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Crème de la crème: Gstaad boasts 11 of Switzerland's best hotels
newspaper SonntagsZeitung has released its annual hotel ratings, with
Gstaad-area hotels earning top marks. Local hotels topped four of five categories:
holiday hotels, city hotels, wellness hotels family hotels and ‘nice price’ holiday hotels. The Gstaad Palace proves it’s still a destination in itself with 3rd place as a holiday hotel,
while luxury newcomer The Alpina Gstaad made 8th. In the wellness category, the Wellness &
Spa Hotel Ermitage Schönried placed 3rd; newly renovated Golfhotel
Les Hauts de Gstaad & Spa Saanenmöser was not far behind at 12th. Proving Gstaad is indeed affordable, four
hotels were deemed ‘nice price’, including Romantik Hotel Hornberg Saanenmöser (7th), Hotel
Alpine Lodge Saanen (17th), Hotel Kernen Schönried (19th),
and Hotel Alphorn Gstaad (34th). Families take note, Steigenberger
Alpenhotel and Spa remains a top choice with the little ones in tow, earning 10th
in the family hotel category.
From mid-May on the Grand Hotel Bellevue will have yet another new director. Beat Fleischmann is leaving after just 20 months, having overseen what the official line from the hotel, dutifully reported in our sister publication the Anzeiger von Saanen, describes as the establishment of the property as a seasonal hotel. Right... Anyhow, the new general manager will be Philip Erne. He has held a number of top hotelier positions especially in Asia and is even hoping to bring a little Asian flair to the hotel (his wife, who will be supporting him at the hotel, is from the Philippines). Now the Asian thing we like, as any of you world-travelers out there will be the first to agree with us that both Asian arlines and hotels could teach our five-star world a trick or two. We wish him all the best of luck; and if he could unseason the spa again many people would be very grateful...
Ermitage Golf Hotel Schönried closing for renovation
On March 20 2011 the Ermitage Golf Hotel in Schönried closes its doors for a complete renovation. The main building will be pulled down to be replaced by two completely new buildings on the site now occupied by the existing structure and the beach volleyball court. The militantly-naked wellness area will be enlarged and modernized. The top floors of the new buildings will feature 8 apartments and the new hotel will have 95 rooms instead of the current 78. So what, we hear you say, another Gstaad-Saanenland renovation. But the amazing thing about this one is that all of the above will be done for a reopening date planned for December 21 of this(!) year 2011.
Finally the Grand Hotel Bellevue has realized that it was a big mistake to shut down the spa for the off-season too. So while they will be renovating during this fall off-season, Steffi von Siebenthal SPA manager (above) says that they will also be offering a selection of workouts. From spring the whole spa will be open during the off-season and they are getting back some of the old trainers -- in the hope that some of the old clients will come back with them too. Well, at least it seems that they are listening. Has anyone had an interesting experience at the Bellevue Spa or fitness in the past few months? Hit comments below.
On our recent off-season/bad weather urge to find something different to do in and around Gstaad, we stumbled across the Arc-en-ciel private spa. We had heard of it before but for some reason never tried it. Well, now we can undoubtedly fully recommend this oasis to you. You get your key to the spa which is situated in the Residence building of the Arc-en-ciel at the reception desk and then you are on your own. Once you found it (which will be about the hardest thing you'll do all day) you unlock the door to a h(e)aven of candlelight and ambient music. Changing room, bathroom, big steam room with light therapy, big bio sauna, rain shower, free-standing bathtube for two, relaxation chairs, fresh fruit - and all of that for just SFr 120 for two people for 2 hours - what a treat. So if naked with strangers is not your thing, and SFr 600 for the Palace's hammam is a tad over-indulgent, then Arc-en-Ciel is your spa ticket. Enjoy!
The international association The Leading Hotels of the World has awarded the coveted seal of quality Leading Spa to the Gstaad Palace. Over 200 members applied for the award in 2008 but only 105 hotels worldwide got the mentioning in the hotel directory of 2009. An annonymous tester checked over 200 criteria in order to come to this result. If you haven't been to the Palace spa you should definitely check it out... and try the Hammam with your loved one...
It's raining, a tad cold, the kids want to do something, and they're driving you crazy. Well, here's a novel idea - the new spa and wellness area at the Steigenberger Hotel Gstaad-Saanen...for you and your kids. Earlier this summer the Steigenberger underwent some renovations and in expanding its activity program came up with the clever concept of a 1,100 square meter spa area on three levels, one of which features one of the world's few spas for children. On the upper level adults can relax with top-flight amenities, including a panorama sauna with a view onto the Rübli - so if sweating then at least do it with a great view - herbal steam room, aroma sauna, relaxation room with fireplace, and all the other things a good spa is supposed to have. Going down the spiral staircase you get to the hotel's indoor swimming pool with another great view and a new outside relaxation area for laying out in the sun (below right). And the lower floor under the the pool features the totally new kids' wellness concept. Here youngsters have a place to call their own: fun with water sprays in the grotto (above), experimenting with their first sauna experience in a special tree sauna set to a comfortable 40°C, sniffing at the aromatherapy tree, clambering up the climbing walls, building towers from stone blocks, lounging in hammocks, or simply playing with a fantastic new giant-screen WI video game console (try out the tennis or the bowling and you'll quickly forget it was designed for the little ones...)
Above, the ever hands-on director of the Steigenberger, Günter Weilguni, helping one of his younger guests climb the animal wall.
“We’re proud of the new attractions in our hotel,” says director Günter Weilguni. “Our experience worlds on three floors make it possible for our three target groups, children, parents and grandparents, to enjoy a fun-filled time under the same roof at all times of the year and in all weather.” The use of the amenities in the Spa World with Kids Wellness is included in the room rates and the hotel is working on a possibility to open up the facilities for outside guests...
(Poorly-disguised attempt of business advice to hotel management now follows...)
Till then you can still enjoy a great lunch at the hotel's terrace with a magnificent view and sneak down to their other two playrooms, one of which has a great ball bath. The Steigenberger Hotel Gstaad-Saanen is open to the end of October and again from December 19 straight through till the end of October 2009.
According to a reader´s letter in our sister publication by Niki Rommel, we should stop drinking bottled water. Agreed - here in the mountains the tap water is actually excellent and as Mr Rommel points out, drinking it would save energy and money. Indeed, for every bottle of mineral water a quarter of a liter of oil has to be used to make it, transport it, cool it and then dispose of it. So think twice next time you’re in standing in the bottled water aisle at the grocery store, and instead fill your empty Evian bottles with our very own mountain water.
Following the publication of several articles in the Anzeiger von Sannen, the board of Gstaad Sportzentrum AG has replied to allegations concerning the problems encountered during and after the recent renovations (click here to read GstaadLife.com’s post on the subject). In an article published today June 13 in the Anzeiger’s print edition, the board claims that nearly all the concerned parties made “one or two mistakes”. The board also criticizes the local paper for making statements with regard to those responsible.
Above: The next planned stage of renovation involves the exterior façades of the Sportzentrum.
The sports center in Gstaad is facing problems because of building defects, as well as severe financial difficulties. The architects responsible for the renovation and modifications carried out in 2007 are being accused of incompetence. Reproaches concern the reduction of cost estimates, particularly with regard to the existing indoor swimming pool. Furthermore, new sanitary installations for the curling restaurant, mini-golf and wellness area were not accounted for. Lastly, ground-water levels were wrongly measured, which led to problems with the base plate. The severity of the reproaches is questionable: whereas the owner and building trustees, geologist, civil engineer, special engineers and entrepreneurs are not being blamed in any way, the team of architects is unjustly being held entirely responsible. In turn, the architects are accusing the authorities of widening the allegations, thus sparing "any decency with regard to the concerned parties."
Above: The indoor pool at the Gstaad sports complex was left intact during recent renovations.
GstaadLife is the exclusive monthly publication about the good life in Gstaad. We’re the only magazine covering local news, arts and entertainment, events, business, the great outdoors and style in the region, in English. Whether you’re in town for the weekend, the season or the rest of your life, there is something for everyone at GstaadLife.