The lowdown People don’t really go to Gstaad for its skiing (though that is plentiful) but for its social scene, which is as glittery as they come. Valentino owns a beautiful chalet there. Tamara Mellon, Elle Macpherson and Naomi Campbell are Gstaad fans too. Back in the day, the Grand Hotel Park was a summertime retreat for Hollywood legends such as Audrey Hepburn, David Niven and Grace Kelly. These days it's attracting a younger, groovier crowd keen to check out the Grand Hotel Park's brand new, top-to-toe makeover, in honour of its 100th birthday. My verdict? It's a huge success.
The rooms Each of the 84 rooms has either a forest or a mountain view. Try and get a mountain view room which, despite the name, also look over the fairytale-pretty rooftops of Gstaad itself. Unusually, all the rooms are similar that they share a modern meets rustic-chic aesthetic of walls clad in traditional bare pine planks, but cosied up with lashings of wool flannel furnishings and enhanced with state-of-the-art Bang & Olufsen gadgetry. But I’ve never seen such a handsome penthouse suite. Called ‘My Gstaad Chalet’, its name gives you an idea of its size. There are four bedrooms, 65-inch plasma screens, its own private spa/sauna/steam room plus mani-pedi station, a mini-gym, a butler. You get the idea.
The bar Hotel bars can be intimidatingly glamorous or they can be stuck somewhere in a basement. The bar here (above) is just off reception so you can make a beeline for a reviving flute of Champagne in front of the fire the moment you get off the slopes, while obliging waiters float round bearing plates of freshly made sushi. It’s so welcoming you feel you really could kick off your shoes and kick back.
The restaurants A hotel of this pedigree doesn’t have just one restaurant but four: Chalet Waldhuus, a sweet gingham-clad hut in the garden for traditional alpine food such as fondue; the sun-drenched Greenhouse for breakfast and lunch; the Grand Restaurant for haute cuisine; and an ambitious Asian/European fusion menu at Marco Polo. I almost forgot the hotel’s wine cave where you can sample its excellent cellar while nibbling slabs of Gruyère.
There’s more The hotel’s 10-room, all-white spa is open from 8 in the morning until 9 at night so those not keen on winter sports could spend all day in its Turkish hammam, sauna or indoor saltwater pool. By the way, for those who do want to hit the slopes, helmets are de rigueur on the slopes in Switzerland these days: get the hotel’s on-site ski shop to kit you out with a cool one. Plus there’s an outdoor ice rink in the garden for guests to practise a few pirouettes or, um, go curling.
Out and about Gstaad has 250 kilometres of piste, and a glacier that allows skiing very late into the season, so there should be plenty to keep even advanced skiers happy for at least a week. If you’re used to the functionality of French ski resorts, then Gstaad’s lovely mountain scenery will be a bonus. The resort’s other recreational activity besides snow sports is retail therapy: its ‘high street’ includes branches of Hermès, Ralph Lauren and Prada. You have been warned.
To book Doubles from £1,491 per person for three nights, b&b, including return flights from London to Geneva and private transfers. To book contact Exosphere. Tel: 020 7591 4972 www.exosphere.com
By Kate O’Donnell