Magazine article The Spectator

Moving Up

Magazine article The Spectator

Moving Up

Article excerpt

Rougement

Palazzo Taki is finally ready and I moved into it last week. No sooner did I install myself, I began to feel like the Duce. The place is so big, it is 9 o'clock in my wife's bedroom and 11 o'clock in mine. Never mind. Walking never hurt anyone, especially on the flat. Just kidding, of course. It is the first time in 41 years that I'm living outside my beloved Gstaad, mind you, becoming less loved by the minute. Rougemont, in fact, is the exact replica of a long-ago Gstaad. There are no high-priced boutiques, no fancy hotels, and no nightclubs. Located in the canton of Vaud, it is a ten-minute drive from the Gstaad Palace, give or take a minute depending on the Ferrari traffic.

The views from the Palazzo are spectacular. Across my bedroom rises the Videmanette, the longest and highest mountain of the region. It was on the black run of the Videmanette, the one facing me, that Prince Sadruddin Khan, Nicky Rommel and I skied down in 1959 almost losing Caroline Townsend in the process. The black run is now closed, deemed much too dangerous. (If you fall in certain places you keep falling for 6,000 feet.) A good omen has been the snowfall. I have never seen so much of it in my lifetime, and I have been quick to take credit for it. `The Almighty ordered it to celebrate the opening of Palazzo T,' I told a Swiss farmer, who gave me a rather funny look in return.

Needless to say, I was very sad to leave my old chalet. My friend Arkie Busson, now married to Elle MacPherson and proud father of one-year-old Flynn, has rented it from me, but I got cold feet when he invited me for a drink the other day. Palazzo Taki is posh and extremely comfortable, with a gym, a Turkish bath, a proper dining-room and very large bedrooms, but it's not `the best', the name my friends gave my tiny chalet that reeks of a long-gone Gstaad. `The best' had no dining-room, a tiny kitchen, and we kept our suitcases under our beds, but everyone who visited fell in love with its unpretentiousness and its rustic charm. Oh well, there are worse things than moving up.

This is, of course, the height of the social season, with parties galore and high living until dawn. Last Sunday evening was typical. George Nicholson, as in Camper & Nicholson, gave a dinner for the newly established Gstaad Yacht Club. …

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