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Rodeo Drive Les Alpes

By Mandolyna Theodoracopulos

After a few idyllic days in Gstaad, strolling down a New York City street feels like being on an alien planet. A busy city feels jarring, frightening even, because people often look crazy. Hurried creatures with bulging eyes and gruff attitudes—life forms that are a far cry from those here in Saanenland—populate the streets.

At least passing strangers in Gstaad nod or offer up a “Grüezi” along the Wanderweg. In New York, if you dare say hello to a passerby or look them in the eye, you are likely to be ignored if not called a weirdo or flipped off.

What is it about big towns that cause people to be so tough and gruff? Perhaps it is because cities are an assault on the senses. Maybe someone had New York in mind when they coined the term “sensory overload.” With all the stimuli in a bustling city, it is no wonder people appear defensive. So much visual and auditory aggression would make any normal person fearful. I find it difficult to manage the number of people encroaching on my personal space, which makes me more likely to look and act cold or angry.

But a city’s anonymity can also be a relief from small-town life, where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Sometimes it’s nice to walk among strangers who don’t know or care what you get up to late at night. But the same anonymity can be isolating. Feeling lonely in a place packed with people is arguably the worst kind of solitude.

Between the sensory assault and the anonymity, it is a surprise that so many people live in cities. Choosing between the country and the city is not easy for many people. Cities offer so much more than rural areas in the way of work, culture, and inspiration, but they provide none of the countryside’s peace and natural beauty.

How can one possibly have the best of both? How can one preserve village life’s pleasantries while still drawing in the dynamism the world has to offer? Gstaad is at a critical moment with regard to this question. Drawing a balance between its expansion and preservation will mean everything for the region’s future.

I would hate to see Gstaad turn into St. Moritz or Verbier. Granted, the quality of the skiing is vastly different and so the region’s expansion will be limited in this respect. But the real danger is greed. Too many new hotels, community resources, and luxury shops will eventually destroy our adopted alpine village’s idyllic charm.

Growth may be necessary, but it is not always paramount. Since there are so many cities and glamorous resorts offering high-end luxury, why not cultivate a little diversity here in Gstaad? Do we really need another designer dress shop or hotel? Are more vulgar rich people who throw garish parties and drive around in obnoxious cars really the demographic this town seeks? I hope not.

Gstaad has always been the alternative to St. Moritz—the smaller, quieter, and more demure sister to the glitzier, grander Engadine town. I want it to stay this way. I don’t object to a little decadence, but when people start flying in exotic shellfish by private jet and throwing lavish parties for no particular reason, I begin to wonder what has happened to Gstaad. When I see more women in head-to-toe fur and suitcase-sized crocodile Birkin bags at the Eagle Club than actual skiers, I wonder if I am the only one who actually enjoys Gstaad for the view and fresh mountain air.

Surely a balance can be reached where the need for growth and the desire for comfort and luxury can be met without turning Gstaad into Beverly Hills. Rich foreigners as well as Swiss property developers and business owners might consider what drew people here in the first place before they shut down another local business to open one that will bring in the big bucks and more ghastly people driving Porsche Cayennes.

We come here to get away from the highfalutin city life. Is that so hard to understand?

There. I’ve said what I have to say, and now I will go down to Les Trois Pommes and buy myself a new Prada dress!

What do you think? What do you think? (Comments 9)


Change the Record...

I am sure the people of Gstaad didnt want the influx of people back in the 60s-90s...even you and your parents!! You might have been referred to as "Ghastly, rich people" when you arrived! Progress is natural. Otherwise Gstaad will become stale, dated, boring and the money will stop coming in, forcing even more little shops to close because they can't survive and everyone will have to revert back to basics. As charming as that might be, it isn't good for the area or for the millions invested in it. We already have the 2nd homes law which will reduce the development, so that should keep you happy. If you want to feel like the good old days, drive up to Lauenen and eat in the Wildhorn or the Geltenhorn. In Gsteig, you have the Baeren. Stop moaning about this great place just because it has changed a little since 1960. Where hasn't? You are lucky to be here so enjoy it.

the hon mrs Clive Gibson

I know what Mandolyna means but one can get away from the bling easily by taking small roads , and going where few people want to go , it is getting more challenging but still possible . Before the whole place was a dream , now it is corners .



julian harston

..............and the answer is Lauenen. Lovely, unspoiled, not a through road to anywhere.........and growing gently under sensible control by a sensitive Council.

7 Kilometres to Gstaad to enjoy the highlife if you need it, and then back to real Switzerland.

A frequent visitor

Lauenen....yes, it is wonderful and given the meaning of its name, it will probably never grow that big.
But shhhh quand'meme !!!


the LV store is a joke, full of new rich smelly kids buying ugly LOOK AT ME sneakers. The interior design is really nice! so a bad thing and a goof thing! happy holidays Gstaders! XOXO


Your article is RICH coming from you. Frist of all your stereotype of New Yorker’s is so far from the truth. A true New Yorker is welcoming and happy to have tourists visit our city. Especially someone who comes from a small village like Saanen. We find great pride in showing off our city and all the diversity that New York has to offer. As a New Yorker living part-time in the region for almost 15 years, it is people like you and your family who have changed Gstaad. How can a family that has lived in Gstaad, Saanen, Rougemont… for five generations or more afford to live and raise future generations there? Is it true that families like yours pushed them out of their own villages?
Choosing between the country and the city is not an option for the vast majority of the population. Rural enviorments cannot sustain large population which is why people move to cities. You on the other hand have the luxury of an option. Maybe it is the wealthy Russian's and/or Greek’s you don’t like moving into Gstaad. Oh well. So don’t complain or make unfair judgments against others!
In your articles you talk about all the parties you and your family attend all over Europe… Are you not part of the vulgar rich people who throw garish parties and drive around in obnoxious cars and are a member of the Eagle Club? Who are you really writing your article for? Not a Swiss local. Have you ever socialize with any of the true locals? Or are they not in your social class. Unlike you I feel privileged that I have developed true friendships with the local people in Saanen, Rougemont, and Schonried…let’s hope they are not pushed out of their own villages. The Swiss people as well as the environment are the beauty of the region.

Non chippy

I agree 100%. Like all things in life you need a balance. The locals need the tourists just as the tourists need a reason to come here. Gstaad has all the attributes of a destination but we must make sure the balance is not tipped the other way with a load of ghastly towny people taking over. Personally I don't feel the need for all the high end shops and sushi restaurants here. These can be found in all the major cities that the tourists live in and I somehow doubt the locals use them.
Hey ho to a happy balance which is not easy to find.

Micheal Mallinson

I have rarely read such an annoying article, what a load of ignorant rubbish.

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