Why King Charles loves this low-key ski resort more than any other
Like all the faithful of Klosters, the king extends his patronage to the hotels and restaurants Wynegg, Chesa and Walserhof, and to his only nightclub, the Casa Antica. If he, like me, has spent contented hours leafing through the legendary Chesa guestbook, he may have come across an entry that reads: “The prince is having lunch at one of the cheapest places around . He danced at the Casa Antica… rents skis which he carries himself and invariably travels second class on the sports train.
The King’s passion for Klosters and his ski skills are largely attributable to a certain Charles Palmer-Tomkinson. With a legacy as closely tied to the royal family as it is to Olympic skiing prowess, Palmer-Tomkinson became the then Prince’s mentor on the slopes and friend, teaching him and his sons how to ski and cementing his love for the Swiss resort. While staying at the Palmer-Tomkinsons’ “very basic” cottage, the King learned to appreciate the rural nature of the village, with its farm huts, quirky inhabitants and dramatic scenery.
Under Palmer-Tomkinson’s tutelage, he became an accomplished skier, developing an appetite for more challenging terrain. Then married to Diana, Princess of Wales, they often vacationed in Klosters with Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York, creating international press storms in the small town. Though Ruth Guler is said to have fiercely defended their privacy at the Wynegg, the foursome have taken up residence at the sumptuous Chalet Eugenia, hidden from prying eyes in the hamlet of Wolfgang (and yours for a week in high season for just 99,750 £ courtesy of Oxford Ski).
A fatal accident
It was here, on March 10, 1988, that Diana and a pregnant Duchess of York learned that Prince Charles had been involved in a skiing incident. Several hours later, they learned that the future king had narrowly avoided being swept away by an avalanche while skiing off-piste with Charles Palmer-Tomkinson and his wife Patti, Major Hugh Lindsay, a friend of his relatives and former equerry to the Queen, and Bruno Sprecher, a local ski guide. Hugh Lindsay tragically lost his life in the avalanche while Patti Palmer-Tomkinson suffered injuries so severe that Prince Charles later credited Sprecher with saving his life by administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the mountain.
The dramatic incident deterred Diana from returning to Klosters and is said to have contributed to the decline of the couple’s marriage, but it does not appear to have dampened the king’s passion for skiing or the resort.