Gstaad – A Fariytale Village
By Brad Beaty
Gstaad, pronounced by the locals, “Sh-tah-d” (keep practicing!) is a fairytale village hidden deep in the Swiss alps. The town itself is as understated at its location. But, peeling back the surface, one finds this quaint and seemingly quiet town is really a center of culture, sophistication, wealth and tradition. Perched in a position as if it is overseeing the town is a really a center of culture, sophistication, wealth and tradition. Perched in a position as if it is overseeing the town’s activities is the world famous Gstaad Palace, one of The Leading Hotels of the World since the inception of this great organization, and a definer of Swiss Hospitality.
The culture of Gstaad is platformed by the locals who live there year-round and whose jobs are vary from farming to sales associates at the Hermes boutique, cheese makers and chocolatiers, to farmers to a butler at the most luxurious hotel in the country. This is what keeps Gstaad grounded in its roots. They live a simplistic way serving and mingle with the world’s rich and famous.
On top of this lies the seasonal residents and high-end tourists both appearing during two very different seasons. First, and what they are foremost known for, the ski crowd that doesn’t really ski….much, but are very fashionable in not doing so. After the “mud season” closure, the resort town lives again during the summer season, which is perhaps less fashionable, but there the scenery is definitely more colorful.
Whether a semi-resident, tourist our guest of the Gstaad palace, one will find themselves in the “living room” of the town having warm beverage or cool cocktail, depending on the season, and checking out who’s who on any given day. For example, you may be rubbing elbows with the CEO of a global fashion brand, hedge fund, or as we heard while we were there, Justin Timberlake who we heard was seen in town! As the “founder” of the destination this resort is a must, and by far the most elegant in town, while still brushing off the stuffiness associated with the word “Palace”. Guests are tastefully casual and relaxed.
My favorite things about the hotel: One, the views…on the main floor, there are open views to the stunning scenery of the Alps, nature, the village…the openness to the nature is something unique amongst hotel in Gstaad. Second, the spa. I am not huge spa person, but the spa at the Palace was beyond expectations in both it’s expansive areas and its range of staff and services. Third, the staff…one would have a perception of a Palace being a bit stiff. One of the things that can create this is the team at the hotel, but at this Palace, the team is as friendly as they are professional, down to earth as they are well-trained to anticipate your every need. Other things include, an in any order, the food and choice of restaurants and cuisine, the very comfortable and spacious rooms and amazing appointed suites, Gringo Night Club with the “over pool dance floor”!
Favorite activities in Gstaad…eating chocolate and cheese, by far, visiting the Glacier 3000 (although not a fan of heights, I pushed on and crossed highest the peak to peak suspension bridge in the world, and it was well worth it, and dining at the Walig Hut, the Palace’s very rustic “cabin” up on the mountainside surrounded by the cows, nature, and views that you will find nowhere else in the world.
Who to send to Gstaad Palace….? Families! They have an amazing array of activities that will ensure that those of any age are never looking for something more to do, both winter and summer. They take amazing care of young kids, teens, and adults, alike. From skiing, tennis, swimming, hiking, a replica of the palace “bouncy castle”, spa, shopping, all types of classes for traditional paper cutting, cooking, etc. You seriously cannot go wrong with families!