Gstaad is best known as a Swiss ski resort for the super-rich. Not affluent types who want to ‘see and be seen’ but the kind of moneyed folks who value a more discreet and private type of luxury.
Most of Gstaad’s guests fly into the town’s tiny airstrip on private jets, but they are missing out on some of the magic. The train ride from Geneva to Gstaad is an experience in itself, following the curve of Lake Léman to Montreux before winding up a picturesque ascent into the mountains, through the Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut nature reserve, to arrive at the fairytale Alpine town.
Gstaad’s motto is ‘come up, slow down’ and it has been officially designated a wellness destination. While skiing, hiking (and aprèsskiing) in the serene beauty of the snow-capped Alps will always be the key attraction for Gstaad during the winter months, its summertime attributes should not be overlooked.
‘There are many events that animate the summertime weekends, but also plenty of self-arranged activities out in nature,’ says Tim Weiland, local expert and general manager at The Alpina Gstaad hotel, a five-star retreat. ‘E-bikes are an easy way to explore the beautiful countryside,’ he says, ‘and there are several breathtaking lakes that you can hike to. With a picnic in your backpack, you can spend the afternoon splashing under the sun while enjoying the scenic mountain panorama.’ Gstaad’s summer season sees a carousel of annual sporting events take place against a backdrop of verdant green meadows and bright blue skies. The Tour de Suisse cycling race kicks off the action, passing through Gstaad in June. Tennis fans will want to time their visit to coincide with the Swiss Open Gstaad in July, while August brings the Glacier 3000 Run – which rewards runners with views of Mont Blanc and Matterhorn – the Hublot Polo Gold Cup and a Vintage Cycling Festival.
But it’s not only sporting types that are catered for. ‘The Country Night Gstaad Festival takes place every year and features Grammy award-winning artists,’ says Weiland. Art is important to the local community too. There are permanent and ad hoc installations spread across a number of galleries in the village.
In both winter and summertime the spa facilities are always going to be a key attraction of a mountain resort retreat. The Alpina Gstaad’s Six Senses Spa offers holistic wellbeing programmes that are designed to help guests achieve their optimum balance.
Harnessing the restorative potential of Gstaad’s peaceful and picturesque location, the Six Senses Spa synergises treatments with the local nature and surroundings. ‘In summer, we connect more with nature and offer more outdoor activities,’ says head therapist Antonis Sarris. ‘Be it yoga, tai chi, fitness, mountain bathing, walking, meditation or mindfulness, we transfer these experiences into nature, where one is able to come into contact with the elements.’
Whichever season you choose to visit, Gstaad offers a perfect balance of just enough – but not too much – to do. Whether your personal vision of paradise features a blanket of snow or sun-bathed green meadows, you’ll find respite and rejuvenation in this magical pocket of Switzerland.
Getty Images; The Alpina Gstaad