Glam­orous Gs­taad

Up­scale and ut­terly beau­ti­ful, the alpine vil­lage of Gs­taad in south­west­ern switzer­land has been a mag­net to high so­ci­ety and in­ter­na­tional jet­set­ters for more than 100 years, and not just for its ex­cep­tional ski­ing, writes Joanna tovia.

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de­spite its his­tory as a hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion for the rich and fa­mous, Gs­taad has man­aged to stay true to its ru­ral swis­sGer­man ori­gins and gen­uine alpine life­style, al­beit with more glam­our. For vis­i­tors seek­ing an au­then­tic and up­mar­ket ski des­ti­na­tion that truly al­lows them to get away from it all, this pic­turesque ski re­sort de­liv­ers. the set­ting alone is straight out of a chil­dren’s sto­ry­book, the lights from the smat­ter­ing of chalets cast­ing a golden glow on snow-cov­ered fields when the sun goes down and the mag­nif­i­cent alpine back­drop fades to black, only to rise up in all its moun­tain­ous glory when the on­set of dawn her­alds an­other ac­tion-packed day ahead.

stay­ing in­doors is tempt­ing, de­spite the crisp moun­tain air and fun-filled ac­tiv­i­ties that lie out­side your chalet door. Five-star ser­vice isn’t hard to find, with nu­mer­ous lux­ury ho­tels de­signed to meet the ex­act­ing stan­dards of the most dis­cern­ing guests – roy­alty, in other words. the alpina Gs­taad is a so­phis­ti­cated of­fer­ing, and home to a six senses spa and miche­lin­starred restau­rant. should you wish to ex­pe­ri­ence the med­i­ta­tive ben­e­fits of hol­i­day­ing with­out con­vers­ing, this ho­tel pro­vides a silent badge so staff mem­bers are aware of your wishes. Just as grand, Gs­taad Palace has been ac­com­mo­dat­ing celebri­ties in lav­ish style for more than a cen­tury.

Call of the moun­tains the prom­ise of ad­ven­ture will lure you out­side even­tu­ally, whether you’re a sea­soned down­hill skier or an ab­so­lute be­gin­ner. the re­sort is home to the only glacier ski area in the Ber­nese ober­land, and there are 220 kilo­me­tres of slopes for skiers of ev­ery skill and ex­pe­ri­ence level. as well as be­ing one of the top cross-coun­try ski ar­eas in the alps, to­bog­gan fans and freerid­ers will find them­selves in snow heaven. don’t miss Glacier 3000 – alpine Coaster, the world’s high­est-al­ti­tude to­bog­gan run. If you haven’t tried bike rid­ing in the snow, now’s your chance: fat bikes (moun­tain bikes with thick bal­loon tyres) can tra­verse win­ter trails with ease.

When the day’s ac­tiv­i­ties draw to a close, a leisurely stroll down the vil­lage’s car-free prom­e­nade will en­tice you into ex­clu­sive bou­tiques, art gal­leries and delis filled with sausages and cheese pro­duced just down the road (the re­gion is home to more than 7000 cows). Just don’t fill up too much be­fore din­ner – Gs­taad has 100-plus mouth­wa­ter­ing din­ing op­tions rang­ing from cosy raclette restau­rants to gourmet din­ing es­tab­lish­ments with amaz­ing views. Be sure to book a ta­ble at the miche­lin-starred Ch­e­sery, a chalet-style restau­rant of­fer­ing a warm wel­come and some of the re­gion’s finest cui­sine.

Gen­er­a­tional travel is en­cour­aged in this stun­ning part of the world, with many of ex­clu­sive ho­tels of­fer­ing fam­ily pack­age in­cen­tives – par­ents pay full price, grand­par­ents half price and chil­dren stay free in their own rooms.


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