Recently, we had the chance to join up with Instagram star Nicole Hunziker in Gstaad in the Bernese Highlands. With a celebrity like her in tow, we had to come up with something special… and, thanks to stage managing by HUUS Gstaad CEO Günter Weilguni, we wound up having a really good hair day with her by the Arnensee.
Katja and I had put up in the HUUS Hotel Gstaad. For those who might have missed the rebranding, this used to be the old Hotel Steigenberger. It looks VERY stylish now!
So, that is where we learned that Instagram-Star Nicole Hunziker would be arriving, along with the roughly 140,000 online rubberneckers who follow her whenever she sets off on one of her excursions. We had made Nicole’s acquaintance originally during our already legendary blogger trip in and around Zermatt.
Nicole’s our kind of crazy. We had hit it off right from the start ;-)
So, now it is early morning and Katja and I, dressed in hiking duds and hiking sticks in hand, are about to set out to pick her ladyship up at the train station, when we cross paths with Günter Weilguni, host and CEO of the HUUS Gstaad.
Of course, with his practiced host’s eye he quickly grasps the situation.
Being the seasoned marketing specialist that he is, he immediately proceeds to press Leica binoculars and the keys to the hotel’s own convertible into our ready hands.
You wouldn’t mind putting the vehicle through its paces for me, would you?
No problem whatsoever, Günter, we’ll be more than happy to oblige!
Still, in the underground parking garage, we are nearly blown away by what awaits us, wide stance and all: a bright orange Range Rover, top already retracted. It is a brand-new Evoque. As a matter of fact, the model is so new, it’s not even on the market yet!
Since I will be in charge of photography and video, Katja slips gingerly in behind the weel. She’s not too tall and so, at first, she seems hesitant about handling the huge urban safari crossover.
We start rolling. It only takes her a few curves before she is flying around them as if she’d been hot rodding in nothing else all her life. I take notice with some amazement, and snug my seat belt just a bit.
Hair ruffled by the breeze, we shoot in direction Saanenmöser train station. Nicole is already waiting for us, and, having overcome her amazement at our exotic ride, she quickly settles into the hot speedster’s generous backseat…
Hiking the Saanenland around Gstaad
The girls have planned a hike in the vicinity of the Rinderberg by Zweisimmen. However, getting such a kick out of the airstream, they decide that it will take too few convertible kilometers to get there.
And so, Katja, in the blink of an eye, wheels the car around and we smoke tires in the opposite direction to the Arnensee.
How much of the scenery Nicole gets to take in on the way, however, is not entirely clear. That is because her hair is in her face practically the whole time…
We cruise through Gstaad toward Col du Pillon and turn off at the “Arnensee” junction. The road keeps narrowing until we are stopped at a barrier just short of entering the woods. That will be 5 Swiss francs please. It seems the driver in front of us just happens not to have that sum handy. Well, bravo…
Some scolding and gesturing ensues, but soon we are rolling through an old-growth forest on a road with countless curves.
Meanwhile, our instagramming Nicole shoots selfie after selfie in the backseat, happy as a lark. Makes sense, since her hair looks different in each of them!
But, soon we pull into the parking lot where things are about to get serious: from here on, we’ll be hoofing it.
Arnensee – on foot around the reservoir
Not to worry, though: circumambulating the Arnensee turns out to be a piece of cake — an undemanding, relatively short hike. We spend about an easygoing hour, counting the photo opp stops, circling the lake. Still, this mountain lake is a couple of sizes larger than its more famous peer, Lake Lauenensee in the next valley over.
Rather than a hike, it feels more like a Sunday walk. We really appreciate that, considering that the real reason for coming here today was the road trip in the convertible…
On our walk, we enjoy not just a mountain landscape reminiscent of Canadian lake country, but also a few idiosyncratic mountain folk gags. Or, put it this way: how the mountaineer boots keep eyeing the watering cans is an absolute kneeslapper! See pictures below…
Canoes and a solitary angler provided the picturesque framing. Also, the odd smoke billow wafting over the lake from time to time didn’t hurt. Smoke on the water has been a favorite subject of mine for a while…
Following a brief photo stop by the fire pit at the other end of the reservoir, we return via the opposite lakeside. Soon, we reach the Huus on the Arnensee, the obligatory lakeside restaurant. We partake of tasty crispy fish filet strips baked in batter and gratefully dive into our well-deserved melange coffee ;-)
Shooting videos into a headwind
Since we were generously allowed to cruise in the Evoque, we wanted to make sure to stage it properly. We set up cameras by the roadside and Katja flew by expertly a couple of times on the gravel road. But, with every setting, either a bicycle gets into the shot, the sun decides to disappear, or our sound engineer is not getting any sound.
Nicole und Katja were getting antsy, with a drizzle starting and more on the way. We get back into the car, bomb back into the valley and farther up to Col du Pillon. Maybe the weather will be kinder to us up there.
Not like last time, when we were practically blown down off the Peak-Walk of Glacier 3000 (Review with video opens in a new window).
But, sure enough, there, too, we are forced to abort the mission: we just can’t seem to get the action into the can. Frustrated, we take Nicole back to the train station.
Still, we can say we persevered and ended our “topless” Sunday excursion impervious to the weather. At least Nicole’s selfies turned out to be something…
Back in the garage, we decided to raise the top on the car. FORTUNATELY, we take a cautionary look behind us and are just able to stop the operation before the top would have hit the low-hanging air duct on the garage ceiling.
What a finish that would have been to our little joyride! Black eyes for us both after having the glorious wind in them!
Many thanks to all!
Thank you for the many hiking pointers that reached us via Facebook! One thing is clear: there is an abundance of hiking options around Gstaad and Gsteig.
The Arnensee (1,545 m a.s.l.) in the Tschärz Valley is often mentioned as part of a “3-lake hike”, starting from Col du Pillon (1,546 m a.s.l) with its even smaller Lac Retaud and past another small mountain lake toward Feutersoey. Both the hike’s starting and end points are accessible via public transportation.
And big thanks once more to Günter Weilguni of the HUUS Gstaad! His convertible is pure joy, just like his beautiful designer hotel. Here is how we reviewed it.