Our Little Gem

24 Apr 2015

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Interview with Gloria Theiler

Today for Leo’s ‘Featured Property’ we have a rather special feature, we have been lucky enough to speak to the owner of the fabulous ‘Chalet Eugenia’ in Klosters, Switzerland. Mrs Theiler is from South Africa and spent 37 years in the fashion industry before focusing on her and her husband’s property portfolio. Each property is unique, each is a home and each has a very special story.

After a year of Mr & Mrs Theiler’s purchase of Chalet Eugenia, Leo Trippi is lucky enough to have it on our Swiss Alp portfolio, today we will get an insight to re birth of this 11 bedroom chalet.

Gloria, we know of your dazzling fashion career, you definitely have the creative touch – what inspired you for the newly renovated Chalet Eugenia?

My husband and I bought the chalet a year ago (June/July 2013) so we are very new owners. I usually draw my inspiration from a beautiful environment, music, and in this instance, the mountains, & natural beauty surrounding the chalet, inside & out. – she is just a beautiful gem. Built in 1957, I wanted to re kindle what I could see had always existed in her from birth. My husband & I wanted to bring her back to life, to restore & emphasise the parts which we thought were most special. My previous career in fashion in South Africa revolved around beauty and creativity, so like all my homes, I pulled on my experience to create something special and unique.

Where do you source your interiors from? It must have taken some significant time to gather a collection for an 11 bedroom chalet.

When my husband and I bought the chalet, it operated as a 9 bedroom chalet, the other two bedrooms were kept for staff – at that time the staff lived in the chalet. This changed in that we decided to, instead of live in staff, rather have staff servicing her on a daily basis. We recruit a service team as and when the chalet is booked or as we require for our needs.

I came into Chalet Eugenia and started enhancing areas that I thought could be more pleasing to the eye. We have two homes in South Africa, one overlooking the Atlantic Ocean & the other perched along the cliffs of the Indian Ocean. Another on the lake of Lugano & a horse ranch just outside Zurich. All our homes I have decorated myself. I have my own style and flare & get a lot of pleasure from doing it myself.

All the beautiful antique furniture came with the sale of Eugenia.

I refurbished the entire house, painted, and introduced colour into the chalet. Having spent a considerable amount of time in the fashion industry, I love beautiful fabrics and most of my furnishings come from Italy, Switzerland and South Africa (my husband and I travel a lot) wherever we travel I buy beautiful things and artefacts and then surround myself with these in all of my homes.

I had a good base to work from with Chalet Eugenia, I added the cherries to the bits where the cake was falling apart, and I recreated it and made it mine!

How long has this project taken to complete?

We have had the chalet for just over a year, I have been working on it since we bought it however I have spent the last 6 months totally involved in this project. We live in Zurich and bought the chalet not only for our self-pleasure, but also because it serves as a good business. The previous bedrooms which were used as staff rooms are now children’s rooms, so we have a children’s section and an adults section.

When I do something it is part of my being, part of my lifestyle, because I love it and it is a passion – not a project. I love corners, cosiness, there are a lot of area in the chalet where I created a corner to relax & enjoy, everything is very warm and homely – you will never feel naked in a room.

All of our houses are homes, we treat them with great passion and care which is part of our lifestyle.

The penthouse suite and stunning dining room are just two of the main features of the house – do you have a favourite room?

Every room is my favourite. It depends on what I am doing. Every corner of this house I am totally passionate about yet, the penthouse unlike any of the other rooms, is one of the most exceptional rooms we have ever experienced. I have certainly brought out her best features now.

Chalet Eugenia includes a whole team of staff when rented, what lengths do you go to ensure that you have the best staff?

For the staff we recruit a few companies and then choose the best one, to do this we experience their services and decide personally. It depends on size of the party to how many people we employ, chef, hosts, and managers.

We want to keep the chalet very exclusive, it is not going to be rented to anyone, but rather to someone who understands & appreciates the lifestyle, the history, someone who is going to love & treat our home with as much care as we do.

Can you explain the ‘BBQ Kitchen’ – this sounds like an interesting concept?

The BBQ Kitchen was built with the chalet, we haven’t actually experienced the BBQ ourselves, it is in the central kitchen of the chalet. In total we have three kitchens, one is a true professional chef’s kitchen, adjacent to a prep & smaller private kitchen and then an intimate BBQ kitchen open to guests and very central in the house. A great place for kids & socialising, it’s a very cosy part of the chalet.

Your husband is from Switzerland, why from all the swiss ski resorts did you decide to build your home in Klosters – does it hold special memories for you?

We were introduced to Klosters for the first time, a year ago on a skiing holiday with our kids last Easter.

I have a friend who owns an apartment here and who has invited us several times. We have always been too busy, but last year took the opportunity to visit. We usually spend a lot of time in South Africa and always seem to miss the ski season as my husband prefers the warmth of Africa, but last Easter we decided to embrace the invitations and experiences.

I loved Klosters for the tradition that it has.

Unique to any other ski resort in its privacy & simplicity of what it is. I love small ordinary villages. This little village crept into our hearts, it was just perfect for us.

One day my husband skied with the kids and then got bored, we drove around the village, my husband being in the real estate business in Zurich & in our curiosity at available properties in Klosters, we discovered an advertised Eugenia, available for sale. Not having any idea of her location, we eventually found her hidden at the end of a private road and drove right up directly to her front door.

My husband very confidently knocked on the door and got told by an extremely friendly house manager to come back the following day for a viewing. Two hours after our viewing the decision was done to buy her. As soon as we walked in we knew this will be our new home. The village is beautiful, there are not too many people, it is so peaceful and quiet here and what caught our attention is the fact that you can ski in and ski out directly from the doorstep. If not skiing, you could watch the young kids being coached in the front of Eugenia. It’s a dream.

The special memory after a year now that we treasure is the year the chalet was built, 1957, which was the year myself, husband and Eugenia’s former owner were born. It was destined, we were meant to have her.

The most important thing to me was to bring her back to the state of wonderful being she was when she was born and to maintain her in this manner.

We would love to share her with people who appreciate her beauty and not just to anyone because they are able to afford her. You have to have some kind of emotional feeling to be able to enjoy this kind of chalet. We will choose our guests very carefully. We have chosen to work with Leo Trippi as we trust their relationship with guests and know that they believe in our direction and what we want and expect.

We trust Leo Trippi in their discretion to choose the appropriate guests for the pleasure she gives.

Thank you Gloria for your time and for letting us into Chalet Eugenia.

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