Gstaad: "The Place" for World Class Skiing
Nestled in the southwestern Swiss Alps, Gstaad is one of the planet's most decadent getaways. Its world-class slopes, fine boutiques and constant stream of well-heeled visitors make it a Luxist Awards Readers' Choice nominee for Best International Ski Destination.
Gstaad first gained its reputation as a winter haven for celebrities when Time labeled it simply "The Place" in the 1960s, thanks to frequent appearances by the likes of Roger Moore and Grace Kelly. More recently, luminaries of all walks – from George Soros to Prince Charles – are sometimes seen roaming the streets of the tony mountain town.
Gstaad is known for its luxury hotels and shopping. The center of the village is traffic-free and is a harmonious mix of restaurants, shops, hotels and bars. The ski and winter walking areas surrounding the village are accessed by three mountain railways.
Three ski areas are accessible from the village. The ski areas, which range from 1,000 to 3,000 meters above sea level, include 250 km of pistes, 28 ski lifts, 11 gondola lifts, 18 chairlifts and 4 aerial cable ways. Approximately 49% of the slopes are blue, 29% red and 22% black. There are 10 different ski schools and four snow parks. The Gstaad Mountain is considered to be one of the safest and largest areas for skiing in Switzerland. If skiing during the daylight hours isn't enough for you, Gstaad also offers night-time skiing with flood lights on several slopes for skiers and snowboarding enthusiasts alike.
For those without their own chalet, there are more than 40 different hotels, including the Grand Hotel Park, which offers luxurious lodging. Perched in a park overlooking Gstaad, the venerable lodge is a mere five-minute walk from the village and the slopes. No need to leave, as there are five restaurants and bars on the premises – Le Grand Restaurant, Le Marco Polo, Le Greenhouse and Le Bar – all of which boast the finest French food and sometimes live piano performances in the evening.
Thanks to both high demand and a declining dollar, prices for a room in the Grand Hotel Park often exceed $1,000 per night. The hotel offers 88 rooms, including 11 suites and two luxurious apartments, but hurry if you want to book a room this winter: the hotel will be closed for renovations from March 7 until mid-December 2010.
Vote now for what you believe is the best of breed for each of the Best in Winter Travel categories. Readers' Choice Awards for the Best in Winter Travel will be announced on January 31st.