Reader's Page -- Your Vision of Gstaad


Photo: Milagros Blanca

I may be Italian by birth, but I am "Gstaadoise" in my heart. I’ve been coming up to slow down since I was 13 years old. I attended Le Rosey and graduated after five years in 1980. I spend my winters in the Oberland but cannot stay away too long–I’m now here in spring, summer, and fall, too! All seasons offer amazing colours, panoramas, and scents.

Besides the mountains, the Saanenland has much to offer in its quaint villages. This photo was taken on Gstaad's Promenade, where I love to see the colourful flags of various cantons and regions flying.

  – Milagros Branca:
A writer and snapshot photographer, she is the author of one novel published in Italy and India, as well as an iPhone photography book. Milagros is currently preparing a new iPhone photo book, which will focus only on Gstaad, her love.

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Letter from the Editor 28 August -- Highlights of the High Life

LFTE aug

Photo: Fotolia

What were the highlights of your summer? Whether we’re talking the great outdoors, sporting events, classical concerts, or even just dinner, there were many to choose from here in the Saanenland.

My summer was blessed with several special experiences. The first of those was the beautiful music that filled my ears here in the Alps.

Cult of Kaufmann
The two-month long Menuhin Festival Gstaad provided us with a wealth of first-rate music this summer. As a former opera singer, I take particular interest in the vocal music that appears on the region’s stages. In this GSTAADLIFE, I’ve reviewed the highly anticipated concert with Jonas Kaufmann, one of the world’s most beloved tenors. It was a moment of absolute joy for me (and for the other 1,999 people who waited on baited breath for his appearance). If we have any luck at all, Kaufmann’s first performance at the festival won’t be his last.

That brings us to a preview of the country superstars set to strut their stuff at Country Night Gstaad. With big names like Patty Loveless and Switzerland’s own Philip Fankhauser coming to town, a weekend-long honky-tonk extravaganza is in store. Don’t worry, you’ve still got two weeks to spit-shine your boots and don your best cowboy clothing before line-dancing the night away.

Well-Drawn Boy
August featured another special experience for me, an afternoon with Profile interviewee and one of the region’s loveliest residents, the soft-spoken Huck Scarry. The artist and illustrator is the son of famed children’s author Richard Scarry, and the father of four artistic children himself. Huck welcomed the magazine to his chalet for a chat about his family’s legacy and his life’s work.  From teaching watercolour to playing the alphorn, this talented Renaissance man brings authentic passion to everything he does.

Trading Up?
Is the Swiss system of apprenticeship better
than a university education in the UK or USA? Diana Oehrli discusses the merits of learning a trade rather than high-level “book-learning” in her Last Word column. Whether you agree with her or not, it is sure to raise some interesting conversations about intellectual challenge versus practical career preparation.

Car & Driver
A dedicated reader, Hans Matti, shares with us the story of his lifelong love affair with Bugatti cars. From his early years here in Gstaad to his later purchase of several of the cult-classic automobiles, Matti has made Bugatti a real part of his life. He encourages us to indulge our desires, and take a ride of our own in a favourite car.

Another form of transport is in the news this month. The Saanenland’s historic funicular, dubbed the “funi,” is now at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Luzern. With just a few thousand more francs needed in donations, it will soon be ready for complete renovation. After its makeover, the funi will stay on display at the museum as an ambassador for the Saanenaland.
If you’re looking to unload some of your fortune for a good cause, this may be it–big donors will win big accolades.

The Olive Garden
For some gourmands or foodies, the Saanenland is the height of delicious experiences with more than a dozen Gault & Millau and Michelin-starred restaurants. A new kitchen will add Italian gastronomy to that list this December. Januaria Piromallo tells the tale of Tonino Cacace, an Italian entrepreneur who has his sights set on bringing his double Michelin-starred The Olivo to the Promenade. In contrast to The Olive Garden, the United States’ ever-popular Italian restaurant chain, we expect Cacace will forgo the extra warranty on his pots and pans, and dare to cook the pasta with a pinch of salt.

End of the Line
August is coming to a close and this is GSTAADLIFE’s final issue of the summer. Our traditional off-season lasts through December, when our first issue of the winter will arrive just in time for the holidays.

Until then, dear readers, enjoy the upcoming season of colourful leaves and even more colourful adventures.


Best regards,

Alexis Munier

Editor in Chief

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A Wild Thyme at Jardin des Monts -- Interview with Founder Charlotte Landolt-Nardin

C_Charlotte 1

Photo: Jardin des Monts

Interview by Alexis Munier

After a steep monorail ride over forests and streams, Charlotte Landolt-Nardin and I arrived at Jardin des Monts–literally “Garden of the Mountain"–a magical place high on the mountaintop of Mont Dessous. Inside the charming wooden chalet surrounded by fragrant greenery, we sat down for a discussion of the history of this unique spot, and how Landolt-Nardin and her two partners Laeticia Jacot and Sandy Menoux created this self-styled herbal pharmacy of the mountains known as the Herboristerie de Montagne.

A bounty for natural remedies, Switzerland is home to many herbs, grasses, and flowers with medicinal properties. At Jardin des Monts, flowers are both picked wild and cultivated on steep terraces high above Rossinière. After harvesting, the fragrant, dried plants are used in a collection of creams and oils, as well as teas, syrups, and even chocolate.Sipping a refreshing thyme syrup and spring water, Landolt-Nardin led me through the unusual sight, tastes, and smells of the alpine terrain.

GL: How and why did you come to the Pays-d’Enhaut
CLN: This region is close to my father’s heart. He came here with his grandfather on summer trips from Lausanne. They went on all kinds of adventures, and he taught my father how to appreciate and respect nature. My grandfather bought the Reserve de la Pierrereuse and my father brought us there when we were children, continuing the tradition for the next generation. We hiked and learned about nature and I also fell in love with the beauty of the region.

GL: When was Jardin des Monts founded?
CLN: We came here in 2005, but things really took off when Laetitia Jacot joined the project. In 2006 we had to determine which herbs grew best at which levels on the property. We investigated which kinds of wild plants also grew nearby. This way, we can pick wild flowers and herbs, and also cultivate our own production.

GL: How did you meet Laetitia Jacot, your good friend and business partner?
CL: Laetitia and I met at horticultural school in Morges but didn't get close until we met again here in the Pays-d’Enhaut. In 2006, we became fast friends and I invited her to build the business with me. Laetitia has specialized knowledge in herbs, which I do not have, and is really the one who is responsible for the creative development of the herbal products.

GL: Do I hear mooing?
CLN: Yes! Christian Jaggi takes care of our small herd of goats and three rare Hinterwald cows. He milks them and makes the cheese we produce for sale in limited quantities.
GL: When did your third partner enter the business?
CL: In 2009, Sandy Menoux joined our team, and has helped build the brand with business development, marketing, and public relations. We are like the three musketeers –we all come to a consensus when making new decisions for the company.

GL: Is Jardin des Monts available worldwide?
CLN: We have 100 selling points all over Switzerland. We are still a small operation and the brand isn’t big enough to be marketed worldwide. We’re going step by step and growing the company slowly so we keep our family atmosphere and approach.

In the Saanenland and Pays-d'Enhaut regions, our products are available at Pernet, the Palace, and a few shops in Château-d’Oex as well as l’Etivaz.

Last year we started selling in German-speaking Switzerland and even have some availability in Ticino.

GL: This chalet is beautifully preserved. What can you tell me about its history?
CLH: The home was built in 1850 by a Lucernois who came with this family to live year-round, which was uncommon for the region. Typically people had a chalet in the valley for fall and winter, a little chalet a bit higher up, and a last hut high up on the mountaintop for grazing in the height of summer.

The architectural style is quite typical of the Entlebuch valley region, as is the size. The farm’s terraces were originally used for grains and vegetables…it’s where we grow our herbs today.

GL: Is Jardins des Monts exclusively organic?
CLN: We were certified organic in 2008. This place was untouched for many years but in Switzerland a two-year waiting period for certification for new farms is obligatory.

GL:How did you decide on which herbs to grow?
CLN: Medicinal herbs were important to us, which are useful for many ailments. We even visited local grandmothers and took a look at what was in their natural medicine cabinets. We have a wide variety of herbs and flowers at the farm, including some of our most popular additions to products like thyme, edelweiss, and mint. For example, three types of mint–Moroccan, Peppermint, and green mint–are all good for digestion and have been used in the region as a home remedy after meals.

GL: I’ve heard it isn’t easy to grow edelweiss. Is this true?
CLN: Not exactly. Edelweiss is rare and grows wild at only high altitudes. We have a small batch of the protected flower here which requires lots of sun and good, rocky soil. It’s actually a very hardy little flower.

GL: Tell us about your expansion.
CLN: We started selling in the Pays-d’Enhaut and then the products became so popular we decided to expand. Jardin des Monts now has several lines: Chocolate produced with our partner Early Beck, syrups and teas made exclusively with our mountain herbs, and cosmetics. In the fall we’ll debut herbal gummy candies as well.

GL: Do you offer a full range of cosmetics?
CLN: The base of our cosmetic product line is made by a Swiss firm, and then we add the active ingredients which are all made here on the farm. This includes several products made with edelweiss, like lip balm and body butter. The only thing we don't have yet is a dedicated cream for the face.

GL: What about the pine trees that grace the mountaintops here?
CLN: White pine is used to invigorate and it’s a key ingredient in our energising scrub and body oil. It can also be used like a Vicks vapour rub, to help clear the sinuses and loosen chest congestion, especially during wintertime.

GL: What else do your products do?
CLN: We also have calming herbs. Marjolaine is relaxing and is found in our bath salts and creams. Calendula is another popular herb, used in our liquid soaps for face and body. It’s very gentle and great for children’s sensitive skin.

Thanks to the Gstaad Palace, which is a very supportive partner, we were able to develop special treatments with their massage staff using our organic oils.

GL: Are all the components of your products locally sourced?
CLN: Whenever possible, we work with partners from the region, but we definitely don't go outside Switzerland for any ingredients. Today we have several women near Rossinière who have been with us for four years growing small batches of herbs for use in our products.

GL: You’re Swiss and French, and a Rosey graduate, no?
CLN: I am indeed. I grew up on a farm in Brazil but came back to Switzerland for secondary schooling at Le Rosey. I had an ideal childhood in Northeastern Brazil–my father had cows and kennels, and made lots of cheese, selling it throughout the country. We had mangoes and all sorts of local fruit too.

GL: What do you think about the movement towards a more natural lifestyle?
CLH: I think it’s a good thing, and about time. There are many ways to get close to nature and appreciate the natural world, especially in Switzerland.

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Municipality of Saanen Débuts Architectural Reference Book

SRF_Altes_Saanen_4_Postkarte von Benz Hauswirth (1)
Photo: Saanen


To celebrate the Sanona project, Saanen’s multi-year, multi-million franc renovation, (see our article on page 8) the municipality has published a book featuring the village’s historic buildings. Heinz Brand, City Council member, was in charge of development and recruited the authors to compile the edition, which was a labour of love for all those involved.

By Alexis Munier

Meet the Authors
Hauswirth, 66, was born and raised in Gstaad and has lived in Saanen for many years. His passion for architecture started at a young age and Hauswirth’s extensive knowledge about Saanen’s historic buildings has grown over the past few decades. He served as the municipality’s building administrator for more than a dozen years, from 1992-2008. Since that time he has also been in charge of Saanen’s archives, along with his partner Brigitte Leuenberger-Jaggi. Hauswirth is well known for his work involving architectural writing and contributions to local media.

Now the couple have completed a special tribute to Saanen, the newly released Saanen – ein historischer Dorfführer, written in both German and French.



Photos of Time Gone By
The book features both historic and recently taken photos of Saanen’s beloved structures taken by local photographer Mark Nolan. In 28 chapters, the beautiful hardbound book covers many important homes, chalets, and buildings.

Hauswirth has certainly done his research–by combing the archives–and has included interesting tidbits like old notes, recipes, and anecdotes to keep readers turning the pages.

“Thanks to the renovation project, Saanen should rediscover its former glory,” says Hauswirth, lamenting that the village lost its charm to traffic in the 1900's. “I believe it will return to its original character, which will continue to grow and thrive.”

A public launch party was held at on 15 August at the Hotel Landhaus, and the book is now available for purchase at several shops including Müller Medien, which worked with the authors and the municipality to develop the book project.

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Papercutting -- Traditional Handicraft Evolves into Contemporary Art


Photo: Karnstädt


The ancient art of papercutting is not just on display at museums. In the midst of a renaissance, two local artists are creating modern masterpieces.


Swiss paper cutting is known as Scherenschnitte, papier découpé, or découpage. Although it is thought to have roots in China and the Middle East, the art dates back to the 18th century here in Switzerland, when young women from the upper classes were encouraged to take it up as a leisure activity.

Birthplace of Swiss Papercutting
The Pays-d’Enhaut is famous for its paper cuts and boasts an outstanding collection at the Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut in Château-d’Oex. The first great Swiss masters of the technique were from the region, which lies in Canton Vaud just down the valley from the Saanenland.

The two most revered local masters were Johann-Jakob Hauswirth (1809–1871) and Louis Saugy (1871–1953). They favoured alpine idylls like steep mountains, cows, and flower-strewn meadows in their artwork.

Traditional activities like cheese making and fetching well water also feature prominently in today’s pieces, which resemble delicate lace. However younger artists are transitioning modern details like high-heeled women and cityscapes into their motifs.

Steps to Completion
Artwork is usually cut from one single piece of paper, and intricate designs can take dozens of hours to complete. Several steps make up the process: First, the artist traces the design onto a sheet of paper which is black on one side and white on the other. Next, scissors or more often small, sharp knives or scalpels are then used to cut out the tiny, detailed patterns.

As there is no school for paper cutting in Switzerland, the few who specialise in the art are mostly self-taught. Creativity is on the rise, with more and more artists eschewing traditional designs for those a bit daring. Alternatively, colours other than the standard white or black are
being used to infuse the folksy scenes with a touch of modernity.

Papercutting Renaissance
Corinne Karnstädt is one of the new generations of paper cutters–she luckily manages to eek out an existence on her art alone. After inheriting her grandmother’s house in Rossinière, she relocated from Lausanne to the Pays-d’Enhaut, where she has a small studio dedicated to her art. In an attempt to bring the old-fashioned activity to a new audience, Karnstädt hosts free demonstrations followed by low-cost initiation classes every Tuesday.

Another approach is taken by Frédéric Beziat, who has passed on paper to perform cutting on gold sheets. Beziat cuts away much in the same way Karnstädt does, turning out delicate heart-shaped
pendants with cut-out figures and scenes just like traditional papercutting.

With more than three decades of Saanenland visits behind him, Beziat says the area inspires him and his artwork frequently reflects this. He bills himself as a joaillier ebeniste or jeweler joiner, yet turned to gold as a medium for his designs, which are now available at Zwahlen-Hüni in Saanen.

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Reader's Page -- Your Vision of Gstaad


"This photo was taken on one of my morning walks which I concentrate mostly near the Spitzhorn, the Gstelli, and up towards the Col du Pillon.  Old wooden mountain huts dot the landscape here, some of which you can spend the night in.

An Italian friend, writer, and poet Gennaro Oriolo (from Calabria, Professor, University of Florence and Minister of Culture in Scandici-Florence) was flabbergasted by the beauty of our area, especially the Spitzhorn. He wrote a poem about it, entitled Lodo allo Spitzhorn, Ode to the Spitzhorn.  The poem was published in Gennaro's last book shortly before he died last September."

– Nicole Frampton-Vananty has been here for almost 18 years and lives permanently in Gsteig. She never tires of the beauty that surrounds her, no matter what the weather.

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Health Care Crisis in the Saanenland -- Controversial Solution Found


Photo: AvS


The Swiss health care system may not be the envy of the world for much longer–or at least not in the Saanenland. The two opposing sides of the argument are nowhere near reaching a consensus. Many say the closing and consolidation of hospitals across the nation in the name of both practical and fiscal efficiency is compromising availability and quality of health care in our region.


But is downsizing truly adversely affecting medical care in the Saanenland? Will  locals mourn the refusal of the Medi-Zentrum project or join with Saanen in suporting a Localmed outpatient clinic? Will they be forced to drive to Zweisimmen Hospital or even further afield?

Too Many Hospitals, Too Few Patients
Historically, Switzerland boasted a very high rate of care centres and hospitals
in relation to population. In many sparsely populated resort areas like the Saanenland and Interlaken, for example, the doors of local hospitals remained open for years despite an increasingly slower trickle of patients.

The problem was acknowledged at the highest governmental level possible, by Pascal Couchepin, former health minister, as well as many others including Christoffel Brändli, outgoing president of Santésuisse, one of two organisations that closely monitor health care in Switzerland. In 2009, Couchepin told Bilan magazine that one third of Swiss hospitals should be closed and those remaining should specialise.

Saanen official Armando Chissalé agreed last year, stating in an interview to the Anzeiger von Saanen that “The hospital was not financially viable, and patient numbers had already started to dwindle.”

Under the former system, even small, regional hospitals such as Saanen provided nearly all services. This meant that specialised operations were carried out on premises. This concerns some doctors, who feel that hospitals should have a minimum number of certain procedures performed in order to continue performing them, especially those that are risky.

Going, Going, Gone
According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, 44% of health care costs in Switzerland are hospital-related. By closing some regional hospitals and having others specialise rather than generalise, these costs may decrease. Since restructuring began a
decade ago, nearly 18% of hospitals have closed, bringing the countrywide total from 363 to 298.
The plight of closing local hospitals has its roots in earlier political decisions. More than a decade ago, Canton Bern created several companies to manage the restructuring of the hospital system in an attempt to cut costs. One of these companies is Spital STS AG, which manages hospitals in both Zweisimmen and Thun.

When the decision was made that one of the financially unviable regional hospitals had to be closed, Saanen Hospital drew the short straw. The facility, which had been in use for over a hundred years, closed its doors in November 2012. Since that time, local residents have had no choice but to make the 20-minute drive to the hospital in Zweisimmen, which was spared closure. Yet services in Zweisimmen continue to decrease; the hospital recently closed its obstetrics department, leaving pregnant women to make the hour and a half journey to the nearest maternity ward in Thun.

The hospital situation remains a highly controversial, emotionally charged issue. At a “sounding board” held by Spital STS AG last year, several politicians even walked out. They claimed the companies had not properly taken into account regional votes in their decision-making process.
Who Will Treat Patients?
Attempts to create a practice on the former Saanen Hospital site, known as the Medi-Zentrum, had been underway for several years. The idea was to found a medical clinic that would have been staffed by several local doctors with varying specialties. This practice would not have provided emergency care, however, but simply have gathered individual practitioners under one common roof. The region’s doctors are all subject to a 48-hour on-call period once a month, which would not have changed with the opening of the Medi-Zentrum.

Can Saanen Have its Cake and Eat it too?
Plans for the centre, called Medi-Zentrum, were presented to Saanen in late December 2014. They called for a demolition of the old hospital building and the construction of a new three-storey structure at a cost of CHF 11.8 million.

Financing was expected to be secured at an extraordinary council meeting in March 2015, but in an unexpected move, the Saanen City Council rejected the plans a month beforehand. After years of work, the project, which included the Spitexverein (local home health care provider) and physiotherapy practice along with the individual doctors’ practices, was refused in its current state.

With this “surprising and last-minute” rejection, many local doctors feel betrayed. These sentiments were explained in a press release from Drs Claudia Hauswirth, Claudia Sollberger, Nick Hoyer, Beat Michel, and physiotherapist Monika Iseli-Trachsel.

In an interview with the Anzeiger von Saanen, Aldo Kropf, president of Saanen’s City Council, claimed these were not valid concerns. Kropf insisted that the deal falling through hitched on a missing memorandum of understanding regarding the annual rental fees of the proposed building. As the owner, the municipality had calculated rent from all parties occupying the
Medi-Zentrum to amount to CHF 330000. However, the municipality would only invoice CHF 167000 (a
method of subsidation) and also foot the heating cost of CHF 45000.

That left a substantial amount for the Medi-Zentrum occupants to pay, an amount which the city of Saanen would have liked to confirm via a memorandum of understanding.

The Medi-Zentrum however could not sign such a memorandum because of a last minute issue concerning occupancy. Due to the limited space available, the Medi-Zentrum could not honour the application of a doctor practicing Chinese medecine who needed several rooms only part-time. This doctor had also declined to participate in the emergency service as the other doctors do, so the Medi-Zentrum felt obliged to refuse her application. This unfortunately left a gap of CHF 16000 in the budget allocated for rent.

Doctors maintain that the memorandum of understanding was ready to be signed and suggest the deal fell through because of this CHF 16000 discrepancy in the rental budget due to the withdrawal of a potantial tenant; a pittance for a CHF 12 million total project.

Kropf doesn't see the issue so simply.

“Such a document was necessary for this sort of project,” explained Kropf, “this is proof that we are talking about much more than just CHF 16000. We also concluded that the financial burden on our budget, after deducting the rental income, was too heavy.”

Choosing the Right Project
Saanen’s decision allowed it to remain open to investigating other solutions. A cooperation is now underway with the private company called Localmed, partially owned by the university hospital Inselspital in Bern, which runs an HMO-style clinic. Local doctors are worried patients will not be referred to them for further treatment. Others are concerned that to keep costs down, Localmed would be staffed with doctors imported from other areas, and who have no personal relationship with the Saanenland and, contrary to some local doctors, make no home visits to disabled patients. They are also worried that the hospital in Zweisimmen would be left out if Localmed refers patients only for treatment at clinics or hospitals that are partner organisations (thus the free choice of hospital would be eliminated).

Kropf agrees that supporting Zweisimmen Hospital is key. “We don't want to jeopardise the hospital,” he says, “Localmed management states that they are open to collaborating with both the hospital (ed: which is run by STS Spital AG) and local doctors.

“Our goal is good health care for the region,” emphasizes Kropf. “We are ready to talk and open to an adequate solution."

Is a Hospital Really Needed?
As a resort area, the Saanenland’s population triples from 10,000 to nearly 30,000 in the winter season. These visitors, especially the elderly population and long-term guests who spend time in second homes, worry about medical care in the case of an emergency.

“How can a ski resort area, which thrives on tourism, not have emergency care,” asks Gerald Putney, who spends approximately a third of the year in Gstaad.

Other guests, especially those based in Rougemont (a large percentage of whom are from the Geneva area) are happy to make the drive to the hospital in Château-d’Oex, where they can avoid the language barrier and converse in French.

Different Strokes for Different Folks
Doctors worry about several issues for health care in the region, one of which is an aging population. Elderly residents are also concerned that if a heart attack or stroke occurs, precious time will be wasted commuting to a distant hospitals.

“The workload of primary care physicians is increasing,“ explains Dr Hoyer. “On one hand this is due to the hospital closure in Saanen; on the other hand it’s due to demographic development.”
When the topic of an outpatient clinic is brought up, the population is again
divided. Many occasional guests or
weekend visitors say an outpatient clinic is the perfect solution for their needs. The doctors behind the Medi-Zentrum project however, believe their goal of continuing primary care and family medicine is incompatible with an outpatient clinic. Yet, this type of clinic is exactly what tourists say they’d like in the region.

“I don’t understand why this issue is so problematic,” says one frequent 56-year old guest, who chose to remain anonymous. “For locals, there are primary care physicians in the Saanenland for regular visits. There is a chance now to have an outpatient clinic with Localmed yet the area’s doctors are against it. We’ll wind up with nothing!”

Past, Present, Future
For many years there was both a selection of primary care physicians and a local hospital in the Saanenland. In operation for more than 100 years, Saanen Hospital served not only as an institution which provided necessary medical care without leaving the community, but also had a calming effect on the local population.

With the future of medical care in the Saanenland in the hands of Localmed, there is still some uncertainty about whether residents will really have the proper long-term primary care needed. The irony is that, as Switzerland dismantles its innovative health care system, the rest of the world is busy trying to build similar systems. Something to think about while you wait to be seen by a doctor in a hospital miles away from home.


The Swiss Single-Payer System--Still the Envy of the World?

The Swiss health care system is renowned worldwide for its excellent care and availability. It was even used as the model for the state of Massachusetts, the first US state to implement a single-payer type health care system. This standard of care does not come cheap, however, with premiums taking a sizeable percentage of personal income.

Basic health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland, and all residents must be covered. Single-payer refers to the fact that every person is responsible for
taking out his own insurance policy with no link to his employer, unlike in the US.

Unlike the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), Swiss insurance relies on private companies and is not a federal program funded with taxes. In addition to basic coverage, which is available to all Swiss residents with no exclusion for pre-existing conditions, customers may opt for an additional complimentary policy, which can cover a variety of extra costs such as medical devices, fitness centres, prosthetics, and more.

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Saanen Brocante Day of Fun for Whole Family

An annual tradition since 2003, Saanen will hold its famous brocante, or flea market, 15 August. The main streets will be closed to traffic host a series of stands on the newly repaved main road.


Saturday, 15 August is set to be a day to remember, with plenty on the to-do list including food and festivities at the event. A variety of snacks will be served, from standard grilled bratwurst to fluffy made-to-order crepes, and music will liven up the atmosphere–several groups are expected to perform.

Saanen’s brocante is host to a wide selection of second-hand treasures–furniture, linens, clothing, shoes, knick-knacks, appliances, and more. Stands will number in the dozens this year, displaying their wares all day long.

Bargain-hunters come from as far as Geneva, Bern, and Zürich to join in on the fun. Last year, they numbered close to 1,000; so to score the best deals, head in very early or just before they pack up their wares.


Haggling Tips

Haggling is not part of Swiss culture. Even on big ticket items like cars and homes, a 5% discount can be considered generous. Flea markets can be better for bargaining, especially as some of the dealers come from France and Italy where it is more commonplace.

The Swiss value cleanliness and good working order, and most secondhand items are in good condition. For a
discount, be sure to point out any mechanical flaws or damage. Mention if you’ve seen a similar item at the event for a lower price, or note that the item could be bought new for the same price.

Be prepared to walk away rather than overpaying. With summer sales in full swing, you may be able to locate a similar item new at roughly the same cost

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Sanona Rehabilitation Project Enters Last Phase

Saanen_Umgestaltung_fertig_ks14.7.15 (18)

Photo: ZvG

The municipality’s enormous Sanona project is finally in its last stages. The project, which spanned over five years and cost more than CHF 42 million, has turned the out-dated village centre into an elegant yet authentic hub. Despite the fresh paint and building renovations, Saanen maintains a local feel, pleasantly devoid of big name brand stores and boutiques. Socialising has officially moved outdoors, with restaurants opening onto sprawling terraces making the village truly the “Jewel of the Saanenland.”


Brand Spanking New
Saanen’s renaissance was led by visionary city council member Heinz Brand. A local boy born and bred, Brand put his heart into “Sanona," finding a solution for each challenge along the way and carefully managing each of the project’s phases.

The first phase included making the main street pedestrian-only and diverting vehicular traffic via a new tunnel on the outskirts of town. Next came the construction of a vast underground parking garage and adjoining housing development. Last but not least, cobblestones were laid to create a traditional feel and the portion of the main road still open to cars was repaved; all this just in time for an initial celebratory event this summer.

Saanen Live
On 8 August, the SRF (Swiss Radio & Television) will broadcast live from Saanen for the "SRF bi de Lüt" programme. Over the past six months, the station has been busy filming a series of portraits and interviews with local spokespeople. These will air on the day itself, along with live coverage of the festivities. The television programme is one of the most expensive in the station’s yearly budget, and Brand is sure that the coverage will be beneficial to the region. An estimated 1,000–2,000 guests will attend the festivities, with many more expected to visit the town in the future.

“We are so lucky to be working with the SRF,” says Brand, “it’s our chance to show off all our hard work, and let all of Switzerland know that the Saanenland is not just the luxury of Gstaad. Saanen itself is a strikingly beautiful village that remains a place locals frequent. They shop here, they eat here, they relax here–and so should you!”

Finishing Touches
Before the project finally comes to a close, there are a few last details to put into place. A dozen trees will be planted along the pedestrian road, including a giant Linden on the Dorfplatz. This was saved for after the SRF braodcast, as they were concerned the tree would take up too much valuable space for event attendees and make filming more difficult.

Those who know Brand know that his spring of ideas never runs dry.

“Future plans include constructing a band shell on the Sanonaplatz between the 16 Café and the Hotel Landhaus,” suggests Brand. “This would allow a dedicated space for small concerts and keep the musicians out of the elements, which has until now been a problem.”

A small information bureau will also be built in the chalet that hosts the Heimatwerk and museum, in cooperation with Gstaad Saanenland Tourism.

What do you think? What do you think? (Comments 3)

Reader's Page -- Your Vision of Gstaad


"When in Gstaad, my girlfriend and I enjoy daily walks and bicycle rides in and around the Saanenland. We both take photographs as we go, she with her iPhone and me with my Canon. One of the easiest walks from town is to simply climb up to Gruben, which we do often and where this photograph was taken. It is a high contrast photograph, printed on 100 % cotton paper and resembles a charcoal  drawing more than it does a glossy photograph. This photograph and some of my others can be seen at the Tournemine Gallery on Gstaad's Promenade."

– Marshall Vernet is a filmmaker and photographer who attended Le Rosey and still spends much of his time in Gstaad. In the past year, he has shown his photographs in Singapore, Milan, Paris, La Baule, and Gstaad. Now represented by the Tournemine Gallery, Vernet's photographs can be seen at their showrooms in La Baule and Gstaad throughout the summer.




What do you think? What do you think? (Comments 0)

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History of GstaadLife and the GstaadLife print edition are the English-language sister publications to the German-language Anzeiger von Saanen. The print edition was launched on February 3 2004, with the website first appearing in August 2006. and the GstaadLife print edition have a separate editorial team from the Anzeiger von Saanen, with some articles in GstaadLife publications being translations of items that appeared in the Anzeiger von Saanen. The Anzeiger von Saanen has been printed in Saanen and Gstaad since 1880, and is the leading source of local news coverage for the area known as Saanenland, which includes Gstaad and surrounding areas of the western Bernese Oberland in the Swiss Alps., GstaadLife, and the Anzeiger von Saanen are all publications of Müller Marketing und Druck AG. For additional information about the publications, please contact Müller Marketing und Druck AG at the address below:

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