As planned, the new Eggli cable car will open on 20 December and the inauguration will take place on 21 December. However, the mountain restaurant will open during the winter of 2020/21. In the meantime, an unusual catering service will bridge the gap and the Snoasis is also open.
Although snow fell in the valley last week, construction work on the Eggli continued as planned. Matthias In-Albon, managing director of Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad AG (BDG), Thomas Spiegelberg, vice president of the management board of Bartholet Maschinenbau AG and his colleague Michel Cerini, project manager and head of sales in Switzerland all gave an update about the progress of the work.
The cable cars are runningAs part of this immense construction project, the Eggli cable cars, the valley and mountain stations and the Berghaus are all being rebuilt. The building shells for the cable car have more or less been completed. At the moment, acceptance of the cable car system by the Federal Office of Transport is in progress. Interior work and the completion of the surrounding area are also in full swing.
At the beginning of December, operation of the system will begin with the Federal Office of Transport followed by Suva approval. In-Albon expects the operating license to be issued in mid-December. "The onset of winter hasn’t affected us. We’re building in a familiar environment. This is how we earn our daily bread," says Cerini. The new cable car will start running before Christmas. "On Friday 20 December, we’ll start running the cable cars. On Saturday 21 December, the official celebrations will take place.”
Construction delays are clawed backThe two-week construction delay due to the late spring could be clawed back, according to the experts. Last week, the Eggli looked just like before any grand opening: tradesmen scattered as far as the eye could see and the surrounding work not yet quite complete. In the meantime, the sweepers and diggers were out in operation. Soon, the construction containers will be taken down.
There’s a sense that the BDG has plenty of experience with new buildings and will do the necessary work right up to the opening. "Some detailed, non-urgent work won’t be finished until the spring," explained In-Albon. For example, the new BDG office wing at the Eggli valley station is to be completed as planned during the winter and won’t be ready until the spring.
The Berghaus is underwayAs part of the mountain project, the Schopfen lift was slightly moved and integrated into the mountain station. The Berghaus was erected last week next to the new sleek Eggli mountain station. When standing in front of the mountain station, the solid wood construction looks grand and imposing. If you circle the building and look at it from the south, its graded shape is plain to see and makes a creative impression.
Despite its spaciousness, the public restaurant exudes a homey atmosphere even though it’s currently still a shell. Just like the old restaurant, it can be sub-divided with a partition. Upstairs, you’ll find the private Club de Luge with a large picture window. This has a separate entrance. The delivery of goods for both restaurants will take place via the mountain station and through an underground passage.
"At the moment, the wooden cladding is being fitted to the building and the windows are being installed. Then, we’ll dismantle the scaffolding and set up the construction for the winter break", said In-Albon. In the spring, the interior will be completed and the opening is planned for the winter of 2020/2021.
Catering service to be continuedAlthough the Berghaus Eggli remains closed this winter, catering facilities are still available on the mountain. Local chefs will cook in a converted snow groomer and two wooden chalets will serve as a buffet and kitchen for home-cooked food and typical Swiss specialties. The Fonduegondeli (refurbished cable cars), which are usually in use as regional ambassadors in Swiss cities, will offer cosy sheltered seating. Catering is assured when the weather is fine, but the Snoasis, run by the Rialto restaurant in Gstaad, will also be serving meals and snacks.
Ski season off to a good startThe BDG started its ski season in the eastern sector in the middle of November and recorded 1,300 guests on the first weekend. Last Saturday the slopes were closed due to the Föhn storm, but on Sunday, 1,000 people came as the season’s new arrivals. "We’ve been very pleasantly surprised by these numbers," said the managing director. Although these initial steps don’t take us into the black, “For the advance sale of tickets and hotel bookings, it’s very important that we have reliable snow and can also show our competence in terms of the ski slopes.”
Based on AvS/Blanca Burri
Translated by Justine Hewson