Luxury hotelier Ernst Andrea Scherz passed away May 13, 2021 at the age of 81, following a long illness, the Gstaad Palace has shared. Scherz played a significant role in establishing The Leading Hotels of the World and he presided over the 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," said Andrea Scherz, general manager of the Gstaad Palace, said in a statement. "He was the quintessential Scherz—always in good spirits, always present, always a step ahead. To serve was both a matter of honor and a passion for him. As a role model, he expected a lot of himself and of all his employees. 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 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 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 development of the hotel infrastructure; this included the creation of an indoor pool, a sauna and a health center 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, Scherz pioneered themed gastronomy when he launched the Fromagerie, a highly popular fondue eatery housed in a former World War II gold bunker. Another key component of the hotel, the Résidence du Palace for long-term visitors, was also instigated by Scherz. Following a complex 10-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, Scherz handed over general management of the hotel to his son Andrea. The Palace AG was then restructured into a family holding company in 2003. 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, he served as president of The Leading Hotels of the World from 1973 to 1989. Under his guidance, the consortium of luxury hotels expanded from 70 to 220 establishments globally.
"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," added Andrea Scherz.