Expat adventures

Tue, 07. Jul. 2020

London’s Natural History Museum is one of the capital’s top attractions. On any given day you can see a long queue of visitors snaking airport-style through its doors on the Cromwell Road.

London’s Natural History Museum is one of the capital’s top attractions. On any given day you can see a long queue of visitors snaking airport-style through its doors on the Cromwell Road.

But for those seeking a quieter experience, every so often a limited number of ticket holders can spend a night in the museum at a Dino Snores for Grown-Ups event. It is a way to access the galleries and exhibitions without the crowds. You set your own pace. Create your own adventure. Same destination, different experience.

The tranquility of low season
I would like to offer you the same for the Saanenland. If you have visited Gstaad in high season, you will have experienced its special kind of high vibe energy. It is invigorating to be surrounded by thousands of guests enjoying the best of what the region has to offer: the concerts, the parties, the dinners and special events. The pop-up bars. The celebrations with old friends. The shopping and the fireworks. We often joke there is no need for us to seek out things to do – the entertainment comes to us.

Then, at the end of season, the hotels shut up, the visitors melt away with the winter snows and peace and tranquility descends once more. We are used to this rhythm of life. It is part and parcel of living in a holiday destination. The calm after the storm. A time to recharge batteries. This year more so than ever.

At time of writing, it is spring – a season normally associated with renewal and regrowth. Yet millions around the world are locked down in their homes, playing a waiting game until ’normal life’ returns.

The energy of nature
As we have watched the pandemic spread across the world these past weeks, I have felt more blessed than ever to call the Saanenland my home. Switzerland has not been unaffected by COVID-19, of course, but as I gaze out on the glacier I know there is much to be thankful for.

The Saanenland is famous for its magnificent landscape. Over the years, like thousands of others, we have spent many a happy hour out and about on hikes and bike rides. But as the demand for social distancing grew this spring, we found ourselves drawn to nature more than ever before. With the cafés, hotels and all but essential shops closed, we sought more traditional pursuits.

This provided us with the unexpected opportunity of spending more time exploring the region outdoors. I am astonished to report that I have discovered more paths and trails these past couple of months than over the last dozen years combined. The weather has been glorious and while out cycling or running I have barely seen another soul.

Closer experience
Why am I telling you all this? Because if you are a regular visitor to the Saanenland during high season, I would like to also encourage you to try us out in the spring or autumn. Even without COVID-19, not all hotels are open then, of course. Or restaurants. Or shops. Or the cable cars for that matter.

But the mountains are still here. And the lakes. And the trails. And the views? Well, they are often better in low season. Ditto the weather. The air is crisp and you can literally see for miles. It is not an exaggeration to call low season in the Saanenland a tonic for the soul.

So, the next time you are at a loose end during the spring or autumn, why not take a leaf out of the Natural History Museum’s book? Come and visit our little corner of the world without the crowds. Same destination, but a whole new experience.

Anna Charles

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As I am writing this the noise from the icefield and tennis area should be entering my office.

At this time of year, the beach volleyball tournament should be in full swing. People in flip-flops and with flags to cheer on their team should be milling about in the Promenade.