For learning and improving, it’s a toss-up between Alpinzentrum Gstaad Snowsports, which offers adult and child ski and snowboard lessons, freestyle, snowshoeing, igloo-building, airboarding, mountaineering, cross-country, telemark, heli-skiing and Gstaad Snowsports which offers similar programmes – including a James Bond 007 course for 12 to 18 years olds that involves race-training, freestyle, moguls, jumps and tricks. The third school is Snowsports Saanenland, which has everything from race-training and snowshoe trekking to classes for the visually-impaired.
The Hornberg area is particularly popular with families due to its wide choice of blue and red runs. All the ski schools offer kids’ lessons, and lift passes are free for children up to 10 years old. Snowli Kids Village is situated on the outskirts of Schonried, near the Horneggli slope. Here children can try the carousel and other snowy attractions. There’s also a magic carpet and separate safe terrain. No family-specialist tour operators come to Gstaad, but the tourist office has a list of recommended babysitters and many of the hotels cater for families – including the Gstaad Palace, which has a children’s programme for five to 12 year olds.
The non-ski activities on offer in the resort include horse and husky sleigh rides, bowling, ice-skating and igloo-building.