Come Up. Slow Down.And so goes the slogan for Destination Gstaad: A luxury resort region in Switzerland with more than a healthy dose of luxury hotels.
Although this motto resonates among Gstaad residents who move at a much slower pace when surrounded by rocky mountains and fresh air – the HUUS Gstaad Hotel defies the slow life – inviting guests to seek out adventure, live life like a true ‘Gstaadian’ and break all the rules.
The image below says it all – while service can vary (think Brooklyn cool with a little attitude which can be misconstrued as rude for some guests), HUUS Hotel is all about having fun.
From the outset, HUUS Gstaad Hotel looks like yet another Swiss chalet hotel, but like many hotels in the region, looks can be very deceiving and that is what Gunter Weilguni, longtime hospitality leader wanted guests to experience.
“Consumer habits seem to have imbued and energized the local economies throughout the country, a definite silver lining to a difficult situation nobody had anticipated as we moved into the 2020 season of operation” — Co-owner, Gunter Weilguni
In 2016, the dreary 3-star hotel was renovated and given a massive facelift with designer, Erik Nissen Johansen turning the chalet into a 4-star superior designer boutique hotel. What you now have is what co-owner Gunter Weilguni describes as ‘the lounge room’ of Gstaad – a place where both locals and hotel guests gather over booming music by a rotating DJ guest list (Besford currently on show), an exasperating beer, wine and spirits list exceeding 450 to choose from, a sushi master and a 16 Gault Millau restaurant La Vue, as well as wellness center and free adventure activities like water sports, rope parks, ski schools.
The crowd is a young, old, eclectic and a little random but as the pandemic continues to disrupt travel for Europeans – begging them to support their own national economy, families are choosing hotels like HUUS Gstaad Hotel.In a new series to my FORBES page, I’m interviewing top General Managers with a legacy of ‘disrupting’ the hotel industry. New stories out weekly on Wednesday. #staystrong #staysafe Learn from the best.
1. How have you navigated the Covid situation for your hotel?
Gunter Weilguni: We have done our best to provide a similar HUUS Hotel experience that our guests have come to expect, but we have had to implement policies laid out by the federal and cantonal authorities that ensure the uniform health of our guests and staff alike. Social distancing measures in the bar and restaurant for example, required us to remove about a third of our seating to create the necessary space for patrons to be hosted at a safe and adequate distance apart. The wellness area has had a cap imposed that only allows a certain amount of people in the pool or saunas at the same time and the fitness and game room undergoes a daily disinfecting regiment that allows everyone the peace of mind that the equipment is always safe and clean for all to enjoy. Other than that, the hotel has been essentially operating as it always has.
2. How has the rhythm or routine of your day changed since the covid opening?
Gunter Weilguni: To be honest, the day to day routines are structured quite similar to those in the past. We have been unexpectedly busy with hotel capacity near full for the entire season. There are roughly the same amount of tasks that need to be managed as before, so the routine has remained the same: show up early and work hard to ensure all guests are happy, healthy and well taken care of.
3. Have you noticed any change in consumer habits?
Gunter Weilguni: Due to international travel restrictions, we have noticed a marked uptick in patrons from our home country of Switzerland, as compared to that of years past. It has been very difficult for many people to cross borders for their planned holidays, and we have had a huge number of local guests that may not have been inclined to vacation so close to home. Consumer habits seem to have imbued and energized the local economies throughout the country, a definite silver lining to a difficult situation nobody had anticipated as we moved into the 2020 season of operation.
4. Have strategies changed or projects been put on hold because of the virus?
We have traditionally been a popular spot for large scale corporate events at our hotel due to the fabulous and well appointed conference areas, with the built in advantage of being able to host everyone overnight on property. Since there was a cap on the number of people that may attend events in Switzerland, many of these business related gatherings have been put on hold until later this year or next. We have had to shift gears in the type of clientele that we host as a result, allowing us to focus our energy and marketing strategy on smaller groups and families. This has been a great learning experience for us at the hotel and we will be at our best moving forward, regardless of the circumstances that are out of our control.
5. What can we look forward to from your hotel?
We have come to understand that our guests have been craving some sense of normalcy during these difficult times. When you show up at the HUUS Hotel, you can expect to have the same active and thoughtful experiences that many have to come to enjoy while staying with us in previous seasons. We have, and always will prioritize the health and happiness of all those on property and you can expect that to remain a hallmark mandate as you step through the doors into our home.
Originally published on Forbes.com