12 March 2021

Hotel icon in beauty sleep


Once all the winter guests have left, preparations for the summer begin at the Palace with Housekeeping Manager Michaela Gäng and Technical Manager Konstantinos Georgantopoulos.

 

Gstaad Palace | The luxury hotel in the Bernese Oberland has said goodbye to the mid-season. Now the big clean-up and renovation is underway - until the guests return in three months.

Twice a year, Andrea Scherz fights a touch of melancholy. But he doesn't let on and bravely says goodbye to the guests. In March and September, the luxury hotel Gstaad Palace closes its doors for about three months. Instead of Swiss and international customers in designer outfits, women and men in casual working clothes dominate the venerable scene for weeks. Even the boss shows up for work in a jumper and jeans. "Of course, there is a completely different atmosphere in the hotel now," says Andrea Scherz, who is the third generation to run Gstaad's most famous hotel.

The last winter guests left the Palace on the first Sunday of March, and the big clean-up began on Monday. "We penetrate the farthest corners," is how Michaela Gäng describes the first ten working days of the mid-season. The experienced governess generale from Franconia heads the housekeeping crew, which is still at work at full strength at the beginning of the guest-free period.

Taps are descaled, upholstery is maintained 30 team members are busy with the basic cleaning of the 90 rooms and suites, the five restaurants, the other public rooms, the spa and the six employee houses of the Palace. Taps are descaled, curtains replaced, upholstery maintained, stains removed from wall coverings and mattresses cleaned. Cushions, small items of furniture or knick-knacks go into storage, and the furniture, some of which is valuable, is covered. "The Gstaad Palace is like an old lady," says Michaela Gäng. "She takes off her clothes, brushes her teeth, removes her make-up, washes herself and slips into her nightgown for her mid-season sleep." The turreted hotel icon is 108 years old. "Only if you look closely and keep refreshing and renovating, the lady does stay in good shape," explains the Executive Housekeeper. During the season, Gäng's crew has no opportunity for basic cleaning. "We clean very systematically every day, but it takes three days and free rooms to shampoo and dry a carpet," says Gäng. "We don't want to bother the guests with noise or hectic." Those who pay an average of 1200 francs per night for a room do not tolerate any disturbance. "We too can only really get going once the guests have left," says Konstantinos Georgantopoulos. The technical manager is responsible for maintenance, repairs and renovation at the Gstaad Palace. For the head technician with roots in Greece and Bavaria and his team of six, the most strenuous time of the year has begun. "The mid-season challenges us even more than the months with guests," says Georgantopoulos.

"The Covid 19 situation complicates our planning".

His team cleans ventilation ducts, replaces filters, converts lighting systems from halogen to LED, seals joints or installs spare parts. Together with external craftsmen, they also carry out renovations; soon the snack bar by the swimming pool will have a new kitchen. "The Covid 19 situation complicates our planning," says the head of building services, "we need spare parts for old radiators - but unfortunately they are stuck in France."

The trained electrician and plumber came to Gstaad last summer from Badrutt's Palace in St. Moritz. "Here you don't need to shovel quite as much snow in winter as in the Engadine," grins the all-rounder. Instead, he soon has to take care of the hotel's four tennis courts and the 50-metre-long outdoor pool. "And at the latest ten days before the first guests arrive, we have to get the hotel up and running."

On 18 June, the noble old lady is to receive individual guests again, rested and refreshed, for the summer season.

An article by Christoph Ammann, Tages-Anzeiger

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