This is the 1952 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith that the Gstaad Palace owns – and you can be sure that many others would like it too. Currently look at various classic car websites and you can find 53 Silver Wraiths on offer (a 1953 model was advertized on carandclassic.co.uk by a Wales-based collector, July 19th, 2016, for £39,500). But the luxury Gstaad Palace hotel, although run by a classic car lover, Andrea Scherz, is never going to part with this beauty. Apart from anything else, the gal was told, there is only one person who knows how to manage the car’s gears, an especially tricky challenge on the steep twisting road up from Gstaad rail station.
The 100-room hotel, which has been owned by the Scherz family since 1947, is in full mid-summer swing (like many Swiss resorts it has two seasons, summer and winter, with two closed periods in between). Two days ago, Monday, August 1st, 2016, Switzerland’s National Day, was celebrated with the traditional evening party, with folk music from the Henchoz group – I am sure that the dishes on the buffet included the hot potatoes in cream dish that is a Scherz family favourite, and is, in fact, on the lunch buffet every day when the hotel is open. All summer, and all winter, there are activities here. This coming Sunday, August 7th, will see a Kids Grand Prix, with children four to ten years old racing in mini-Audis.
Their parents, and other adults, are not forgotten. Andrea Schwerz hosts a rally of dozens of car enthusiasts, and their vehicles, for a rally August 26-28, 2016. Before that, Gstaad Palace benefits from the town’s Hublot Polo Gold Cup, August 18-21, 2016. But, special events apart, this is just a lovely place to be, especially when the sun is shining. I sat outside on the terrace, enjoying the buffet, and ceviche, and heard about yoga in the mountains, retreats being organised with the London-based women’s fitness club, Grace Belgravia. I asked about the Walig Hut, the Scherz’s 1786-vintage wood chalet high above the tree line. People love staying overnight, I was told, and yes there is both electricity, and plumbing, and solar power for hot water can be arranged.
New initiatives include the opportunity to visit both the Landolt family’s Jardin des Monts organic farm, which produces products for the spa here, and also Dme de la Pierre Latine, Yvorne, which is the source of this luxury hotel’s own wines, an Yvorne Clos de Gstaad Chablis and a Rouge des Rouges, both 2013 vintage. And, of course, the Scherz family is always upgrading. I had the chance to see the new wine cabinets in some suites, and how bold colouring is being introduced for guests who want a change from the incredibly soothing soft taupe-grey that I personally always associate with Gstaad Palace. NOW WATCH THAT ROLLS GLIDE UP THE HILL, BELOW