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Issue 8 | 31 December 2019 CHF 3.50

ROBERT SPETH Cutting back – a little bit



Grand opening

Still a long way to go




W I N T E R D E L I G H T S AT LE GRAND BELLEVUE Dr. Barbara Sturm Residency at Le Grand Spa


We are delighted to welcome celebrated aesthetic doctor Dr. Barbara Sturm as a practitioner and her team in residence from 14th - 21st of February Instant Glow Facial ¦ 45 mins - CHF 150 Super Anti-Aging Facial ¦ 45 mins - CHF 300 Treatments available the whole season

New Year‘s Day Brunch Savour mouthwateringly delicious cuisine whilst listening to the mesmerizing tunes of the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra‘s New Year Concert 1st January

Massimo Bottura The world‘s top chef Massimo Bottura will return this winter season taking over the kitchen at Leonard‘s for an unmissable gastronomic experience 1st - 3rd April

Meditteranean Night at Leonard‘s Experience authentic dishes and vibrant flavours by our Chef Francesco de Bartolomeis 12th January

„Good luck“ Eho-Maki

South American Flavors at Leonard‘s Exotic buffet with creative cocktails 1st March

Fancy foreign traditions? Celebrate „Setsubun“ , the beginning of spring in Japan with an Eho-Maki roll and cast away evil spirits for the coming year 4th - 5th February

The Sushi Bar Lunch 12.00 - 15.00 Dinner 18.00 - 22.00 All winter long

Krug Carnotzet An evening to remember, topped off with champagne and culinary delights Available until 28th March

Gourmet Food Truck

Afternoon Tea with live music

„Alice in Wonderland“ Easter Brunch

Located on top of the Eggli mountain, it‘s the perfect combination of outdoor adventure and delicious Gourmet food 8th February

Enjoy our lavish afternoon tea and unwind to the sound of smooth jazz tunes 16.00 - 19.00 daily All winter long

Festive treats, cocktails, live cooking station and plenty of entertainment await from 11.45 12th April



It is a sensitive topic in the Saanenland: health care. Locals and guests bemoaned the loss of the Saanen hospital – and some still do. At the same time, the looming problem of soon-to-retire GPs who might not find a successor for their practice is wellknown. All attempts to make a significant move in health care have failed so far, which always feels like too many hours of hard work and too much money lost for nothing. But now the good news. Plans are being worked on to which all involved parties agree. Local authorities, politicians, experts, and medics agree on the general direction the health care project must take. The approach seems sensible and down-to-earth. Certainly, these developments must make everybody happy and satisfy sceptics and doubters. I admit, I was surprised and took the news in with a slight sense of disbelief. It sounded too good to be true. Everybody was agreeing and so happy about the developments of the last months. Is it possible?! The sceptic in me says that there are still many hurdles ahead (not least financial ones) but I also hope that they will be overcome.


Best regards,


Grand opening of the new Eggli cable car Some of the best winter hotels are in the Saanenland Infrastructure in culture and sports – quo vadis? Saanen and Zweisimmen fire brigades to merge rescue service Condé Nast Traveler award for Gstaad The Municipal Assembly saves the beach volleyball tournament Zukunft Saanen: The project I Am My Bodyguard The Chesery is to be sold A good summer in tourism

9 9 11 13 15 16 16


The end of an era

GSTAAD LIVING Next steps for health care The first of its kind: Le Chalet Marie-José

20 22

ARTS & CULTURE The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad Celebrates its 20th anniversary The merry go round Art in film No nonsense

A mechanically snow-covered trail in Schönried Decision on the finish line Markus Iseli, Publishing Director

6 7 7

25 27 29 29

30 31


Expat adventure Cover photo: Fotosign Ulrich GstaadLife, Anzeiger von Saanen, Kirchstrasse 6, P.O. Box 201, 3780 Gstaad, Phone: 033 748 88 74, Fax: 033 748 88 84, www.gstaadlife.com Management Board and Publisher: Frank Müller, frank.mueller@gstaadlife.com Publishing Director & Editor in Chief: Markus Iseli, markus.iseli@gstaadlife.com Contributors: Alex Bertea, Anna Charles, Guy Girardet, Gstaad Yacht Club, Justine Hewson, Anne Christine Kempton Layout: Dorina Reichenbach, Epu Shaha Advertising: Eliane Behrend, advertising@gstaadlife.com, 033 748 88 71 Subscriptions: Esther Brand-de Groot, subscriptions@gstaadlife.com, 033 748 88 74 "AvS" in the author line refers to the Anzeiger von Saanen. Contact the editor for more information.n.

GstaadLife 8 I 2019


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J. Krishnamurti in Saanen 1961 – 1985 The Saanen Museum (next to the Tourist Office) is hosting a multiple-language exhibition on the philosopher and educator J. Krishnamurti. It highlights his work and long association with Saanen, where he gave public talks for thousands of people from around the world every summer from 1961 to 1985. On the following days, there will be a short video followed by an open dialogue: z 29 January:

16.00–17.30 (Eng/Ger)

z 13 February:

16.00–18.00 (Ger) – with aperitif

z 01 March:

15.00–16.30 (Fr)

z 22 March:

16.00–17.30 (Eng)

z 05 April:

15.30–17.30 (Eng/Ger)

Moving ahead in health care, with a large coalition and high hopes GstaadLife 8 I 2019


In heavy snowfall and under the eyes of many interested people, the new 10-person panoramic gondola lift was opened on Saturday. The ride up Gstaad's local mountain takes just under five minutes. The cost of the lift, including the administration building, is around CHF 15m.


ith a few yodelling songs, the yodel club “Bärgfriede” opened the festivities for the opening of the new cable car up Gstaad’s local mountain. “The realisation of the Eggli cable car is a further milestone in BDG’s forward strategy,” said chairman of the board Heinz Brand, welcoming the illustrious crowd of guests. According to Brand, the fact that the cable car could be realised is primarily due to the great financial commitment of the two Gstaad regular guest associations, Société pour la Préservation de l’Eggli and Club de Luge. Only ten years ago the railway was on the brink of collapse, as Brand explained. “From a business management point of view, a renewal made no sense. But in terms of economic impact on the whole region, it was and is of great importance. When it became clear that the BDG could not afford a new construction, the Eggli fans around Michael de Picciotto became active. “It was a wonderful adventure, in which the people involved have invested a lot of energy and financial resources over the past five years,” says Picciotto. “It was a long way, but a dream came true.” Generous support

BDG is investing around CHF 18m in the facilities. The cable car costs CHF 12m, the annex building with offices and studios for employees costs CHF 3m, and BDG is investing CHF 3m in the new Berghaus. “The two regular guest associations are


GstaadLife 8 I 2019

contributing CHF 8m à fonds perdu and CHF 2m in the form of shares to the costs of the cable car and are supporting us with additional millions in the construction of the new Berghaus,” Brand informed. The federal government has also recognised the importance of the project. It granted an interest-free loan of CHF 8m for the two new cable cars Saanersloch and Eggli and obliged the BDG to use CHF 3.2m thereof for the new Eggli lift. A beacon project

“Good things come to those who wait,” emphasised Matthias In-Albon, managing director of the BDG. Although the new lift was built in a record time of 280 days, the process from initial idea to realisation took a total of five years. He thanked the Club de Luges for their enormous support. “We are talking about a beacon project with an impact. With this project, we are taking an important Cutting through the red ribbon (from left): Matthias In-Albon (managing director of BDG AG), Michael de Picciotto (representative of the Société pour la Préservation de l'Eggli and Club de Luge), Benedikt Weibel (former CEO of SBB) and Heinz Brand (chairman of the board of BDG AG)



GRAND OPENING OF THE NEW EGGLI CABLE CAR step towards repositioning the Eggli,” said In-Albon. “The investments that have been and will be made in the cable cars and in the Berghaus will bring an enormous revaluation for the whole region”. A joyful day

The cable car was officially opened by Benedikt Weibel, the former CEO of the Swiss railways SBB. Weibel had only been on the Eggli once in his life – more than twenty years ago – he confessed, but it left a lasting impression. “It’s an absolute day of joy today,” rejoiced Weibel: “Firstly, we are allowed to cut the ribbon, and secondly, starting tomorrow, the days will be longer again ...”, he said with laughter. Following the official opening, everyone was able to enjoy a free ride in the new, comfortable gondolas up Gstaad’s local mountain, where appetizers were served in the open air. BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER


SOME OF THE BEST WINTER HOTELS ARE IN THE SAANENLAND For the ninth time, hotel expert Karl Wild presented the the winter hotel ranking in the SonntagsZeitung. No less than eight Saanenland hotels impressed Wild and made it onto his list of the best winter hotels in Switzerland. The Gstaad Palace, the Spitzhorn and the Le Grand Bellevue Gstaad are amongst the hotels of the region to receive kudos.

The five-star category

With five hotels among the top 25 five-star winter hotels, the Saanenland occupies a significant position. The Gstaad Palace climbed two places compared to last year. Now in third place, it impressed with its status as a majestic landmark in Gstaad and its new suites. Wild awarded the title of luxury hotel with room for improvement to The Alpina Gstaad. It climbed one place to 10th position. The Park Gstaad and the Wellness & Spa Hotel Ermitage in Schönried each climbed three places and are now ranked 12th and 22nd. The Le Grand Bellevue in Gstaad comes in 7th, the same as last year. However, the hotel expert confirmed that the hotel was better than ever before. He described it as a cool, fresh lifestyle hotel with an ingenious cuisine.

The increase in overnight stays there also goes a long way to confirming its status. Hotel Spitzhorn at the top

Among the three-star hotels, the Hotel Spitzhorn in Saanen hasn’t lost its top place for some time. According to Wild, inquisitive guests who were first accommodated in the newly opened hotel six years ago have now become regulars. Wild calls the Hotel Kernen in Schönried a jewel in the Bernese Oberland, confirming its 8th position this year. The Hotel Hornberg in Saanenmöser represents the Saanenland’s four-star winter hotels, coming in 11th place. BASED ON AVS / JENNY STERCHI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

INFRASTRUCTURE IN CULTURE AND SPORTS – QUO VADIS? The municipality of Saanen and Gstaad Saanenland Tourism (GST) have commissioned a working group by order of the Contact Committee for Economics of the municipality of Saanen to address the matter of infrastructures for culture & sports.


needs analysis and assessment of the status quo will be carried out to determine the need for new infrastructure and to record existing projects. Also, based on a master plan, the development potential for future years will be highlighted in line with the regional strategy.

The working group, made up of representatives from the municipality of Saanen and GST, intends to evaluate the need for infrastructure for culture, events and sporting purposes, as well as for congresses, in the region. The group will uniformly record existing projects in these areas. The aim is to

get an overall picture of the infrastructure needs for these areas to promote sustainable development in Gstaad while identifying the best synergies for the various needs and projects. The plan is for the working group to present the results to the Contact Committee for Economics during the first quarter of 2020 and define the next steps. The contacts for the working group are mayor Toni von Grünigen and GST president David Matti. BASED ON AVS TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

GstaadLife 8 I 2019



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Since the Saanenland lacks the appropriate professionals to assist in


rescue situations, the Zweisimmen fire brigade has been helping

At the annual Reader’s Choice

out. This should change from now on, as there are enough interest-

Awards Gstaad landed on first

ed people who can be trained in this special task.

place in the category of Best Ski Resorts in Europe.


t the end of 2018, eight members of the Saanen Fire Department announced their resignation (as we previously reported). They all belonged to the emergency rescue service. The special base in Saanen currently lacks appropriate professionals. So, since the beginning of this year, moves have been made to involve the fire department in Zweisimmen in rescues in the Saanenland and not the Saanan fire brigade. This will soon be a thing of the past, emphasises Peter Frick, fire inspector for the canton of Bern: “The Saanen fire brigade has recruited enough interested people to be trained for this special role. The safety of citizens has always been guaranteed.” Public rescue in the event of an accident is provided on behalf of the canton and training is managed by the Gebäudeversicherung Bern (GVB). Merger on 1 January 2021

To ensure that enough fire fighters are available for rescues, the two sites will be merged into a special base on 1 January 2021 but only regarding the emergency services. “This means

that, for rescues, from 1 January 2021, specialists from both locations will be deployed at the same time,” explains Linda Zampieri of the GVB. A working group comprising members of the Saanen and Zweisimmen municipal councils came to the conclusion that a merger was the best model for the future. This model has proven to work in the Emmental, where the special support bases of Langnau and Eggiwil have been cooperating for more than ten years, says Frick. Apart from public rescues, the Saanen and Zweisimmen fire brigades will remain as they are. Relief for the municipality

It is a relief that the staff shortage will soon be over, says Toni von Grünigen, mayor of Saanen. “Zweisimmen has supported us very well in public rescues. But it is important that we get our own people back soon.” There are three to four rescue missions a year in the region, according to Frick. Often agriculture is involved, such as emergencies with overturned vehicles. BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

The rescue service will be jointly organised by the fire brigades Gstaad and Zweisimmen as from 2021.




For over three decades Condé Nast Traveler has been asking its readers which places they like best. 600,000 registered voters cast their ballot and told the magazine about their favourite hotels, resort, trains, etc. Condé Nast Traveler writes about the winner of the Best Ski Resort in Europe: “A traffic-free town center, including a promenade lined with luxury boutiques, and fairy-tale Swiss architecture make this one of Europe’s most traditional winter destinations. Charming chalet villages adorn the entrances to the various ski areas. A range of superb slopes make Gstaad accessible for all and gourmands appreciate Michelin-starred restaurants, such as La Cave and Chesery.” On another travel site, Big 7 Travel, Gstaad also figures in a ranking. They asked their readers to name their favourite place to spend New Year’s Eve. Gstaad made it into the top 50 on 45th position, which looks worse than the position in the Condé Nast Traveler ranking. However, the category is much broader, including places on all continent as well as big cities like New York and Sidney. Considering this, 45th place is a great achievement. According to Big 7 Travel, the ranking is based on their social audience of 1.5m people also taking into account city festivities and previous awards. MARKUS ISELI

GstaadLife 8 I 2019



MATERNITÉ ALPINE A birth centre supported by a local cooperative from the SimmentalSaanenland region.


ince the obstetrics ward at the Zweisimmen hospital closed its doors in 2015, the gap in local primary obstetric care was filled with the foundation of the birth centre Maternité Alpine. The underlying ideas of the cooperative are self-help, self-administration and self-responsibility. Public and private donations made the birth centre possible and with the approval of the cantonal health authorities it is eligible for health insurance coverage.

Since the start in 2017 over 160 babies were born in the Maternité Alpine and over 80 women returned with their babies for postnatal care after a hospital delivery. Midwifes provided over 2,500 regular home consultations during pregnancy or the postnatal period and over 300 unplanned consultations as part of the 24h obstetric service, services used by local parents and holiday guests alike. Several local consultants assist in case of need, such as the gynaecologist Dr med Nadine Kleinebekel and the paediatrician Dr med Maria Ader. Maternité Alpine also collaborates closely with the nearby hospitals and the paediatric clinic in Bern.


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For families, this local maternal health service signifies many advantages. It reduces travel distances, time and expenses and in case of need, skilled specialists are available around the clock. Maternité Alpine also helps to prevent the rural exodus of specialists in our region. Given the large area and remoteness of some homes the services cannot be provided in a fully cost-covering manner, which is one reason why Maternité Alpine is still reliant on private donations. www.maternitealpine.ch Eggletistrasse 5a, 3770 Zweisimmen IBAN CH 42 8081 6000 0043 3232 6

At the municipal meeting on 6 December the vote went in favour of restoring the beach volleyball tournament, which had experienced financial difficulties. A contribution of CHF 1.3m was approved without any debate. CHF 1.3m

The beach volleyball tournament has become an important event for the region in the last twenty years, said mayor Toni von Grünigen. Since 2017, the municipality of Saanen has paid an annual contribution of CHF 200,000 to the tournament within the framework of contributions to major events in the Saanen municipality. Due to the precarious financial situation, the organisers of the tournament had asked the municipality for financial support, said von Grünigen. Due to the importance of the tournament for the region the local council responded to this request. The municipal council commissioned the consultancy Transliq AG to carry out a restructuring report, which revealed a dept of CHF 1.4m. The report further showed that additional loans would not be effective, explained von Grünigen, clarifying the proposed solution. In order to prevent people and companies who supported the tournament over recent years from losing any money, the recapitalisation should only be financed through municipal funds. The municipal contribution would thus amount to CHF 1.3m. With an interest-free loan of CHF 1m, a binding payment agreement for CHF 300,000, as well as supporting measures, Sport Events Gstaad GmbH should be restored to a healthy position soon. Supporting measures

The restructuring contributions are linked to various conditions. The term of the loan is five years. Each year, CHF

The Beach Volleyball Tournament will continue thanks to the financial support granted by the municipality of Saanen.




200,000 will be waived. “If the tournament doesn’t go ahead over the next five years, the balance will be repaid.” In addition, the promised funds may only be used to repay credits and loans. A new financial committee will take care of the finances of the company and Transliq AG will submit a report on the company’s financial position every six months to the local council. “This restructuring contribution means that debts are reduced with no effect on the income statement,” said von Grünigen. Annual municipal contributions shall continue as before. Thanks to the reduction of the company’s contribution to the prize money and other measures, the tournament should be able to run in the future without making a loss, von Grünigen states. Amendment by the SVP

Emil Trachsel and Matthias Brunner tabled an amendment on behalf of the SVP. Instead of using a finance committee, Sport Events Gstaad GmbH should extend its management to three or more people. At least half of the members of the management should not be shareholders in Sport Events Gstaad GmbH or have a close connection to the company. All members of the management

will have the right to be the joint authorising signatories. The SVP fully backs the contribution to enable the tournament to continue. They find it important that tournament director Ruedi Kunz continues in this position. However, “we feel it would be good if he gets support on financial matters,” said Trachsel. The application had been discussed in advance with Ruedi Kunz, who supported this, emphasised Brunner. So far, the management has only comprised one managing director as the sole signatory. The event has grown massively over the past twenty years. However, its structure hasn’t been changed and this must now be addressed. When dealing with a budget of more than CHF 2.5m, it is undisputed and self-evident to talk about collective signatures, Brunner continued. If this proposal is agreed, structures like those of an AG could be put in place. Unanimous approval

With 225 votes in favour and 47 against, the SVP’s application was approved without discussion. At the final vote, the restructuring payment of CHF 1.3m was unanimously approved. BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

GstaadLife 8 I 2019



THE REGIONAL RECRUITMENT AGENCY SDIHR is the regional recruitment agency and offers administrative support in Human Resources.


DIHR is the right partner if you are looking for a housekeeper, cook or chauffeur for your private household; or if you need hourly support. They place permanent staff in private households as well as in the hotel and tourism industries. They further lease cleaning staff or other personnel such as cooks and waiters on an hourly basis. SDIHR officially insures the employees through their company and you simply receive the invoice from them. Of course, they have the necessary permits for this from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. With their many years of experience in recruiting and Human Resources in the Gstaad luxury hotel industry they know exactly what you

– as their customer – expect from your employees. Accordingly, they only place candidates with the relevant experience and of whom they know for sure that they will meet your expectations. Additionally, SDIHR offers support in payroll and accounting administration with profound knowledge in Swiss labour law, social insurance and salary administration. So you do not have to let office work clutter your day. Business owner Sabrina Di Iorio and HR Business Partner Tania Leite (pictured from left) look forward to your contacting them. They respond in English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. www.sdihr.ch | Schönried


IACOMET TI. G O T ER LB A . . . 20 . 1 . 3 ARD SCULPTEUR DU REG SUN BLINDED ME E H T , N U S E H T . . . 10 . 1 . 20 OTH 17. 1 . 20 . . . DIETER R 2 4 . 1 . 20 . . . FRIDA ON 31 . 1 . 20 . . . NATIVE S ASSO 7. 2 . 20 . . . PABLO PIC ASSO 1 4 . 2 . 20 . . . PABLO PIC THE INNER FIRE : Ó IR M N A JO . . . 20 . 21 . 2

A cinematic journey into the art world. Programme winter 2020 Screenings every Friday at 5:30 pm throughout the winter season 2020 at the Ciné-Theater in Gstaad

The project Zukunft Saanen has taken a step further on. Eight topics have come to light and goals have now been defined for projects to be set up. Those who are interested can join at any time and get involved.

Your presence shows that you care about how our community will develop in the future. You want to help and have an influence”, Toni von Grünigen welcomed the 60 or so people to the Landhaus. In the run-up to the event, people were invited by the municipality of Saanen and Planval to put forward their ideas and suggestions at the Alpine cheese market, the Gstaad trade fair, online, on Instagram or by email. “We’ve collected suggestions, observed and listened to people”, explained project leader Lorenz Kurtz from Planval.

Many positives

Listening to young people on the street and to regulars often gives the impression that things are not good in the Saanenland. However, this does not seem to be the case. Some pin boards had a striking number of posts expressing positive points such as a “great quality of life” or “we live in a wonderful place”. One visitor fully agreed: “We are very good when it comes to complaining.” However, not everything in the garden is rosy: Racism, a two-tier society, poverty in old age, selling off the homeland, expensive shops and a lack of entertainment for young people are just some of the negative points mentioned.  Ideas, suggestions and wishes were plentiful, ranging from proposals such as generational housing, a seven-metre diving board, the Principality of Saanenland, a well-coordinated public transport system, a magnificent conference building, a biogas plant for using slurry, more bike trails, etc. 

Affordable housing and climate protection

Red and yellow notes were posted almost exclusively for the theme of affordable housing. Not surprisingly, climate protection also attracted considerable attention. For example, light pollution and littering was criticised, and wishes posted for more recycling points or a nature reserve. Eight topics are to be followed up

In the course of the morning, eight topics were prioritised: affordable housing, climate protection, tourism, location/place of residence, sports and leisure facilities, facilities for young people, transport, housing and life in old age, school and care. These are to be followed up and implemented through various working groups. Those present could sign up to join these groups.

An excursion and workshops

An excursion is planned for 25 January 2020. This is designed to inspire the working groups. “The working groups will meet for two workshops on 16 and 30 March 2020,” explained Florian Jakob from Planval. The aim is for each working group to devise two or three goals for development. These would then be publicly presented on 9 May and discussed with all interested parties. “So, people get the opportunity to contribute even if they have not yet been involved in the working groups.” Anyone interested can still join the working groups at any time, said von Grünigen. BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER  TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

www.zukunft-saanen.ch www.saanen.ch https://planval.ch

Lorenz Kurtz of Planval presents the topics that will be followed up in the working groups.

Anita Moser



GstaadLife 8 I 2019



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James and Kathrin Otigbah have a vision: to teach children, adolescents and women self-confidence and fundamental skills in self-defence to prevent bullying and violence – including gender-based violence. precarious situation in many African slums or rural areas, Otigbah offered to carry out his workshops there. To do this, he founded an NGO in Nairobi together with Eunice Nuna. In summer 2019, the time had come: Otigbah and his colleague Chris Yumba travelled to Kenya to analyse the situation, select and instruct local trainers and carry out the first I Am My Bodyguard courses. They took place in a school and in a home that cares for sexually abused girls. A total of 100 children from both institutions were trained. At the end of November, they travelled to Kenya again to teach another 1,000 children.

Origins in the region

The idea to offer courses in conflict management and self-defense came to James Otigbah in 2010 after a conversation with the director of the international school Le Rosey. He works in this area with the school. In 2012, he was asked by the NGO Innocence in Danger to develop a course for children who had been sexually abused. As a safety specialist, however, he had a basic need not only to help children who had already been abused, but also to offer preventive care. He designed suitable prevention courses and initially offered them in the region. The Juga Saanenland-Obersimmental and other schools quickly followed in the footsteps of Le Rosey and Innocence in Danger.

Kids for kids principle

The prevention courses of the Swiss and Kenyan associations are currently financed by donations. However, the Otigbahs are working on building a self-supporting model, for example according to the kids for kids principle: The courses are offered to

Workshops in Kenya

During a two-year assignment from 2014 to 2016, when Otigbah worked as security officer for the Swiss embassy in Nairobi, he came into contact with Eunice Nuna. As a victim of abuse herself, she founded the Wounded Healers Foundation for sexually abused women, which she has been running since. Given the

schools and clubs that can afford to pay for them. This income in turn will finance workshops for children from poor backgrounds in Kenya. Security in the Saanenland

The workshops that train young people basic safety behaviour deserve a permanent place in the region. The content and duration of the courses are adapted to suit the ages and interests of the children and last between three and six hours. The programme includes conflict management on all physical themes: drugs, especially alcohol and smoking, rape or knife attacks. In the more compact courses for elementary school students, bullying is discussed first, before moving on to the second part, which deals with defense techniques when there is a danger to life and limb. BASED ON AVS / SONJA WOLF TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

Left: James and Kathrin Otigbah shortly before the second trip to Kenya in late November.

Courtesy of I Am My Bodyguard

Right: Practical test on a dummy in the red zone at the end of the workshop in Kenya.

Sonja Wolf



GstaadLife 8 I 2019



THE CHESERY IS TO BE SOLD Marcus G. Lindner will only cook for one season in the Chesery. After the winter season, the restaurant will close. The future of the Chesery is still undecided.


n September, top chef Robert Speth said goodbye to the Chesery after 35 years (see profile interview in this edition) and handed over the wooden spoon to Marcus G. Lindner. Preparations for the upcoming season are in full swing. However, it will be the first and last under the watch of the top chef because the Chesery AG Gstaad is to be sold. “Sales negotiations are on-going,” confirmed Mario Moratti on behalf of the Chesery AG Gstaad on enquiry. It is still unclear what will happen to the property after it is sold. It may be demolished, as rumoured

in the media, and give way to a new building with luxury apartments. However, the concept will be up to the buyer to decide once the sale is completed and no secured information has been issued so far. Daniel Koetser, owner of Le Grand Bellevue and tenant of the Chesery, says he regrets this development. However, the situation has emerged over the past few weeks, he says. Those in charge at the Chesery Gstaad AG had informed him of their intentions to sell. “We understand the reasons for the sale,” says Koetser. Basically, he would have liked to buy the Chesery.

“We wanted to keep the Chesery in Gstaad with its important role, but the selling price was too high for us.” Focus on the forthcoming season

Lindner will stay until the end of the season, after which things remain unclear for now, Koetser says, referring to the future of the top chef. It was too early for details. Now, the focus is on the upcoming season. “Hopefully, it will be the best season yet,” said Koetser. “We hope that everyone will come and support us for a grand finale.” BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

A GOOD SUMMER IN TOURISM Although not all data has yet been evaluated, the 2019 summer season has gone very well.


he number of overnight stays has risen by a huge 25,711, compared to the previous year, according to the current figures from Gstaad Saanenland Tourism (GST). When the data arrives for the remaining hotels, the statistics will continue to increase. This means that the region recorded at least a 6.8% increase for overnight stays. This puts the Saanenland well above the Swiss average of 2.4%. Mostly Swiss

Most of the guests come from Switzerland, which confirms the trend of


GstaadLife 8 I 2019

the past years. Also, Europe seems to have woken up after the paralysis due to the strong Swiss franc. In the rankings for the top 5 countries of origin, Germany comes in second, France in third, followed by Great Britain and the Benelux countries. Expectations met

The development is rated positively by the destination and meets with expectations, according to Flurin Riedi, managing director of GST. “As far as the future is concerned, it’s particularly important to further strengthen the off-peak seasons,” he

says. The focus would be on the May/ June and September/October periods. “We want to make better use of this potential!” BASED ON AVS/BLANCA BURRI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

Robert Speth was at the helm of the Chesery for 35 years. Together with his wife, Susanne, they catered for their guests in their typically natural and authentic way. Over the decades Speth cooked himself into the hearts of Gstaad gourmets and into the highest ranks of the trade. For GstaadLife he looks back and remembers challenges and highlight of his career. Robert Speth receives the award for Chef of the Year 2005, which caused a considerable increase of guests that year.

Could you tell us a little about your life before you came to Gstaad?

I was one of seven children and we grew up on a farm near Ravensburg. None of them are in the hotel trade – the catering profession doesn’t run in my family. When I was a child I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mother, watching what she was doing. My first profession was as confissier (pastry chef). I enjoyed it but, after four or five years, I found it a little boring. For me, the difference between a chef and a confissier is that, for a chef, every day is a little bit different. A chef needs to have a feeling for his or her work: one time a dish may need less temperature, another time more, one time it needs to cook for longer, another time for less. For me, being a chef is a more creative profession and later you have more contact with the clients. I think that is very important. I grew up in the south of Germany and never planned to work in Switzerland. I worked as a chef in Germany, Ravensburg and Munich. In 1979/80 I worked in the south of France for a couple of years: first in Cap d’Antibes for a summer season, then in La Napoule in Louis Outhier’s 3-star restaurant, L’Oasis. It was one of the best-known French restaurants at the time. After that I returned to Germany, where I passed the exam of Küchenmeister (master chef) in Heidelberg. I then went on to work in the gourmet party service at the Steigenberger Hotel Frankfurter Hof. That is where I met my wife Susanne. What brought you to Gstaad?

I had a friend in Gstaad who was director of the old Bellevue in the early 80s. Aga Khan built the Chesery

Eddy Risch



Chalet in 1962/63 as a hostellerie for his friends. It had a famous nightclub on the ground floor and a small restaurant on the first floor. When the new owners (Chesery AG) took over, they renovated the building completely and installed the existing Chesery Restaurant in 1984. My friend invited me to come and work in it. I said, “No, I don’t want to go to Switzerland” but finally I agreed to come for the opening and to stay for one season only, the winter season – and that was 35 years ago! Susanne and I came here together; her first season was at the Bellevue and I was at the Chesery.

Looking back, what do you see as the highlight of your career at the Chesery?

I enjoyed the last fifteen years the most. At the time I started in Gstaad, the height of gastronomy was considered to be a chateaubriand or a lamb rack in a restaurant. At the Chesery we introduced French cuisine, called nouvelle cuisine then. People said, “Oh no, this is not for Gstaad. People won’t like this here.” It was something different. We persevered, however, and after five or six years, we had built up a regular clientele and the business went up.

GstaadLife 8 I 2019



Marcus Gyger

Robert and Susanne Speth with the entire crew in 2015

Is this the ‘cuisine pure’ that you are known for?

Yes, this is the French Mediterranean cuisine. For us the quality of the product is crucial, and I keep my dishes simple, nothing too complicated. I don’t like to combine more than three or four different flavours on the same plate. When you have many different tastes on one plate you don’t get a pure taste. Thirty-five years ago, this type of cuisine was considered to be a new style, something innovative, but today it is accepted and has become more or less classic. So, you were like a pioneer – the beginning was difficult but afterwards people started to come?

Yes, it took time to establish a regular clientele. I think it is central to the business to have a good contact with the clients. People go to a restaurant not only for the food, they also go for the atmosphere and they need to be able to have a conversation with the chef. For the past years we had people who didn’t want to see the menu when they came. They said to me: “Do something for us.” I knew them, I knew what they liked and, once they told me how many courses they wanted and whether they wanted meat or fish, I made something for them and they were very happy. It’s


GstaadLife 8 I 2019

the same with the wine. What do you choose from a wine list that has over 800 choices? You need a sommelier who gets to know your preferences and price range then, as a client, you can trust his choice for you. I read that a high percentage of your clients returned regularly.

Yes, about 85-90%. Besides the catering/traiteur business of the Chesery, we had the Golf Club Restaurant for 28 years and the catering business of the Yacht Club for 10 years, so we have all come to know each other well over a long time.

In 2018 Swiss approached me about including dishes representative of the Bernese Oberland in their menus. They invited us to submit a menu selection: 2 starters, 2 main courses, 1 dessert for business and the same, plus an aperitif, for first class. All the meals had to be prepared and on the plate 24 hours before they would be served; we had to work within a price range and avoid certain ingredients. Our partnership was with Swiss but, once they accepted our menus, it was their caterer, Gate Gourmet, who prepared the meals. We went to Zurich frequently during the whole

For the past 35 years, we spent every day in the Chesery, morning to evening, and the time has come that we want to have time to do other things too. You recently had an assignment with Swiss to prepare meals for their passengers in first and business class. Could you tell us about the logistics of this?

I originally worked with Swissair in the late 90s on a similar project and it was much easier at the time. Today everything is more organised and complicated.

procedure. After they chose the menus, we presented the recipes and I worked alongside their team, preparing the dishes in their small test kitchen. The people who prepare these dishes are not cooks. They are semi-skilled workers. They receive the recipe – like a formula – and they make the dish exactly according to its instructions. It’s like a fac-

You received a lot of publicity from this. What was the feedback like?

The feedback was positive. The project ran for three months, from December 2017 to March 2018, and the publicity was good for the region and for our restaurant. But I can tell you it was not so easy. The taste is sometimes a little different up there – you eat a piece of meat that was cooked 24 hours before and then reheated on the plane! The fish that was served had to be cooked to an inside temperature of 75 degrees – something we would never do in the restaurant as the fish would be too dry. There was, however, one item that we made ourselves at the Chesery and that was our very popular Brie de Meaux – a brie filled with mascarpone, truffles and cream. You have received several awards including a Michelin star in 1998 and Chef of the Year in 2005. Did this put you under a lot of pressure? Did it make a difference to your business?

I didn’t feel under more pressure, no. Some chefs have the impression that people expect more creativity from them once they have received a prestigious award but, for me, that is not the point of the prize. The prize comes for what you have done in the past, not for what you will do in the future. We were running a business and the prizes led to publicity; that was good for us. What we like most is that

our clients are happy, and they come back. When people read about awards, they come to try out the food. A chef with a Michelin star is an assurance of a consistently good standard. ‘Chef of the Year’ gave us 25-30% more guests in 2005 – it was a very good year! What is your role now that you have sold the Chesery business to the Bellevue?

The catering for private clients in their chalets was a major part of our Chesery business. We did it before for ourselves and we loved it. Now we continue to do it, but we do it for the Bellevue. Part of my agreement with the Bellevue is to maintain my personal contact with the catering clients – they are our clientele from the past 20 years. We know them all well. Public relations plays a major role in catering. For the past 35 years, we spent every day in the Chesery, morning to evening, and the time has come that we want to have time to do other things too. We will still be working in the catering business, but we will have other projects on the side, in Gstaad and perhaps elsewhere. It was recently announced that the Chesery is to be sold soon and will possibly give way to a new building. What was your reaction to this news?

It was not that much of a surprise for us that it will be sold. We had the assurance that we can stay for as long as we operate the Chesery but we also knew that there were various possibilities once we stop.

It is just that things now happened much faster than people expected. Of course, the future owner can do whatever they like. However, I cannot imagine that the building will be demolished. Maybe it will be hollowed out and redone but not demolished. You can’t build anything nicer in this spot. If the Chesery will not be preserved as a restaurant, would that harm Gstaad’s gastronomy much?

It would be a great loss because it is one of a few restaurants that does not belong to a hotel. Not every hotel guest likes to stay in the hotel for dinner and hoteliers do not like to see their guests visit a restaurant of another hotel. The Chesery fulfilled an important role in this respect. And it has been part of Gstaad’s gourmet scene with a good reputation that would go missing. Do you regret these developments so shortly after you left the Chesery. After all it was your professional home for over three decades.

Personally, I do not. I guess some people assume that this still affects us but I am not the sentimental type. We knew that once we give up the Chesery this era is over for us. It is regrettable for the restaurant and for Markus Lindner, who can only continue it for half a year now. Who knows, maybe the new owner will continue the Chesery in its tradition as gourmet restaurant. Everything is possible for now. GUY GIRARDET

Hard to imagine: the Chesery without Robert and Susanne Speth

Marcus Gyger

tory. On a daily basis they prepare a minimum of 200 meals for first class and 800-1000 for business class for Swiss. During the preparatory stages I tasted all the dishes until they met my standards – initially from the test kitchen then, again, the first time they were made in the big industrial kitchen. Finally, the day before the first flight, we participated in a major public relations event with the press and all the staff who had worked on the project, then we had one final meeting, which was the last moment we could change anything.

GstaadLife 8 I 2019


To ensure basic medical and hospital care in Simmental and Saanenland, there are plans for a health campus in Zweisimmen and a health centre in Saanen. There was an important step in October, with the founding of Gesundheit Simme Saane AG. The biggest challenge is the financing of an acute care hospital. Without public money, this won’t be feasible.

A year ago we set ourselves an ambitious goal,” said member of the cantonal government Pierre-Alain Schnegg at the public event in mid-October. “Together, we wanted to find a solution for basic medical and hospital care in Simmental-Saanenland. This solution would add real value to all communities, people and holidaymakers.” He’s now pleased that it’s been possible “to work out a reliable solution for the future, with a health campus in Zweisimmen and a health centre in Saanen.” Around 80 people had worked extensively on the project over the past two years. The project group was broad and represented all municipalities, institutions and organizations concerned in the Simmental and the Saanenland, the Bergregion, as well as the hospital STS and the health and welfare department of the canton of Bern.     A health campus in Zweisimmen

The proposed services for the future Zweisimmen campus will be similar to what exists today with wards, monitoring beds, an operating room,

24-hour hospital emergency, possible outpatient procedures, special consultations, including dialysis and psychiatry, in addition to medical practices such as physio, hospital services, a pharmacy, etc. One particular challenge is the progression of patient numbers, emphasised project manager Stefan Stefaniak. These are falling steadily, which could lead to a reduction in the provision. However, nobody has to worry about health care in the region, he stated. A health centre in Saanen

At the health centre in Saanen, medical and therapeutic activities could be pooled and strengthened, increasing the appeal for patients and service providers. Various services already exist around the former hospital such as care for the elderly, retirement apartments, and assisted living as well as a rescue service, the home care provider Spitex and a day care. The group practice needs to be set up – the premises are available along with various therapeutic services. The proposed service includes GP care, laboratory, radiology, ultrasound

and ECG diagnosis, specialised consultation hours, emergencies between 7am and 8pm, minor outpatient operations, monitoring facilities, therapies, and complementary medicine. Integrated care

A central part of the project is the construction of a network. Integrated care means the binding cooperation of all service providers in a network for the well-being of the population. explained Joachim Maier, a registered doctor in Zweisimmen. Over the next three years, the schedule will be intense. A mediator will assist in demanding situations. “We’d like to start with a core of service providers who work within the Health Insurance Act (KVG) and slowly expand to complementary medicine providers, masseurs, and support groups that already exist in the region,” said Maier. As far as possible, the network connects all health care providers and coordinates patient paths. Maternité Alpine would also like to become part of the Zweisimmen campus, as well as the MedBase in Representatives of all the eleven communities involved. They signed the statutes of the new organisation.

Anita Moser




GstaadLife 8 I 2019

the new Migros building, a group practice that will be up and running in the spring. They could also be involved if the perimeter were to be expanded.  

Cantonal health director Pierre Alain Schnegg and GSS chairman Stefan Hill

The health network in Saanen is planned in the former hospital. The municipality of Saanen remains in possession of the property and the network will be the tenant. For the campus, there are two concepts: a complete new construction or renovation of the ward with new construction of the extension/ treatment tract. In the new construction all needs would be taken into account, the technology would be up to date, says Jonas Wanzenried from the infrastructure working group. The investment requirement is estimated at CHF 40m to 45m with annual rental costs of CHF 2m to 2.3m. The concept for refurbishing the ward anticipates an investment of CHF 30m to 35m and annual rental costs of CHF 1.6m to 1.8m. During the conversion phase, operations would be significantly affected, compared to the option for the new build. A one-third solution for the deficit 

The pressure of costs for hospitals is high. There have been several closures and more still to come, stressed Marc Aellen, in charge of finances. Currently, in Zweisimmen not enough turnover is generated for the accumulating costs, according to Aellen. The annual deficit amounts to CHF 4m to 6m. A third or more will be paid for by the canton. Another third up to a maximum of CHF 2.5m will be paid for by the STS and a maximum of a third will remain with the region, ie the municipalities. Ultimately, the voters would have to make a decision on this financing and answer the question whether the hospital is worth this amount.

Anita Moser

Two concepts for the campus

New organising institution

"Rather be part of the solution"

A new organising institution, Gesundheit Simme Saane AG (GSS), was put in place for the network of integrated health care. All eleven communities in the Saanenland, the Simmental and the Niedersimmental are involved. The Simmental and the Saanenland split the share capital of CHF 100,000. The municipality of Saanen’s share is CHF 43,280, Gsteig will cover CHF 3,380, Lauenen CHF 3,340, Zweisimmen CHF 14,310 and Lenk CHF 10,990. An operating budget of CHF 330,000 for the GSS was also guaranteed until the end of 2020. The Saanenland and the Simmental communities will each pay one third, with the remaining third covered by the canton and the STS AG.

It was a special evening for STS AG, stressed chairman Thomas Bähler. “We’ve heard about everything that’s been worked on, and don’t feel quite so alone as a hospital STS”. He particularly likes the fact that the proposed solution from and for the region in collaboration with the STS and the canton.

Proposal ready for the vote late in 2020

The chairman of the GSS board, Stephan Hill, is looking forward to the challenge. He is aware, however, that it will be a lot of work. The tasks of the GSS include setting up and operating the integrated network. With regard to the hospital services, the two variants would need to be developed still further for preparation for a proposal ready for voting. The voting population would ultimately determine the outcome in both valleys.

How much is it worth to the population?

The co-presidents of the organisation Obersimmental Saanen, Toni von Grünigen and Albin Buchs, adopt a cautiously positive outlook and ask the public to get involved, to discuss this vital issue for the regions, and to stay calm and realistic event though the topic tends to cause a stir. “The communities will have to decide if and how much we want to pay for our healthcare. It’s our chance to have a say in what our health care should look like in the future”, emphasised von Grünigen. Buchs joined his colleague in office: “We now have the chance to have a say in the matter. There will be a cost, but I think our health care is worth it.” BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

GstaadLife 8 I 2019


Le Chalet Marie-José was the first of many private schools in Gstaad. Over the winter issues, GstaadLife dips into the history of the school,

A Belgian governess chooses Gstaad

Le Chalet Marie-José was only one private school amongst many in Gstaad. The one thing that makes it stand out from the rest: it was the first. In 1912, the Belgian governess Alice Servais founded the boarding school for children between 5 and 12 years of age with the support of wealthy Belgian personalities. It was named after the Belgian Princess Marie-José, aged 8 years when Servais founded the school. The rationale for founding a school in the Swiss Alps was straightforward: the foggy climate in Belgium was considered the cause for all sorts of childhood ailments. The sunny weather and fresh air in the mountains around Gstaad were thought to provide the children with all they needed to be healthy and strong. Hence, the initial raison-d’être to found a school in the Saanenland was not education but health in the tradition of the typical 19th-century sanatorium.

The beginnings were humble. The school started with merely three to four children. It was situated on the Oberbort near the entrance to the military bunker. Soon the number of pupils grew to over a dozen, which made an extension of the building and the surrounding premises unavoidable. This took place in 1916, when Servais had an annexe built. By 1922 she had procured additional land around the school together with a nearby wood, which was to become a favourite spot for the boys to build their huts. Between 1922 and 1927 the chalet received its trademark double-roof as well as a large dining room and bright airy study rooms. Eventually it offered space for 35 children. Mme Racine

In 1928 Renée Racine took charge of the school from Servais. Her proclaimed aim was to uphold the moral standards set by her predecessor. The school should be an example of absolute moral rectitude and the children given into their charge should show this when they A family picture: Jeanne Racine Pidoux, mother of Fred and Renée Racine; Renée Racine, then headmistress of Marie-José; and Hélène Racine-Maeder, wife of Fred and later headmistress of the school, holding her son Charles-Edouard.

Courtesy of Cristopher Ross

looks at the life pupils led there, and gives a voice to former students.

Courtesy of Charles-Edouard Racine



returned to the care of their parents. Racine was soon to be loved and feared in equal measure, with a tendency to the latter. Former pupils’ accounts range from strict but fair to demanding and even moody or cruel. Young people who would not easily yield to authority were bound to clash with the staff sooner or later. Notwithstanding the unequal treatment of pupils and their unequal perception of life at the school, the institute fared well under Racine. Transformation

Even though physical health remained a major factor in everyday life, eventually Le Chalet Marie-José underwent a transformation: from sanatorium to proper school. Thus, the Marie-José also became one of the feeder schools for the Rosey and Monsanto. There were still mostly pupils from Belgium but the spectrum of nationalities had already considerably widened in the 1930s. Chalet Marie-José also survived the threat and difficulties posed by World War II. For children whose par-

LE CHALET MARIE-JOSÉ Left: The Marie-José with its typical double-roof structure and annexed pavilion. Right: Fred and Hélène Racine-Maeder

Courtesy of Charles-Eouard Racine

Courtesy of Charles-Edouard Racine

Below: Before the building received its typical double roof, an extension was built (1916) to provide space for the growing number of students.

ents managed to send them to this safe haven nestled in the Swiss Alps, Gstaad became a home for the full six years until the end of the war. Food had to be rationed and wages were cut but a core of employees remained faithful and looked after the children in their custody. It is easy to imagine that the end of the war came as a great relief for parents, children and staff alike. More international

After the war, the school became more international. Ever since the

beginnings of the school, royal families from around the world had sent their children to Gstaad. When the Americans discovered Chalet Marie-José, more and more children from the rich and beautiful, with whom the second half of the 20th century in Gstaad is reverently associated nowadays, arrived at the institute. 1952 saw a major change after the death of Racine. Her sister-inlaw, Hèlène Racine-Maeder, who had been working at the school

since 1949, took over the institute together with her husband Fred, Renée Racine’s brother. Fred Racine crashed into her when skiing on the Wispile and while taking care of her they fell in love. Fred, who was only an occasional visitor, eventually helped his wife to manage the institute. Fred passed away in 1958, which left the whole responsibility on the shoulders of Hélène Racine-Maeder. Despite the many years Hélène lived in Gstaad she had no interest in the region as such or village life and never learnt German or mingled with locals. She lived for her work at the Chalet Marie-José, which she directed until the school was sold and demolished in 1971/72. MARKUS ISELI

GstaadLife 8 I 2019





27 DECEMBER 2019 – 22 JANUARY 2020

27 DECEMBER 2019 – 4 JANUARY 2020 AND 13 – 17 FEBRUARY 2020



X E N O N FO R B R EG E N Z , 20 0 4, © 20 0 4 J E N N Y H O L Z E R , M E M B E R AR TI S T S R I G HT S S O C I E T Y ( ARS), N Y. PH OTO : AT TI LI O MAR AN Z AN O

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17.12.19 16:10

From 31 January to 8 February, music lovers will meet in the Gstaad Chapel and the churches of Saanen and Rougemont to celebrate the 20th edition of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad. The festival’s artistic director, Renaud Capuçon will present an anniversary programme that will include several novelties as well as a lineup that will allow audiences to meet outstanding young talents as well as world-class virtuosos.


n this special edition of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, the spotlight will be on the piano throughout the festival. Highlights of this theme include the 1 February concert by Bertrand Chamayou, who will perform pieces by Mozart at the Church of Saanen. On 2 February the great pianist Martha Argerich, accompanied by the cellist Mischa Maisky will perform works by Brahms, Schumann, and Shostakovich at a concert in the Church of Saanen. On the evening of 3 February, pianist Jérôme Ducros will accompany the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky in an interpretation of Schubert. Finally, on 5 and 7 February pianists Richard Goode and Nicholas Angelich will respectively regale audiences in the Rougemont and Saanen churches. As an additional treat for piano lovers: there will be a piano recital every afternoon during the entire festival at 4pm in the Gstaad Chapel. Renaud Capuçon has succeeded in building bridges between new generation artists and established musicians in the 20th anniversary programme. The young French composer Camille Pépin, who first studied arrangement with Thubault Perrine and then continued her studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris and who also studied with the composers Thierry Escaich, Guillaume Connesson, and Marc-André Dalbavie, was selected as the festival’s composer-in-residence. The 29-year-old composer won the Île de Créations competition of the Orchestre National d’Ile-de-France and the Grand Prix Sacem Musique Symphonique, and has since written numerous commissioned works that have been played by world-class ensembles and interpreters. Capuçon stresses: “It is a privilege to have a young artist of such a high standard as composer-in-residence in Gstaad.” Pépin, one of the few women in her field, writes expressive contemporary music, skillfully combining the qualities of various instruments. The festival has commissioned Pépin to write a solo piece for the piano, which new talents will perform during the festival.

The festival's composer-in-residence: 29-year-old Camille Pépin

Natacha Colmez Collard



Another addition to the 2020 edition is a series of matinée concerts dedicated to Bach. They begin at 11am in the church of Rougemont. The concert series will begin on Sunday, 2 February with Capuçon playing the violin, Gérard Caussé playing the viola and Clemens Hagen playing the cello. A total of 19 concerts will delight audiences during this 20th-anniversary edition of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad. It is one of the few festivals in Switzerland where concerts take place exclusively in churches. Music lovers will no doubt not only appreciate the undeniable talent that will be on show during the festival, but will also enjoy the unique atmosphere of the unique concert venues. ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON

GstaadLife 8 I 2019







Mad d ox G al l er y i s proud to pr esent



D ec e m b e r 2 01 9 – 1 5 t h J a n ua r y 2 02 0 Prom enad e 7, 3780 G staad

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Mel Bochner, Blah, Blah, Blah, 2019

G  -R  UND W hat do we mean when we say “Happy New Year” to someone? It’s an indisputable fact that the earth revolves around the sun once a year. All else, including upon what day we decide to mark that revolution, is human pretense. Ergo, our custom of celebrating the New Year on 1 January is really quite an arbitrary decision. The blame lies, as usual, with the ancient Romans. During the Republic and the Empire, the new years were eponymously named after the consuls who took office. According to some historians, the likely date of consular accession was 1 May before 222 B.C., 15 March (the Ides of March) between 222 and 154 B.C., and 1 January from 153 B.C. (due to a rebellion in Hispania, according to Livy’s Periochae). When Julius Caesar’s new calendar took effect in 45 B.C., the Roman Senate fixed 1 January as the first day of the year. Incidentally, the word calendar comes from the Latin calendae, which meant the first day of every month in the Roman calendar. The Roman pontiffs would ‘solemnly announce’ (calandus) sightings of the new moon, signifying the beginning of a new lunar phase. This was also the day of the month that debts were settled.

Speaking of settlements: the Late Roman and Byzantine empires began their liturgical year on 1 September, due to a system of taxation called an ‘indiction’. Indictions were the principal means of counting years during those empires, apart from imperial reigns, this despite the official Julian calendar date of 1 January as the year’s beginning. Confused? Me too. So, let’s move on to how others have historically observed, or contemporarily celebrated, their new year. In the third millennium B.C., the ancient Sumerians celebrated the akitu barley-sowing festival in the first month of their year, Nisannu in March-April (as Nisan, this time period is still the first month of the Jewish religious calendar, although the seventh month of the civil calendar). The Chinese observance of their new year in January-February may date back as far as the Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC). Persians have celebrated Nowruz on the March equinox as the start of the new year for over 3,000 years. Some Hindus commemorate the Nava Varsha in March-April, while Gujarati new year occurs in October-November, depending on the lunar calendar. Eastern Orthodox Christians honor the Circumcision of Christ on 1 January according to the Julian calendar

Adobe Stock


THE MERRY (14 January in the Gregorian calendar), but they don’t observe it as the new year – instead, that’s often a civil holiday. The early Germanic peoples marked a midwinter festival called Yule around the winter solstice, which commenced their new year. In Anglo-Saxon England, the new year began on 25 December, although 24 September and 25 March (Julius Caesar’s vernal equinox, and the Christian feast of Annunciation) were also recorded at different times. Between 1155 and 1751, the English continued to observe 25 March as the beginning of the civil new year, ultimately toeing the line in 1752. In the Saanenland, denizens typically tip back a glass of champagne or something stronger to mark the date of Saint Sylvester’s passing, which occurs on 31 December. But sometimes in Switzerland you can have twice the fun. The wandering Silvesterchläuse of the village of Urnäsch in the Swiss canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden hail New Year’s Eve twice – once on 31 December, and again on 13 January – taking advantage of both the Gregorian and Julian calendars to double the merriment. Now, that’s what I call a real holiday spirit. ALEX BERTEA

GstaadLife 8 I 2019







Move forward together …

JA N UA RY 3 1st FEB R UA RY 8 th, 2 0 2 0

Dear customers, partners and friends We have the pleasure to announce that Hannes Bach, dipl. Architekt UAS, will be taking a stake in my architectural practice as a partner at the turn of the year. Hannes Bach grew up in the Saanenland and is closely connected with the region. He passed a first-rate education and enjoys – thanks to his many interests – a large network that reaches well beyond our region. This partnership consolidates our services in terms of experience, innovation, creativity and quality. It’s a step that signifies most of all continuity and a promising future for our estimated clients and our motivated team.

homemade sweets…

come and see us!

We’d also like to seize this opportunity to thank our clients for the interesting projects, the estimation of our work, and their trust as well as the countless acquaintances and conversations that help us move forward every single day.

Max Rieder Dipl. Architekt UAS/SIA

Hannes Bach Dipl. Architekt UAS

Tel. +41 33 744 15 44 charlys-gstaad.ch


special programme open to the public will offer unique insights into the lives and work of significant international contemporary and modern artists. Featured artists and well-known personalities from the art world include Jenny Holzer, Alberto Giacometti, Wilhelm and Anka Sasnal, Dieter Roth, Frida Khalo, Rashid Johnson, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. The season will begin with a screening of About Jenny Holzer

(2011). Claudia Müller’s film follows the artist over a decade at work, making Holzer’s art tangible as it traces her career, from a young artist putting up posters in New York in the late 1970s to one of the most influential female artists of today. The screening goes hand in hand with Holzer’s solo exhibition at TARMAK 22, the showroom at Gstaad Airport, and the projections that will be illuminating the Gstaad Palace.

Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

CinemArt is a film series presented by Hauser & Wirth in collaboration with the Ciné-Theater in Gstaad.

Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth




t can take a long time to get established in the world of art. Van Gogh sadly was not recognised for his genius until after he passed away. For an art gallery to have built up a worldwide reputation in just four years is extraordinary. In that time, Maddox have opened three galleries in London, and one each in Los Angeles and Gstaad. This winter season, the luxury contemporary art space – conveniently located on Promenade 7 – will host an exhibition of works by American conceptual artist Mel Bochner. Blah, Blah, Blah begins on 19 December and is open to the public until 15 January 2020. The exhibition,  the first time the artist has presented in Switzerland in over a decade, is a showcase of piec-

es from Bochner’s popular thesaurus painting series, which consists of lists of synonyms displayed in rainbow-coloured palettes, often featuring a single word repeated in painterly capital letters as seen in his pioneering piece Blah, Blah, Blah  (2008), after which the exhibition is named. Throughout 2019, the team at Maddox Gallery have worked directly with Mel Bochner and his studio to curate a show of 24 quintessential paintings of which 14 will be unveiled at Maddox Gallery’s Gstaad for the first time. 19 December 2019 – 15 January 2020 @maddoxgallery

GstaadLife 8 I 2019


During the nights of the first week of December, a snow lance has spread a lot of snow over a cross-country trail in Schönried. This implements a project lead by IG Langlauf Cross Schönried and Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus (GST).


he goal of the project that GST and IG Langlauf Cross Schönried have been working on for some time is to offer an easily accessible trail starting from early December. Work on this began at the start of December.

to operational requirements, water can be drawn from the hydrants up until Christmas. After the first week of the New Year, according to Zysset, water may be drawn for snow production upon request. Taking finances into account

Technical options

“We have created the conditions in line with the opportunities available, but at the end of the day, we’re still dependent on winter temperatures,” agreed Samuel Matti, IG member and initiator of the project along with Michel Zysset, head of infrastructure and projects at GST. They are using high-end snowmaking technology. The SnoTek Medusa, a double-headed lance from the Swiss company Bächler, can effectively cover the cross-country ski loop with snow in the Moos-Lägerli area below the Waldmatte in Schönried. The energy efficiency of this mobile lance meets today’s requirements. The water that’s required is taken from the hydrants just as for other purposes in the region. According

The decision to rent the technical equipment instead of buying it has had a favourable effect on the financial planning of this project. “The finances involved are paid for by GST and these include water supply, electricity costs and the preparation of the trail, as well as the rental costs for the snowmaking equipment,” explains Zysset. This season is planned as a test to determine how locals and visitors react to the offer. A concerted effort

The desire for an earlier cross-country start in the Saanenland had long been in the minds of those involved in the project. Volunteers from IG Langlauf Cross Schönried and GST quickly agreed that this project

should be tackled jointly. While Matti worked out the concept and was in charge of project management, Cornelia Frautschi, another member of the IG and the project team, approached the landowners and agreed with them on earlier use of the land. The GST snowmaking team, with Peter Bärtschi (chief snowmaking), Markus Schwizgebel (snowmaking) and Peter Oehrli (trail grooming and snowmaking), will mainly ensure that the trail is well prepared. Why Schönried?

The track in Schönried, known as the “dog track”, has been around for a long time. The terrain has proved to be favourable. Also, it’s located away from the sun, which is crucial for successful and efficient technical snowmaking. Accessibility is another essential point in favour of this location. While the trails on the glacier and on the Sparenmoos take longer to reach, the trail in Schönried is central and easily accessible by public transport. BASED ON AVS / JENNY STERCHI TRANSLATED BY JUSTINE HEWSON

Snow was sprayed from the two heads of the lance and the layers of snow in Schönried started to pile up in early December.





GstaadLife 8 I 2019

Juerg Kaufmann


Winner Yacht Olympian at the gates of Saint-Tropez

DECISION ON THE FINISH LINE Olympic champion, the William Gardner Gaff Cutter from 1913, with Guillaume Fetas at the helm, won the 9th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy in a stunning photo finish against Viola. On Thursday, 3 October, 2019 the Voiles de Saint-Tropez on the day traditionally dedicated to the individual fights, more than 20 of the most beautiful boats of the classic yacht scene gathered in the port of Saint-Tropez to participate in the 9th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy, the only sailing trophy dedicated to centenarian boats. The regatta is sailed in a pursuit format with staggered starts. These are determined with a handicap system, which allows boats of very different sizes and rigs to compete at eye level, with the first boat crossing the finish line being declared the winner. Sunny blue skies and light winds of up to 10 knots – perfect conditions for the century-old beauties – welcomed the 23 yachts, the highest number of participants in the history of the regatta. In a real sailing duel Olympian, this year driven by Guillaume Fetas, managed to overtake Viola just five hundred meters before the fin-

ish line. By hoisting the big spinnaker, the team gained the extra speed needed to cross the line first. At the end of an exciting three-hour race, the two boats were separated only by half a boat length. “We knew from the beginning that it would be difficult in the light and very changeable wind conditions. We just decided not to stick to tactical decisions, but to find the best line, to catch up with the boats that started in front of us. Our competitors sailed very well, so it was hard for us to beat them” explains an enthusiastic Guillaume Fetas. “It was a great day on the water and to win with such a finish is very cool.” Olympian is the second boat to win the Centenary Trophy twice. Olympian is a P-class Gaff Sloop that was designed by the American William Gardner in 1913. She has spent almost her entire life in the US and achieved several victories on Lake Michigan before she was rediscovered in 2013 by the French Ameri-

ca’s Cup veteran Bruno Troublé, who resaured her and brought her to the Mediterranean. Since then Olympian has successfully participated in the top regattas and won the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy. “It was a super exciting race, one of the tightest finishes in the history of the Centenary Trophy. To see that up close was incredible, a great combination of regatting art and boat handling on these old yachts,” said Gstaad Yacht Club Commodore, Manrico Iachia. “We are looking forward to next year, it will be an important milestone of the regatta, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary. We will work hard to make it one of the most memorable events, both from a technical and from a programme perspective, in the hope of reaching a record number of centenarians”. The award ceremony with more than 140 guests took place directly on the banks of Saint-Tropez. GSTAAD YACHT CLUB

GstaadLife 8 I 2019



THREADS –FOR A LASTING CONNECTION A graphic design starring a web of interconnected diamonds, the Threads collection celebrates how stories are spun in a modern, ever-connected world, and the powerful connections made between our lives and loved ones. Global influence

The Threads collection epitomises hyper connectivity. Fleeting moments that can change the course of fate forever, the social threads that pervade modern life, and the moments and memories that are shared across worldwide networks, have provided inspiration for this new collection. “Threads reflects the pace of our modern life, we are increasingly more active, seemingly always on the move. Connections are almost instantaneous,” says Anne-Eva Geffroy, Design Director at Graff. “Our design perspective was to explore the meaning of all those crossing points, each of which is meaningful in our lives”. Diamond design reimagined

This lattice of cool scintillation, crafted from pavé and custom-cut diamonds, translates these stories into criss-crossing jewels. Showcasing extraordinary flashes of bright white diamond fire, the pieces range from every day diamonds to high jewellery pieces.

Courtesy of Graff

From first models and gouache sketches to the final touches of the Threads collection


GstaadLife 8 I 2019

Astral and angular, Graff’s designers have reimagined classic diamond setting, featuring stones set within spontaneous, geometric threads. Every delicate diamond bar is inextricably linked to the next, echoing the invisible bonds that link us all. Everyday diamonds

While Graff is renowned for record-breaking diamonds and exceptional unique pieces, the petite and playful jewellery pieces translate these exquisite designs into a new range of accessible jewels. Minimalist strands form bracelets, necklaces and rings, featuring seemingly random compositions of stones; yet meticulously planned and artfully set at different angles. These pieces make exquisite gifts or symbolic tokens of affection, perfect for every day. However, this striking collection also includes high jewellery pieces featuring precious diamonds and richly coloured gemstones. “We infuse each jewel with the same dedicated care and attention,” explains Geffroy. “In every high jewellery design, the stone is the star of the show. However, we are careful to maintain the same harmonious balance, impeccable proportions and elegant silhouette across the entire collection.”



No parking!

Speaking as an expat, I posit that parking is the Swiss equivalent to Britain’s queuing obsession. Parking is a topic guaranteed to get people here hot under the collar, especially when it comes to private or communal areas. I still find this extreme reaction a little baffling, so here are my top tips to avoid sticky situations: • Under no circumstances park anywhere other than in your allocated space, even for five minutes, and even if this means you must walk to the opposite end of an almost-permanently empty car park. You may accidentally park in someone else’s space and as they won’t dream of temporarily using a different spot, they will get extremely angry with you. • Communal ‘visitor’ parking is a shared space outside apartment blocks that is greedily coveted by the residents. Prepare your visitors to receive “do not park here” notes stuck to their windscreens, even if they park absolutely correctly.

• Watch out for red and white chains draped across driveways. And if you happen to live opposite such a friendly house, be prepared to get shouted at if your wheels touch said driveway as you turn out of your property. You have been warned… Blue = honour

On a more upbeat note, when it comes to public parking, I think the Swiss system works rather well. You should always check the signs, but largely speaking blue zones are free parking and white zones are paid parking. To use the blue zones, you need a blue parking disc (which you can pick up for free in lots of places like banks). Simply turn the disc to indicate when you arrive, then you can stay up to the maximum amount of time indicated on the road signs. It’s a really simple, honour-based system that works. Even when it comes to the white zones, by and large I think the Swiss rules and charges aren’t too unreasonable. Apart from one

notable and memorable experience about five years ago in the Gstaad Coop car park. Happy Christmas!

It was Christmas Day. We parked up as usual, but as it was a public holiday it didn’t occur to us that we had to buy a ticket. In hindsight a foolish assumption, but at the time I couldn’t (a) imagine any traffic wardens would be working that day and (b) they would exhibit such Scrooge-like behaviour as to issue parking fines. How wrong I was! We returned to our car after lunch and there is was: the little pink slip of paper tucked behind our windscreen wipers. I was almost surprised it hadn’t been slipped inside a Christmas card… So the moral of the story is to respect local customs. In Gstaad you may not be able to stop for as much as five minutes in your neighbour’s empty parking space (even if they don’t own a car), but no one bats an eye if you smilingly jostle your way right up to the cable car barrier, bypassing all the people who arrived before you. ANNA CHARLES


Adobe Stock


he British are renowned for their ability to form an orderly and polite queue, often wordlessly and without being asked. It almost feels like a form of social conditioning that’s been handed down through the generations. Put a few Brits in the middle of an empty hall, so the joke goes, wait five minutes and you’ll have a queue. But woe betide anyone who tries to barge in. The British may be reserved, but nothing provokes their ire as much as a queue jumper.

GstaadLife 8 I 2019


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

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

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

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

Park Gstaad 033 748 98 00, info@parkgstaad.ch The Alpina Gstaad 033 888 98 88, info@thealpinagstaad.ch Ultima Gstaad 033 748 05 50, info@ultimagstaad.com ERMITAGE Wellness- & Spa-Hotel 033 748 04 30, welcome@ermitage.ch Golfhotel Les Hauts de Gstaad 033 748 68 68, mail@golfhotel.ch Hotel de Rougemont

HUUS Gstaad 033 748 04 04, welcome@huusgstaad.com Boutique Hotel Alpenrose 033 748 91 91, info@hotelalpenrose.ch Hotel Arc-en-Ciel 033 748 43 43, info@arc-en-ciel.ch Hotel Bernerhof 033 748 88 44, info@bernerhof-gstaad.ch Hotel Christiania 033 744 51 21, info@christiania.ch Hotel Gstaaderhof 033 748 63 63, info@gstaaderhof.ch Hotel Le Grand Chalet 033 748 76 76, hotel@grandchalet.ch Hotel Olden 033 748 49 50, info@hotelolden.com Romantik Hotel Hornberg 033 748 66 88, willkommen@hotel-hornberg.ch Hotel des Alpes Saanenmöser 033 748 04 50, info@desalpes.ch Hotel Spitzhorn 033 748 41 41, spitzhorn@spitzhorn.ch

GstaadLife 8 I 2019

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

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

Member of Design HotelsTM

026 921 01 01, info@hotelderougemont.com


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


Alpine Lodge B&B 033 748 41 51, welcome@alpinelodge.ch Ermitage Maison d’Hôtes 026 924 25 00, info@ermitage-chateaudoex.ch Hotel Restaurant Bären 033 755 10 33, info@bären-gsteig.ch Sun&Soul Panorama Pop-Up Hotel Solsana 033 748 16 17, info@solsana.ch Hotel Valrose 026 923 77 77, welcome@valrose.ch Hotel Wildhorn 033 765 30 12, hotel@wildhorn.ch Jugendherberge Gstaad Saanenland 033 744 13 43, gstaadsaanenland@ youthhostel.ch

Lions Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings on Thursdays in the ERMITAGE, Wellness & Spa Hotel, Schönried 033 748 60 60. For details and programme refer to www.gstaad-saanenland.lionsclub.ch President: Thomas Staub, 033 744 94 34 tom.dusty@bluewin.ch

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

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

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

IMPORTANT NUMBERS Ambulance 144, Police 117 Fire 118 Medical Emergency: 0900 57 67 47 Dental Emergency: 033 729 26 26 Police Station: 033 356 84 31 Car Accident: 033 744 88 80

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

Zweisimmen Hospital: 033 729 26 26 Château-d’Oex Hospital: 026 923 43 43 Veterinarian: 033 748 08 58 / 033 744 06 61

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

Profile for Müller Medien

GstaadLife 8/2019, 31 December  

The exclusive news and lifestyle magazine of Gstaad

GstaadLife 8/2019, 31 December  

The exclusive news and lifestyle magazine of Gstaad

Profile for mdruck