Traveling in-between seasons can be tricky! What to pack, T-shirt or sweater? Swimming suits or wool bonnets? Eventually, you end up squeezing it all in a big luggage on top of backpacking, and carrying them all the way from Geneva through Bern and to our destination…. Gstaad & Saanen! (84 km away from Bern, and 155 km from Geneva).
All that packing was worth it, as we ended up having multiple seasons in 4 days! The beauty about the season’s transition outweighs its inconvenience. Green fields are very appealing but colorful ones are more distinctive. Blue skies are peaceful, but intense clouds are sometimes stunning add-ons!
Outdoor activities despite the weather?
Our accommodation and host HUUS Gstaad Hotel is a true ambassador of the region. They don’t only encourage their guests to discover the region, but they actually sponsor the outdoor activities, as all the costs are included in the stay! So the hotel goes far beyond just being an accommodation.
Imagine, outdoor activities include (guided) hiking, mountain biking & e-biking, climbing, rope park, river rafting, canyoning, and last but not least an Indiana Jones adventure! They also provide a super cool backpack and a thermos water bottle!
In winter, outdoor activities include several types of skiing (cross-country skiing, off-piste skiing, skiing school for kids ), snowshoe hiking, winter hiking and it includes providing some necessary equipment such as the nordic walking sticks.
Hiking and biking as if summer is forever
Our hike to Chorlisgrind mountain was simply distinctive. We took our backpacks, filled our water bottles and started the ascent. Our hiking guide was very knowledgeable of the region and even its history. He was born and lived in Saanen, so he knows the area inside-out. The hiking trail throughout the forest was naturally decorated with many different types of mushrooms and he shared interesting information about each of them. One type of mushroom – Bovist – was like a chimney, releasing smoke or dust when squeezed! There are even some kinds of small lizards that are considered as one of the oldest species!
e-biking was a new experience for us! The hotel provided suitable e-bikes and adjusted them for us. As our accommodation at Huus Gstaad Hotel was on a hill, the way down was relatively easy. We went through the old town of Saanen and almost reached Gstaad, all on very biking-friendly, low car-frequency roads and through natural sceneries. The adventure was amazing! We really felt the advantage of an e-bike when going back to our accommodation and getting up the steep hill. After the long biking adventure, if it was not for the e-bike we would have stayed at the bottom of the hill or dragged our bikes on our shoulders on top of the backpacks :).
These outdoor activities were an amazing way to discover the region of Saanen & Gstaad in the canton of Bern, and the weather was no show stopper. But one more key enabler was the MeteoSwiss application. The app predicts the weather with high accuracy. It was a “trip” saver as we could visually monitor the weather and clouds above a very specific area and plan our outdoor activities accordingly.
Hiking at Lauenensee: winter is coming!
Hiking around Lauenensee and its neighbor Tungelschuss waterfall was literally a breathtaking outdoor activity. This cute mountain lake is relatively small in size, but its surrounding forestry mountains and high grass give it an amazing charm and reflection. We arrived early in the morning and it was chilly cold such that the grass surrounding the lake was covered with an icy layer maintained due to the forest shadows. The atmosphere was so peaceful and calm that it was really suitable for meditation. Yet, it was so chilly that we had to put our bonnets on!
Autumn delicacies and crafts
The village of Saanen was pretty active at this time of the year. The local market on Saturday was mainly focused on food from the region and wood crafts. Multiple stands of local cheese & honey varieties scattered along the streets of the historic town center. The wood crafts are a distinctive product of the region. In some stands the craftsmen were presenting their skills live. Many of them travel regularly to Bern to merchandise their products. To add to the ambiance a small musical team was playing at the center of the market, and kids were jumping joyfully around.
From Saanen to glamorous Gstaad, the local musical festival takes another twist. The streets had individual performances of musicians that played solo one after the other in synchrony & harmony.
Kids enjoy their time at this family hotel
Sponsoring the outdoor activities was not the only support the hotel provided. The hotel is an excellent family hotel. They have a kids club which consists of multiple play rooms, and a great professional supervisor that keeps them entertained throughout the stay. This is a key enabler if you want to do outdoor activities or even go for a stroll in the wonderful surrounding nature, while the kids are taken care of.
Beyond the kids club, the hotel expresses well the family hotel aspects through making children feel comfortable and welcomed through its different areas. The SPA area is open to children in certain times and has different kinds of floaters for children of different ages. The hotel lounge itself shows its cozy and warm family atmosphere as some children dance joyfully in the afternoon hours.
Golden hour(s) indoors and outdoors
Talking about the lounge-“The Living Room”, or maybe it should be called also the “lively room”, was the beating heart of the hotel throughout, and an amazing gathering space in day, evening and night. Relaxing on its Terrace was our favorite sport after coming back from the day’s outdoor activities. The view over Saanen was just gorgeous and the weather provided us with different distinctive versions of the sunset. Once it gets chilly, we transition inside for an afternoon coffee or drink.
The hotel’s “living room” has such an ambiance during the golden hour where the light floods into its ceiling high windows and embraces the area with a wonderful Autumn warmth. The DJ (Thursday to Saturday) enriches the ambiance with cool relaxing music and transition bit by bit into top hits remixing. By 9 pm, this area becomes very active and many people hit the floor for a dance. The wall high bar is just on the facing side and sipping a cocktail is to go for. It has been a long while since we didn’t “club” so this was a great opportunity to re-practice our “moves”.
And that’s, ladies & gentlemen, what we had in Saanen; Rain & Sun, Ice and warmth! A wonderful variation of views up from the hillside overlooking Saanen at HUUS Gstaad, diverse adventures and outdoor activities that maneuvered the weather. And most importantly, experiences and colorful memories that will last the seasons!