GSTAAD – The Gstaad Palace is mourning the loss of Ernst Andrea Scherz (1939-2021). The doyen of international luxury hospitality who played a significant role in establishing the global alliance "Leading Hotels of the World" passed away on 13 May 2021 at the age of 81, following a long illness. Ernst Andrea Scherz presided over the legendary Gstaad Palace from 1968 to 2001 – before handing it over to his son Andrea Scherz who is continuing his father's legacy as third generation owner and general manager.
"We are mourning our father, and more broadly also a person who was, quite literally, born to be a host. Messages of condolence are reaching us from many corners of the world. As a family, we are very touched by this," states Andrea Scherz, general manager and third generation owner of the Gstaad Palace. These messages of sympathy and respect reveal the extent to which Ernst Andrea Scherz succeeded in winning the hearts of his guests, employees and partners. "He was the quintessential Scherz – always in good spirits, always present, always a step ahead. To serve was both a matter of honour and a passion for him. As a role model, he expected a lot of himself and of all his employees," adds Andrea Scherz, who took over the establishment from his father in 2001. "He was a man who was blessed with great foresight and an intuitive grasp that rarely let him down. He was a doer, a fighter and a highly gifted communicator. That is also what many of his companions tell me."
The son of hoteliers Ernst and Silvia Scherz-Bezzola, Ernst Andrea Scherz was born in Gstaad in 1939 and largely grew up in the hotel. After completing his hotelier training at the world-renowned Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, he took on successive roles in eminent establishments and was engaged by the Aga Khan to assist with his tourist enterprise on the Costa Esmeralda in Sardinia. He returned to the Gstaad Palace in 1968 and took over management of the hotel from his father in 1969.
Ernst Andrea Scherz succeeded in bringing the Gstaad Palace to the attention of the world press with glamorous events involving global stars such as Liz Taylor, Richard Burton and Peter Sellers. Under his initiative, the hotel also evolved into its current form through systematic development of the hotel infrastructure. This included the creation of an indoor pool, a sauna and a health centre in 1969/70, followed by the night club "GreenGo" in 1971. Today, the club still features the original interior, designed by Teo Jakob. In 1972, Ernst Andrea Scherz pioneered themed gastronomy when he launched the Fromagerie, a highly popular fondue eatery housed in a former WW2 gold bunker. Another key component of the hotel, the Résidence du Palace for long-term visitors, was also instigated by Ernst Andrea. Following a complex ten-year planning phase, the 21 apartments of the Résidence welcomed their first guests at the start of the 1979/80 winter season.
In 2001, after 32 years at the helm, Ernst Andrea Scherz handed over general management of the hotel to his son Andrea Scherz. The Palace AG was then restructured into a family holding company in 2003. Ernst Andrea Scherz's commitment went far beyond the Palace doors and he did much to further the cause of Gstaad-Saanenland as a tourist destination and of the entire hotel sector. As part of this work, Ernst Andrea Scherz was president of the alliance "Leading Hotels of the World" from 1973 to 1989. Under his aegis, the consortium of luxury hotels expanded from 70 to an impressive 220 establishments globally. Ernst Andrea Scherz kept in close contact with hoteliers from across the world throughout his life. "Until shortly before his death, my father would come to the Palace most days to chat to our regular guests and the staff. He was an important mentor for the whole Palace family and was always on hand when I needed advice," affirms Andrea Scherz. Following a long illness, Ernst Andrea Scherz passed away last Thursday, 13 May 2021, at the age of 81.