Service like this invariably comes at a price and, given the exclusive
associations of both the Palmer-Tomkinsons and Klosters, it would be easy to
dismiss a PT Ski holiday as OTT. However, my four-day off-piste trip cost
just over £1,000 for half-board, transfers and guiding, which goes some way
to explaining why the three other guests making up our group turn out to be
young, athletic skiers of “normal” means.
Klosters: the resort of royalty
The world’s most exclusive ski resorts
Over the next few days, James proves to be tirelessly courteous, carrying skis
for the ladies, conjuring chocolate out of his backpack and offering up the
best untracked lines to his guests. He counts the 500 Marden’s Club children
(including four of his own) among his most loyal fans and, when his brows
aren’t knotted in concern for the welfare of his wards, his boyish
enthusiasm is spontaneous and infectious.
James is also refreshingly down-to-earth and prudent, eschewing costly ski kit
for a simple Viyella shirt and woollen jumper and expressing mild disbelief
that his sister Santa’s new brand of luxurious ski jumpers, Longlanier –
that are sellign well even at £400 a piece. In the same vein, he suggests we
drive to Klosters Dorf, a smattering of hotels and apartments at the base of
the Madrisa gondola, for pizza at the Pizzeria AlBerto, which he (correctly)
states is tastier, and less expensive, than the pizzeria in Klosters Platz.
Insider tips like these are much appreciated by James’ clients, who make the
most of the complimentary PT Ski concierge service to book meals, guides,
instructors, activities and massages. Also included in the PT package are
Freddy and Ben, two BASI-qualified skiers who are on hand to escort guests
around the local ski area, drive them to the restaurants and shops and
generally assist where possible.
People are often surprised to learn that Klosters boasts a colossal amount of
challenging and varied off-piste terrain, in addition to some 200 miles of
pistes on Parsenn and three further mountains in the Davos/Klosters ski
area. They’re even more surprised to learn it’s also home to a kebab shop…
The resort’s Royal patronage has created an illusion of pampered skiing,
glittering boutiques and sumptuous hotels, which is largely untrue.
While Klosters is home to seven four-star hotels – and despite its Royal
Connections – there are no five-star properties and the most coveted hotel
is the three-star Chesa Grischuna. And, although a handful of jewellery
shops dot the main street of the small town, Klosters’ Bahnhofstrasse is a
long way from its namesake in Zürich, with the Coop occupying the largest,
and busiest, spot. Finding an affordable restaurant in Klosters can,
admittedly, be a challenge, particularly with the strong Swiss franc – your
best bet is the Sport Centre restaurant, above the ice rink.
Much of Klosters’ enduring rustic charm can be credited to the local farming
community, still a force to be reckoned with in the Prättigau valley. The
farmers are also to be thanked for allowing skiers to access their gently
undulating pastures, dotted with timber and stone sheds, which form long,
scenic off-piste runs down to atmospheric hamlets.
With our excellent guide, Mirco Auer, shepherding our group around Klosters’
deserted off-piste terrain, and James arranging our lunches in and pick-ups
in sleepy hamlets, there was nothing left for us to do but enjoy the skiing.
We whooped our way between pine trees bowed under thick blankets of snow and
bounced through alpine meadows. We grew accustomed to having the mountains
to ourselves and our tracks being the only ones in virgin snowfields, but
were pleasantly surprised to discover plenty of other skiers as we enjoyed
celebratory drinks in Gaudy’s rowdy beer tent at the end of each day. It has
been, quite simply, a ski holiday fit for a king.
PT Ski (020 7736 5557; www.ptski.com)
arranges bespoke ski holidays to Klosters. Off–piste weekends (four days and
nights) cost from £1,063 per person, including half board, ski guiding and
airport transfers, and take place through February and March. SWISS
(0845 601 956; www.swiss.com)
operates daily flights from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and
Manchester to Zurich. Fares start from £113.