Company outing in the middle of the high season
Even at the Hotel "Waldhaus am See", there was never such a thing: At half past four at night, the post bus drove by, 43 employees together Chef got in and disappeared to Zurich airport. In the middle of the high season, they left their fully booked hotel for an 44-hour company outing.
Weeks earlier, they all had received the invitation from the boss: With British Airways flight 709 to London, overnight at the four-star hotel "Royal Horseguards", visit to the musical "Starlight Express". For Vlado Sarevic, Bernasconi's right-hand man, it was the first flight of his life.
Trust is fun
In the meantime, Leo Utelli headed the Waldhaus, the Protestant pastor in the village. "In the hands of God, my hotel is in good hands," Bernasconi told him before leaving, as he repeatedly pulled up his eyebrows like so often.
The host with the prosperity baby likes to give confidence. And if necessary, the priest, the vegetable merchant, the tax consultant, and other St. Moritzers who volunteered to host the hotel guests.
From chef to hotel chef
The story is eleven years old and ghosts through media all over the world. Since then, Bernasconi, divorced, three sons, has been one of the most creative, creative heads of the Swiss hotel industry.
Shortly after completing his apprenticeship as a cook, he leased smaller two-star hotels in the canton of Grisons, and 1983 took over the ailing "Waldhaus am See". A speculator wanted to buy for three million, Bernasconi got no credit, persuaded the owners to a long-term lease.
The priest was thrown out
Today, the native of Ticino transfers 750.000 francs to the owner every year and employs 78 employees all year round, mostly to pay-for-board benefits. Although immigrated to the Engadine from Zurich, Bernasconi managed to become the vice-mayor, and later also to the board of the parish.
There he even dared to throw a priest out. Bernasconi had observed him too often, as he was playing with the high society in the polo-game, instead of taking care of the souls of the natives. For example, the solitude that Bernasconi invites to the Waldhaus every Christmas.
On the guest list: Roger Moor and the King of Sweden
Together with Küchenchef Hans Bundi, the hotelier is already thinking about the fiveCourse menu for the occasion. 2011 there will be salmon rolls. After a minestrone follow Trüffelravioli. As a main course, the waiters will serve pork fillet with steamed potatoes. for dessert a nut parfait, the classic in the Waldhaus.
Even celebrities like Roger Moore and King Gustav of Sweden have already enjoyed this dessert. As a wine, Bernasconi Trimmiser Blauburgunder, a light country wine will be served. Or a Riserva La Scala from the Veltlin.
Best 3 star hotel in Switzerland
Bernasconi has invested around ten million Swiss francs in the reconstruction of the Waldhaus, from the inn to the company, which has won several awards as the best three-star hotel in Switzerland. Bernasconi has framed these and other documents in the entrance area between whiskey bottles and souvenirs.
Today, he is spending fifteen times as much as at the beginning of his job, six million francs a year. One million of them are made up of locals in their restaurant. They appreciate the living room atmosphere, the unobstructed view of the lake, the 57-sided whiskey card and the world's largest bar with 2500 varieties.
Your own foundation
Even the guests of the restaurant sometimes wonder about the three-dimensional Africa Sparkasse made of larch wood at the reception. Maybe, like the hotel guests, they'll throw in a few coins to help Bernasconi keep a promise he made years ago:
One franc per night goes to his foundation in Sao Tome, an island nation on the Equator, a few hundred kilometers off the coast of Gabon.
Aid projects in Africa and St. Moritz
A friend of his own, Gian Meyer, brought him to the idea. He had had enough of the fate of the jet set and his practice in St. Moritz. Today he treats diseases like the cholera that broke out during the first visit of Bernasconi in the archipelago.
Six schools and some kindergartens were built by Bernasconi in Sao Tome, step by step, often with the help of his Engadine friends. So a local carpenter built a particularly robust bench for Bernasconi's foundation. The model "Zangger", otherwise also sold to houses in the five-star category, is now available in almost every school in Sao Tomes.
Who takes the succession?
Long ago, Bernasconi, 57 years old, is thinking about his successor in the hotel "Waldhaus am See". His first thought was Vlado Sarcevic, who came to the hotel just a few years after Bernasconi and had once flown during his outing to London for the first time in his life.
Several times, the hotel manager spoke with Sarcevic about the possible succession, even visited him in his home in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Better in the second row
But Vlado Sarcevic did not want to become a boss. "I love my job, I enjoy working with people," he says, but hierarchy is not his thing. He is "not the tough guy" and prefers to stay on staff, "vice-waiter," as he puts it, "second tier."
Why Bernasconi's eldest son, Sandro, will take over the business. 26 years old, he has recently finished his business studies in St. Gallen. Vlado is already looking forward to his new boss.
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