Still I like to think Lord Alfred Tennyson would approve. Let the bells ring out good luck for 2019 wherever you may be. Happy New Year! ANNA CHARLES

GstaadLife 8 I 2018



Hotel des Alpes Saanenmöser 033 748 04 50,

Le Grand Bellevue 033 748 00 00,

Hotel Spitzhorn 033 748 41 41,

Park Gstaad 033 748 98 00,

Hotel Alpenland 033 765 91 34,

The Alpina Gstaad 033 888 98 88, Ultima Gstaad 033 748 05 50, ERMITAGE, Wellness- & Spa Hotel 033 748 04 30, Golfhotel Les Hauts de Gstaad 033 748 68 68, Hotel de Rougemont

Hotel Alphorn 033 748 45 45, Hotel Bellerive 033 748 88 33, Hotel Kernen 033 748 40 20, Hotel Landhaus 033 748 40 40,

Member of Design HotelsTM

026 921 01 01, HUUS Gstaad 033 748 04 04, Boutique Hotel Alpenrose 033 748 91 91, Hotel Arc-en-Ciel 033 748 43 43, Hotel Bernerhof 033 748 88 44, Hotel Christiania 033 744 51 21, Hotel Gstaaderhof 033 748 63 63,

Hotel Garni Saanerhof 033 744 15 15, Posthotel Rössli 033 748 42 42, Sporthotel Victoria 033 748 44 22,

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 on Thursdays in the ERMITAGE, Wellness & Spa Hotel, Schönried 033 748 60 60. For details and programme refer to President: Aldo Kropf, 079 748 86 86 Soroptimist International President: Ursula Breuninger 033 744 05 80 Programme: Patricia Glauser Edreira 076 426 16 11 Club des Leaders President: Jean-Sébastien Robine

IMPORTANT NUMBERS Ambulance 144, Police 117 Fire 118 Medical Emergency: 0900 57 67 47

Alpine Lodge B&B 033 748 41 51,

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

Hotel Restaurant Bären 033 755 10 33, info@bä

Car Accident: 033 744 88 80

Sun&Soul Panorama Pop-Up Hotel Solsana 033 748 16 17,

Château-d’Oex Hospital: 026 923 43 43

Zweisimmen Hospital: 033 729 26 26

Veterinarian: 033 748 08 58 / 033 744 06 61

Hotel Le Grand Chalet 033 748 76 76,

Hotel Valrose 026 923 77 77,

Hotel Olden 033 748 49 50,

Hotel Wildhorn 033 765 30 12,

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

Romantik Hotel Hornberg 033 748 66 88,

Jugendherberge Gstaad Saanenland 033 744 13 43, gstaadsaanenland@ Contact:


GstaadLife 8 I 2018


Profile for Müller Medien

GstaadLife 8/2018, 28 December  

The exclusive news and lifestyle magazine of Gstaad

GstaadLife 8/2018, 28 December  

The exclusive news and lifestyle magazine of Gstaad

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