echo-interview with Andrea Scherz, General Manager and majority shareholder of the luxury hotel Gstaad Palace
elipsLife echo: Mr Scherz, what attracts the super rich from around the world to the Gstaad Palace?
Andrea Scherz: Well, first it must be said that Gstaad is a very beautiful place. For me, it is one of the most idyllic mountain resorts in the world. As it is not too high, you can eat dinner outside in summer. Night temperatures drop to around 15 degrees, so that you can sleep with an open window. In contrast to St. Moritz, we can make sure in Gstaad that our guests also enjoy the summer feeling. And we should not forget the unspoilt landscape, or the fact that we have a well-functioning agriculture. All of these factors attract people to Gstaad. And last but not least, our hotel: the Gstaad Palace understands the needs and desires of its special customers. At the same time we also offer our guests an experience. The reason is simple: unlike many of our competitors we have remained authentic, which makes us unique.
For the past few years, luxury hotels have been springing up like mushrooms. What is driving this boom?
One of the members of our board of directors once explained this very well. In times past, a sail yacht symbolised wealth. In the 1980s and 1990s, the private jet entered the picture. Nowadays one also has a hotel. Not only do rich people like to invest in real estate, and hotels are often beautiful properties, but it is often also a question of prestige. I often hear from affluent people that they would like to own a good restaurant or a high-class hotel. I sometimes have to smile about this, because it seems that they all think it is easy to manage a hotel. And finally, hotels are a preferred tool for tax optimisation. A hotel that makes a loss but increases in value is a good way in which to reduce the tax burden.
Your competitors are often owned by investors worth billions, but you manage a family business. What are your chances on such an uneven playing field?
Yes, it is an unequal race. Almost as if I have to run a marathon in bare feet while the other runners all have the best running shoes. But then again, we can build on an image that has been polished and perfected over a hundred years. We offer the kind of hospitality and atmosphere that cannot be easily copied. The reasons for feeling at ease in a hotel or on vacation are generally very subjective, in any case. Maybe people feel very comfortable at the Gstaad Palace because they can feel that our hotel has grown organically like an old oak tree over many decades and seems able to weather any storm. In a time when the world is turning ever faster, people are looking for places that radiate a sense of calm, security and continuity.