The Glamour and Glitz of Gstaad
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.