27 May 2019

Andrea Scherz:
Early Years of the Hotelier of the Year 2019

If anybody thinks that for a young man from a good home, even a palace, everything just falls into their lap, then they are mistaken. Andrea Scherz (50), chosen this evening as the Hotelier of the Year 2019 and proud proprietor of the Gstaad Palace, had to work hard to earn his spurs. Here are five merry episodes from his early years.

The first steps

They grew up well-behaved and well-brought-up, the two Scherz brothers Andrea and Thierry. Nevertheless, they still allowed themselves harmless little games every now and again. For example, the two rascals went pilfering at the obligatory receptions for the tennis guests of Grand-Slam superstar Roy Emerson in the garden and each took the fresh ham croissant from the buffet. They particularly enjoyed playing hide and seek in the hotel garden, with Jacques Chirac, for example, the former Mayor of Paris and later French state presidents. Roger Moore was also always a welcome guest. The charming Brit particularly played the fool on the two boys’ toy railway. Because, instead of cocktails and small-talk with the grown-ups, Bond was far more fascinated with the green crocodile locomotive of the Swiss Railway SBB and the “Rasende Roland”, when he steamed around the corner into the children’s room. Little eyes were shining – and not just the children’s.

The first adventure

He always felt called to higher things… It must have been 1981 when the façade of the Palace was completely enfolded in scaffolding. Back then, Andrea Scherz furtively ascended the scaffolding and climbed higher and higher, until he could touch the tower top of the Palace, his Palace. But it did not end there. Together with his cousin, he came up with the daring idea of exercising on a pulley, in the form of a simple rope which hung down seven storeys, wrapped around a roll. Since then the two fellows have been known as the “inventors of bungee jumping” in the Saanenland. There would have been trouble if Grandfather Ernst Scherz had caught them.

The first cooking lesson

Andrea Scherz’s first cooking lesson at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne EHL, the world-famous cadre factory, which he attended from 1989 to 1993, is legendary. There was a senior teacher called Monsieur Philippe Miéville, who gave him the task of cooking a vegetable soup. Andrea proudly showed him the result. Miéville grabbed the pot and ordered the up-and-coming chef to follow him. They went directly to the pig bucket where the soup was disposed of. Back to square one.

The first pocket money

When he set his mind upon something, then he got it… Andrea Scherz always knew what he wanted. This is demonstrated by a story that took place at the EHL in Lausanne. Andrea Scherz was absolutely set upon doing his service internship on Hawaii. It was actually more of a joke among his colleagues. But he did not let up, and wrote to everyone, including to Mr Aebi, the former General Manager at the legendary Halekulani on Honolulu. And: The dream became reality ― Andrea won 1,000 francs of prize money for the best project out of all students in his year at the EHL. Later, his pockets well filled, Andrea Scherz set off for foreign parts and returned one day in May 1996 – to the Palace in Gstaad.

First time at the reception

He will never forget this summer day for as long as he lives: In 1996, the young Andrea Scherz finished his first season in his own hotel. He spent it at the reception. Then the telephone rang – it was the lady from the second storey again. She had only just called because of a trivial matter, and now here she was again. But this time the voice from the earpiece sounded serious, the earpiece: “Un chien, un chien! J’ai vu un chien qui volait dans l’air.” What can I say to that, wondered the young receptionist. This was awkward. Nevertheless, he attended to the call in a friendly way, calmed the lady down, put the receiver down and started on the day’s business.
Soon afterwards the phone rang again. No, it was not the lady from the second floor, but an agitated concierge from the first floor. “Mr Scherz, come straight away! There has been a death. A dog has jumped out of the window.” A hot and cold shiver went down the novice’s back. He hurried to the site of this tragic incident on the big balcony of Room 127. There was the owner, collapsed in on himself in disbelief over the sad picture of misery that had once been a proud Irish setter.
How could something like that have happened, wondered our receptionist. There was a solution to the mystery. The dog had been waiting eagerly for his owner, in the room on the 5th storey. Suddenly, however, he had heard the familiar voice of his master, who was having his lunch down below on the terrace. And, as he usually did at home, he had made a big leap out of the window, for the last time.
Typically for the Palace, the carpenter and the receptionist made a virtue out of even the greatest necessity and built a wooden coffin for the deceased pet in the hotel’s own workshop. This made a fitting last vessel for the dog who, appropriately, answered to the name “Jet”. It was the least that one could do in such a messy situation.

 

Andrea Scherz is the General Manager of the world-famous Gstaad Palace Hotel. He grew up in the hotel business, because the Family Scherz is running the hotel for the third generation. Before Andrea Scherz started at the Gstaad Palace, he worked for various hotels such as the Beau-Rivage in Lausanne, the Savoy in London, and the InterContinental in Geneva. Before that he completed a variety of internships in the United States and Italy. Andrea Scherz now also has a seat in various administrative boards of the tourism and hotel industry such as Swiss Deluxe Hotels, Leading Hotels of the World and the Gstaad-Saanenland Airport Association. Andrea Scherz graduated from the École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) and has the highest degree in Hotel Management from the Swiss Hotelier’s Association. He speaks fluent German, English, French and Italian.

The Hotelier of the Year 2019 and his view of things

Andrea Scherz in the NZZ Executive Interview



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