Stay at park gstaad
Mc Beardy takes the Park
Could there be a more spectacular way to get to Gstaad than driving over the Col du Pillon? If these were the roads we could expect over the next 2 days cycling then excited was an understatement.
I had visited Gstaad previously while photographing the Tour de Sussie so I when the opportunity came up to return, I didn’t need convincing. My wife on the other hand had been along on many a cycling holiday so she was a harder sell.
Park Gstaad is a five star hotel in the heart of the small mountain town. They have been in the hotel business for years and know a thing or two about service. But bicycle tourism was a recent addition to the hotels’ services, and by enlisting the expertise of Bianchi Bicycles and the locally based Grand Tour Projects they had developed something unique, the Park Gstaad Bicycle Lounge. This was aimed at creating a relaxed social space for cyclists to use pre and post ride. The facilities include full workshop with tools and bike stands, complimentary beer fridge and coffee making facilities, secure bike storage area with personal lockers for equipment, bike wash bay complete with Muc Off cleaning products, a pressure washer and comfortable sitting area for socialising.
The facilities were squeaky clean and a pleasure to use. Opening a beer and assembling my bike ready for the next days activities had never been so easy. My wife was pleasantly surprised when she saw the Bianchi e-bike that the hotel had organised for her. A quick spin around the carpark confirmed it was going to be very helpful to take the sting out of the next days multiple hills.
But first dinner! We had a booking at Avenue Montagne restaurant on site at Park Gstaad. It was a beautiful summer evening sitting out on the terrace watching the sun disappear over the mountains was the perfect introduction to Park Gstaad. Compliments to the chef as the food we ate was exquisite and the expert staff suggested wine that paired well with each dish. This wasn’t your average cycling holiday. My wife now looking very satisfied with the decision to come along.
My biking experience
Waking the next day to a beautiful morning and a five star breakfast with all the trimmings, I was really going to need this ride to burn off some calories! Today’s route was the Park Gstaad Signature loop. I looked over the profile between bites of my croissant. Mostly uphill for the first half of the ride before a lunch stop and then an easier second half of the day, 87km in total with 1660 metres of climbing.
The support van was waiting at the front of the hotel stocked with water and snacks. I was delighted to see Uri Martins from Grand Tour Project and Jean Linder from Park Gstaad hotel on their bikes ready to ride with us. There was also a film crew and photographer documenting the experience, a true luxury for me more used to being behind the camera, not in front of it.
We made our way out of Gstaad following the river upstream. But this is Switzerland and it wasn’t too long before the road climbed steadily. The sudden gain in altitude gave an expansive view back across the rooftops of Gstaad before plunging into a forest thick with mist rising from the river now rushing more rapidly. The gradient eventually becoming steeper as we made our way through a series of tight switchback corners climbing quickly into vast meadows filled with flowers. The top of the summit gave us a chance to stop for a break and admire the view back down the valley we had just climbed. Then the best part, the descent! Swiss roads are amazingly well maintained so following the smooth ribbon of tarmac winding between cows happily munching away and ornate timber mountain houses with window boxes overflowing with summer flowers was a dream. The road flattened off and for the first time since we left the hotel small restaurants and shops appeared just in time for lunch. We ate our lunch and sipped on coffee while the owner of the restaurant welcomed us and told us about his locally brewed beer. It was still a bit early in the ride for one yet but his coffee was good too.
The sun was blazing by this point but with a thunderstorm forecast we decided we’d better get a move on as we still had kilometers to cover. A castle, small villages, towering mountains, wildflowers, rushing streams, there was always something to look at along the undulating route back to Gstaad. I had never seen my wife enjoy a bicycle ride so much as she kept pace with us seasoned riders on the Bianchi E-Bike without a struggle. “Not bad for a cycling holiday I could get used to this!’’ she remarked.
Arriving back at the hotel it was as simple as riding through the carpark and into the bike lounge with all the facilities and hang up the bikes ready for tomorrow’s ride. The atmosphere in the hotel is very relaxed and I felt at home walking through the lobby in my cycling kit. With its location in the Alps the staff are used to seeing all types of adventure seekers such us skiers, hikers, trail runners, climbers and mountain bikers.
With the ride finished we had the afternoon to relax and I was treated to a massage in the Park Gstaad Spa to revive my tired legs before another incredible dinner at Avenue Montagne Restaurant.
As further evidence Park Gstaad understands the needs of passionate bike riders, which is to ride every day, they offer guests use of their shower facilities in the spa which allows one final ride on the day of checkout.