Home to Julie Andrews and Roger Moore whilst hosting Madonna and Margaret Thatcher to name a few, Gstaad has long been a haunt for the filthy rich and truly fabulous, offering its patrons a home-away-from-home for balmy summer days and winters full of snow and ski. A town that oozes glitz and glamour, the small but highly social town marries the perfect mix of old and new – a place where timber-lined chalets and cow-grazed pastures meets Valentino, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabanna. Whilst some may prefer to spend their time celebrity-spotting and gazing wistfully into the many luxury boutiques, Gstaad is home to some of Switzerland’s best skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer – activities not to be missed (especially when you can do it in Moncler’s latest designer get-up).
To match the elite cluster of designer shops, first-class restaurants and snazzy slopes grouped together in this tiny town, Gstaad is also home to not one, but five five-star hotels, but none are quite as appealing as the style and recently renovated Park Gstaad.
To start your journey, take the train from Geneva to Montreux, followed by the state-of-the-art Golden Pass railway that will take you from Montreux up the mountains to Gstaad: it’s the most beautiful smooth ride with magnificent panoramic views of the lake, mountains and wilderness – an experience not to be missed. After a brief (yet seriously comfortable) ride in one of Park Gstaad’s BMW 6 Series, the hotel sits of the side of the mountain in the geographical heart of Gstaad, surrounded by majestic panoramic views of the mountains. Completely renovated in 2010, this legendary luxury hotel is over a century old. Opening in 1910, the hotel has always focused on community with an ethos rooted in discretion, authenticity and understated luxury – a shining example of traditional Swiss hospitality.
Where traditional touches meet modern elegance, Park Gstaad combines Swiss charm and sophisticated modern comforts in all of its 84 rooms and 10 suites, which are scattered across five floors. There are four Penthouse Suites that are beautifully furnished, with sustainable woods and wool products, cosy fireplaces and fabulous views of the Alps. Perfectly private, I loved the Promenade Suite – a room that is positioned on the two top floors of the hotel consisting of three separate bedrooms, a living room and a dining room. VIP treatment and special welcome amenities await and Bang & Olufsen TV entertainment system will keep you entertained long into the night. Another particular highlight is the ‘My Gstaad Chalet,’ which at 400m2, is the largest penthouse suite in the Swiss Alps. Furnished with interiors inspired by the surrounding scenery by acclaimed interior designer Federica Palacios, the Chalet retains the character of the tradition-steeped region, evoking a true ‘chalet feel’ throughout. The Chalet also comes with a private gym, personal spa and four bedrooms – it takes luxury living to a whole new level.
The fun doesn’t stop there, when you leave your marvellous room there is plenty to indulge in, including the hotel’s range of fabulous dining. With three imaginative dining experiences at your finger-tips, start by tantalizing your taste buds at the hotel’s signature restaurant “Avenue Montagne” that comes under the direction of Axel Rüdlin. With a new look for winter 2017/2018, the restaurant serves contemporary dishes using regionally-sourced produce and features an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work. The local Swiss dishes here are fantastic – my particular favourite was the signature Rosti. Breakfast is also a not-to-be-missed event with à la carte egg dishes, local cheese and meats plus a selection of healthy juices, fresh fruit and yoghurt to fuel you for your skiing (or shopping) day ahead.
For a different experience, enjoy the blend of taste and texture through ‘live fire cuisine’ at Chubut, inspired by delicate Patagonian-Argentine flavours. The only one of it’s kind in Gstaad, here you will be able to eat meat until your heart’s content – the Seabass Ceviche for start is also a must try. Traditional dishes can be found at Chalet Waldhuus, housed in a characteristic wooden chalet in the hotel’s garden serving fondues and raclettes whilst those visiting in the summer can also make use of the hotel’s expansive terrace, where delicious BBQ buffets and carefully crafted tapas dishes can be enjoyed. Park Gstaad is also home to Caveau, known as a ‘grape paradise,’ which offers fine grape and aperitifs paired with cured meats and aged cheeses, while in the Bar, dim sum and sushi are prepared to a back drop of music as a DJ plays late into the night.
Once you have filled your boots with food, it’s time to hit the shops (or streets) which is made all the more easier by the shuttle bus (which is in fact a rather swanky Mercedes people carrier) that drops you at any time to any place in Gstaad. If, like me, the slopes are your calling, then head to Eggli and ski the assortment of red, blue and black slopes that cross over three mountains. Built for beginners and experts, there are also a handful of fantastic cafés and restaurants, creating the perfect pit-stop to rest those wary legs (those of you who have worn ski boots will understand why!). With one quick call to the concierge team, you’ll be whisked back to the hotel at a moment’s notice, where there is no better place to relax than the spa.
Making the most of the tranquility of the mountains, the hotel also focuses on health and wellness, and the Spa that sits in the basement of the hotel offers 10 treatment rooms, an indoor saltwater pool, and an outdoor heated pool for use during the summer months. Calming music, lightly-scented air and soft light enthusiastically greet you on arrival before you enjoy the Jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish, hydrotherapy or balneotherapy baths. Using all natural JK7 amenities from Hawaii and Aromatherapy Associates products, therapists offer aromatic massages, results-oriented facials, manicures, body scrubs and wraps. Signature treatments include the Mountain Indulgence, a relaxing experience after a long day on the slopes or hiking trails. There is also a top-of-the-range gym and fitness centre, which comes complete with a world-class personal trainer giving you one-to-one, tailored training sessions. Also available is a state-of- the-art Indoor Golf Club and PGA Tour simulator for indoor golfing, affording keen golfers virtual access to the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world, also benefitting from advanced swing analysis technology. A ‘Pro’, Frederic Dauchez, is also on-hand for one-to-one coaching.
Alpine chic, contemporary interiors and quality service are hallmarks of this exclusive 5-star establishment and make it a must-visit destination in Gstaad. Park Gstaad is easily accessed by plane and car, located 1 ½ hours from Bern, 2 hours from Geneva (also accessible via scenic train), or 2 ½ hours from Basel and Zurich.
For more information, please visit www.parkgstaad.ch