Valais

Verbier Overview

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Overview

At the centre of the Four Valleys, one of the largest ski areas in Europe, Verbier has everything a top-class winter-sports resort should have. The chalet-style village perches atop a sunwashed plateau and provides views of the majestic mountain peaks. It's a veritable eldorado for any snowsport fan, and the skiing area stretches from 1,500 to 3,330m. Thanks to the height and fine snow conditions, 93 lifts let you access 412 km of runs. Mont-Fort or Mont-Gelé and other legendary routes make every ski ace drool. Novices and experts alike will find exactly the kind of skiing they are looking for here. Verbier offers a rich variety of restaurants, shops, bars and discos.

Airports

The resort is serviced by two airports - the local Sion and the international Geneva, with destinations all over the world. 

Sion Airport (40km) 60 minutes by road. Mainly a military airport and is principally served by lowcost Snowjet from London Stansted.

Geneva Airport (160km) 1hr50 by road; +41(0)227-177-111. A third of the flights to this international airport are by easyJetUnited Airlines serves Washington- Dulles, JFK and Toronto.

Trains

There is the super-efficient Swiss railway network that takes you to Martigny linked via the international rail network to London and Paris. Swiss national railway (SBB) times are on www.cff.ch. Travel on public transport in Switzerland is pretty easy.

Transfers

There are a host of taxi firms that arrange transfers of varying degrees of luxury from shuttle buses at CHF 49 alpineexpress.com to the new prestige service www.alpinecab.com. If you want to combine thrilling views of the Swiss mountain scenery and a quicker journey, private helicopters are available for upwards of CHF 3,000 for an exclusive service from Geneva. A gondola takes you straight from the heliport to the heart of the resort. Shared helicopter services are also available at www.whitetracks co.uk

Getting around

There is a public bus system within the resort with free shuttle buses every quarter of an hour. The resort is relatively compact and walkable. It is not car free but car use is restricted so walking in the centre is a pleasure.

Transportation

High-end

Chalet d'Adrien is a five star hotel at the foot of the slopes for the visitor who wants to be pampered in a traditional setting. The facilities include everything you would expect including fitness club health spa and swimming pool. The hotel will organise a private lunch for you in their own refuge at 2250 metres taking you there and back in a dog sled. The views across the mountains and Verbier are sensational.

Contact: +41(0)277 716200; info@chalet-adrien.com

Nevai is a four-star hotel in the centre of the resort. This thoroughly Zen space has 33 bedrooms and two penthouses plus spa area sauna and treatment rooms. Rooms are available only in blocks of seven nights in the high season of December and February. Rooms from 350SF to 600SF per night including breakfast. Close to the slopes but with an efficient  shuttle if you want it.

Contact: +41 (0)277 754000; nevaihotel@kingsverbier.ch

Mid-range

Hotel Phenix is located near the resort centre. It has a good bar with an excellent range of local wines and a south facing terrace. The resort bus stops outside the hotel and takes you straight to the lifts. Rooms around 275SF per night.

Contact: +41 (0)277 716844; hotel@phenix-verbier.com

Economy

Escale is a small family hotel and restaurant run by the Zuchauat Fiorina family. Basic accommodation at basic prices but only two minutes' walk from the gondola that takes you up to Les Ruinettes. 70CH a night.

Contact: +41 (0)277 762707; info@restaurantlescale.ch

Chalet rental

The Lodge is Richard Branson's idea of a skiing paradise. There is room for 18 guests and up to six children. Rooms may be rented individually when the whole chalet is not taken, notably in December at 2890-00 GBP for three nights. Branson himself stays here for a fortnight over the New Year. There is a spa and fitness centre as well as play and games area. Outside the Lodge has its own private ice rink ideal for curling. Food is prepared by Gerwin Brand who trained with Raymond Blanc at the Manoir des Quat'saisons. Probably the most expensive chalet in the Alps.

Contact: +44 (0)208 6000430; enquiries@virginlimitededition.com

For a wide choice of chalet and apartment rentals see verbier.ch or for sales see suisee-romande.com

Restaurants

Verbier has an excellent reputation for the quality and range of cuisine available through its 60 or so restaurants.

Breakfast

The Mont Fort Igloo is the highest igloo bar in Europe at 3,300 metres. For the breakfast of a lifetime take the cable cars to the summit of the Mont Fort and have coffee while you take in the 110 different peaks from Wildhorn, via the Diableret, the Jungfrau, the Weisshorn, the Matterhorn  and of course Mont Blanc.

The Cristal offers an excellent brunch from 8 a.m until 10 a.m at a mere 2,200 metres. This is the much revamped Les Runiettes restaurant.

In the resort itself non-residents can breakfast on the rather smart terrace of the Chalet Adrien where they serve breakfast from a very business-like 7.30 a.m until a more leisurely 10.30 a.m.

Lunch

Chez Dany offers the best authentic mountain cabin restaurant with a fine terrace. Dogs, children and vegetarians welcome and well catered for. Specialities pumpkin soup with cream and country bread, fondue, fillet steak with morel mushrooms. Chemin de Clambin, 1936 Verbier +41(0)27-771-2524

The King's Restaurant in the King's hotel in the village centre. Recommended by Gault Millau. Specialities include a delicious Burratta - a mozzarella case round a soft cream cheese centre - or the risotto with truffles and mushroom sauce. Rue de la Poste, 1936 Verbier +41(0)27-775-2035

Dinner

La Table d'Adrien with a Michelin star, where Marco Bassi has recently won the final of the Taitenger culinary competition. It is the ultimate Verbier dining experience. The menus have a strong Italian flavour with eight different ways of eating sardines and venison with sangria.

Le Carrefour is not to be confused with the supermarket chain of the same name. The Carrefour is perfect for lunch while on the slopes and when you want an evening fine-dining experience. Known for its range of cheese fondues and traditional Valasian specialties. You can hire a room for a private party if you want. Route du Golf 95, 1936 Verbier +41(0)277-715-555.

There is a more relaxed atmosphere at the Fer a Cheval pizza restaurant and bar  in the centre of town with a terrace in the sun by day and a lively atmosphere at night. Rue Medran, 1936 Verbier +41(0)277-712-669.

Harold's Burger Bar, also in the centre, is the ultimate refuge from the expensive Swiss Franc whilst at the same time eating well. Fine hamburgers are cooked to order for around CHF 10. At the same time you can use the internet connection and watch important sporting occasions on the wide screen.

Apres-ski

If it is celebrity spotting that concerns you and money is no object  then try the genuinely world famous and seriously expensive Farm Club.

Otherwise the best dancing is at the Casbah nightclub. Located at the Hotel Farinet. Open every night, it is decorated to look like a Bedouin tent, with the award-winning Rock-Bar (hosted by DJ de Douche) next door.

The Pub Mont-Fort (named after the local peak) is a short trudge towards the top of the resort and is probably the best 'sessioning' venue for the younger set (under 30s). Party goers have been known to try to ski down the short flight of stairs to basement area which requires a very sharp parallel turn before the wall beckons.

As you leave the Mont-Fort at 4 a.m you can stop by at the side window of the local bakery and buy a croissant or fresh bread on your way home.

Terrain

The Mountain

With 410 kilometres of runs and 89 lifts covered by a single lift pass, Les 4 Vallées ski area is big. Its wealth of activities, reliable snow cover and sunny slopes make it an exceptional place to ski. From the top of the Mont-Fort glacier (3,330 m) to the kindest blue run the ski area is a paradise for all  whether expert or beginner. Open from early November until the end of April, it links the resorts of Verbier, La Tzoumaz and Bruson, as well as Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon. Verbier is now officially the Verbier-St Bernard ski region.

Although the possibilities for skiing and snowboarding are endless it is not quite the seamless web of ski areas that you find in Les 3 Vallées in France. A guide is a good investment to avoid queues and tracked out off piste runs.

Take the opportunity whilst you are in the resort, if you don't get vertigo, to clamber up the last few metres to the top of the Mont Fort from the cable car and enjoy the amazing views. Not for nothing has Verbier attracted film makers and photographers over the years. You can get up there by cable car without skis if necessary.

Freeriders


Verbier is famous for off-piste skiing. The better your skiing, the more the resort comes into its own. Easier blue and red skiing can be found in the central  valley area but on the whole this is an intermediate/expert rather than beginner resort.

Of the many steep runs, you'll remember skiing from the top of Mont Fort forever. It starts as a precipitous mogul field, the challenge is how early you get into your tuck as it begins to flatten into a very smooth glacier motorway run where even the worst skiers can look stylish. It is one of the steepest runs in the Alps and you need to know what you are doing. The other signature ski run for the hardy is Tortin, a cold north-facing mogul field which eventually turns into an easy undulating ride down to another sector of the 4  Vallées. Over on the Mount Gelé at 3030m is another vertiginous run that rewards the skilful and is apt to paralyse the inexperienced.

Heli-skiing is a great option in this resort famous for its freeriding. Just because you get there by helicopter does not mean that the skiing available is only for experts. Trips can be arranged to provide ‘a gentle powder smoothie' for all the family.

Groomers and Families

There is a dedicated children's area in Verbier at Les Esserts with a magic carpet. There's also a separate area for children at Les Moulins with gentle nursery slopes. There are good runs for beginners - Savoleyres and La Tzoumaz through the trees. To be sure of better snow it pays to pluck up courage and go up to La Chaux where you'll find plenty of blue runs.

Once you have made a bit of progress it all becomes a lot more enjoyable as the occasional red sections that link the blue runs seem less daunting. The long run from Attelas to Verbier (1224m) is particularly enjoyable for groomers but it can get a bit hectic at the end of the day with experienced skiers zooming home. Bruson, a short (free) bus ride form Verbier is a quiet area away from the crowds and good for families.

There are no less than eight ski schools and no shortage of instruction in English. Warren Smith, the founder of the famous annual Verbier Ride free ski event, runs his innovative Warren Smith Ski Academy here and has a reputation for bringing on hesitant intermediate skiers. He also runs special off piste lessons for those that really want to progress.

Parks/Pipes

There is now only one snowpark in the La Chaux area of the Four Valleys.  It is here that the annual Verbier Ride event is held every year. A  number of competitions are held throughout the season. There is an express ski lift to give maximum time in the park.

Four different points of access, each one taking a different line give access to a total of 20 modules. The first entrance with nine modules is for experts only. The second is black and has thirteen modules . The third entrance is blue. The fourth entrance gives access to the whole lower blue area of the park. There is a giant Big Air Bag available to everyone over the age of 12. This enables beginners to experience the really big sensations  without serious injury and the more experienced to try out different moves in complete safety. Each jump is filmed and can be accessed immediately on Swatch shoot my ride.

Inside Scoop

There are two spectacular skiing events held at Verbier: XSpeed and Verbier Ride. The XSpeed ski races where top speed skiers go from 3330m on the Mont Fort hitting speeds of 200km an hour are held in April. Verbier Ride, one of the top freeskiing competitions in the world, is held in the La Chaux snow park in January.

Not to be missed is the 10-kilometre-long toboggan run at La Tzoumaz with a drop of 848 metres - crash helmets required and children accompanied.

A must-do is a visit to the top of the Mont Fort with its unforgettable view so even if you are a beginner get up there before you leave and enjoy it. If you have a Four Valleys ski pass you will not have to pay extra for the cable car. For competent skiers there is the possibility of staying in the somewhat Spartan Cabane Mont Fort  at 2457 metres. The only access is on skis. Julien, who has been staying there for years told us "Amazing, you're on top of the world, sunset and sun rise over the clouds, the world of the everyday are little specks of light far below. You should come and see for yourself".

Plan Your Trip

Verbier Lodging
Ski Lessons

Best Time for Snow

Total Snowfall

132cm
83cm
55cm
28cm
5cm
5cm
Nov
93cm
Dec
65cm
Jan
43cm
Feb
110cm
Mar
25cm
Apr

Terrain Overview

31%
Intermediate Runs
48%
Advanced Runs
21%
Expert Runs
94
Runs in Total
412 km
Runs in Total
412 km
Skiable Terrain
3 ha
Snow Making
157 km
Snow Making

Total Lifts: 82

17
Gondolas & Trams
4
High Speed Sixes
8
Quad Chairs
2
Triple Chairs
3
Double Chairs
48
Surface Lifts

Elevation

3330m
Summit
1830m
Vertical Drop
1500m
Base

Important Dates

November 12, 20212021/11/12
Projected Opening
May 01, 20222022/05/01
Projected Closing
N.A.
Projected Days Open
N.A.
Days Open Last Year
N.A.
Years Open
841cm
Average Snowfall
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