For non-natives of the canton of Bern or the surrounding area, the orthography of this charming village can be a little puzzling, but once you get used to it, all will fall in order (we are in Switzerland, after all). Gstaad (pronounced 'chtad,' a one-word tongue twister) is located in the municipality of Saanen (the second A is not pronounced, aha!), elevated at a very reasonable altitude of 1,050 meters (approx. 3,500 feet). It’s a magical place you’ll never want to leave.
The place to be
Simply put, this charming village, situated on the borders of the former county of Gruyère, has become among the most famous ski resorts. The aristocracy, jet-setters and wealthy families have taken up (secondary) residences in this small town and its neighboring villages, Saanen and a little further Rougemont (in the Vaud canton).
Beautiful chalets are designed by talented architects. And because the competition is so fierce, we can never come to an agreement on which chalet is the most beautiful or the most incredible in all of Gstaad and its surroundings. Or, as a matter of fact, which is the most ornate chalet, as colorful floral arrangements cascade down balconies, touched by the first sun rays of spring.
The chalets are sublime, and each hotel is more luxurious than the next. There’s an abundance of 5-star establishments and palaces: The Alpina Gstaad, the Gstaad Palace, the Park Gstaad, the Grand Bellevue ... They compete in originality, innovation, and ingenuity to attract the most demanding clientele. Spas offer relaxing moments in the most exceptional settings. Restaurants are run by great chefs. Everywhere you go, you’ll find luxury and refinement.
Residents are welcoming and eager to help you discover the regional specialties: the Swiss fondue Moitié-Moitié or “Half-and-Half” (Gruyère is just 35 minutes away), the triple cream meringue (Gruyère is still just 35 minutes away) and the famous walnut pie.
Gstaad is absolutely for you if …
- A chalet in one of the world’s most prestigious resort is the only choice
- The champagne fondue is at the Palace, then that’s exactly where you’ll be
- Gruyère triple cream = 3 times the satisfaction
Walking the city
It’s no secret, the main street is called Promenade. The village’s center is exclusively pedestrian, making inhabitants, vacationers, and especially vendors very happy.
Gstaad, the ultra-chic ski resort, is also the chicest resort to not ski. In the winter, Christmas decorations shine like the diamonds of the world’s greatest jewelers. As for shopping, all the major luxury brands are present, of course. For a bit of glamour and fashion, it can be nice to spend hours at Lorenz Bach, a store known for its exquisite selection. And for the kids, they’ll never want to leave the children’s floor of Cadonau, while you brush up on international news with interest.
The secret to Gstaad's success is simple, it’s a happy place for friends to meet throughout the day, to shop in town at Roland Pernet (a luxury grocery market where the most beautiful fruits compete for a spot in the window display) or Migros and Coop, (which has become the most elegant in the “Pays d’Enhaut”). We take our time, finding our way to Charly's terrace for a hot chocolate and delicious pastry.
In Gstaad, tradition (always) obliges and the best places are legends, like the bar and restaurant of Olden and Rialto, both of which are musts.
Because everyone knows everyone and gets along beautifully, dinner parties, often hosted in chalets, and celebrations are organized by master hands with the magic of the Bernese Highlands. The golden rule: Chic, luxury, and elegance are always present, but not always pretentious.
Your chalet will be in Gstaad, if …
- Fame and discretion are not mutually exclusive
- You are authentic, and so you love all things authentic
- You want the winning trifecta: Saint-Tropez, the Hamptons, and Gstaad
A magnificent setting in the footsteps of Heidi
p>Living in an idyllic setting is a great way to keep a happy family happy 365 days a year, therefore on holidays and also during the year. To the joy of youngsters (and their parents), some of the best international schools are located in town. Study then sports, the kind of schedule we can all get behind.
To ski, you have multiple options. So let’s make a tour: First, Eggli-Saanen- Rougemont or Wispile; then to explore the expansiveness of the area, we recommend a go on the snowy slopes of Saaenermöser, Schönried, Rellerli, Lauenen, Zweisimmen or Glacier 3000 at the Diablerets station, or even by the Château d'Oex and Gsteig.
In total, 250 km (155 miles) of slopes for ski enthusiasts to enjoy. And if German was not your second language in school, don’t worry. Soon you’ll become very familiar with these beautiful names (they do have a certain ring to it) and the many small restaurants (we know them well) elevated at high altitudes.
But don’t forget, this vast territory is magical even without its snowpack. Mountain hikes on sunny days offer postcard-worthy landscapes. We’re happy to share this little secret with you: one of the most beautiful walks (a little sporty, to be more precise) is the “Glace et Eau” hike, with its unique way of capturing the region’s diverse landscapes. You’ll begin through the snowfields, then journey down among eroded rocks where you’ll find mini blue pools of lapis lazuli to reach the Sanetsch Pass and the source of the Saane River. 5 hours of pure wonder.
And for the lazier ones, strolls around the lakes - Lauenen, Arnensee, Seeberg - are fun getaways with a bonus: a lunch break in a charming little restaurant. Our last little secret: the restaurant on Lake Retaud is on the rise.
Your little ones will find happiness in Gstaad, if …
- They have the typical profile for international studies at Rosey
- Friends for life are made at the John F. Kennedy School Summer Camp
- You want to raise your chicks around lakes, with fresh air in their lungs and strong mitts