The Institute Le Rosey: “We remain in the Saanenland!”
In May 2011 the building order for "development Hubelstrasse" and Nr. 75 "Erli" was open for public view at the community Saanen. The local council in charge presented the construction concept as a public information presentation for the planned Le Rosey Campus. Since then the school has battled for their plans to be carried out.
“We want to stay in the Saanenland,” says Philippe Gudin, director of the institute Le Rosey and confirms – “we will stay in Saanenland.” The director and his wife, who are the owners of the private school in Rolle on the Lake Geneva since 1980, puts relocation to St.Moritz, Verbier or Arosa out of the question. He says that for all of them, teachers and students, it's a dream to spend three months of the year in the Saanenland. “And this shall remain,” says Gudin.
At present the project is at the department of community and regional policy (AGR) for inspection. “Such a project needs time,” says Aldo Kropf, council leader of Saanen. Only when the department has pretested, can the community assembly decide. For Saanenland it's very important to keep Le Rosey institute in the Saanenland. “Le Rosey is a vital economic factor,” says Kropf. The public authorities of the Canton are also well aware of this. The communities as well as the Canton are collaborating in order to find an appropriate solution. Mr Gudin is pleased about the support of the Canton as he wasn't aware of their knowledge of the importance of Le Rosey in Gstaad.
Some of the classes, which were taking place until last March, had to be moved to containers due to the needed space. This situation was rather difficult. The 7’000m2 property that is presently used has become too small. The location was perfect in the 1990’s, but the school as well as the requirements has grown since then. First Le Rosey had the idea to buy land around the existing school in order to expand, but this wasn't possible.They were looking for a solution over the past ten years, coming to the result that the location in Schönried would be the most suitable one, Gudin says. It is not only about finding an area which is vast enough, but also one that is close enough to public transport for the students to access. The parents and students do accept the difficult situation out of love for the Saanenland. In 2009 Le Rosey was able to buy the 40’000m2 property from ‘Ferienheim Amt Fraubrunnen,’ though the sale will only be valid if the private school gets the building permit.
Meanwhile Gudin has lost his optimism for being able to start building in the next few years. He expects to move only between 2018 and 2020, therefore the school is now looking for temporary solutions. To-date there has been rented rooms in nearby chalets at Ried, but still the space is not sufficient. Gudin now is trying to find solutions with the AGR and community of Saanen in order to actualize the building project. He says that he thinks all the people involved have the same aim, which is to keep Le Rosey in Saanenland. As architects he could win over Benz Hauswirth and Jaggi & Partner. He mentions that a school is not built every day and that he wants the SFr 80 million project to be carried out exactly as presented. The property in Ried will only be sold when the building permit is handed over by the authorities.
That Le Rosey spends its winters in Gstaad does not mean that 600 people more activate the economy, but these 600 guests bring more people up and it's also about the publicity they make for the region. Gudin has been told many times from locals that winters in Saanenland without Le Rosey would be rather tedious. But he also knows how difficult it is to do construction in Saanenland. For every enterprise or family it is a challenge, he was well aware of this. Ten years of searching for a suitable location, was very exhausting for him.
Every year the school gets 400 applications, but only 80 can be accepted as the scholarships are limited. But this is not the reason for expanding the campus. The requirements for infrastructure have changed in the last 20 years, therefore the plan for new construction. Philippe Gudin comes to Gstaad two days a week in winter. He says every time he comes back to Saanenland it feels like coming to paradise. He considers spending three months a year in Gstaad as a privilege and he says Saanenland is a special place with a healthy balance between exclusivity and normal life, it's a very human place. Gstaad is enchanting, and Gudin wants his students to get some of this enchantment.