What should one write about a stay at the Gstaad Palace? Perhaps about its perfect location in the middle of the Saanenland with all its green slopes, bubbling waterfalls and deep blue mountain lakes. Or about the famous guests who have been associated with the Scherz family who own the palace for generations and have created moments for eternity. For example, Louis Armstrong gave a highly acclaimed concert here in 1960, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were already dancing on the roof of the hotel and Michael Jackson liked the white castle of Gstaad so much that he wanted to buy it right away. But perhaps it would be better to write about the Palace Hotel’s connection with the local population, because Gstaad is a small village and the Scherz family has always been aware that the hotel’s well-being is closely linked to the prosperity of the community.
But perhaps all these stories don´t do justice to the stay in this Grand Hotel. Maybe one has to absorb these little anecdotes, dreamily stroll past the nostalgic picture galleries in the lobby bar in order to become a part of the history of the Gstaad Palace. Truly unique moments should be waiting for me.
A first experience that makes the heartbeat race and brings the speech system to a standstill for seconds is the sight of my Corner Suite. Divided into two spacious rooms, the 92 square meters of living space offer alpine luxury that immediately triggers comfort and well-being. On the one hand, there is the living room-lounge with its rustic wooden table where six guests can dine and debate, and on the other hand there is a corner sofa for a cosy evening of television. If you feel like watching TV at all, because the spacious west balcony has just added the sunset to the programme and so I prefer to enjoy the play of shadows on the mountain slopes and roofs of Gstaad. The sleeping area is also crowned by a balcony with a view to the mountains and the village, while the steam bath provides a pleasant relaxation.
It was to be a very special evening at the Palace for me, as my hosts Stefan Ludwig and Louise Lienhart, who are responsible for the sales and marketing area in the hotel, invited me to dinner on the Grande Terrasse. There is a shrimp cocktail with avocado mousse, beef filet with Bernaise sauce and chocolate brownie with ice cream. Accompanied by an excellent wine and the view of the garden and the mountains.
Berlin-born Stefan Ludwig, tells of his stops in Hamburg, Shanghai and Vienna, while Louise Lienhart is still dreaming of her time on Bora Bora. But both agree that with the Palace Hotel in Gstaad, they have found a very special place, perhaps unique in the world. Without making too much fuss about it, the locals chat with the stars, the hotel staff with their guests and find themes and points of contact that seem to know no bounds. This is exactly how I experience this mild summer evening on the large terrace and marvel at the many tables, where whole generations of families laugh, drink and dine together with friends and acquaintances in perfect harmony.
The water in the outdoor pool is actually too warm for a summer day. Nevertheless I press the counter-current system once more to massage the tension out of my muscles, which have accumulated through the 50-metre lanes in the large Olympic pool. I am beaming, because the expectation of what is to come is probably called anticipation. My host, Stefan Ludwig, has reserved the famous Private Spa, where a true manifesto of romantic relaxation awaits us. A 60-minute full-body massage, bathing in a sea of roses, sauna, steam bath and relaxing on a lounge island, will make sure that all unneeded thoughts fade away. The Gstaad Palace will change me, I am convinced of that at the latest now, but one more adventure is still waiting for me.
A suspension bridge linking two three-thousand-metre peaks, the highest rollercoaster in the world and an impressive glacier hiking trail represent the adventure destination Glacier 3000, which starts about 20 minutes from the Palace, at the Col du Pillon. From there, the cable car starts to the Scex Rouge mountain station at 2,971 metres, whose viewing platform serves such classics as the Matterhorn, Jungfrau or Mont Blanc on a silver platter. But the way to the top runs over the famous Peak Walk, that suspension bridge that connects two peaks and gets mightily swinging if one dares to get through the low hanging clowds up to the end point. After that, pure amazement is announced, as the panorama is spectacular and is only exceeded by the view from the devil’s cone that can be reached in approximately one hour over the Glacier Walk. Warmed up by a hot Ovomaltine in the Refuge L’Espace, I review the glacier experience and watch a rope team trying their hand at the striking climbing rock Quille du Diable. On this day, this world of ice and snow seems like a painting from the beginnings of alpinism and looks like the perfect complement to the white castle of Gstaad.
One last time I enter the impressive lobby bar, adjust my jacket and give Liz Taylor a knowing nod. John Travolta is certainly already dancing at the Greengo nightclub.
The two agents Peter Sellers and Roger Moore whisper mysteriously at the bar and sip a vodka martini, shaken and not stirred. My place is at the very end of the lobby, right next to one of the large panoramic windows, which know nothing but mountains and farsightedness. I open up my MacBook, choose a white sheet of finest word paper and start writing about a place that can’t really be put into words. Actually…
This article was written at the invitation of the Gstaad Palace Switzerland. Thank you dear Stefan Ludwig, for an extraordinary experience, in a time where we believe to have already seen and experienced everything.