Rub ski jackets with the rich and famous in Klosters

A week in the Swiss resort organised by the Palmer-Tomkinson family gives Siobhan Mulholland an affordable glimpse of the high life

Posh and impossibly expensive skiing: that is surely what you get when you visit the Swiss resort of Klosters on a holiday organised by the Palmer-Tomkinson clan? So you might imagine, but in fact our family holiday proved relaxed, informal and plain good-value.

The company is PT Ski, a tour operator set up and run by James Palmer-Tomkinson and his wife Sarah. James is the elder sibling of Tara, the so-called "It Girl", and novelist Santa Montefiore. Delve deeper into the family history, though, and you discover that being "It", or a writer, are mere sidelines for the family. What the Palmer-Tomkinsons excel at is skiing. James's father, grandfather and uncles were all British champions – four in one family.

The mountain village of Klosters, in the Prattigau Valley, has been the "PT" winter home since before the Second World War. Klosters is where the various generations have honed their skills. It's also where the family have been photographed over the years skiing with their prominent – and often blue-blooded – pals.

However, over the past couple of years, James and Sarah have started introducing lesser mortals to Klosters and the sport of future kings. Which is how we four ended up at the resort, a two-hour drive from Zurich airport.

The PTs and their small team oversee the organisation of every aspect of every holiday: the hotel and restaurant bookings, airport transfers, piste hosting, running kids' weeks, even spa bookings. James is a former City accountant and stockbroker, but he doesn't sit in an office directing operations – he takes clients out to introduce them to the terrain.

On our first morning, he joined us on the Gotschnagrat cable car up the mountain. I asked why anyone would pack in a well-paid City job to run a ski company, and face the stress of a half-term week that entailed looking after the needs of 80 guests? His answer was swift: "Because I love Klosters and skiing, and I love showing the mountains to other people so they can experience what I've had."

We stepped from the cable car on to the Parsenn ski area. It boasts 307km of prepared pistes and links up with Davos (known for hosting the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum and more recently for being where the Clegg family ski).

This is intermediate heaven: lots of well pisted, wonderfully wide reds, a few blues and the odd – not too taxing – black. We embarked on James's favourite run: Number 24, offering opportunities for cruising, whizzing through forests and lunching at the welcoming Alte Schwendi restaurant.

But the real beauty of Number 24 is its place in a network of pistes enabling you to ski down one of the longest runs in the world – 12km, if you so wish and are fit enough. It's a 2,000-metre drop from the top to the bottom of the mountain, through glades and meadows until you hit the road and the railway station at Kublis. From here, you can rest your weary legs during the quarter-hour train journey back to Klosters. Trains depart at precisely 11 minutes past every hour and the journey is included in the area's lift pass.

Another PT favourite is to ski from Weissfluhjoch down a windy black run to Wolfgang for lunch at Hotel Kulm. A 10-minute bus ride takes you on to the sizable town of Davos – and a funicular railway takes you back up to the slopes on the Davos side of the mountain where there are further ski areas and a fun park.

However, what is arguably the biggest attraction for skiers in Klosters is what's on offer off-piste – numerous, easily accessible slopes, many hidden from lifts. For this part of the skiing holiday we hired a local guide: Belgium-born Denis, whose recent clients included the Duke of Norfolk, the financier Nat Rothschild and now us.

Although hard on the legs, our day off-piste was an experience worth booking ahead. On every slope Denis took us down, we appeared to be the first and only skiers on perfect powder. The mountain felt like ours alone. Given it was the February half-term week, it was surprising how crowd-free the area was and how few queues for lifts there were.

And all this time we'd been skiing without children. Our two were having a great time in the PT Ski children's groups which are age- and ability-specific, where as much emphasis is put on the pastoral care as the skiing. As well as an instructor, each group has a rep accompanying them, such as Sarah, herself a mother of four.

The couple are keen to get across that Klosters is not the flashy, glitzy Swiss ski resort many anticipate. "I'm careful to say it's a village and people who come here come primarily for the skiing," says Sarah. And it's true – for a famous resort, the village is understated. None of the wooden chalets and hotels is five-star. There are some good restaurants but just one nightclub. Klosters is a cosy, discreet sort of place, which is perhaps why the younger Royals now frequent the more happening, larger, Alpine resorts.

The other preconception about Klosters – that it is prohibitively expensive – also proved wrong. By the robust standards of half-term ski prices, our week's stay at the three-star Hotel Rustico was not exorbitant: £3,675 for four, including breakfast; during the same week, some friends spent significantly more on a ski trip to Spain for the same size party.

Admittedly, the Rustico's small bedrooms and tiny bathrooms were a challenge, especially as there was no communal area to spill on to, but the hotel did have a very good dining room and delicious fondue restaurant next door. The cost of lunch and meals on and around the slopes felt in line with French ski-resort prices.

What PT Ski offers is a bespoke and intimate introduction to Klosters. It has the feel of a country-house weekend where everyone is looked after very well. When I came to fill out the feedback questionnaire at the end of our stay, I felt as if I was writing a thank-you letter to a host, not an appraisal of a holiday I'd selected from a tour operator.

Travel essentials

Getting there

Siobhan Mulholland flew with Swiss (0845 601 0956; swiss.com) from Heathrow to Zurich. British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) and easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyJet.com) also fly to Zurich.

Staying there

PT Ski (020 7736 5557; ptski.com) offers a week-long B&B stay at the Hotel Rustico, for two adults and two children, including transfers to and from Zurich, from £3,210. Ski passes for two adults and two children costs £700. The children's all-day ski classes cost £485 each for five days, including lunches. A local ski guide costs £227 for one day.

More information

Davos-Klosters: davos.ch

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn