New solution needed for Hotel Bären Gsteig

Fri, 08. May. 2020
The public will decide in a vote about the future of the Hotel Bären Gsteig. (Photograph: AvS)

The tenants are not extending the lease on the hotel restaurant Bären in Gsteig and will therefore return the keys at the end of October. The municipality now wants to go new ways.

The municipality of Gsteig wants to set up a limited liability company, appoint a management and look for a managing director. The reason: The Hotel-Restaurant Bären with its restaurant and two separate dining rooms, a Fürgruebe as well as six hotel rooms and a tenant’s flat will close again after two years. Tenants Gabi and Christian Hefti will not extend the two-year lease. The municipality is aware that running the Bären profitably is a challenge.

Managing director wanted
Because of the difficult economic situation in the Bären, finance administrator of the municipality, Karl Graa, does not consider a further lease as a viable option. "You would only let the tenants walk into a knife, that wouldn't be fair." As a consequence, the municipality decided to bear the financial responsibility. A management board consisting of representatives of the municipal council, representatives of the public and the finance administrator will take over the strategic management. A managing director will be in charge of the business operation. The advantage of this model is that the management can quickly and easily exert influence and can take direct influence in how the traditional house is run. Since the municipal council has two members from the hospitality/hotel industry, it is confident that it has this competence, said Graa.

People decide
On 7 June the voting public will decide at the urn how to proceed with the Bären. If they agree, it will be run by the community for the next five years. A commitment credit of CHF 170,000 will cover any operating deficits. At the vote, the people will also have to indicate what should happen to the Bären if the solution with the proposed solution does not get a majority. The sale of the property, the temporary closure and a renewed search for a leaseholder are all options.

A look back
The Ambort family had run the business for around 20 years when they handed it over to the Burri family in 2002. They remained for six years, after which the tenants changed every two years. Changing customer needs and habits and various new laws such as the smoking ban or the reduction of the legal alcohol limit for drivers made the profitable operation more and more difficult with time. When the year-round camping with restaurant on the Heiti was opened in the 2000s, the competition grew within the village. Many things have changed that made the gastronomy business all over the country more challenging. The corona crisis now was the last straw.

Based on AvS/Blanca Burri



What a sad story ... way back, the rush, first floor, packed, with proper table setting, boeuf stroganoff was the favorite. Downstairs, the real fireplace and real raclette, a bit of crackling crust with each serving. No hideous electric contraption on the table. Oh well, times change. When I read management, director, board, representatives etc. I shudder. No mistake, they will be all well meaning and I hope the best, but making money? And with all and sundry dabbling, how to run the place, probably everyone demanding their favorite dish on the menu? Are none of the experienced Gastro professionals in the Saanenland interested? The way he/she wants it. With realistic expectation, no return expectation for 2 - 3 years, to build it up?

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As I am writing this the noise from the icefield and tennis area should be entering my office.

At this time of year, the beach volleyball tournament should be in full swing. People in flip-flops and with flags to cheer on their team should be milling about in the Promenade.