PING World Tour, Episode1: Grand Hotel Park, your home in Gstaad
The journey from Montreux to Gstaad in a panoramic glassier train is one you won’t easily forget. Cozy in a cabin, you can enjoy the scenery that parades outside the window from the comfort of your warm quarters.
It was my first time in Gstaad, where I was going for a short stay at the renowned Grand Hotel Park.
The Land Rover shuttle dropped me off at the hotel where I was welcomed very warmly by the Marketing Director, just as you’d be at home.
Friendly and confident, Katarina, the hostess, lead the way to my 1-bedroom suite and informed me -to my great surprise and joy- that each floor has a private elevator leading directly to the spa. Once in my apartment, she walked me through the space, carefully explaining to me how to use the lights switches and the Bang & Olufsen electrical appliances.
A well lit hallway leads to the large living room and to the bedroom. There, an inviting king size bed basks in warm, non-intrusive light, and a spacious walk-in closet -ensures fashionistas can store all their belongings after a long shopping spree in Switzerland. The washroom has a bathtub and a shower, as well as two sinks, for more comfort.
Both the living room and the bedroom have balconies, one overlooking the forest and the Chalet Waldhuus, while the other offers a view of the ski slopes and neighboring houses, a magnificent scene at twilight…
The room has such a warm vibe with its wood and cashmere covered walls that you forget about the cold weather outside, instantly going from a temperature of -10C to 24C.
What impresses you the most at the hotel is attention to detail. I have toured the world and visited some of the top hotels and resorts, all of which are wonderful, but I had never seen such exceptional attention to details before. Perhaps it is part of the swiss culture, as it is in the watchmaking industry..
One such example is the extra touch that makes you feel even more welcome: a cold bottle of Laurent Perrier, chocolates and fruits await you on the dining table, while a coconut covered chocolate placed on your pillow every night guarantees you sweet dreams and a peaceful sleep.
Lavish, comfortable slippers make you feel like you’re walking on clouds, relaxing your body after a long day.
The hotel ensures guests can easily find a suitable gift for their loved ones: standalone Graff and Gucci boutiques for clothes and accessories, MB&F and Panerai for watches.
The Grand Hotel Park houses four restaurants, a bar and a cigar lounge equipped with the Airkel system by Gerard (we will bring you more details about the Airkel cigar lounge soon).
The hotel bar buzzes with life from morning to night, some patrons dropping by before hitting the slopes, while others grabbing drinks after dinner. I ordered a fresh apple juice and a club sandwich, which I like to try out at all hotels I visit: the sandwich was very tasty, all ingredients well balanced, with bacon on the side -an important distinction from other places.
Greenhouse, the informal restaurant of the hotel, is mainly visited for breakfast or a light snack, under a huge glass roof.
Marco Polo for a fine dining experience.
The fine dining restaurant Marco Polo, boasting 17 Gault Millau points, invites you to experience the famous explorer’s journey through the spice route, with a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cuisines including Japanese, Venetian and Chinese, in an intimate, candle lit atmosphere. Red dominates the decor, with red rugs, chairs, glasses etc. A see-through chimney gives way to the cigar lounge, creating a live tableau. The restaurant only has two waitresses, which is quite impressive, as the service in impeccable. I sip on a Chateau Plagnac premier cru recommended by the waitress, in a wine glass discreetly branded with the hotel logo, while taking in the intriguing surroundings that are carefully designed to take you on an exciting culinary voyage.
A nice surprise comes next: the chef offers all guests Chips de Boeuf (a bit oily but very fresh) and edamame, as well as an amuse-bouche: brioche with foie gras and Porto jelly. All flavors are perfectly balanced; no note overpowers any other. The coconut mousse opens your appetite, preparing you for the rest of the feast.
Although I had informed the waitress I wouldn’t be having any sushi that night, the chopsticks were left at my table throughout the whole dinner until my main course ended.
As a starter, I had the Tofu and Vegetable Springrolls; crunchy fresh veggies in a non-oily coating. However, even for sharing, the dish was too big.
Once ready for my main course, the waitress challenged me to order any type of pasta and sauce in the world, as they almost have them all. I asked for the Sicilian waitress’s recommendation, and surprisingly, she advised me to have the Pomodorro. Although one of simplest pasta sauces, it was very tasty as the ingredients are all raw, and the dish is prepared fresh at the table.
I felt special when I was presented with Canolli for dessert, an item that isn’t on the menu. Chef Giuseppe Colella had informed me that morning that he was preparing 13 canollis as a special request for one of the guests, and he kept some for me. I found out the kitchen custom makes desserts and dishes on demand without charging extra, another perfect of example of why one would feel right at home at the Grand Hotel Park.
While enjoying my delicious dessert, I noticed the hotel GM, Jean-Yves, passing by all the tables and simply asking how your day was, without prying on whether you enjoyed the food or not. I later realized he visits tables at every outlet every single night; a warm approach which makes you feel cared for.
Marco Polo isn’t a Michelin starred restaurant, but at the end of the day, who cares about stars and awards when the food is that good and the service so friendly?
The SPA that you need to truly disconnect
The hotel caters to all ages and is even frequented by a hip young generation that come over for vacation with their families or among friends. Its many amenities include an indoors heated sea-water pool, a golf simulator, a kids’ room, game room, cinema, and several shops.
Hotel guests are treated as if in their own home, moving freely from one area to the other.
The Biggest Suite in the Alps
With the My Gstaad Chalet, a private 4-bedroom suite with a private jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, massage room and tropical shower, personal butler, and the possibility of the Chef cooking a private meal in the dining room for up to ten people, the Grand Hotel Park is truly your home away from home.
This ultimate getaway destination is equally wonderful in winter and summer. Hopefully next time, we will introduce you to Gstaad during summer.
In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful scenery while planning your next trip to Switzerland!
Address: Wispilenstrasse 29 – CH-3780 GSTAAD, Switzerland
Phone: +41 (0)33 748 98 00
Fax: +41 (0)33 748 98 08
Email: [email protected]