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Bellevue Gstaad: Why Camels and Pineapples Are Perfect in the Swiss Alps

Beatrice Lessi

How to Attract Girls to the Mountains

“Come up, slow down” says the famous Gstaad slogan. And indeed, when I visited Le Grand Bellevue Gstaad with my family, we had some deep conversations in the quiet of their garden, sitting on hay balls, watching the moon and forgetting the world. But don’t think slowing down means that everybody follows the same program, here. This is haute couture vacation, tailored-made for you, pinned on your body exactly for your taste and to make you tick – and feel alive. Here’s my first little story about our experience at the hotel: my three teenage daughters, who normally think twice before accepting to spend their holidays with us parents and always prefer to be with their friends and boyfriends, were so enthusiastic about the experience, that they said they would love to come with us every year, from now on. So be it for your family, for a romantic break, for a wellness and pampering weekend, or for an active vacation in the mountains, the Bellevue Gstaad is ticking all the boxes.

Hiking to a pic nic spot with gourmet backbacks prepared by the Bellevue Gstaad

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Relaxing on the mountain

Best Spa in Gstaad

We kicked off our family stay with a hike and gourmet picnic organised by the hotel. Each of us was given a backpack – opening it to discover the delicacies inside – along with the fancy Krug Champagne blankets – was worth the trip alone. The well deserved prize after our physical effort was going to the spa.

We didn’t expect it so big. It’s a total of  3’000 square m²  and has been extensively and luxuriously renovated.

We walked from room to room and wanted to try them all. We sat in the rattan cocoons hanging from the ceiling, walked the candle lit paths, explored the thermal oasis, yoga and detox retreats, inhaled in the salt grotto, the herbal and bio and hay sauna, dived into the outdoor jacuzzi, dipped our feet in the icy and hot waters of the Kneipp therapy basins, lied in the meditating rooms, sat on the fountain with floating flowers, tried the experience showers, and checked the massage and beauty treatments.

We loved it so much, that we decided to go back the day after, to try something all together – my husband included. The hotel team suggested outdoor Qi Gong Yoga. The session started with a lot of giggling, but slowly we got into it and deeply relaxed and enjoyed the energy increase. It was a bonding experience I can warmly recommend.

The rattan swinging chairs at the Bellevue’s spa entrance

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Qui Gong yoga family session

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One of the outdoor Jacuzzis

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The yoga room

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Energy flow at the outdoor yoga class

Best Location

Le Grand Bellevue is located in a very calm spot, a park in the centre of Gstaad, one minute walk from the best shops, art galleries and coffee shops, and with perfect access to public transport too. I mention this because, having a dog, we greatly enjoyed having our walks while watching the superb chalets  blooming with endless geranium and the fancy local shopping. For a posh drive, the hotel can also offer you the best looking old lady in the village – a vintage Bentley. Otherwise, just enjoy the walk.

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Our dog Simba loves the Bellevue’s vintage Bentley

Only 57 Rooms for All This?

After experiencing two days at Le Grand Bellevue,  I heard from Fabian Nusser, the  hotel manager, that the hotel has only 57 rooms. I couldn’t believe it. The range of services and options offered makes you think it’s much bigger – to give you just one example, the hotel boasts its own private yacht club. But  staff is what makes the real difference, and here’s my second little story.

When I sat in the bar to start gathering notes about this article and ordered a glass of water, the barman asked me if I wanted to try the tea cocktail of the day, instead. I had never heard of such a thing, and found out that Ondrej, who was serving me, was a tea sommelier – a little superstar in his field. Then I was told the story of Luca, the new Italian waiter who, knowing that the Bellevue is 5 stars superior category, started his job behaving extremely formal to its clients. Daniel Koetser, who owns the hotel together with his wife Davia, noticed that and asked him:

If you were a guest, would you prefer to be served by a formal waiter, or by a cool Italian being simply himself?

Luca immediately understood the hint and relaxed. He is now a little bit of a star himself – for sure my daughters loved him too!

Our staff isn’t just serving. It’s a crew of people who love their job, that is about serving…

Concluded Daniel.

Three tea cocktails of the day

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The lounge. Photo: Bellevue-gstaad.ch

Cheese Fondue at the Grand Entrance

That leads me to my third little story. The combination of friendly service, top quality and understated luxury is something I wanted to capture with an image. I had seen some hotel photos I liked a lot, and one in particular was about a couple having dinner in the grass in front of the grand entrance, with the name of the hotel, the five stars, the white pillars and the fountain as a perfect background. I asked Fabian if he could pose to replicate the picture for me, thinking he would for sure claim he was busy the whole afternoon – let’s face it: modelling for a blogger is a hassle.

Not only he immediately accepted, but ten minutes before the shooting he turned up with a wooden barrel and a fondue set, transported it himself while wearing his immaculate suit, and explained to me that he felt the Summer fondue would make the photo more fun. Knowing that I don’t drink any alcohol, he also brought two glasses of apple juice – they look like real champagne, don’t they?

 

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Fondue in front of the grand entrance

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Backstage work at the Bellevue Gstaad!

The Meaningful Touch

Perhaps it was the Gstaad nature, or the way the Bellevue crew interacted with us, or a combination. But we felt our family break was more intense than expected. The first night, while eating in a private table in the garden and sitting on hay, my daughters opened up like they rarely did before, and also criticised us parents for being a bit absent in everyday life. This aroused some interesting (and hopefully fruitful) thoughts in all of us, and I don’t know if we would have faced our issues that positively, had we remained home.

The following days, while being active  and also contemplating nature, we all felt very close. The last day, when we were served dinner in the Bellevue’s private cinema, I couldn’t avoid the tears. What a nice, beautiful cry watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s with my daughters!

Overall, we saw with how much time and attention the staff had organised our stay. We felt appreciated as guests, and really “seen” as people, not only as clients.

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On lake Arnen – stand up paddling was organised by the Bellevue Gstaad

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Quirky details at Le Grand Bellevue Gstaad – interiors were devised by Davia Koetser and her business partner from Atelier Zurich; Daria owns the hotel together with her husband Daniel 

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With my daughters at the Bellevue Gstaad

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Delicious dinner in our private cinema – I really had to cry!

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Pineapple is a symbol of welcome and hospitality – all keys at the Bellevue Gstaad are shaped like one

The Mirage is an art gallery reflecting the ever changing landscape – you can reach it only on foot