In Gstaad We Trust
COURTESY GSTAAD PALACE
To say that the guest register of the Gstaad Palace is like a who’s who of the global elite is to invoke cliché. The hotel’s storied halls have hosted queens and potentates, presidents and prime ministers, actresses and actors, and William Shatner.
They come to the now century-old hotel — one of the few grand Swiss hotels that is still family owned — for its legendary hospitality, and for days on the 150 miles of pistes nearby. But the Palace is also legendary for one particular room, the Penthouse Suite, which commands the entire roof of the iconic building. Accessed by a personal elevator — a necessity of privacy and security for some of the suite’s residents — the footprint sprawls across more than 2,500 square feet. Outside, a huge private terrace provides 270-degree views of the spectacular majesty that is the Burnese Alps.
Access to that view couldn’t be re-created these days; though seven stories and Gothic towers weren’t a problem when the Palace was built, any Swiss hotel constructed today would need to be shorter and more in keeping with architectural tradition — especially if tucked, like the Palace, into a charming little village like Saanenland. So the Palace stands both spectacular and unique.
“Our Penthouse Suite is definitely the gem of Gstaad Palace,” says hotel general manager Andrea Scherz, who oversees operations of 104 other rooms and suites. This is a gem that she keeps highly polished. Decorated in woody High Swiss, the suite has its own foyer and kitchenette, and three full bedrooms that open onto those spectacular views. The impressive dining and living room is designed for a cozy evening by a wood-burning fi replace (a rarity in hotels outside of great halls) or an elegant private inner. Outdoors, that 1,600-square-foot terrace provides areas for relaxing, including a jacuzzi and adjacent sauna.
Guests of the penthouse might be forgiven for never wishing to leave its expanses, but most do, since the rest of the hotel’s amenities are — by defi nition — palatial.
Snow services are seamless, with shuttles to slopes, lift passes printed in the hotel, the latest gear (including rentals of skis that retail for as much as $10,000) supplied by the Silver Sport shop on site, and all adventures — including spectacular heli-ski experiences — arranged and delivered as a matter of course.
There is also the phenomenal 20,000-square-foot spa beneath the hotel, and a half-dozen bars and restaurants to peruse. The best of these (and I speak from experience, as well as its 16 Gault Millau points) is the intimate Le Grill, Rôtisserie, which seats a mere 35, and chefs cook meals to order in an open-show kitchen. To end the day, the hotel’s GreenGo nightclub — which is delightfully unashamed of its retro feel — hustles revelers right back to Euro-funk of the 1970s.
And when legs are tired from a long day on the slopes and a long night on the dance fl oor, at least there’s no wait for the elevator.
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Not only that, but its vertical drop of 4,000 feet is similar to skiing from the top of the tram in Jackson Hole down to the village.
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