Gstaad Welcomes its Newest Luxury Boutique Hotel


Located just 58 miles from Geneva’s city center, is the idyllic ski resort town famously known as Gstaad, with its longstanding history as a premiere holiday destination for the high society. During its heyday, visitors might have seen Jackie Kennedy helping Caroline put her skiis on, Brigitte Bardot walking her dog, or you could’ve scored an invite to a Princess Diana’s birthday party. And there’s no doubt that you would have spotted Elizabeth Taylor canoodling with Richard Burton in the lobby at Gstaad Palace, the 1923-built establishment that still buzzes as a hub of the town’s evening activity. (Its popular nightclub GreenGo is still known to be a Kardashian-free zone.) Taylor was also said to dine at Hotel Olden, because she enjoyed that local farmers and movie stars sat at the same table.

Perhaps that best sums up the overwhelming charm of Gstaad—that, and that it practically remains the same as it was 50 years ago. As the world becomes increasingly more stressful than it was half of a century ago, an untouched oasis like Gstaad seems all the more inviting. If you’re looking to truly get away from it all though, the scene at Gstaad Palace isn’t your best bet. Enter Ultima Gstaad, the town’s newest boutique luxury hotel that prides itself on its discreetness and exclusivity (which we can also take to mean a Kardashian-free zone). Guests are encouraged to create their own experience, so you can arrange for intimate parties with friends or hole up for a detox.

Located inside the heart of Gstaad Village, Ultima Gstaad’s three separate chalets respect the codes of traditional Swiss architecture with an understated nod towards sleek modernity. The hotel sits in between views of lush greenery and snow covered mountain peaks that are nearly impossible to peel your eyes away from. While oozing with classic charm on the outside, the interior dazzles with exquisite newness. The lobby’s floor-to-ceiling chandelier lights the way towards the bar area for a welcome cocktail, and the entrance towards each of the hotel’s 11 suites that are designed to make guests feel at home, with cozy fireplaces, ample closet space, and the kind of luxe, but not-at-all sparse, furnishing that doesn’t forgo supreme at-home comfort.

For an extra at-home feeling, guests can move right into one of the property’s six residences with friends of family—there’s plenty of space to lounge or entertain guests. Whichever type of accommodation you choose, there’s an emphasis on tailor-made hospitality services. In my case, I was 10 weeks pregnant—reluctantly avoiding the delicious cocktail menu and desperately trying to avoid unpasteurized cheese (a difficult feat in Switzerland). Not only were my requests accommodated, but the kitchen staff went above and beyond to create a range of tasty drinks and snacks that met my criteria.

My request for the hotel was a small one, but the aforementioned services can range from childcare to unlocking the secrets of Gstaad—there’s no ask too out of reach for the hotel’s butlers. With no formal “front desk,” each guest is privy to tailor-made services that all of the stress and unanswered questions out of travel altogether.

The hotel’s lower level is home to a dimly lit and decadently serene sanctuary complete with hammam, sauna, swimming pool, and extensive spa services by La Prairie. But Ultima Gstaad goes so far beyond just pampering, with its partnership with the world renowned Aesthetics Clinic. A team of two doctors and two nurses are on call to offer savoire-faire treatments based on your your personal wellness or aesthetic concerns. In the short time I spent with the doctors, I learned all about the supplements I should be taking to combat the toxicity of everyday city life (as I contemplated a permanent reolcation to the mountains). For those willing to go the extra mile, everything from DNA testing to cryogenics is on the menu. Many pay the Clinic a visit during the off season for a personal detox or recovery from their latest procedure.

If you don’t book your stay at Ultima Gstaad for the usual reasons—to hit the slopes or for some R&R—consider it an ideal retreat for a brides or grooms to-be, the perfect baby moon sans unpasteurized cheese, or during the summer when there’s no shortage of fresh mountain air activities. Horseback riding, golf, tobogganing, canyoning, fishing, mountain climbing, or trekking with animals can all be arranged by your butler while the grass is still green. One thing to note about that green grass: for thousands of years it’s only ever been trimmed by a blade, which is can account for the soil being extra rich, in turn making the meat and produce healthier and more delicious. This may also be a good enough reason to join the 9,200 villagers that inhabit the resort town year-round…

Arrive in the evening, just in time for cocktails at the lobby bar (not super wintry, but they make a mean a mojito with freshly made strawberry juice). Make your way up to your room for some delicious snacks with a side of room service.

Once you’ve peeled yourself from your plush hotel room bed, and spent some time tinkering around in your oversize marble bathroom, make your way down to Duchessa, the hotel’s restaurant, for a hearty Swiss-style breakfast. Order one of everything, but be sure to not overlook the Swiss oatmeal, which you’ll need for fuel on the slopes.

Have your friendly driver escort you to Saanen’s local ski shop, where you can pick up an extra pair of gloves or get fitted for skis if you haven’t brought your own. The next stop is the mountain. Head to Eggli for an easy to intermediate ski experience. Or take a chance on the Tiger Run, the legendary steepest ski slope at Wasserngrat.

After your first few runs, you’ll want to refuel with a drink and a bowl of hot soup at one of the mountain tops hopping bars. Lazy skiiers go here to tan on the mountain tops all day, with the whole scene being right out of a Slim Aarons photograph. Whether you continue to ski the rest of the day or choose to hang back with the tanners, be sure to leave some time in the afternoon to hit the town for shopping and an art gallery or two.

After you’ve had enough après ski cocktails or, in my case mocktails, slip on your bathrobe and make your way down to the aforementioned spa. Give yourself enough time prior to your treatment to enjoy a fresh juice by the pool. It’s hard not to drift off into a peaceful sleep, but pay no mind as you’ll soon be tapped on the shoulder by a lovely esthetician who’s about to give you a facial or massage.

After you’ve freshened up, it’s back to the bar for some pre-dinner drinks and snacks. Make plans to stay in at Duchessa for Italian gastronomy. Here you have a choice between a romantic dinner for two, or to invite friends to turn the restaurant into a dance floor. Should you choose to dine off-site, opt for the traditional Swiss fondue experience at Gstaad Palace followed by drinks at GreenGo. Retreat back to your fluffy, overly pillow-ed bed immediately, and repeat. And perhaps never leave.


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