In Europe and Asia there is a strong connection between ski resort development and the royalty of various nations.
Being a keen skier (oddly, you don’t hear of many royal boarders…) seems to be a part of royal life with royal families in countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain and Japan helping their local ski resorts by publically endorsing and staying by the slopes, whilst the British, Dutch and Saudi royals just enjoy a good ski trip.
The connection between royalty and skiing goes back to the earliest years of the sport and is also connected to the spread of the sport around the world. For example, the late Shah of Iran helped develop the ski resorts in his country before he was ousted in the Islamic revolution, and there are still some of the world’s highest ski slopes there as a legacy to him. And his neighbor, the late King Hussein of Jordan, reputedly had an artificial surface ski slope in one of his palaces.
So where should you go to stay where the royal’s stay?
Well in Spain’s case it’s the top resort in the Pyrenees, Baqueira Beret, you need to head for and in particular an enclave known aptly as La Pleta de Ley (or ‘the King´s hamlet’). The Spanish Royal Family own a chalet there so unless you get an invite it’s hard to actually stay in the same building. Your best hope is to get in the singles line at the chairlift and see if you can get in alongside keen skier Prince Felipe, Spain’s next king, along with his sisters Princesses Elena and Cristina, who you may spot on the slopes surrounded by skiing bodyguards.
The Brits, particularly Prince Charles, have traditionally headed to Swiss resort Klosters and the five-star Walserhof hotel, but more recently the younger generation have been popping up at ski areas around the world, including a post-wedding escape by Prince William and Kate Middleton to Skoki Lodge in the backcountry near Lake Louise in 2011. They were following a trend among British Royals to head West to North American ski areas. Every now and then, following his abdication, King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson rolled into The Homestead in Virginia, although that was 30 years before ski lifts were built there and they weren’t the first famous guests either, as future president George Washington had already signed the guestbook.
Unsurprisingly however St. Moritz again is the top destination for the world’s royal families, most choosing to stay at one of its five five-star luxury hotels. The intimate and secluded Suvretta House with its Prada clad private ski school, is a particular favorite and excellent skier King Carl Gustav of Sweden is one of the regular visitors.