Palaces, five stars hotels, swanky bars and private schools, Gstaad is the resort of the café society, an exclusive village where the haute couture and jewelers present their pieces in charming little boutiques surrounded by luxury hotels and wooden chalets. But the winter benchmark of the wealthier is struggling under a 62 million dollar debt. The economic health of the resort is at stake after heavy investments and the offer of the billionaire is a real opportunity for Gstaad.

Swedish billionaire Bertarelli made an offer like no other in history of ski resorts: $15.5 million for the cable car Rellerli and the slopes it serves.
He aims to make the whole area private, access prohibited to other skiers. This would be the opening of a private ski slope and private cable car, a new eccentricity in Money Land. Now, what’s the plan? Dismantling the cable car, closing the surrounding slopes and consequently making the intermediary button tows inaccessible, a project like no other in the county of Berne, Switzerland.

As a result, a whole area now reserved for a unique cat skiing or heli-skiing experience, enough to exasperate the village which has no more access to one of its favorite bowls. And local authorities gave their consent to the dismantlement of the cable car despite the recent protests. In fact, this most sought for area is famous for its charm and the quality of the slopes.

The alternatives

It is a burning issue for the resort which is now considering constructing another lift, building a road or seeking for new facilities. The access of the bowl is at stake and a real concern for the locals with direct economic impact. What about the reputation of the resort, the next winter season and the future investments required?

One must know, the sale of financial assets is a real breath of fresh air for the accounts of the resort which debt reached $3 million last accounting year. But this temporary solutions questions the strategy of the resort. Competing for investments when clients belong to the high society jeopardizes the resorts, what consequences and what management in one of the most exclusive places which chose the few but the wealthy? Today Gstaad pays high price for its positioning, facing the versatility of the high society is a real issue. A saving measure but a high risk for Gstaad…

The French Riviera

The French Riviera is famous to be the place to be for the jet set, but Switzerland has been the benchmark of the café society for longer. Spectacular sceneries of the mountain covered with snow, the flourishing nature, the blue glaciers and the ice-cold torrents have always charmed the Britons. Little by little, the three resorts of Gstaad, St Moritz and Verbier became the place to be seen for the high society. If Switzerland is a real paradise for snow lovers, it remains a tax haven for European billionaire. One of the many examples is the French icon Johnny Hallyday who chose to invest in a splendid chalet in Gstaad in 2006; this wooden house is now on sale and costs the modest price of $9.975 million.

The future of skiing in Switzerland has become a real concern for Swedish authorities. Every year the European customer –base is decreasing, but the lower exchange rate, 0.99 Swiss Francs for 1 dollar is likely to reverse the current trend; a decisive issue for the iconic tax heaven dotted with the most splendid ski resorts.