Since skiing can’t really be done in Central Park, New Yorkers typically opt for an escape to the mountains—in other words, Aspen, or Vail, Colorado. But what happens when a New Yorker is fed up with running into their co-workers, neighbors, dentists, lawyers, and dog walkers in Colorado? Where do they go?
There is a little ski resort nestled in the Swiss Alps that is a home away from home for select New Yorkers, known as Gstaad (pronounced Sh-Tah-D). Ah, Gstaad! It was also the home away from home for Elizabeth Taylor, Roger Moore, Julie Andrews, Claudia Cardinale, Peter Sellers, and Blake Edwards, to name a few. No wonder every time I visit I feel as though I am in a scene from the film The Pink Panther.
Gstaad continues to host various celebrities and VIPs from around the world, but that’s not what makes it such a special place. The Swiss are very keen on maintaining the resort’s natural beauty; there are strict rules and regulations for agricultural land plots, and very few of them are built on, in order to keep the number of chalets down and to preserve the spectacular views of the Bernese Oberland. Such preservation efforts make Gstaad arguably the most beautiful ski resort in the world and certainly the most exclusive.
For me, a far more interesting activity than skiing (because let’s face it, carrying your skis is annoying, and wearing a helmet isn’t ideal for your hair) is après-ski. This is how one can truly get a taste of the glamorous side of Gstaad! In order to really take in the chic charm of Gstaad, be sure to make a stop and experience the following places:
–Lorenz Bach: Don’t be surprised if you run into a Sultan and his wives shopping for the latest alpine-chic styles. In this ultra glitzy store you will find all the Moncler you could ask for, as well as hip takes on Bavarian outfits. They have divine selections for both men and women from the usual suspects such as Prada, Ralph Lauren, Cavalli, Tod’s Gucci, etc. They also have the best belts, pairing exotic skins with beautiful and unique sterling silver buckles. After a stop here, you will surely be prepared to stroll down the Gstaad promenade.
–Trois Pommes: If you’re planning on indulging in the Gstaad nightlife, then you must put yourself together for it by first indulging in this store. Here you will find fashion-forward styles from cutting-edge labels such as Balmain, Alaîa, the dearly departed Alexander McQueen, Nina Ricci, Balenciaga, and Lanvin for an over-the-top shopping experience.
–Galerie Gaël Angeli: Located in Saanen, Gstaad’s neighbor and a town known for its authenticity, this boutique was by far my favorite stop. It is a large cabinet of curiosities for the home and décor aficionados. I cannot think of a single shop in New York that even compares to the level of style that Galerie Gaël Angeli offers. The owner, Mrs. Angeli, who also has a store in Saint-Tropez, has created an enchanted world where the motto is carved on the wall: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases, it will never pass into nothing.”
With an abundance of beauty in the merchandise, if you’re worried that a polar bear rug won’t fit into your suitcase, the store also offers smaller items such as Swiss good luck charms, which include sterling silver hearts with an inscription on them such as “Love” and “Happiness.” Candles and other objets d’art from Galerie Gaël Angeli are a must for anyone seeking some inspiration.
DINING & NIGHTLIFE
–The Olden: Craving a Valentino and Giancarlo sighting? You will surely find it in this charming restaurant located inside The Hotel Olden, a boutique hotel favored by many Gstaad loyalists. Try the house specialty, the sliced veal Zurich-style with Rösti, for a taste of deliciousness.
–La Fromagerie: You cannot leave Switzerland without sampling their local specialties: fondue and raclette. My personal favorite on their menu? Fondue with Champagne and black truffles. La Fromagerie also happens to be located inside the famous Palace Hotel in Gstaad, where everything happens.
–The GreenGo: Also located in the Palace Hotel, this nightclub is unlike anything else in the world. Named after its green walls and banquettes, the GreenGo transports you back to the 1970s and guarantees a glam-filled night in the most upscale atmosphere. Wear your most fabulous outfit and be sure not to fall into the pool. If you’re there past 4 a.m., the tradition is to order their famed Penne Bolognese. This is a place where you can eat, drink, and be more than merry with the who’s who of Gstaad.