Les Elfes International : Passing the torch between two generations

At the dawn of a journey to Latin America, we meet Philippe Stettler and his daughter Alexandra. After 36 years leading the company, it is now time for Philippe to pass on the baton. Benefiting from international banking experience, Alexandra returned to Verbier this summer, the resort where she grew up, to take over the reins of the company. Operating camps for 10 out of 12 months, Les Elfes welcomes 10,000 children aged 6 to 17 from 70 countries each year. Working alongside 250 international schools, they employ 40 people year-round, and up to 120 people during peak seasons, making them one of the largest employers in the region. Here is an ­interview of Philippe and Alexandra.

Alexandra Stettler and her father, Philippe

What is the history of Les Elfes International ?

Philippe : I have been coming to Verbier for 67 years. This is where I met my wife and also fell in love with the resort.

Appreciating skiing and discovering new countries, I wanted to combine education, sports, and travel. We started this business in 1987, my wife and I, and from 1994 onwards, with two partners : Stéphane Luisier, who found us the land and built our buildings, and Daniel Von Wyss, who shared his hotelier experience with us. Les Elfes is my whole life.

Alexandra : There were very few companies organising camps in Switzerland at the time. It was mostly an Anglo-Saxon model. After a short period behind the Pub Mont Fort, Les Elfes established itself near the sports centre. Today, we are present in Verbier, Crans-Montana, La Tzoumaz, and even in Japan.

How did you manage to make the camps so successful ?

Philippe : Since the founding of the camps, I have visited nearly 90 countries and made 1 to 2 trips around the world each year. This has been a great promotion for Verbier.

Alexandra : Initially, there was no option to promote the camps online. That’s why my father traveled so much. Today, we work with clients from all over the world. Building Les Elfes into the company it is today has not always been easy. There were obviously difficult periods at the beginning when we had very few students, during the bird flu, the financial crisis, or more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I am fortunate to inherit a company that has managed to survive the test of time. My parents and their two partners support me in this transition through their expertise gained from working together all these years.

Philippe and Alexandra Stettler with part of their team

What is a typical day for a child at Les Elfes in Verbier ?

Alexandra : The children wake up at 8 am and have breakfast. In winter, around 9 am, they go skiing. At lunchtime, they gather to eat at one of our two private restaurants on the slopes. After that, they go skiing again until 3 pm. Back on campus, they have several options : language lessons, activities at the Sports Centre, ice skating, swimming, or a tour of the village. In the evening, after dinner, we organise more activities to ensure that the kids have fulfilling days until 9:30 pm or 10 pm.

In summer, instead of skiing, we offer over 40 different activities such as climbing, days on the lake, excursions throughout Switzerland, e-biking, rope courses, and even indoor skydiving simulators.

What is the connection between Les Elfes and Verbier ?

Alexandra : Verbier is the foundation of our business. We are fortunate to operate in a globally renowned resort with an exceptional ski area, which allows us to attract clients from all over the world. That’s why we always promote the strengths of our resort.

Working locally is important to us, for example, partnering with businesses such as bakeries or laundries, as well as activity organisers for young people, such as the ice rink, zip-lining, paragliding, or cooking classes. We rely on these services for our camps to function. Additionally, parents often want to come with their children and become active customers of the resort throughout the year.

Exceptional view of the mountains.

What are the values that Les Elfes International pursues ?

Alexandra : Our three main values are children’s safety, entertainment, and inclusion. People come from different cultures, and our camps allow them to connect even if they don’t speak the same language. Lastly, during the camp duration, we keep hold of the children’s phones to ensure they are not constantly connected.

How do you envision the future of Les Elfes International ?

Alexandra : We wish to continue developing Les Elfes International. In Switzerland, we are currently building a new building with 86 beds in La Tzoumaz, and we are exploring new locations in the country.

Internationally, we are opening camps in Niseko, Japan. If all goes well, we will then start constructing residential camps with an American partner who has been established in the region for many years.

How do you feel about this important transition ?

Philippe : I hope to have passed on to Alexandra the passion I have for traveling and organising camps for children, as well as the joy I have experienced throughout my life doing this work.

Alexandra : The transition is happening with a lot of passion, agreement, and most importantly, a lot of love.


  • 1987 : Les Elfes started, Philippe Stettler begins renting a chalet in Verbier for the camps with his wife
  • 1987-1994 : The camps are held at the 4 Saisons behind the Pub Mont Fort.
  • 1994 : The Stettler family moves from Lausanne and settles in Verbier. Philippe partners with Daniel von Wyss and Stéphane Luisier. They build the first building near the sports centre with 80 beds.
  • 1997 : A second building is completed nearby with 64 beds.
  • 2003-2006 : Les Elfes organises camps in Whistler, Canada. During the same period, they open offices in Dubaï.
  • 2006-2011 : Camps are organised in Faraya, a ski resort in Lebanon
  • 2008 : Les Elfes open a campus in Crans-Montana by renting 50 beds at the foot of the gondolas. They purchase a building in La Tzoumaz with 60 beds.
  • 2023 : Construction of an additional 86 beds in La Tzoumaz. Transition from Philippe to Alexandra.
  • 2024 : Construction of a building in Niseko, Japan, preceded by a testing phase for Elves’ activities until April 2024.

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