History of the Gstaad Palace Hotel Switzerland
Building of the Gstaad Palace began in 1911. In 1913 the grand opening of the ROYAL HOTEL, WINTER & GSTAAD PALACE, GSTAAD was celebrated. Very modern for the period: its 150 rooms already have 50 private bathrooms, the building has electrical lighting throughout and even 6 telephone booths.
The First World War brings hard times because of closed borders with only a few guests as customers.
The Golden Twenties (1920–1930) are good years for the Gstaad Palace. The hotel is very successful and becomes more and more popular.
After the Wall Street crash of 1929 the worldwide economic recession also hits Switzerland. Business is bad, there are only a few guests and, very unfortunately for the Gstaad Palace, they spend very little.
The share capital of the ROYAL HOTEL, WINTER & GSTAAD PALACE, GSTAAD company has to be reduced in 1936. Finances are rearranged.
Mr and Mrs Scherz-Bezzola arrive in 1938 as managers of the hotel. They previously ran the Hotel Carlton in St. Moritz.
Second World War: once again closed borders, most men in the army, rationed food, only a few guests, many of them refugees in Switzerland. Mrs Scherz cultivates the Gstaad Palace‟s garden, raises chickens and manages the hotel almost alone, as her husband is guarding the borders with the Swiss army.
The majority holder of the Gstaad Palace shares is totally discouraged and decides to sell in 1947. Ernst Scherz is unable to meet the price within 24 hours.The shares are sold to a German industrialist who plans to turn the hotel into a home for sick and/or retired factory workers. With the help of many friends and relations Ernst Scherz manages to buy the shares back from him.
Later, over the years Ernst Scherz gradually buys almost all other shares from holders who had never received any dividend payments. The Scherz family starts improving the hotel with modest means and a great deal of inspiration. Famous entertainers such as Maurice Chevalier, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald perform at gala evenings.
Over the years the entire hotel is refurbished, bathrooms are added, technical systems are modernised. Celebrities now often stay at the hotel and many of them buy chalets or apartments in Gstaad later.
After managing the Gstaad Palace for 30 years Mr and Mrs Scherz-Bezzola feel that time has come for a change. In 1968, they ask their son Ernst Andrea and his wife Shiwa to come home and take over.
Ernst A. Scherz pursued a typical Swiss hotel career: Hotel Management School of Lausanne and internships as waiter, cook and receptionist in Europe‟s top hotels, a short course at Cornell University, followed by other internships at the Swiss State Hotel Bank and the Mövenpick Restaurant Company. Before returning home Ernst A. Scherz had worked for the Aga Khan, at his Sardinian development on the Costa Smeralda, where he was responsible for commercialising four hotels.
Important additions to the Gstaad Palace took place in 1970: a fabulous indoor pool with artificial sunlight and underwater-music, a nightclub called GreenGo, which was to become very famous, as well as a fitness centre with saunas and massage rooms.
In the following years, the Palace Residence, a small house named Chalet Shiwa as well as a new staff house named Chalet Marmite were built.
In 1986 further transformations took place: the opening of La Grande Terrasse, covered by the largest electrical canopy in Switzerland, and also of a new meeting room, the Salle Piero.The building of a staff house, Chalet Vapeur, away from the hotel and containing over 50 apartments in joint buildings of which the Gstaad Palace owns one with 15 apartments, was carried out in 1989.
Further additions in 1990: hotel entrance side restructuring with a two-storey underground garage of 80 parking spaces, an elegant hotel entrance, major enlargement of the kitchens, a new ski room and sports shop, an additional boutique and a new centralised room-service kitchen above the main kitchen, linked to the floors by an additional goods lift. Reorganisation of all storage areas and goods entrance.
1991 saw the opening of the new Grand Ballroom and the Salle Baccarat, seating 250 guests for dining or 350 persons in theatre style.
The construction of a new Gstaad Palace residence, Les Chalets du Palace, took place between 1995 and 1996. This new complex is linked directly to the hotel, has its own underground garage and consists of a dozen luxury apartments – most of them sold, some of them for rent. The residents of Les Chalets du Palace enjoy all the privileges of hotel guests and have the complete range of hotel services at their disposal.
After graduating from the Hotel Management School in Lausanne, and following various training periods and jobs in Switzerland as well as abroad, Andrea Scherz starts working in his father‟s business as Chef de Reception in 1996. Andrea Scherz and Laura Antoniades marry in 1997, and Laura joins the management of the Gstaad Palace.
Construction and opening of the spectacular Penthouse Suite on the roof of the hotel (three bedrooms, living and dining room, kitchenette, panoramic terrace with Jacuzzi and sauna in the tower) takes place in 2000. General Manager Hansruedi Schaerer retires after 43 years of service at the Gstaad Palace.
On 1 January 2001, Andrea Scherz is appointed General Manager.
Thierry Scherz graduates as Bachelor in Law. He is also responsible for the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, the new festival of classical music which takes place at the end of winter.
In 2002 he is elected to the Board of Directors of the Gstaad Palace Company.
Following the immediate success of the Penthouse Suite, two more luxurious Tower Suites are built.
The very popular La Fromagerie restaurant is equipped with a new kitchen, and its capacity is increased.
In 2003, the 45-year-old bar, the Grill Room and Sans Cravate restaurant are transformed into a new gastronomic centre of the hotel: grill-rotisserie where chefs work with open fire, the highly popular Bar du Grill for cocktails and lounge meals – still with live music for dancing, and also an Italian restaurant called Gildo‟s, named after the Gstaad Palace‟s first Maitre d‟Hôtel.
After a construction period of 15 months, the existing Palace Spa is extended by 1,300 m2 in 2007. It features an authentic and luxurious decor, breathtaking views and all the facilities one can expect from an extraordinary wellness centre.
Together with this project an additional underground garage with 54 spaces for the employees is built underneath the tennis courts.
It is estimated that since the Gstaad Palace has been owned by the Scherz family, approximately 90 million Swiss francs have been spent on enlargements and improvements, in addition to normal maintenance and upkeep.