Skiing in the Gstaad (and surrounding Saanenland) areas is very nice in good snow years.
The rolling cow pastures of summer are run as ski hills in winter, and provide very nice all-round family skiing. A little bit (but not a lot!!) of adventure for those who are expert skiers and mostly great beginner to intermediate slopes with long runs.
The regional lift pass (recommended) covers 69 lifts, and over 250km of maintained pistes/trails. The lifts and equipment in this area are in great shape and of very modern standards.
We come here about once per ski season (if the snow is good) to ski with friends. We usually come either for the day (from Chamonix) or weekend and stay with friends.
Check out Schoenried (runs from part way up the Hornflue, for example), Gsteig (actually just a beginners hill here), Gstaad (Wispile, Wasserngrat and Eggli), as well as the very tall Glacier 3000 area between Gstaad and Les Diablerets (a separate ski area) which even has summer skiing due to it's altitude of over 3000 meters (10,000 feet)
In the regional pass the following three are within Gstaad. First, the relatively low Eggli (5,494 feet) which also connects to Videmanette and the towns of Saanen and Rougemont. It is a great beginner area but can suffer from lack of snow in warm years.
The Wasserngrat (6,365 feet) and the Wispile (6,397 feet) are two other totally separated areas in Gstaad.
The Wasserngrat is rated the most challenging of these three areas. The Wasserngrat is an area for advanced skiers and is not recommended for beginners (it has just 2 lifts). Rarely has any lift lines.
The largest area on the regional ski pass (I am told it is the largest, and I skied there and it was wonderful) is near St Stephan/Saanenmoser and Zweisimmen where lifts go up Hornberg.
Lift openings/closures as well as a listing of the towns they serve etc. are available on the official Gstaad ski site http://www.skigstaad.ch .
Other general information ski web sites on Gstaad listed below. Skis or snowboard (rentals available everywhere) and warm clothes!!
At the top of nearly every lift are restaurants serving food and hot mulled wine and other treats to keep you going on those cold winter days.
Beautiful Hiking for the Beautiful People
"Saanenland - not only for celebrities!!"
I have been to Gstaad several times, starting in June of 2000, twice in 2002 and again in 2003. But I have never stayed in a hotel in Gstaad....don't think I could afford it!
Actually, I can say I never would have come here were it not for meeting my (now) husband (in Chamonix) and being invited here while he was working in the town for a summer season. We go back often now to visit friends and do more gorgeous hiking or mountain biking.
Right now the photos here were all taken one weekend (July 4 2003) but if I have time I hope to scan in photos taken with my 35mm camera of more of the Gstaad city (photos which I took in June 2000 and in 2002) and post them here. I am still building this page!
Gstaad has a special place in my heart, since in September of 2000 while on a visit here, my husband asked me to marry him. Since my husband had lived & worked here for 3 summers, my introduction to this area was quite different from that of many tourists and dealt mainly with the hiking in the area (he is a hiking maniac and did all the peaks which you can see from the town of Gstaad over those 3 summers). So my pages/memories of the area are a bit more tilted towards hiking or skiing and not to many of the other reasons people could go there (such as to be seen ;-)
Gstaad has a lot going for it - winter skiing and summer hiking are some of the big attractions. But also there are other things - a big music festival in summer (classical music in honor of the violinist/conductor Yehudi Menuhin who used to live here), country music week (ok that could be a minus depending on your tastes!), tennis tournament in summer, and even a polo cup is played here.
Some good websites for information on Gstaad are:
Note that Gstaad is very cosmopolitan - Swiss German is the local language but a lot of people also speak English, French and German especially in the stores and restaurants. It is quite easy to travel here without knowing the local language.
Many celebrities keep homes here, and actually just walking along the paths (there are many pedestrian walkways between the streets - be sure to explore these 'wanderwegs') and peeking at the expesive and gorgeous chalets here is a wonderful way to walk off a heavy evening meal of fondue!
Other nearby towns/villages which are part of the Saanenland (as this part of Kanton Bern is called) are: Saanen, Saanenmöser, Schönried, Gsteig and Lauenen (see my Lauenen page for hiking tips there!) You may be able to find more affordable accomodations in one of these villages. Gstaad is the biggest of the aforementioned towns.