Discrete Hideaway of Famous Guests
"Last paradise in a crazy world," is how Hollywood and Broadway star Julie Andrews described her holiday home in Gstaad. Because, in spite of its international style, Gstaad has remained truly Alpine. The atmosphere is quiet and discreet. And that is precisely what its famous royal visitors and guests from the worlds of film, art, sport and business have come to appreciate.
Gstaad in the Saanenland has become an iconic destination, like St Tropez or The Hamptons, whose reputation is closely linked to that of its famous visitors. They love the combination of vacation experiences, cosmopolitan style and understated earthiness. Under the guise of Gstaad's discretion, they can spend their vacations here without being disturbed by the media. They are thankful not to have to attend glamorous parties, and, instead, celebrate privately in an understated way in their own chalets. And no one is interested in them, which is why our famous guests return, again and again.
The beginnings of Gstaad as a top-class holiday destination
The first famous guest to visit Gstaad was the highly decorated British Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, known as "Monty". One year after the end of the Second World War, he spent his first Swiss vacation in the Sporthotel Saanenmöser, where subsequently the Thai royal family resided for some time. In 1938 Ernst and Silvia Scherz-Bezzola took over the management of the luxury Gstaad Palace hotel. After the end of the Second World War, they began to expand it with a great deal of talent and modest means. But with great success: International music greats, like Maurice Chevalier, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, were soon staying in the Gstaad Palace. More and more celebrities stayed at the hotel, then later in their own chalets or apartments. Gstaad began to radiate style and glamour.
Cleopatra plays Yahtzee
The "Who's Who" of the world of international acting soon discovered the tranquillity of Gstaad for themselves. Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor found peace and quiet in her Chalet Ariel, which her fourth husband Eddie Fisher had bought for her in 1959. Richard Burton played "yahtzee" and drank Beaujolais with her in the Hotel Olden – now owned by Bernie Ecclestone. Her daughter also made a bronze sculpture of a calf on the village square in Gstaad.
James Bond and his Car
Acting legend Roger Moore is one of the select members of the exclusive "Eagle Club", which could only be reached by a dilapidated lift on the Wasserngrat. When it was decided not to renew it, Moore and the other members of the club decided, without further ado, to finance it themselves. Roger Moore always said about the people of Gstaad that: "They are less interested in me than they are in my car." And that's a fact: Gstaad sets great store by its understatement, despite its high density of celebrities. Instead of sensationalism, real friendships have grown again and again between the famous guests and locals alike.
Mary Poppins, the Pink Panther and Gunter Sachs
It was the legendary Mary Poppins actress Julie Andrews who coined the phrase "Gstaad is the last paradise in a crazy world". She was also the person who presented Gstaad with its Christmas lights, admired by all the locals. Her husband, the Hollywood movie director Blake Edwards, immortalised his holiday home in Gstaad in the cinematic classic "The Return of the Pink Panther". The name Gunter Sachs – German bon viveur, playboy, photographer and art collector – is also closely linked to Gstaad.
Retreat and unwind
Today discreet Gstaad is more than just a getaway and a place for celebrities from all over the world to unwind. They have very little effect on the locals, who remain relaxed and down-to-earth, rooted in their traditions. It is no surprise, therefore, that tennis player Roger Federer was presented with a brown Simmental cow, of all things, for his win at the Allianz Suisse Open in 2003. That's just the way Gstaad is: despite its many celebrities, it is especially proud of its cows. And that's the way it should be.