Everyone has heard of Gstaad. The place where the world’s rich and famous spend their winter holidays. But during my visit to Saanenland, it wasn’t designer ski jackets that caught my eye. Instead, I felt a wholly unexpected, deep sense of relaxation. After all, the Bernese Oberland region is committed to the motto “come up and slow down”, and it is much more than just a marketing message.
The view from the Gstaad Youth Hostel in Saanenland alone helps me stay grounded: Cosy chalets dot the landscape in the stunning mountain valley surrounded by peaks. Marianne, operations manager of the Gstaad Youth Hostel, also tells me that there is a strong sense of community in the region. You won’t find any large chain companies here – hoteliers and businesses help one another out and everyone is accepted with open arms. This has enabled the region to retain its original charm, which is missing in some other mountain regions.
But does Gstaad offer in winter?
The region is truly a sledging paradise. There are six sledging routes for different levels and even an option to go sledging at night. You can hire a sledge on-site – and off you go. I tested out the Horneggli Run and was impressed – the trails are in excellent condition and it’s great fun to race down the mountain with a sledge hired in Gstaad.
The different ski areas around Gstaad
There are 200 kilometres of trails around Gstaad for skiing and snowboarding fun. I recommend that you choose between the “Oeschseite/Saanenmöser/Schönried” or “Rübeldorf/Eggli/Rougement” regions right in the morning. The Saanenmöser area is slightly larger and there’s more to do. There’s a larger selection of restaurants, you can test your skills at the snow park, and the sledging pass will get a lot of use here, too. The area surrounding Rougement is somewhat steeper and quieter, and several trails pass spectacular cliffs around La Videmanette. If you like, you can even visit the Les Diablerets 3000 ski area – it’s just after Gsteig, but isn’t included in the Gstaad ski pass.
Are you looking for a special experience?
Then I have a great tip for all winter fans in Gstaad. At Saanersloch (above the Saanenmöser mountain station), there’s an igloo village! Here, you can enjoy cheese fondue or do the Mystery Igloo. Mystery Igloo – what’s that?! Mystery Igloo is like an escape room, the popular game you may know from cities. The Mystery Igloo on the Saanersloch is the perfect team or family activity. You have 45 minutes to solve a variety of puzzles – leading you to the hidden ice crystal. Good luck and have fun!
Catch some rays in the light-flooded Gstaad Youth Hostel
In 2014, the Gstaad Youth Hostel opened its doors as a new building constructed according to the Minergie P-Eco standard. The accommodation merges into the landscape, impressing with its large, open rooms. Practically every room is flooded with light and offers amazing views of the region. This is why the youth hostel in Saanenland has also been awarded the “Watt d’Or” in the category “Buildings and Space”.
By the way, there’s a cosy terrace in front of the hostel – or for waiting for the ski bus that departs near the hostel. Come and put your feet up.
The Gstaad Youth Hostel also caters to those who would like to work on-site. Fun, relaxation, and work all in one. Because the lobby and dining area are perfect for the “Work`n`snow” offer with wifi, water and mountain views included.
About the author
On her blog wildmountainheart.ch she takes her readers with her on her adventures. For example, in the summer of 2020, she packed her tent and hiked 2000 kilometres across the Alps alone for almost five months on the Via Alpina.
Her book «VON WEGEN» will also be published in April 2022.
Christina also supports her brother and freeski pro Andri Ragettli in all communication matters, wrote his book “ATTACK YOUR DREAMS” (to be published in spring 2022) and is a volunteer writer for the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) Terri section.
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