Gstaad is where the glitterati comes to play, and it does literally glitter in the snowscape. Do they ski? Who knows… who cares? When we saw Naomi Campbell with her entourage and Claudia Schiffer with her family, neither was suffering from the “just off the slopes” runny-nosed, scarecrow-helmet head that I get blessed with after a day out skiing. Then again, it’s amazing what your own personal stylist can do for your presentation. What I can say for sure is that all that glitters in Gstaad is most definitely gold.
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Follow in the footsteps of Roger Moore, Ursula Andress, and Valentino. Breathe in the crisp mountain air, swish swoosh down the gentle slopes, marvel at the opulent chalets and pretty timber architecture, and stroll down the enchanting main street. What’s not to like about Gstaad?
Our jaunt was via a rather arduous train journey after a stay at the superb Park Hyatt Zurich. The routing was a pain involving two train changes, but my arrival into Gstaad, chugging through the hills and looking out upon a vista of chocolate-box Swiss houses coated in a fluffy white icing of fresh snow, was picture perfect.
The skiing here tends to be gentle. The easy meander through a forest of low-hung pines drooping with fresh snow and into the village perfectly suited this luxury skier. In fact, we happened upon near-perfect ski conditions, which is not guaranteed due to the low altitude of Gstaad at only 1,050 meters up. We even managed to ski as the fresh powder was falling. The slopes here are empty, other skiers are polite, and lift queues are virtually non-existent. Perhaps a lot of the visitors to Gstaad prefer to stay off the slopes and instead enjoy fine dining, spas, and designer shopping.
We are enchanted. Ski or no ski, we can’t wait to return to this glittering alpine village this coming Ski season.
1. The Alpina Gstaad
You are utterly spoiled for choice in this super little enclave. Of course, Claudia and Naiomi stay in their own private chalet. But for luxury travelers who can’t quite stretch to buy a Swiss chalet, The Alpina Gstaad is your top choice. Opened in 2012 and the first newly built five-star hotel in Gstaad for 100 years, the Alpina Gstaad offers everything you could want from a ski hotel with sparkly snow-dusted bells.
The hotel offers an impressive art collection, 56 uber chic rooms and suites, many with wood fires, three restaurants under the direction of Marcus Lindner, who used to run the Michelin two-star restaurant Mesa in Zurich (they have been awarded one Michelin star, 18 & 16 Gault Millau points respectively), and a huge and impressive Six Senses Spa.
2. Gstaad Palace
Gstaad Palace showcases an iconic palatial building with a glorious history of big-name guests including Liz Taylor, Louis Armstrong, and Mark Chagall. We loved the elegant and traditional Lobby bar.
The palace has presided over Gstaad since 1913, with splendid views of the Swiss Alps. You’ll find 90 rooms and suites, five restaurants (one rated 15 Gault Millau points), two bars with live music, a renowned nightclub, and a full-service spa. The latter is a wonderful spot to rejuvenate with a soak in the hammam or a visit to the private spa suite after a day of skiing or golfing. A squash court, four outdoor tennis courts, and an Olympic-size outdoor pool are available in summer.
3. Park Gstaad
Park Gstaad offers understated elegance and uninterrupted views across the Bernese Alps. Wooded parkland creates a tranquil setting for the chalet-style hotel, while local pine paneling, custom furnishings, and black-granite bathrooms add a sophisticated air to its 94 rooms and suites. Well-being is the word at the Asian-inspired spa, while adventurous activities range from golf and sledding to heli-skiing and hot-air ballooning.
4. Le Grand Bellevue
A member of Small Luxury Hotels is a sophisticated hotel with a Michelin Star à la carte restaurant, an atmospheric art-deco bar, and a fabulous spa. Le Grand Bellevue I a wonderful place to lay your head. Each of the 57 chalet-style rooms and suites features floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Alpine forests and Gstaad’s gorgeous landscapes. Take a Turkish steam bath or dip in the family pool before dining on specialty Swiss cuisine at the intimate Le Petit Chalet, housed in a private garden.
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