I have just come back from teaching my weekend Alpine yoga retreat in the beautiful Swiss alps at the historic luxury hotel Le Grand Bellevue in Gstaad. Le Grand Bellevue is a unique place where they take ‘retreating yourself’ to the next level. Everything is taken care off during your stay, so you can literally take a step back and relax. Healthy food is served at fine dining level. There are AM and PM yoga classes to restore body and mind and there’s plenty of time to recharge your batteries in the beautiful Spa and to experience the stunning Alpine scenery. It’s a very special place, and a very special retreat. I love coming back here each Fall. The rich, vibrant palette of the changing Fall foliage with its bright yellows, oranges and reds never fails to impress.
The Gstaad region is known for its outstanding natural beauty, idyllic mountain villages, fresh Alpine cheeses, gourmet restaurants, sun-kissed mountains and bright green pastures with grazing dairy cows. Coming up here in the Fall season is special. In Summer and Winter Gstaad is packed with tourists. Fall is when the quiet returns. There’s a relaxed, friendly and down-to-earth atmosphere. You can hike up on the local mountains or ride your mountainbike for hours to only run into grazing sheep, cows or a local farmer. Every time I’ve come up here the Fall weather has been spectacular: bright blue skies and lots of sun, warm enough to comfortably sit outside with short sleeves and the sun still so intense that you need to apply sunscreen.
You come up to Gstaad to slow down. It already starts with the Golden Pass Panoramic train ride from Montreux into Gstaad. As soon as you step on board of the GoldenPass line, you begin to slow down. As you leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind and the train leisurely climbs up into the mountains, you literally feel stress and tension melt away. I have tried to sleep on these train rides after early or late flights many times but it’s impossible to close your eyes when you are surrounded by so much beauty: beautiful lakes, waterfalls, green valleys, sharp and angular snow-covered mountains. The train ride itself is a mini-vacation. You can not help but sit back and relax and take in the scenic splendour of your beautiful surroundings.
Gstaad is one of the most beautiful chalet villages in the Bernese Oberland. It’s surrounded by three major ski areas (Wispile, Eggli and Glacier 3000), which are only a short walk or (bike) ride away from the village center. During our retreat this year we took a cable car up on Gstaad’s local mountain, Wispile, and did a short hike. On top of the mountain (1907m) you have impressive views in all directions. Many hiking trails start right here and take you into different directions. Most of them are easy-going. There’s a hiking trail which takes you all the way back to the village of Gstaad. It’s a long descent where you walk amongst cows grazing the pastures. There’s also a stunning panoramic trail, which takes you up to beautiful Lake Lauenen. We had lovely stroll around on top of the mountain and enjoyed a drink at the outside terrace of Berghaus Wispile which offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. There’s also a petting zoo with sheep, pigs, baby goats and lama’s, which they sometimes let roam around freely. Don’t be surprised if you to find a baby goat below your seat as your sipping from your cup of tea.
The sun-soaked valleys around the Gstaad also offer plenty of opportunities to go for a bike ride during the Fall season. There’s a beautifuk bike path which runs past the GoldenPass train tracks and takes you past idyllic mountain village like Château-d’Oex and Rougement. It includes some challenging climbs and exhilarating descents and offers spectacular views of the valleys, pastures and the rugged Swiss mountains. It’s one of the most beautiful rides I have ever done. Around every corner there’s another stunning view leaving you breathless.
You come to Le Grand Bellevue – Gstaad for more than just a break from your normal life. You come to slow down but also to treat yourself. To great food (including the occasional glass of wine), to yoga classes that take you back to yourself and leave you feeling calm and energized, to active forms of relaxation like hiking and biking, to mountain adventures, stunning scenery and clean mountain air, to world-class pampering in the Spa, to connect with yourself and with others. It’s all about balance.