Swiss Deluxe Hotels doing fine but facing hard times

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The Swiss Deluxe Hotels press talki in the Eden au Lac Hotel in Zürich. Bild: GMC Photpress

The Swiss Deluxe Hotels Press Talk in the Eden au Lac Hotel in Zürich. Bild: GMC Photpress/Gerd Müller

Swiss Deluxe Hotels reports stable business trend and optimistic outlook Swiss Deluxe Hotels posted consolidated sales of CHF 1.41 billion for the 2013 financial year, which is on a par with the previous year’s performance.The traditional markets in Europe are recovering again and the growth seen in new markets is continuing. The new rules regarding immigration to Switzerland will put pressure on the hotel industry, as 40% of its labour force is currently recruited abroad. Swiss Deluxe Hotels is celebrating its 80th anniversary

Zurich, 6 March 2014 – Swiss Deluxe Hotels – the 38 most exclusive luxury hotels in Switzerland – posted consolidated sales of CHF 1.41 billion for 2013. This is in line with the previous year’s performance and reflects a stagnating but reviving course of business. The number of guest nights – the second relevant indicator in the hotel industry – recorded by Swiss Deluxe Hotels also stabilised at around 835,000 guest nights. The traditional markets in Europe, i.e. Germany, France and the UK, have either recovered or the decline has weakened. The number of guest nights sold to guests from Germany – with a share of the total industry market of around 15% still the most important foreign market – contracted by only 1% compared to the double-digit minus growth rates for the last three years. In contrast, the trend in the new growth markets in Asia, the Middle East and Russia remains encouraging. The increase in guests from China alone was more than 20% in 2013. The same increase was recorded for the Gulf states, while Russia grew by 3%.

The Swiss Migration Debate is a handicap for the swiss hotel business. Photo: GMC

The Swiss Migration Debate is a handicap for the swiss hotel business. Photo: GMC

Exchange rates and cost base remain a challenge

The unfavourable Swiss franc exchange rates to the euro and the US dollar are still weighing on the performance of Swiss Deluxe Hotels. At the same time, the continuously rising cost base is becoming an ever bigger challenge for the Swiss luxury hotel sector. Much higher minimum wages than in our neighbouring countries,increasing regulation and persistently high barriers to the import of agricultural products and foodstuff that translate into high consumer prices mean that stagnating sales lead to an ever tighter cost-profit squeeze for Swiss hotels. Depending on their location, some hotels are also subject to strong seasonal and weather-related fluctuations. For example, spring 2013 was very wet and cold, while the winter months at the beginning and end of the year were friendlier with much snow and good weather.

Immigration policy presents a problem

The strong Swiss Franc is also a challenge for the swiss hoteliers

The strong Swiss Franc is also a challenge for the swiss hoteliers

The past year was also overshadowed by a number of economic and political discussions that will not remain without consequence for the hotel industry. It was with much regret that Swiss Deluxe Hotels and the industry association hotelleriesuisse took note of the decision of the Swiss electorate to realign the country’s immigration policy. This initiative puts an enormous spoke into the wheels of the industry, which is dependent on being able to easily recruit employees in the EU. Quota limits on work permits reduce our operational flexibility and generate additional administrative expenses that also affect the members of Swiss Deluxe Hotels.

More than 40% of the employees at Swiss Deluxe Hotels come from abroad, around one-third of them from the EU. Switzerland is seen as an attractive place to work, but the attack on the bilateral status quo triggered by the initiative, the difficult process of obtaining permits and the practice of issuing only short-term residence permits harm this image.

SDH_GMC4787At the same time the initiative undermines our investments to date in improving the quality of the industry, which is essentially based on obtaining the services of qualified professionals. During the process of implementing the initiative in a new law or ordinance, Swiss Deluxe Hotels and hotelleriesuisse will be engaged in finding a solution that benefits the industry.

Continued recovery of overall market

Looking forward to the rest of 2014, many of the hoteliers of Swiss Deluxe Hotels are optimistic that the market will continue to trend positively. „We are seeing more light at the end of the tunnel again,“ says Jan E. Brucker, Chairman of Swiss Deluxe Hotels. „2013 was in many ways a turning point promising better developments in future.“ The upper luxury hotel sector has a long tradition in Switzerland. What is needed now is new impetus and innovation to attract a new generation of guests with new needs and expectations, says Jan E. Brucker.

The growing demand for special offers, the trend towards making bookings at ever shorter notice and a shift of bookings to independent booking platforms are challenging the creativity of hoteliers. SDH_GMC4692There is also a need for constant investment in infrastructure. In 2013, the 38 Swiss Deluxe Hotels again invested around CHF 250 million in construction projects. Among others, the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues in Geneva, the oldest of the Swiss Deluxe Hotels, will open its new spa spread over two floors with a fantastic view over the Mont Blanc massif and the city of Geneva just in time for the celebration of its 180th anniversary. With this spa and the new IZUMI Restaurant serving excellent Japanese cuisine, the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues of today is a modern city resort hotel that is equally popular among business travellers and holiday guests.

Gastronomy is the foundation of the luxury hotel industry

SDH_GMC4784Excellent food is one aspect that has always been seen as an essential element of the luxury hotel industry. The large luxury hotels in Switzerland have never been just hotels, but also manage the best restaurants in their towns. Hotel guests, historical world figures, the local population and lovers of gourmet food that often come from afar all meet in the more than 150 restaurants, bistros, bars and terrace cafés of Swiss Deluxe Hotels to sample the culinary arts of some of the world’s best chefs. This impressive and constantly evolving gastronomical service that proudly combines tradition and the courage to embrace innovation has to date garnered more than 600 Gault Millau points and 18 Guide Michelin stars.

80 years of Swiss Deluxe Hotels

SDH_GMC4757Swiss Deluxe Hotels – then using the name „Groupement des hôtels de tout premier rang de Suisse“ – was established in 1934. Just like the hoteliers of today, the founders of yesteryear were committed to the ideal of granting a stamp of approval to the best luxury hotels in Switzerland offering the best service and giving an extraordinary performance and to develop and preserve common values. „If you read some of the documents and regulations from the time of the founding fathers, you clearly see that the same values and goals still bound us together today,“ says Jan E. Brucker. Even though the principles of the past may seem somewhat nostalgic today, these documents express the passion and love of the hotelier profession just as strongly as the desire to provide guests with the best quality and service.

SDH Facts & Figures

The association of Swiss Deluxe Hotels (SDH) was founded in 1934 and comprises 38 of the most renowned five-star hotels in Switzerland, including hotels such as The Dolder Grand and Baur au Lac in Zurich, Victoria- Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa in Interlaken, Gstaad Palace, Beau-Rivage in Geneva, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel and Suvretta House in St. Moritz and Castello del Sole in Ascona. All of them are synonymous with the Swiss luxury hotel industry and have helped to build up its reputation over almost two centuries. With a total of 4,500 rooms and suites and around 9,200 beds, the group represents around 40% of the five-star capacity in Switzerland. The SDH is thus the most important association in this sector and has for many decades played the leading role in the Swiss luxury hotel industry. The name „Swiss Deluxe Hotels“ denotes exclusive quality and the highest standards. The personal service is unique: more than 5,500 employees ensure the well-being of a client segmentm who is used to luxury, also when it comes to personal service.

Swiss Deluxe Hotels behaupten sich in schwierigem Umfeld   (German Report)

SDH_Photos of the Event at the Eden au Lac Hotel in Zürich

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Über Gerd M. Müller

Der Zürcher Foto-Journalist Gerd Michael Müller gründete vor 20 Jahren die Presse- und Bildagentur GMC Photopress. Müller arbeitet seit über 25 Jahren in der Tourismus-, Medien- und Kommunikationsbranche. Er hat über 1000 Publikationen und Reisereportagen in renommierten Medien veröffentlicht (u.a. «Welt am Sonntag», «FAZ», «FACTS», «Weltwoche», «SonntagsZeitung», «Globo», «Animan», «Reisen & Kultur-Journal», «FAZ», «Spiegel», «Süddeutsche Zeitung») und darüber hinaus auch für hochkarätige Spa- and Travel-Magazine wie «Relax & Style», «Tourbillon», «Excellence International», «World of Wellness» und «Wellness Live» gearbeitet. GMC Photopress besitzt ein umfangreiches Bildaurchiv mit rund 250'000 Bildern aus über 80 Ländern zu den Themen Lifestyle, Luxus, Beauty & Spa, Kultur, Touristische Highlights, Natur, Landschaft, Wildlife, Umwelt, Humanitäres und Soziales.
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