Gstaad Palace is no longer a fairy tale hotel
A new vision for Gstaad Palace
Gstaad Palace is an iconic hotel. It has been enthroned above Gstaad for 107 years and remains one of the grand dames of the worldwide luxury hotel industry. However the time was ripe for a new vision for the hotel: one that would rejuvenate it in order to stay fashionable and attract new guests, while preserving the elements that make it so respected among its large base of returning loyal guests. A vision that would update its image. Better connect the hotel with the community. Update the time-honoured branding and look and feel. Enhance the storytelling. All while retaining the spirit of the hotel.
Understanding the context
Positioner was brought in to refresh the hotel’s image, which would include creating a new brand appearance with a distinctive visual and verbal language and communication approach that would be distinctive and true to its heritage. The first step was to explore the context further by immersing ourselves in the hotel experience, through stays, workshops, and interviews with members of staff and stakeholders. In our exploration, we gained valuable insights and got clearer about the hotel’s goals, which included business, brand and culture goals, articulated with measurable targets.
An illuminating insight: authenticity can be surprisingly powerful
By analysing current trends, coupled with the insights we gained from our immersion, interviews and workshops, we were clear that “glitz and glam” fails to impress the luxury consumers of today. So, by stripping back any of the artificial elements of the branding, look and feel or experience, we believed we were on the way to solving the challenge. In other words by being surprisingly authentic, we could delightfully surprise loyal guests with an even more authentic character and yet attract the contemporary consumer with a fresh attitude. This thought inspired our concept.
It’s not a fairy tale
By embodying authenticity in a deeper and more powerful way, we could focus on the pillars of our strategy that supported authenticity: nature & locality, family & people, tradition & history. We were also able to develop the building blocks for the brand as well as the brand philosophy and belief system that would mobilise all stakeholders to one common purpose in a way that was true to the DNA of the brand.
Brand strategy: Embodying the concept
To truly live the concept, the brand needed to adopt the spirit across its purpose, vision and values. Hone on authenticity was the ideal way to evoke a process of self-discovery and elevate the true essence of the brand.
Surprisingly authentic branding elements
With the support of designer PJ, we adopted a branding system, including colours fonts, illustrations and retro features (such as real receipts and memorabilia) that allowed us to activate the hotel’s tradition, locality and community in an authentic yet fresh way. This was supported by an authentic picture language direction implemented by Stefano Scatà and coupled with a tone of voice that rested on: human charm, bold authenticity and cultured sophistication. Further copywriting is now being executed by Panta Rhei.
Website relaunch: become part of the living story
One of the ways we brought our strategy to life was to create an interactive and authentic living story for Gstaad Palace in the form of a new website. Structured in an innovative storybook format, where the user scrolls to the side instead of up and down, the website invited the audience into the real world of Gstaad Palace. Contemporary design elements and features gave web visitors the most authentic and intimate digital experience of Gstaad Palace that had ever been seen.
More authentic experiences
One of the ways we help add value to our partners is by enriching the experiences that the hotel can offer. In the case of Gstaad Palace, some of the experiences we proposed included cow cuddling in Gstaad, learning the art of local floristry and developing a Gstaad Palace Etiquette Book. Our concepts were grounded in our strategy, while linked to the pillars that were key for the brand: nature & locality, family & people, tradition & history. While these elements have not been implemented yet, it helped us demonstrate the strength of the concept.
It’s not just branding, it’s the whole guest experience
We also proposed various innovations that could help enrich the service, experience and product offer in the hotel. This included a book design offer for guests based on real photos taken from their holiday at the hotel ("Not a fairy tale vacation"), to a merchandising line ("Keeping it real since 1913"), to even imprinting certain elements in the hotel with the place of origins (such as the famous Blausee stones in the spa). While these and other thoughts are still at the conceptual phase, they have the potential to elevate the concept and further deliver on the brand’s goals.
Is this a real case study or is it fiction?
This is an ongoing project that is continuing to live and thrive. If you’re wondering whether it’s a fairy tale fiction, simply visit palace.ch or better still, the hotel itself.
“I’ve been in this hotel for a long time. In fact, I was born in it! And this is the most exciting strategy and the freshest approach I have seen. It couldn’t be more true to our DNA and yet more relevant in achieving our goals for the future”
Andrea Scherz, Owner & General Manager