Gstaad’s Grand Hotel Park marks its 100th birthday with a decidedly modern facelift.
By Laurie Kahle, August 09, 2011
Gstaad’s Grand Hotel Park has been a landmark for 100 years. Recently, it underwent a thoroughly 21st-century renovation, opening last December after nine months of reconstruction. Dona Bertarelli, sister of the Italian-Swiss billionaire and entrepreneur Ernesto Bertarelli, acquired the property in 2003. She marked the hotel’s centenary with a dramatic makeover by architect Herbert Gnagi and Geneva-based interior designer Federica Palacios, who is known for her residential work in Gstaad.
Exemplifying the codes of modern Swiss design, the interiors are distinguished by bold, clean lines and an abundance of local woods and stone, complemented by fabrics of flannel, leather, suede, and pony hair in a soothingly neutral palette of grays and browns punctuated with hits of red. “We wanted to keep the sense of being in a chalet alive,” says Managing Director Gianni Biggi. You get a glimpse of the property’s dramatic transformation when you visit the rooms to the right of the entrance that have been preserved in their ’90s-era Alberto Pinto design, in an homage to the renowned interior designer who did the previous update. “We left some places untouched for a peek into the past,” adds Biggi. Four bi-level suites on the top of the building exude the ambience of private chalets with expansive bedrooms, fireplaced living areas, and balcony views over Mt. Wispile and the Diablerets Glacier.
Gstaad’s three five-star hotels—Grand Hotel Park, Gstaad Palace, and Grand Hotel Bellevue—each revel in their distinctive personality, ambience, and the avowed loyalty of returning clientele. While Gstaad Palace is tuned to those who want to be seen, the Grand Hotel Park, which has a remarkable 60 percent client return rate, prefers to define itself by discretion and understatement. Regular Gstaad visitors find their particular fit and return season after season, year after year, generation after generation.
The property’s ice skating rink hearkens back to the hotel’s early 20th-century origins—skate rentals are available in the onsite ski shop. Of course, staff will accommodate any whim from sleigh rides to assigning an experienced ski guide to lead you through the best runs in the area, while offering pointers on your technique. After a vigorous alpine workout on the slopes, head for the spa to indulge in a restorative Muscle Release massage or a dip in the saltwater pool.
For dining, guests have their choice of four restaurants ranging from the charming Chalet Waldhuus in the rear garden for classic Swiss specialties including fondue and raclette to an East-meets-West culinary concept in the Marco Polo. Executive chef Giuseppe Colella—who hails from Ischia, an island near Capri—trained at the Four Seasons Milan. Guests who reserve the Presidential Suite have a designated private dining room in the Grand Restaurant at their disposal. The red lacquered Caveau, where the property’s wines are stored, offers a unique private space for tasting wine, cheese, and local sausages. The hotel also prides itself on exceptional sushi, prepared by an Asian master.
By bringing a refreshingly modern point of view to the fairytale village of Gstaad, the century-old Grand Hotel Park proves that you’re never too old to reinvent yourself.