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  • Dave Philbrick

Gstaad




For pure skiing pleasure, Gstaad is the best place we’ve ever been to. The snow is reliable, the grooming perfect, trails are wide and sunny, the Alp views are beautiful, the ski terrain is extremely extensive over many peaks and to multiple villages, and particularly the trails are mostly cruisers and geared toward intermediate.





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Fondue is a must do. A unique must-do is to rent a fondue backpack and have a fondue picnic at one of the giant fondue pot-shaped wooden tables placed in especially scenic local Alpen areas! It makes for a seriously amazing photo op when in Gstaad! See our directions below.


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Glacier 3000. Only 20 minutes from Gstaad is Glacier 3000, a breathtakingly dramatic panorama even by Swiss standards. Take the cable car to the top above the clouds, enjoy a great meal in its 360 degree view restaurant at the top, and walk along its suspension bridge if you dare! Its ski season is 7 months long!


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The afternoon cake buffet at The Hermitage hotel in Schonried is complimentary for guests but available for non-guests as well. The quality and choice of the desserts is extremely high, and the ambience of soft piano music while sipping tea in a sunlit airy room decorated in alpine style is very enjoyable.


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The village of Jaun. Less than an hour from Gstaad through the Jaun Pass is the tourist-free charming village of Jaun (“Yow-n”), which has the best sled run we’ve ever encountered and reliable snow. Jaun has all the Swiss postcard requirements: waterfall flying a Swiss flag, several old church steeples, cows with bells, traditional hand-carved wooden houses, steep hills framing a clear mountain stream, mountain-top Alpine restaurant, and a ski resort for locals. Sleds are rented beside the chairlift and the run is 6 km long, not near its ski runs but through forest and past alpine huts and snowy fields.






SUNDAY Fly into Geneva and either drive 2 hours or take the train for 3 hours to Schonried, a charming town that is the most central for skiing in Gstaad. Surprisingly, staying in Gstaad itself is not convenient for skiing as not only are there are no trails there and you have to take a shuttle to ski, but also the trail network near it is less extensive.


Beautiful alp views from the slopes around Schonried

Check into the fabulous Wellness & Spa Ermitage Hotel for its superb location a short walking distance of the ski lifts, train station, and restaurants. The amenities are truly world-class: a large outdoor heated swimming pool with superb views you can enter from inside, lounger-filled solarium, incredible restaurants, free afternoon tea with as many strudel, pastries, and cakes as you can eat, and friendly dirndl-clad multilingual staff. The ski rental store is a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, and you can drop off your equipment at the hotel’s ski locker conveniently at ground level with its own entrance. You will be thrilled with the wonderful included dinner waiting for you in the beautiful dining rooms.


The Gstaad ski slopes are spectacular!


Hermitage pool’s view

MONDAY After a breakfast buffet that will absolutely blow you away with its quality and quantity, you have the difficult choice of either crossing the street to the lifts and mountains on that side or walking along the sidewalk to the lift on the hotel side. Both are about a 5 minutes’ walk and both are part of an extensive trail network, although the hotel side trails lead to more towns. Enjoy cruising on the ski trails, and then head back to the hotel for a relaxing swim in its heated outdoor pool with views of the Bernese Alps.






So many great trailside mountain huts!

TUESDAY After relaxing over the amazing breakfast buffet, grab your skis from the street-level ski locker and head to the trail network you haven’t done yet. There are many great stops for lunch on the slopes and in the base villages, so there’s no need to go to the same place twice. After working up an appetite skiing all day, relax and enjoy another sumptuous dinner.










WEDNESDAY

Schlitmoos fondue pot

Take a break from skiing today, so after the breakfast buffet make the short walk to the Schonried Dairy (only 3 minutes’ walk from the train station) where you reserved a fondue backpack the day before. The felt backpack is high quality and has all the equipment and food to have a traditional cheese fondue for about $75 - metal pot, propane gas, refueler in case that’s out, good bread and special fondue cheese, all plates and napkins and silverware, skewers, and matches). Bring a plastic bag for repacking the dirty dishes into the backpack. After picking up your backpack, walk 10-15 minutes to the giant wooden fondue pot up the slope at the Schlittmoos location. Warning if you have kids – they won’t be keen on the wine taste in the cheese, so bring sandwiches and “apelsaft” for them. The tables are first-come-first-served and ingeniously in pieces under a protective covering. As you walk up the winding Schlittmoosstrasse street when the cattle fence on your left ends, look on your right for a break in the trees for the wooden table. It’s on the edge of a field with a spectacular view. The other 3 tables can be found here. You can continue hiking, but be sure to make it back to the Ermitage Hotel in time for the cake buffet!

THURSDAY After enjoying the breakfast buffet, take the train a few stops to another ski village and ski the network there. Hard to stop skiing in such a beautiful place, but the cake buffet, heated outdoor pool, and relaxing solarium are calling!



FRIDAY Take another day off from skiing to visit the spectacular Glacier 3000. Take the train to Gstaad and then the Postal Bus to Col-du-Pillon where every 20 minutes a large cable car runs up the mountain. The ride on the bus will likely pass snow banks at bus height, as this is an area famous for snow. Be sure to stand near a window on the cable car as the view going up will be breathtaking, so savor the ride! At the top head out to the suspension bridge above the clouds. The view is unbelievable, and you won’t be able to stop taking photos.


Glacier3000 suspension bridge view from gondola

The suspension bridge at Glacier 3000 is only for the brave!
Spectacular views at the top of Glacier 3000

As it’s so extremely cold and windy at the top, you won’t last long so head into the restaurant and enjoy a surprisingly high quality meal with this incredible view. Watch the excellent skiers negotiating the steep slopes, including many skiing off pistes (trail) looking like a Warren Miller movie scene. Take the bus back to Gstaad and wander the famous village, which has top shopping and potential celebrity viewing. We recommend taking one of the many sleigh rides offered in town which give you a chance to go above the village and through snowy fields with different mountain views, and to see many of its beautiful homes close up. Head back to the Ermitage to relax and enjoy this special place on your last night.


Enjoying the sleigh ride

SATURDAY Sadly take your leave of this magical ski area. Hop the train to Geneva for your flight home.

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