After Book of Anecdotes, Gstaad Palace Adds Film to its Offering

Palace summer

Photo: Gstaad Palace



Gstaad’s iconic Palace hotel has just released a short film, Jim & Julie, featuring familiar face Stefano Bertalli, who has held the post of concierge for 13 years. 

Jim & Julie was released with the slogan, “What’s your story?” and the Palace hopes to inspire fans to share their memories of the hotel. 

 “The Gstaad Palace is a house full of emotions and stories, which have already filled books and have been passed down over the generations both by our guests and by the owners, the Scherz family", says Director of Sales & Marketing, Melanie Horn, under whose supervision the project was carried out.

The four-minute tale of shy romance was directed by Steve Walker, a Gstaad native now based in Bern, whose Buebe gö z'Tanz garnered national praise.  Staying local, the Palace turned to Stephan Moritz, another Gstaader, for the original score. 

The film may be viewed at Jim & Julie.

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Local Notary Launches Referendum Against Lex Weber



A small group in the Pays-d’Enhaut have launched a referendum against Lex Weber, the controversial initiative that was approved by voters in 2012.  Implementation of the law remained unclear until the Swiss Parliament clarified article 75b of Lex Weber in late March 2015.  The new law on secondary homes, which sets limits at 20% of a community’s total lodgings, infringes on equality and fundamental rights, says Philippe Favrod-Coune.  Favrod-Coune, a notary from Châteux-d’Oex, is leading the referendum, and has just two months to secure the necessary 50,000 signatures to bring it to popular vote. 

The Pays-d’Enhaut’s three largest towns of Rossinière, Rougemont, and Château-d’Oex all have secondary home levels of over the 20% cap. Not surprisingly, they also rallied against Lex Weber at the ballot box three years ago, with "no" votes averaging 75%.

For a detailed article on Lex Weber and both its current and future implications in the Saanenland, please see our upcoming August issue.

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BDG Director to Step Down Next Winter


Photo: AvS



Armon Cantieni will leave his position as director of the BDG (Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad) in January 2016, according to a statement released by the Board of Directors. 

Cantieni has led the firm since June 2006,  and it was under his leadership that the concept of "concentration" was implemented in 2008.   He led the renewal of the railway systems in Videmanette, Chaltebrunnetal, and Parwengensattel, as well as expanded snowmaking by securing annual contributions from partner municipalities.

Yet despite extensive investments, cost savings programs, and Cantieni’s dedication, the company could not keep its head above water in such a highly competitive market.

Saving the troubled mountain railways company has proved a challenging and confusing task.  Delay after delay has marked BDG’s uptake of a final strategy for solvency, with several proposals going before the voters in the past few years.  Since the latest rejection in February 2015, an alternative plan with a reduced budget is under development.  It will need to be approved by the City Council before it goes yet again to the voters in late summer or autumn. 

Cantieni’s departure will occur at end January 2016, after voters approve the plan for the company’s financial recovery.

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Summer Has Arrived at the Grubenberghütte

Photo: ZvB


Yesterday the Grubenberghütte raised its flag, signalling that the summer season has officially begun. While higher mountain huts remain covered in snow, the Grubenberghütte is a good choice for less-intrepid hikers.  The mountain hut lies at only 1840 metres and is classified as low-lying.   It can be reached from the top of Rellerli after a two-hour climb, and the Mittelberg Pass is just a half hour from the hut.

Guests may enjoy Alpine views from the panoramic terrace, wander in the fields of blooming crocuses, or relax in the cosy dining room.   The Grubenberghütte is open until October, and is staffed by volunteers from the Swiss Alpine Club’s (SAC) Oldenhorn section.  Highlights this season will include live jazz, Russian folktales and marches, and a singer-songwriter evening.

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Holy Cow! Saanenland Bovines Take Top Honours


Petra, Miss BEA, of the Perreten brothers in Lauenen.

Photo: KeLeKi


Cow beauty pageants are mother’s milk to Switzerland, where alpine villages have been holding such events for more than a century. Each year, more than several dozen of the region’s most attractive cows participate before a distinguished panel of local experts.

The Prettiest Cow on the Catwalk

At the conclusion of the spring exhibition season, two local brothers have done very well for themselves. The region’s top prize, Miss BEA, was awarded to Stephan and Jonathon Perreten’s Petra. The four-year old pure Simmental has an impressive season behind her.  In March, the Oberland Association voted her runner-up to “Miss Nice Udders” and at the pure breed show in Thun in April, she won the Miss title.  Here in Gstaad, Petra also won the Simmental title at the official cow show held at the ice-skating arena each year. 


Ueli Bach's top-level cows with head of household Wolta, at far right.

All in the Family

While the Canton’s top bovines strut their stuff at the legendary Topschau and BEA competitions, there are also a bevy of smaller events and honours, including a bovine breeding award.  Four Saanenland families recently obtained a Class A level for their excellent animal husbandry. 

The highest score of 95 went to Wolta, Ueli Bach’s 16-year-old Simmental from Turbach and her family.  At 88 points, the Swiss-German Simmental cow family with “head of household” Angela went to Michael Perreten from Feutersoey. The pure Simmental clan of Furka fetched 85 points for owners Benz and Björn Brand of Lauenen; last but not least, 77 points were awarded to the Swiss-Simmental Wanda, from the stable of Emil Haldi, Saanen.

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Heavy Rains, Light Damage in the Saanenland


Photo: AvS



All of Switzerland saw heavy rainfall in the first week of May, but the Saanenland was particularly badly hit. Since May 1, the region’s streams are roaring with high water levels.   This is reminiscent of the heavy rainfall and devastating storm of summer 2010 that caused millions of francs in damages. 

After the 2010 storm, a project was created to prevent future destruction on the Chalberhönibach, which runs from the enclave of the same name down to Gstaad.  At a total cost of CHF 5,8 million, the project consists of an overflow dam to hold back 10,000 cubic metres of sediment.  The bridge and road are also in line to be reconstructed.  These improvements are expected to ensure the Chalberhönibach remains in its streambed.  Yet the project has not yet been started, nearly five years later, and last week’s rains have tested the stream's limits.

Chalberhönibach swelled to just 5 to 10 centimetres below the Oeyetli Bridge, and in the several places in the upper basin of the dam, flooded over.  It also flooded over near its mouth on the Saane, dredging up 300 to 400 cubic metres of rubble and sediment.  At this stage it is unclear which communities will be responsible for the price of the clean up.  As a precaution, several roads were closed in the area.  With the easing of the rainfall, they were all reopened.

All in all, the rains caused a scare and some clean up, yet the situation could have been much worse.  Fortunately there were no injuries or damage to any buildings.

“We are lucky that in spite of the intense rains, there were no serious consequences,” says Christian Brand, head of Saanen's Fire Brigade. Brand also noted that even after the rainfall stops there is still danger of flooding. “It takes approximately 5 to 7 hours for the water levels to fall,” he informed.




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Armed Robbery on Gstaad’s Promenade


Photo: AvS



The story could’ve been ripped from the headlines in urban London, Paris, or New York—not Gstaad, nestled peacefully in the Swiss Alps. Yet last week, an armed robbery occurred in broad daylight on the busiest street in Gstaad, just 100 metres from a police station. 

On Friday, May 1 at 4 pm, a man who spoke broken German entered the jewellery shop at Promenade 55. A second man followed, and they proceeded to hold the two female employees at gunpoint.  The assailants stole jewellery and watches worth over several hundred thousand francs and were last seen heading toward Bahnhofplatz.


Seeking Witnesses

The Bern Cantonal Police released a description of the men and has asked the public to contact them immediately if they have any additional information.  

The first man is described as 30 to 35 years old, 180 cm tall, with a thin build and a distinctive harelip.  He was wearing thick glasses with a wide black frame, a light grey Basque-style cap and dark leather gloves.  Under a dark blue raincoat, he wore a white collared shirt, blue jeans and dark sneakers with a white sole, and carried a backpack.

The second man appears 25-30 years old, with a thin build, dark eyes, and square jaw.  He wore a dark hooded jacket, grey raincoat, blue jeans, and brown leather shoes.  He carried a red and black backpack and spoke broken German with an Eastern European accent.


Safe in the Saanenland?

The Saanenland maintains a relatively low crime rate compared to other areas in the canton. Police statistics from 2012 show only 40 criminal incidents per 1000 inhabitants in the region, versus 176 per 1000 in the city of Bern. Yet local businesses remain at risk, along with the many chalets that sit empty much of the year, as most home or business robberies occur whilst the victims are away. 

Local security expert James Otigbah argues that further measures and procedures should be put into place to prevent such incidents. 

“Even though crimes of this scale are not a common occurrence in the Saanenland, it is a worrying threat both to residents and employees of luxury boutiques," says Otigbah, Owner, Excel Security Solutions, which provides many local shops and chalets with security services of varying degrees. “Local businesses, residents, and the municipality should join to find a permanent solution for improving the security situation in the region.”




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Wawrinka Set on Success at Swiss Open Gstaad


Photo: ZVB



Stan Wawrinka has confirmed his presence at the Swiss Open Gstaad this summer. 

This will mark the eleventh time local boy Wawrinka, who hails from nearby Canton Vaud, has participated. Last year, he was scheduled to play but cancelled at the last minute, citing fatigue. Wawrinka went on to regain his strength and has had a busy 2015 thus far, winning the Australian Open and Monte Carlo Masters. 

Several other top players have also announced they will be in Gstaad for the 100th anniversary of the tournament.  These include last year’s winner, Spaniard Pablo Andujar, his compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Mikhail Youzhny (RUS), David Goffin (BEL), Thomaz Belluci (BRA), and Viktor Troicki (SER).

The Swiss Open Gstaad will be held July 23-August 2.

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Share Your Photo with GSTAADLIFE!

Have you captured a colourful sunset on the Spitzhorn or a glamorous get-together in Gstaad? We want to see it!

Beginning this summer, GSTAADLIFE will feature a reader's photo and short accompanying text in each printed issue.  The lucky winner each month will see their Saanenland photograph published, alongside a personal portrait and short bio. They will also receive a copy of the magazine. 

Submit your favourite Saanenland photo and descriptive paragraph, along with your name and contact details to




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Plane Crash in Zweisimmen Injures Two


Photo: Fritz Leutzinger


A small passenger plane crashed near Zweisimmen airport on Monday, April 26 at approximately 3:30 pm.  The two male passengers were able to free themselves and head to safety before emergency services arrived. Their condition and the extent of their injuries are still unknown.

The fuselage was found in the Simme river, where it was carried several hundred metres downriver, and is completely unsalvageable.

Reasons for the plane’s demise remain unknown at this stage.  The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) is currently investigating the accident. 

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