Swiss Hosts is the alternative to camping in Switzerland

Camping on a vineyard, staying overnight at a local cheese dairy and unwinding on the farm

After the camping season is before the camping season! And since the Campsites more and more crowded every year we once had a look at a completely new idea Swiss Hosts and, above all, everything that stands and stands behind it. Swiss Hosts offers mobile home pitches that are Anything but mass tourism are. They are wineries, farms and breweries that offer not only local specialities but also pure idyll.


I met with Ivonne from Swiss Hosts and talked not only about the 65 hosts (as of 2022) with more than 220 pitches. Everything else in the interview 🙂

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Who is behind Swiss Hosts? How big is the team?

Marco and Ivonne. Since autumn 2022, Cindy has also joined the band for the French market. Marco is responsible for the technical background, Ivonne is the front woman. Valeria takes care of Facebook & Social Media at the Swiss Hosts and a small IT team takes care of the website and everything around it.

Ivonne and Marco from Swiss Hosts
Ivonne and Marco from Swiss Hosts

Where is Swiss Hosts at home?

Canton Lucerne, or rather in the Lucerne hinterland. We live in the countryside and I have a very beautiful meadow right outside my door and there are ponies on it. By the way, that was also the inspiration for Swiss Hosts.

When did Swiss Hosts start and what motivated you to do so?

The start was exactly on 10 May 2021. I know this because everyone was jittery in the evening. From 5 p.m. you could officially book your membership. One minute after 5, the first membership was already booked! It took three quarters of a year from the idea to the realisation and I was inspired by an American couple on YouTube who actually spent the night at a winery in the USA. So I thought there should be a way to combine camping with a visit to a winery or farm.

Winery visit with Swiss Hosts
You rarely get a view like this from the campsite!

Who were your first hosts?

We simply searched for farmers and winegrowers on Google and wrote to around 500-600 farmers asking if they would like to host two campers. We went there. I wrote letters. I tried all the different ways to get in touch. At the beginning it was not so easy, but when it worked out, it was all the nicer. The first campsite was in eastern Switzerland, and it was a really beautiful place with a view of the Sentis and, above all, great hosts.

Is it worth it for the hosts? And what is special about being a host?

At the beginning it was difficult, because many hosts want to take something and the barter business is new for many. But with Swiss Hosts, the idea is that you can stay at the winery or at the farmer's with your camper for free and buy something in return, for example in the farm shop. Above all, this creates an appreciation of agriculture. Many people don't even know what it means to farm. Coming from the city, they don't know how cows work, how much work is involved. At Lake Sempach, for example, we have a host with an apple orchard. The campers were really surprised and very interested in what it means to look after an apple orchard and everything that goes with it. The exchange is simply mega nice. Not everyone wants this exchange, of course, but it is possible. 

Farm shop at the SwissHosts pitch
A classic barter deal like in the old days

As I said, there is no commission for the hosts. What they sell belongs to them. As a winery, you can then generate regular customers, for example, who later order from the online shop. It is important that the host markets himself, offers additional services such as electricity, water and showers, or why not also llama trekking, breakfast baskets or homemade plaited bread. We work closely with our hosts and help where we can.

There are also various camping laws in Switzerland. Have you dealt with them? Who bears the ultimate responsibility?

Swiss Hosts contacts the municipality. In Valais and Vaud it is not an issue, there is no real legal basis. Cantonally, however, it is always regulated differently. However, 1 to 2 parking spaces on private property are no problem without structural measures - it is then really only a parking space that is provided. By the way, we test all the hosts and see for ourselves how nice it is 😉 

Do you have any requirements for the hosts that must be met? Toilet, sewage, fresh water, electricity?

Hosts should not be shy, they have to be able to approach people. Not everyone is made for this. It is important to have a farm shop or other services that can be used. They must have space. The campers who come should also be self-sufficient, as not all hosts have sanitary facilities. It is not a must, although many already offer something like this. Each host also gets its own page, designed by Swiss Hosts, where all the details can be read again.

Hospitality for campers
Hospitality and a benevolent togetherness can be found above all here

What happens if a guest camper misbehaves? and vice versa? How do you support in such a case?

It has never really happened. There was a misunderstanding once, it was a vineyard in the Valais. In autumn, of course, there's a lot to do at a vineyard like that. Campers came and thought they would be served from front to back. The lady then drove away again when that wasn't the case. But otherwise there has never been negative feedback from either side.

Do you also work with municipalities and tourism associations?

Not yet. But it is a point we will tackle. We don't see ourselves as competitors, but as fellow campaigners to find solutions together.

Can the concept be scaled infinitely? What is the plan for the next 5 years?

I hope, my wish really is, that we can count on 1000 members in the next 1-2 years. Currently there are 68 hosts with a total of 220 pitches. There is still room for improvement. For the 68 hosts, 1000 members would be a limit. It should be right for both parties. It should be fun, it should not be the hosts' job, it's on the side. 7 days a week, two three campers every day, that's not the goal, because sometimes less is more.

With the large demand for pitches the last two summers - how is this being managed?

I assume that there is more demand than supply. So far, someone has always got a pitch where they wanted to go. So far, it has not been the case that the pitches are fully booked. The camper contacts the host online or via app (email or phone or Whatsapp), reservations are best made at least 24 hours in advance. Campers should not expect an immediate response. However, you can also book earlier if you already have an exact itinerary.

The Swiss Hosts concept is similar to different concepts in Europe. Do you work together?

With many concepts, marketing is in the foreground; with us, the people behind it are in the foreground. Therefore, it has to be a good fit for everyone involved in the project and we work without gagging contracts. Relationships and interpersonal relationships are more important than a contractual basis.

Where do you see your strengths compared to other providers? Why should campers buy the Swiss Hosts vignette and not, for example, from Place to Bee?

We don't have exclusive rights, that would only be a disadvantage for hosts and customers. Clients are on different platforms and hosts decide for themselves who they want to work with. In any case, we give our customers the promise that we are there for them and that the interpersonal relationship is particularly important to us. Hosts and campers can count on us. 

Are you still travelling with a camper and staying with your hosts?

We drive to each host ourselves. I particularly remember one host in the Valais. We were travelling in the van, Roman and his mother were actually busy harvesting at the winery. Nevertheless, he took his time and showed us the wine cellar, we were able to taste wine and try delicious local specialities. The site is simply fantastic and the view of Sion is breathtaking. It was wow, that's really mega. Our first Swiss-Hosts camper experience. In the meantime, we are already repeat offenders, because it is just so cosily furnished and you can eat raclette very well in winter, for example.

Unwind with the camper at the winery
Pure relaxation, seek and find peace with the Swiss Hosts
Motto of Swiss Hosts

Spontaneously said...variety, experience and conscious travel...with us it's all in there, like a child's surprise.