The Glam­our and Glitz of Gs­taad

Distinguished Magazine - - CONTENTS - KOEL CHAT­TER­JEE

Gs­taad has been host to some of the world’s most fa­mous celebri­ties for over a hun­dred years. This scenic vil­lage has been dot­ted with sum­mer houses of the wealth­i­est peo­ple of the world, and of course, the most glam­orous of the alpine hotspots in Switzer­land, The Gs­taad Palace Ho­tel.

“The last par­adise in a crazy world,” was how Ju­lia An­drews de­scribed the leg­endary Swiss re­treat in 2014, the tran­quil vil­lage of Gs­taad. Pop­u­lar to this day as the most fa­vored re­treat of the rich­est and the most glam­orous peo­ple in the world, the vil­lage has been host to some of the world’s most fa­mous celebri­ties for over a hun­dred years. One hun­dred and twenty five miles of this scenic vil­lage has been oc­cu­pied with sum­mer houses of the wealth­i­est peo­ple of the world, and at the cen­tre of it all, is the most glam­orous of the alpine hotspots in Switzer­land, The Gs­taad Palace Ho­tel.

Sit­ting qui­etly amidst the high Swiss Alps, the vil­lage of Gs­taad was built in 1905, as the train line was ex­tended to the re­gion. Since then it has hosted the likes of some of the wealth­i­est fig­ures in his­tory. Celebri­ties from Peter Sell­ers, El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor, Richard Bur­ton, Sir Roger Moore to Madonna, Michael Jack­son, Ge­orge Clooney, Anne Hath­away and Ro­man Polan­ski, all swear by the stylish charm and the un­der­stated lux­ury of this place, 58 miles from Geneva.

The leg­endary Gs­taad Palace, sit­u­ated in 1913, is the so­cial cen­tre of the vil­lage. Keep­ing up with its motto of “Come up - Slow down”, the ho­tel’s am­bi­ence and dé­cor is syn­ony­mous with the place, op­u­lent but not os­ten­ta­tious. The Gs­taad Palace Ho­tel tow­ers over the scenic vil­lage and of­fers mag­nif­i­cent views of the Swiss Alps. There is an ef­fort­less jux­ta­po­si­tion of old-world so­phis­ti­ca­tion with mod­ern con­ve­nience, which boasts of 104 el­e­gantly dec­o­rated rooms, five restau­rants of­fer­ing gas­tro­nomic de­lights from all over the world, and a mas­sive 1800-sqm wide spa and a health club.

The charm­ing el­e­gance of the ho­tel is fur­ther ac­cen­tu­ated by its dé­cor. The chalet style in­te­ri­ors, with its lav­ish chan­de­liers, crenelated tow­ers, car­peted cor­ri­dors, dis­play of hunt­ing tro­phies and vin­tage pho­to­graphs have lured le­gends for decades. Added to that, pri­vacy of every guest stay­ing at the ho­tel is taken very se­ri­ously, as they are trans­ported to a world far away from re­al­ity. The ho­tel has hosted po­lit­i­cal stal­warts like Mar­garet Thatcher, Jimmy Carter, Kofi An­nan and Jackie Kennedy, mu­si­cal le­gends like Paul Mc­Cart­ney, El­ton John and Diana Ross, Hol­ly­wood glit­terati like Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bar­dot, Har­vey We­in­stein, Grace Kelly, David Niven, Richard Bur­ton, Guy Ritchie and nu­mer­ous oth­ers.

It was the most favourite re­treat of El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor, who bought a chalet here in 1962 and be­came one of the most fre­quent vis­i­tors of this place. Also, fash­ion houses such as Her­mes, Louis Vuit­ton and Prada have be­come a part of Gs­taad’s façade, veiled among the chalets. Fash­ion gi­ant Valentino has owned a home here since the late 1970s. There have also been leg­endary per­for­mances in this ho­tel, Mar­lene Di­et­rich in the 60s to the re­cent ones of John Tra­volta and Bono. Michael Jack­son had once of­fered to buy the ho­tel be­cause he had liked it so much. A smit­ten El­iz­a­beth Hur­ley, while on a va­ca­tion with hus­band Hugh Grant, had com­mented, “Gs­taad oozes glam­our and style and is as pic­ture-book pretty as any­where on earth.”

The Gs­taad Palace Ho­tel is prob­a­bly ex­clu­sive to wealthy peo­ple with lux­u­ri­ous life­styles; how­ever, there are sev­eral bud­get-friendly ho­tels that cater to tourists. Vis­i­tors ex­pe­ri­ence Gs­taad’s pris­tine beauty and re­laxed life­style, where horse car­riages are a norm and cows out­num­ber peo­ple. The three-star and four-star ho­tels, that have sprung up in the vil­lage, pro­vide more af­ford­able op­tions. Cosy places, with moun­tain­side views and good din­ing op­tions, make this Swiss vil­lage just apt for fam­ily va­ca­tions. The ski ter­rains of 250 kilo­me­tres, which con­sist of both long and gen­tle slopes, as well as glacial ter­rains for the more ad­vanced skier, as­sure that the serene re­sort re­mains a hotspot for di­verse classes of peo­ple. Glacier 300 of­fers year­round ski­ing, where one can en­gage in ad­ven­ture sports near the pic­turesque Lake Laue­nen and other ad­ja­cent ar­eas.

Ir­re­spec­tive of its spec­tac­u­lar his­tory, this vil­lage has an ir­re­sistible charm of its own. Whether one wants to soak in the Alpine beauty while en­joy­ing a lux­u­ri­ous spa, splurge on the de­signer brands, en­gage in ex­hil­a­rat­ing paraglid­ing or raft­ing, go up in a hot air bal­loon, or go down the slopes ski­ing, Gs­taad is an un­par­al­leled re­treat bathed in Swiss lux­ury and charm.

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