more than just a celebrity hangout
Up front, Nico leans his dark body against Johann’s arm, dog finding warmth from driver. Snow is falling into a silence broken by the muffled clump of horses’ hooves and the hiss of runners as our sleigh passes traditional chalets, small hotels, farm buildings with their huddles of wintering cows. A lone cross country skier skates a circuit. Minutes later we skirt a replica louis vuitton handbags street of glittering shop windows Herms, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Moncler before the route climbs up, along with our eyes, to an immense white building topped with turrets, the snowflakes twirling around it glinting in spotlights. As we draw to a halt, I feel like I’m looking at a castle trapped inside a snowglobe rather than a hotel.
Life for many winter guests at the Palace revolves around the hotel’s sumptuous facilities a 1 https://www.dolabuy.su/ ,800sqm spa that includes separate sections for men and women, indoor and outdoor pools replica louis vuitton , five restaurants, a bar with deep armchairs, a dazzlingly varied sweep of drinks and photos of former guests such as Liz Taylor and Richard Burton Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags rather than Gstaad’s slopes. But for those of us to whom it matters, there’s a shuttle available on demand.
We start at the biggest of the resort’s five local areas, with 85km of runs, heading up the gondola at Saanenmser and aiming for the hub of Hornberg (1,800m). Our destination is the village of St Stephan (1,000m) at the far end. We soon leave behind the hustle of the access gondola to reach quiet slopes served by ancient, but deserted, lifts. Trees thin out as we go higher, speeding on wide intermediate runs, cruising easily on a few centimetres of fresh snow, before dropping down towards St Stephan on a long and rolling red.
After we’ve cruised back to Hornberg’s network of blues and reds, it’s time for lunch, at the Saanewald Lodge at 1,417m. Renovated and reopened in 2012, the vibe is modern crossed with Sixties chic the original building was constructed in 1964 and burgers made with tender and tasty local Simmentaler beef the thing to eat, on a sunny terrace.
The bedroom in a Tower Suite at Gstaad Palace
Stylish but far from five star glitzy, Saanewald is part of an emerging trend of stylish three star hotels in Gstaad as well as a mountain restaurant. And from the Palace I move to another of them, also ski in/ski out, the Hamilton Lodge replica louis vuitton at 1,450m.
A short snowmobile ride above the mid station of the Rinderberg gondola (halfway between St Stephan and Hornberg), it was opened by its Dutch owners for December 2012. Its motto is “Feel like home”, and I immediately do, taken by the chic fusion of industrial and rustic dcor, the music that plays in communal areas, homely accessories inspired by everything from the cut out art that’s typical of the area to safari. My room has a splendid view across the valley as do the windows from the sauna and outdoor hot tubs of an appealingly rustic spa.
Next day in the company of Fabian Hauswirth from the Alpinzentrum ski school, it’s time to explore Gstaad’s second biggest ski area Eggli, with 50km of cheap louis vuitton bags from china runs, on the other side of the village. We aaa replica designer handbags start at Rougement cheap louis vuitton bags from china , close to the Rubli peak (2,284m) said to look like a carrot from some angles (rubli is Swiss German for carrots). As we take big, rounded carves down long, empty reds, slide under impressive rocky faces, swoop close to the top of Rubli on the newest lift in the area, the Videmanette gondola, and bump along hidden off piste tracks through trees, there’s again not a whiff of glitz, fake designer bags just a sense of being away from it all in our own secret ski area.
As well these two main areas, Gstaad has three smaller local hills Wispile, Wasserngrat and Rellerli all connected, like the others, by free ski bus. Nearby Chteau d’Oex and more distant Glacier 3000 1:1 replica handbags are also covered by the lift pass, and reached by local bus.
Catherine tackles a groomer in the 220km strong ski area
As well as giving me carving and bumps tips, and making it easier to find my way around, Fabian ensures we stop off to check out replica louis vuitton bags who’s performing at the Ride on Music festival, at various venues around the mountain (March 13 15 this year). And shares inside info over great homemade chips at the Lochstafel restaurant in Hornberg, and equally good kebabs at Chbeli, between Hornberg and Rinderberg. We take a detour for tea and cake at a stylishly modern b in Saanenmser Des Alpes by Bruno Kernan (a Swiss ski racer) and finish with a “surf”. Rather than a sea based sport, this high quality replica handbags china is a drink created by mixing local schnapps called Bitter Diablerets “a smoother version of Jgermeister” with cola. Best drunk, says Fabian, at a pub in the village of Saanen on the Eggli aaa replica designer handbags side known locally as the Saanen pub (although its real name is Jam).
Fabian also approves of the small and rustic Fang restaurant on the slopes near Hamilton Lodge, where I have dinner. Owner Johann Graf talks me through his specialities, explaining his background as a cheesemaker and his strict standards when choosing the cheese. Alpenkruter fondue with mountain herbs and Kseschnitte with onion and speck are delicious, and somehow I have room for the speciality dessert of apple fritter accompanied by coffee with an orange liqueur and lashings of cream, before being whisked back to Hamilton Lodge by snowmobile.
It’s all a long way from swish lounge bars like Gstaad Palace’s GreenGo or the Alpina at the five star hotel of the same name. And feels even further from breakfast a few days before, when a courteous waiter in the Grand restaurant at the Palace brought me my boiled egg, wearing its own Palace logoed cosy. From a prime position, I could admire the piled up pastries, the array of fruit, the woman ready for the slopes in full make up and designer ski jacket, fur trim at hood and cuffs. So Gstaad. But not all there is to Gstaad.
New this season
Piste basher experience
Learn how to drive a grooming machine alongside a pro, and get a diploma at the end of the ride. Suitable for children as well as adults. CHF100 per person.
In Saanen, close to the Eggli lifts, the Spitzhorn opened in December 2013. I join leisurely lunchers for beautifully presented schnitzel, making full use of a big terrace with panoramic views over the more rustic side of Gstaad and the Spitzhorn peak that the hotel is named after. Rooms here are light and airy, Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica all modern cool wood, while the communal areas have a warm, convivial atmosphere, and every visitor is given a diary in which to write about their stay.