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Gstaad is located in Switzerland
Location of Gstaad in Switzerland

Gstaad (/ˈʃtɑːd/ or /ɡəˈʃtɑːd/; Alemannic German: [kʃtaːd̥]) is a village in the German-speaking section of the Canton of Berne in southwestern Switzerland. It is part of the municipality of Saanen and is known as a major ski resort and a popular destination amongst the high society and the international jet set. The winter campus of the Institute Le Rosey is located in Gstaad. Gstaad has a population of about 9,200 and is located 1,050 metres (3,445 feet) above sea level.


A view over the village Gstaad

Situated in the Berner Oberland, Gstaad is home to one of the largest ski areas in the Alps (220 km (137 mi) of slopes). The middle of the village features a picturesque promenade bounded by numerous shops, restaurants, art galleries, and hotels. Designer labels including Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chopard, Brunello Cucinelli, Prada, Moncler, Ralph Lauren, and Cartier all have stores in Gstaad, while many smaller boutiques stock labels such as Chloe, Dolce & Gabbana, Tod's, Burberry, Dior, Oscar de la Renta, and Marc Jacobs.

Promenade Gstaad

Long known for its walking and hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty, the mountain air and ambiance attracts guests year round from around the world. Gstaad is also known for its ski and cross-country slopes and winter hiking trails.

Mountain Railway Chalberhöni

Gstaad, named "The Place" by Time magazine in the 1960s,[1] is widely known for its famous part-time residents and vacationers.[1] Current longtime residents of Gstaad include: Alinghi yachting syndicate boss Ernesto Bertarelli and actress Julie Andrews,[2] Formula One Holdings owner Bernie Ecclestone,[3] French actress Jeanne Moreau,[4] French singer Johnny Hallyday,[5] and columnist Taki Theodoracopulos.[6] Famous residents have included actress/humanitarian Elizabeth Taylor, actor Sir Roger Moore, George Soros, Steve Wynn, director Roman Polanski, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, modern artist Balthus, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Swiss philanthropist Philipp Braunwalder and Filip Peters.[4] Famous regular visitors to Gstaad have included Madonna, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and his wife Kareena Kapoor Khan, haute couture designer Valentino Garavani, writer William F. Buckley, Jr.,[7] and various members of the House of Cavendish. Other occasional visitors in the past include Elton John, Anne Hathaway, Margaret Thatcher, actors David Niven and Peter Sellers, as well as King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, and Abdel Salam Jalloud.[8] In January 1983, King Juan Carlos fell while skiing in Gstaad and cracked his pelvis, immobilising him for a month.[9] Richard Scarry had a studio in Gstaad where he drew many of his books. Many British bands and musicians would play at L'Atelier, a club in Gstaad, in the 1960s and 1970s. One band was Merlin `Q` who became Edison Lighthouse did a whole winter at L`Atelier.


During the Middle Ages it was part of the district of Saanen (Gessenay) belonging to the Savoyard county of Gruyère. The village core developed at the fork in the trails into the Valais and Vaud. It had an inn, a warehouse for storing trade goods and oxen to help pull wagons over the alpine passes by the 13th-14th centuries. The St. Nicholas chapel was built in the village in 1402, while the murals are from the second half of the 15th century. The village was dominated by cattle farming and agriculture until the great fire of 1898. It was then rebuilt to support the growing tourism industry. The construction of the Montreux-Oberland Bernois rail road in 1905 and the construction of ski runs (the Ski Club of Saanen open in 1905 followed in 1907 by the Ski Club of Gstaad). The first ski school in Gstaad open in 1923. In a short time there were more than 1,000 hotel beds in the region.[10]

The residents, hoteliers, shopkeepers and tourist offices helped to promote Gstaad to international attention. They supported the construction of ice rinks, tennis courts, swimming pools, ski jumps and ski and hiking areas. The first ski lifts at Funi opened in 1934-44, and was followed by a number of gondolas, ski and chair lifts. The Gstaad Palace opened in 1913 as Gstaad's first luxury hotel. In 1942 the Saanen-Gstaad airfield was opened for military and civil aviation. Helicopter rides were added later and in 1980 balloon flights became available as well. During the World Wars and the Great Depression, the tourism industry suffered and many hotels closed. After World War II, many of the large hotels remained closed, but they were replaced with a number of smaller non-hotel accommodation (chalets, apartment houses, residences). Most of the modern resorts and small hotels are built out of wood and retain traditional design elements.[10]

Regular events[edit]

Beachvolleyball Tournament Gstaad—court: Roy Emerson Arena

In Gstaad, the following regular events are held:

  • the "New Year Music Festival of Gstaad" held by the Princess Caroline Murat;
  • the "Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad" classical music winter series;
  • the "FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour - 1to1 energy Grand Slam" beach volleyball tournament;
  • the "Crédit Agricole Swiss Open Gstaad" tennis tournament;
  • the "Menuhin Festival Gstaad" classical music summer series;
  • the "Hublot Polo Gold Cup" polo tournament and
  • the "Country Night Gstaad".
  • the "Gstaad Promenade Party", in September
  • the "Christmas Market Circus", in December
  • the "International Week - Hot Air Ballooning", in January
  • the "Gstaad Mountain Rides Open", in January

Every December at The Gstaad Palace Hotel, Bonhams auctioneers hold an exclusive Ferrari & Maserati auction which draws in the rich and famous from around the world.[citation needed] Jiddu Krishnamurti, the world-renowned philosopher, was an occasional visitor to Gstaad. He included the experiences of his 1961 visit in his diary Krishnamurti's Notebook.


Some of the world's most prestigious and academically intensive boarding schools, such as Institute Le Rosey and Gstaad International School, are located in or have a campus in Gstaad. Entry into these schools is regarded as being highly competitive, with an entrance examination, in addition to a record of high academic achievement, being required for admission.[11][12] The tuition fees at Le Rosey and Gstaad International School are considered some of the highest in the world, with a Le Rosey education costing CHF 110,000 in boarding and tuition fees, and a Gstaad International School education costing CHF 98,000.[13] These expenses exclude many mandatory and optional services, such as the winter snow sports and equestrian programs.

Both Le Rosey and Gstaad International School offer intensive college preparatory programs, which have a record of student placement into elite universities, such as the Ivy League, MIT, Stanford, and Oxbridge.[14] Where Le Rosey offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, Gstaad International School offers the American high school program, the British official Cambridge programmes International General Certificate of Secondary Education and A Levels, in addition to a Foundation Year and Pre-University Foundation Diploma. Both schools emphasise multilingualism amongst their international student bodies, and it is expected that students will develop a fluency in English and French, in addition to their first language.[15]


Gstaad is known for its luxury hotels, among them the Grand Hotel Park, the Alpina Gstaad, the Gstaad Palace, the Grand Hotel Bellevue, the Hotel Olden, and the Arc En Ciel.


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Gstaad has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[16]

Climate data for Gstaad (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.9
Daily mean °C (°F) −3.3
Average low °C (°F) −7.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 108
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.8 9.9 11.9 11.2 14.4 13.9 12.8 13.0 10.5 10.5 10.4 11.3 140.6
Source: MeteoSwiss [17]


  1. ^ a b "Coming Up Chic". Time. March 1, 1963. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  2. ^ "Gstaad: Just a simple Swiss village - for Liz Taylor and Julie Andrews". April 16, 1989. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  3. ^ "Celebrities in Switzerland: Bernie Ecclestone". 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  4. ^ a b "Switzerland Is Yours". 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  5. ^ "James Blunt planning Swiss move". January 17, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  6. ^ "Taki on Gstaad summers in the line of fire". 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  7. ^ "He Knew He Was Right". March 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  8. ^ "Happy Birthday Menuhin Festival". July 20, 2006. Archived from the original on November 23, 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  9. ^ "Juan Carlos of Spain". Time. January 17, 1983. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  10. ^ a b Gstaad in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  11. ^ :: LE ROSEY :: A Prestigious International Boarding School in Switzerland
  12. ^ Stage 2: Interview | Gstaad International School
  13. ^
  14. ^ :: LE ROSEY :: A Prestigious International Boarding School in Switzerland
  15. ^
  16. ^ Climate Summary for Gstaad
  17. ^ "Climate Norm Value Tables". Climate diagrams and normals from Swiss measuring stations. Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss). Retrieved 31 January 2013.  The weather station elevation is 1,045 meters above sea level.

External links[edit]

  • Gstaad – official site (in English, French, & German)
  • GstaadLife magazine (in English, with links to German sister publication, the "Anzeiger von Saanen")
  • 3780 Gstaad (in English, with links to local businesses and event websites)

Coordinates: 46°28′N 7°17′E / 46.467°N 7.283°E / 46.467; 7.283