For many who are knowledgeable about the world, Lausanne is synonymous with various unique attributes. It hosts the global headquarters of the International Olympics Committee (IOC). Lausanne is also home to the headquarters of EHL Lausanne and, naturally, the host to many fine luxury hotels.
Take Beau-Rivage Palace. It has been here since 1861, when it was built by architects Jean-Baptiste Bartholoni and Achille de la Harpe, and recently an enormous amount has been spent on bringing it up to the 21st century.
Those past big-names add sustenance to the hotel that is now owned by the mighty Sandoz Family Foundation. GM Nathalie Seiler-Hayez moved here from London’s The Connaught. “I love Lausanne, as do my two children”, she told me, as she was hosting a cocktail-dinner the evening before the riveting one-day Window to the Future (W2F) think-tank day. I had arrived earlier that day, which meant I could power-walk along the shore of Lac Léman and look at, if not this time visit, the IOC headquarters and museum. I needed to get back to the hotel for that cocktail buffet, which is stand-up, and eat little one-bite morsels but, fortunately being Switzerland, and being Beau-Rivage Palace, the eat-standing-up food was substantial and tasty.
I really enjoyed talking to the guests at the hotel’s cocktail-buffet. Lausanne consulting chairman Ernst Brugger and its CEO, Yeti Singh, both spoke. Onno Poortier somehow smiled before his pre-dawn wakeup for a five o’clock morning departure to start flying through to San Diego for the Preferred two-yearly meeting. There, too, was new friend Aziz Boolani, CEO Serena Hotels for Pakistan, where he is based (he also looks after hotels in Afghanistan and Tajikistan). And then I left the crowd, to enjoy just-enough hours in a really comfy bed, in room #150, a colour-coordinated pale blue haven. Bliss: the windows to both balconies open so easily that, in the morning, I can easily get out there to take deep breaths of the real fresh air that health soothsayers now universally advocate.
Now it is morning and a chic young lady in deep plum, loose trousers and a sculpted top that is oh-so Nathalie Seiler-Hayez (she organised similar stylish gear for her team back in London at The Connaught) has come in specially to open the Technogym fitness centre 30 minutes early especially for me. (Oh what luxury, but then this is a hotel that, thanks to its GM, thinks about the high-end consumer – my ghastly no-star cotton-wool balls changed to stylish cotton pads while I was at the cocktail-buffet last night). I have said so many times before how much difference a good GM can make and, here, in the luxury hotel that is, let us be honest, the guest room for EHL-Lausanne, it is particularly apparent. And you know what? I love it.