Without further ado, here’s Part II of our intrepid editor’s adventures on Planet Bentley, aka Gstaad, Switzerland:
When we left off the other day we were about to witness winter sports history in the making.
A nordic thing where a guy on skis gets pulled along by a horse at high speeds
You’ll have to excuse the cliffhanger, but we were in the Alps after all.
So – ever heard of skijoring? Us neither.
Some crazy-ass nordic thing where a guy on skis gets pulled along by a horse at high speeds.
Continental GTs in the Alps; click to enlarge (courtesy of Bentley)
I think you can see where we’re going with this.
The first man on Earth to try skijoring behind a Bentley Continental
A bit like water skiing while holding on to a $250,000 piece of precision-crafted machinery with only a thin layer of snow and some strapping between you and oblivion.
Of course in this case the skis were worthy of the task as well, ridiculously beautiful ones co-designed by Zai and Bentley that cost the GDP of a sub-Saharan nation and are by all accounts well worth it.
World skijoring champ Franco Moro with Zai skis; click to enlarge (courtesy of Bentley)
Needless to say the dashing Moro, clad in some high-tech waterproof cashmere ski suit custom made for Zai by Loro Piana, pulled it off with aplomb.
When they started looking ’round for volunteers to give it a go however, we grabbed the keys to a silver Continental GT, cranked the dial on Jack White’s new single and made tracks for the center of Gstaad.
We cranked the dial on Jack White’s new single and made tracks for the center of Gstaad
Did we mention that you cannot actually drive into the center of Gstaad?
Now we know this. Having a genetic pre-disposition to ignoring strident signs in German however the fact escaped us at the time.
Shopping on Gstaad’s snowbound streets; click to enlarge (JPS)
Thus we found ourselves distracted by the task of retracing Brigitte Bardot‘s bootsteps and ended up trapped in a snowy street of ultra-posh shops, confronted by efficient Swiss-German road barriers, without enough room to swing a cat nevermind a steaming, bellowing Bentley.
We found ourselves distracted by the task of retracing Brigitte Bardot’s bootsteps
Judging by the jutting jaws that dropped as we plowed past, no one’s driven through the middle of Gstaad in anything but a hay wagon in the past 50 years.
And yet, of course, being at the wheel of a Bentley the barriers magically lowered at our approach and we continued on our way, accompanied by admiring glances from several comely young lasses who assumed we must be VVIPs or something.
Which of course we are.
We made it back to the Palace in time for dinner and drinks Pink Panther style
Did we mention that they have these contraptions they swing across the tarmac when it snows a lot to keep jackasses – sorry, VVIPs – from maiming themselves?
Nonetheless we found a few good spots for some photo ops and then made it back to the Palace in time for dinner and drinks Pink Panther style.
The microskirted blondes from the night before were back, seemingly replicated in some sort of fantasy factory, thronging the bar and totally ignoring the group of well-dressed but non-trust funded journalists in the back corner.
The Gstaad Palace’s swank Lobby Bar; click to enlarge (JPS)
From there we repaired to the hotel’s ultra-luxe Le Grill where we were served a six-course meal accompanied by Saint-Émilion Grand Cru and plenty of amusing anecdotes – at least we think so, because the guy next to us was named Franz-Josef with an accent to match.
A six-course meal at Le Grill accompanied by Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
In any case by the time the chocolate torte came out we were all passing around iPhone pix of our dogs, which is always a good sign.
The night would never be complete of course without a visit to the Palace’s legendary GreenGo nightclub, where we managed to find room for some vintage Veuve Clicquot.
Bearing in mind another adrenaline-fueled day ahead however we soon gave the blondes the brush and bid them guten abend.
An Alpine way station; click to enlarge (JPS)
At breakfast the next day we were presented with a choice: hit the slopes or get behind the wheel of another Continental GT.
Not a lot of internal debate there.
We’ve got plenty of snow at home in Maine, but Bentleys are a little thin on the ground
We’ve got plenty of snow at home in Maine, but Bentleys are a little thin on the ground.
The roads were open and we’d brushed up on basic German, so this time there was no halt-ing us.
We made the most of the mountain scenery, putting the Continental through its paces and acquainting ourselves with the interior’s various luxury appointments, fittings and so forth.
The Continental GT’s luxe interior; click to enlarge (courtesy of Bentley)
A little bit of the Palace on wheels, you might say.
Then it was back to the hotel to pack and begin our farewell tour, i.e. the 150 clicks to Geneva via some more eye-popping scenery – something the Swiss do particularly well like chocolate and money laundering.
Something the Swiss do particularly well like chocolate and money laundering
We had a great time gunning it in those little tunnels they love so much and making the engine’s roar ricochet ’round the concrete.
We stopped for refreshments in a natty little town called Chexbres with killer views of Lake Geneva and lots of terraced vineyards for prowling through.
A stopover in Chexbres on Lake Geneva; click to enlarge (JPS)
On the final leg to Geneva we happened upon a pinstriped banker type rolling along the highway in his own Continental GT, with what looked like one of the Palace’s showponies riding shotgun.
With typical Swiss courtesy he motioned us to take pole position, and for a spell we formed a cavalier convoy that was a pleasure to behold.
A pinstriped banker type rolling along the highway in his own Continental GT
Someone who’s familiar with local customs later explained the crafty bugger was merely allowing us to get caught by the Swiss speed cameras while he whooshed by in our wake.
And that’s why he owns a Bentley and we were merely borrowing one….
EARLIER: The World is Not Enough
- Posted February 02, 2012
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