The Villars Palace Academy, the first resort school in the Swiss Alps

January 18, 2022

Influence Society is delighted to be part of this new era of hospitality.

As we celebrate the start of 2022, we have a very exciting new project to present. In a few months’ time, the world’s first Edu-Resort will open at Villars Alpine Resort in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland.

Villars Palace Academy, licensed by Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) to be a Vocational Education and Training (VET) organization, is bringing together theory and real-world experiences to shape the new era of hospitality and leadership training and to best equip the future leaders of our industry.

We spoke with the Villars Palace Academy’s project manager, Roman Guggisberg, to learn more about the project and what makes it so remarkable.

How did the story of the Villars Palace Academy start?

Our academy was created in keeping with a strong passion in education that spans three generations of educators in the De Meyer family. In 1991, building on the heritage of the Collège Alpin Beau Soleil founded in 1910, Jérôme de Meyer, the co-owner of Villars Alpine Resort & founder of the Palace Academy, introduced outdoor education and philanthropy, expanded the school, and created expedition centers.

This empowered hundreds of youths to experience the educational adventures of a lifetime, and contributed to establishing the reputation of the school, and the village, worldwide.

When Mr. De Meyer and his business partner, Mr. Marco Dunand, decided to create the Villars Alpine Resort, Mr. de Meyer had a vision to create the new era of hospitality and leadership training at the heart of a hospitality resort. His idea was clear; to train future leaders through a perfect balance of hospitality theory and practice, together with a strong development of personal and leadership skills.

Tell us about the resort itself.

The Villars Alpine Resort is a unique venue at the heart of the Swiss Alps. Our 3 hotels, the Villars Palace (built in 1913), the Villars Lodge (1870) and the Victoria Hotel & Residence (1973) include 332 rooms, 7 restaurants & bars, 12 meeting rooms, one spa, one UEFA class D soccer field, one exhibition center, and permanent exhibitions about Hugo Pratt (Corto Maltese), Hergé (Tintin) and Jimmy Nelson. 

I believe that what sets our Resort apart is a strong commitment to environmentally friendly tourism and an offer combining creativity and comfort.

Also, this unique Edu-Resort will be the home away from home for our students who will learn, sleep, eat and share unforgettable moments all within the Villars Alpine Resort.

Could you tell us more about the school’s mission?

As a Swiss hospitality and leadership school, we deliver a broad Vocational Education and Training (VET) programme, licensed by EHL, which offers students the unique opportunity to apply what they learn in classes through real-life working experiences.

Moreover, we have developed a unique educational experience, where students are the architects of their own blended learning pathway, where they can cultivate a growth mindset through a wide range of activities and develop the interpersonal skills and ethos future leaders will need to succeed, such as creativity, teamwork, resilience, flexibility, and cultural intelligence, together with a strong awareness of global ethics and sustainable development.

What do you think the new generation of hoteliers will have to focus on?

We believe that the next generation of hoteliers will have to focus on a simple yet powerful mission: Feel good, do good.

The new generation will have to make sustainable choices for their guests. They will have to give them the same memorable and valuable experiences while helping our planet. Let me give you a simple example: the glass straw. We all like to drink our cocktails with a straw, so some restaurants made a choice for us by using only reusable glass straws– feel good/do good.

We believe that the Villars Palace Academy can give the new generation of hoteliers the keys to fulfill this mission by giving them not only the best technical training in their field but also the opportunity to further develop their creativity, their resilience, and their respect for the environment as they train to become the hospitality leaders of tomorrow.

Camille AMISSE
Social Media Leader @influencesociety