With his cubist rocksresort, tech-savvy Reto Gurtner is an out-of-the-box thinker who is turning the Alps hotel industry on its ear.
What started in 1995 with Switzerland's only travel website LAAX.COM, has now evolved into a full-on ski and snowboarding resort, at the center of which is the Rocksresort, one of the most innovative mixed-used hotel/condo complexes in the world. If you can envision 500 ...
“You have to nurture your biggest competitive advantage - your staff. Everybody can build bricks and mortar, but you need a good team. A soloist never has the same power as a symphony orchestra.”
... tons of 40-million-year-old quartzite stone as a building material, then you are starting to get a sense of Reto Gurtner’s grand-scale thought process. The stone, mined from a local quarry, has been cut and stacked, bricklike, to create the hotel resort’s eight freestanding cubist structures. The lean, goateed 55-year old Gurtner loves to challenge people’s concept of what is possible, which is not always easy in the traditional mountain culture. But as groundbreaking as the design is, what also sets rocksresort apart is its vertical integration. Normally, one company runs the lift operation, another the ski school and yet another the hotel, but Gurtner’s company, Weisse Arena Gruppe, runs all of them, much like what you find at big ski resorts in the United States and Canada. Not only does it allow him to better market the resort and fill beds during off-peak periods, but it also vastly improves the service. No need to stand in line to buy lift tickets: your room key card doubles as your lift ticket—its embedded radio transmitter automatically opens the turnstile gate and charges your account. “You have to nurture your biggest competitive advantage, which is your staff,” Gurtner says. “Everybody can build bricks and mortar, but you need a good team. A soloist never has the same power as a symphony orchestra.” Gurtner's success stems in part from his upbringing in the Laax region, his early takeover of his father's air dried beef (Bündner Fleisch) production business and his time spent abroad.