Let's start with the Saanewald Lodge above Saanenmöser in the Gstaad-Saanenland area bordering the French-German language line. You'll be met at the Golden Pass Railway Station (where there's free parking), and whisked with your luggage up to the lodge either in a Landrover or with a Skidoo pickup motor sledge. The Saanewald Lodge is situated just off the main downhill ski run, and sits in the middle of an open forest – with views to the valley below as well as all the way to the Rubli, the Matterhorn-like peak dominating the area. Originally built in 1964 for school groups from Basel, it is now a three-star Alpine get-away, where mountain sports fans and slow life aficionados take up residence.
The internal conversion of the architecturally praised building has left the thirty locally decorated bedrooms relatively small, but the bathrooms are spacious. In contrast, the common areas are generous and invite singles, couples and families alike to mingle around fireplaces. In addition to downhill and cross country skiing next-door, there are marked and prepared snowshoe and walking paths. Big airbags for the ultimate soft landing experience and traditional Davos sledges are available for extra fun. To recover from a day out in the cold, there is a spa featuring saunas and a wood-fired hot tub in the garden with a view. Billiards, table football and – to top off the indoors activities – a Carrera classic model car racing circuit. The vintage interior restaurant offers the kind of food one would expect in the mountains, basic with local produce, carefully prepared and pleasingly presented. The well-stocked bar stays open for nightcaps until midnight. After a relaxing sleep in the fresh mountain air at just about 1300 meters, a sumptuous breakfast awaits with delicacies made from the milk of the famous Saanenland cows.
The Gstaad area features two further lodges: the Alpine one in Saanen and the Hamilton Lodge halfway up the Rinderberg Mountain above Zweisimmen (featured in last summer's issue of Hello Switzerland). A brand new three-star superior hotel with a lodge character opens on 7 December in Saanen: the Hotel Spitzhorn. Local wood and stone are its characteristics, and generosity reigns in its interior design. An indoor swimming pool, sauna, steambath … and massages will pamper the guests. A smoker's lounge with a cheminée, a special billiard room and a children's playground are additional features of this oasis in the village neighbouring Gstaad. In summer the new Youth Hostel opens next-door, both accommodations sharing the underground parking. The hosts of the new Spitzhorn Hotel, Ilse und Michel Wichman, are presented in a humorous video on their website by their young son Moritz.