Gstaad to get new riding center
It’s been rumored for a while now, but last Friday Marcel Bach announced that Gstaad is to get a new riding center. Marcel Bach again, we hear you ask. Yes, he of (deep breath) property development, Country Night, Glacier 3000 and Everest fame – not to mention being the most common search term on GstaadLife.com -- is back, this time as president of the firm to be formed known as Reitzentrum Gstaad AG that will run the new riding facility. Right now everything’s in the planning stages and still must be approved by the Gemeinde and the public, but if no-one objects, the hope is to start construction in the spring and be done by next winter. The existing facility on the other side of the river between Saanen and Gstaad (near the new Bellerive Hotel) will be torn down, and Thurgau architects Baumgartner AG, who are Swizerland leader’s in equestrian facility construction have been brought in for the new center. While Bach will not be investing himself this time round (funding is coming from two unnamed private investors, guests, and local residents), little expense will be spared for the new facility. It will be a modern state-of-the-art equestrian center, constructed with Gstaad architectural sensibilities.
It will feature a 50m long riding hall, with up to 40 generous size stalls for horses. Asides from the usual amenities, there will be a clubroom, a couple of apartments, and rooms for the stable hands. Marcel’s brother Ueli is providing outdoor training land across the river, and wooden bridge will be constructed over the water to connect the two areas. While offering special usage concessions to the local equestrian association, the new Gstaad equestrian center will be fully open to the public, and management will remain under Ernst Voegeli who has been in charge for the last 3 years. Both Voegeli and Bach emphasize that the riding center is a place for guests and local residents alike, with 66% of the boxes in the current center occupied by the horses of local residents. They also note that the riding school is a good thing for local youths, especially in light of recent concerns with teenage alcoholism. Bach took on the presidency of Reitzentrum Gstaad AG because he has long been involved in new riding center planning and thinks it’s good for the region. In comments to GstaadLife.com sister publication, the Anzeiger von Saanen, he stated that the riding center will be important from the perspective of year-round tourism, with equestrian sports including polo currently growing at far faster rates than winter sports. He also noted that new and more riding paths are needed to match the hiking and skiing network, and he hopes the riding association and the Gemeinde will work together towards the goal of building out the riding path network.