Meeting The Alpina Gstaad management
The curiosity associated with the considered unveiling of the latest 5 star hotel in Gstaad in 100 years, The Alpina Gstaad, has captured the imagination of many of us resident here in the Saanenland. From the early plans which we were all privy to, through the large scale construction phase to the eventual roof wetting. The project has been a part of all of our lives for some time now and as it takes its rightful place as a part of our social, business and geographic landscape, it is good to begin to put some names and personalities together with it. The owners of the development Marcel Bach and Jean-Claude Mimran whose vision it is to actualise the authentic luxurious alpine boutique hotel and residence have left nothing to chance in terms of who they have placed in charge of the management of the hotel. First and foremost, Onno Poortier from Rembrandt Management Services GmbH has been appointed in the key position as owner’s representative and advisor. Educated and trained in Switzerland Mr Poortier brings over four decades of development, marketing and operational experience to the Alpina Gstaad. His extensive experience includes luxurious international hotel brands such as The Peninsula Group where he was President for 9 years. Mr Poortier’s task list is long and involved however what excites him most about the project is the vision itself. ‘To be a part of what really is the latest 5 star establishment in Gstaad in 100 years is fabulous. To capture high quality, high design and warm genuine service in a unique Gstaad way is our goal. The Alpina Gstaad will certainly be unique in many ways, it is a great honour to be a part of this project’, says Mr Poortier.
It was Mr Poortier who recommended the appointment of Bernese native, Niklaus Leuenberger, the Alpina Gstaad’s Managing Director. Mr Leuenberger comes with over three decades of top draw hotel management experience gained in Asia, the Middle East and the USA. His experience has him understanding the discerning needs of luxury hotel guests and the challenges of working with diverse cultures. ’It is personally very exciting for me to return to Gstaad since it was a luxury hotel experience right here, 40 years ago, that decided my career choice to be a hotelier and life has now taken me full circle’, says Mr Leuenberger. The new Managing Directors extensive experience comes across in his view on the staff appointments he will be making. ‘The attitude that the hotel portrays is a big part of my job. People who are happy with what they are doing and identifying themselves with the product, do a good job and authentic hospitality is never forgotten’, says Mr Leuenberger. ‘When all is said and done, The Alpina Gstaad would only be a great building if it didn’t have the right people with the right attitude. However it is this passion, the approach and spirit that has the potential to transform the hotel into a legendary experience, which is our aim’.
Asking Mr Leuenberger about the exclusivity of the hotel and whether local people will feel welcome, he explains, ‘The Alpina Gstaad is a member of the Gstaad community. The hotel‘s developers, builders and craftsmen all come from this region working hand in hand with designers from Europe and Asia under the lead architects Jaggi & Partner. We want to be a hotel for all our guests – international and regional - attracting both locals and visitors whether it be for a celebration of an anniversary, or just a good meal out of home, The Alpina Gstaad will be as welcoming to our local guests as to our out of town visitors’.
Commenting on the unique aspects of the new hotel, Mr Leuenberger says, ‘Gstaad has gained recognition as a world renowned mountain resort with alpine authenticity as its trademark. A genuine Alpine lifestyle still prevails in the destination and The Alpina Gstaad takes great pride in respecting and nurturing these traditions whilst providing an indulgent Swiss mountain experience for our guests. Unique views of the surrounding Saanenland Alps will be seen from the balconies of our 57 rooms and suites as from the bar lounge and three restaurants, the wine tasting room, cigar room, ballroom and boardroom. Whilst a uniquely designed entry and covered driveway on the side of the hill, the hotel atop will welcome guests, ensure protection from the weather and keep an ambiance of peace and serenity within the grounds of the hotel’.
Mr Poortier and Mr Leuenberger will be very busy in the coming year readying The Alpina Gstaad which will open in December 2012. With a SFr 300m investment firmly in their hands, they certainly have their task cut out for them. With their clear strategy and the extensive experience that they bring to the project, it could well be said that, ‘all is going to plan.’
By Peter Sonnekus-Williams