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Günter Weilguni & Marwan Naja
Partners amid the Peaks

01 MBO Huus Gstaad Gunter Weilguni Marwan Naja (1) (1)
  • Words Ken Baron
  • Images David Daub

Men from different mountains will always have different perspectives. Luckily for Günter Weilguni and Marwan Naja, they both had the same soaring ideals that led them to open Huus Gstaad together.

How do two hoteliers who seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum manage to find a meeting point and create something extraordinary? Although they are both self-proclaimed men of the mountain, Günter Weilguni’s confession—“I knew I wanted to be an hotelier since I was a young boy”—sits at stark odds with that of his business partner Marwan Naja, who admits “I never thought I would be a hotelier.” Despite starting out on different footing, their convergence came about through a mutual love of a mountainous location and a shared interest in reanimating the legend of the Steigenberger Alpenhotel and Spa Gstaad-Saanen under a fresh and renewed identity—Huus Gstaad, in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland.

02 MBO Huus Gstaad Mountain View
03 MBO Huus Gstaad Mountain
04 MBO Huus Gstaad Restaurant View

Beirut-born Naja credits the hotel’s look and feel to his business partner, Weilguni. “He came up with the concept,” he explains. “I think I had some good suggestions which he incorporated [Marwan modestly cites the hotel’s terrace, activity program, and high-tech services as examples], but my role is to build on his concept, to keep us focused, and to make sure that this ends up being a successful investment.”

Weilguni concurs, attributing his innately hospitable nature to his upbringing in Tyrol, Austria, which was cherry-topped by his education in business and hospitality in Zurich. “I grew up with tourism all around me. I have always had friends and colleagues who were in the hospitality or tourism sector, which has always had a positive influence on me and helped push me in the right direction.”

05 MBO Huus Gstaad Marwan Naja

“I think Huus Gstaad is partly driven by my love of the mountains and partly as a way to show my love and appreciation for my adopted country of Switzerland and the opportunities it has given me.”

Marwan Naja

While Naja didn’t grow up in a world of hospitality, he did develop a skillset that was vital in transforming the Steigenberger Alpenhotel and Spa into the gleaming Huus Gstaad. “In my late teens, I received a scholarship and moved to the U.S. where I attended Indiana University then Dartmouth College. I then went to Wall Street and London, specializing in Latin American and Eastern European investments, respectively, before moving to Switzerland in 1999 to set up my own investment company, Manixer.” If that’s not enough to keep him busy, he also puts his heart and soul into education as chairman for Bellevue Education—which owns and operates 22 schools, mostly in the UK—and is a founding investor and board member of New College of the Humanities. He is also a keen mountaineer, regularly escaping to far-flung places such as Bhutan, Patagonia, and the highlands of Scotland. “I think Huus Gstaad is partly driven by my love of the mountains and partly as a way to show my love and appreciation for my adopted country of Switzerland and the opportunities it has given me,” he reflects.

06 MBO Huus Gstaad Destination Mountains Lakes

While Marwan has the nose for investment, Weilguni has the eye for hospitality: Much like Shakespeare’s assertion that “there’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face,” Weilguni can “read the guests’ wishes from their eyes.” Perhaps that explains why the once-diametric duo have successfully created a luxurious, adventurous, and welcoming hotel in a setting that has captured both of their hearts.

07 MBO Huus Gstaad Snow Mountain
08 MBO Huus Gstaad Alm Cow

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