“The Swiss – We are reliable.” Words from Adolf Ogi, Keynote at Global Spa Summit 2009
By Susie Ellis, SpaFinder Insider
Mr. Adolf Ogi, former President of Switzerland and United Nation’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace was a keynote speaker for our third Global Spa Summit (GSS). There is more to the story of Mr. Ogi and his remarks that evening than most attendees knew at the time – or even know now for that matter.
The reason Mr. Ogi was with us at all is because of his great friendship with Mr. Emanuel (Mani) Berger, the CEO of the Victoria-Jungfrau Collection who had attended our first GSS and enthusiastically invited us to host our first Summit in Europe at his hotel. Mani also suggested we invite Mr. Adolf Ogi to address the delegates. We were extremely grateful for Mani’s suggestions and as you can see, took him up on both ideas. (Photo below: Adolf Ogi, Rosemary Berger, moi, Mani Berger, hubby)
It turns out that Mr. Ogi is a very humble man. At our dinner table, where I had the privelege of sitting beside him, he was not about to impress us with his many achievements on the world stage (which I had read about prior to our evening) or his accomplishment in sports (like the fact that he has climbed the Jungfrau mountain numerous times). Rather he shared with us things that were currently on his mind and concerning him deeply. He had just finished attending the Swiss Economic Forum where the topic, of course, was the global economic crisis which was beginning to hit Switzerland extremely hard.
When he got to the stage, he emphasized that Switzerland, where most citizens speak four languages (and none of them well, he added to a great deal of laughter), has a history of neutrality, is not a member of the European Union, does not use the Euro as currency, and yet (he added with great fortitude), “the Swiss, we are reliable.” He went on to talk about how important character is for both individuals and countries, and how that has become even more significant in an increasingly troubled world.
He also spoke about how important nature is, specifically water, to the quality of life in Switzerland and also the value of sport – learning to win, learning to lose – and how sport can affect peace. He recognizes the importance of the spa and wellness industry and is proud that Switzerland as a country has taken a lead in promoting its value. It was my impression, however, that at the core of his remarks he was challenging us to look beyond our industry and our immediate issues to the greater needs of the world. Very inspiring words.
But there was another reason I so clearly remember his words “The Swiss, we are reliable.” It was the very fact that Mr. Ogi was with us at all. You see, Mr. Ogi had lost his one and only son, Mathias Ogi, just six week prior to our Summit. Mathias had succumb to a rare form of throat cancer at the age of 36 – father and son had been incredibly close. While I am sure that Mr. Ogi would have preferred to be out of the spotlight at this very sad time, he kept his promise to his friend Mani Berger and therefore to us and addressed our delegation on the eve of our Global Spa Summit. Reliability is a precious thing indeed.
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