Where to Ski And Snowboard -

Verbier: dress to impress

18th February 2011, by Chris Gill

Don't overlook sunny Savoleyres  [(c)Verbier_S-Bernard]

Don't overlook sunny Savoleyres [(c)Verbier_S-Bernard]

Verbier is an international favourite and long-standing cult resort with British skiers to the Four Valleys. The combination of serious freeride terrain with a lavish nightlife is reason enough for it to appear on many people’s shortlists. Ease of access from Geneva by car or public transport adds to its attraction as a top Swiss weekender. Add a dash of high altitude slopes, stunning scenery, a youthful and fashionable crowd and a spot of name-dropping and you have a compelling outing – albeit an expensive one.

Prices certainly reflect that popularity, in our top ten of the most expensive to eat and drink. But that does not deter the avid ski bum wanting to impress his sofa bound friends with tales of derring-do, and on Friday nights you’ll find the Place Centrale buzzing with weekend arrivals.

Getting there

Verbier is about 90 minutes drive (160km) from Geneva airport, although the route can get congested at weekends so allow extra time. Fly with SWISS (www.swiss.com/uk) from Heathrow to avoid ski carriage charges. Parking in Verbier is difficult, so you may prefer to use public transport or leave the car in Le Châble. Onward travel by rail from Geneva means changing at Martigny for the local St Bernard Express to Le Châble – from where a gondola or bus connects goes up to the resort. Tickets cost from £76 return (based on March fares).

Staying there

Verbier has a lot of upmarket properties, with few budget options. Staying near the Place Centrale or Médran is best for convenience. The 3-star Farinet is a Brit-managed hotel above its lively après-ski bar and cocktail lounge. Prices start at £390pp for three nights, with White Roc (www.whiteroc.co.uk). The contemporary 4-star Nevaï is popular, next door to the exclusive Farm Club and central for the bars and restaurants. White Roc and Flexiski can tailor-make breaks here. Another Flexiski favourite is the more simplistic but elegant Hotel Vanessa. At the top-end, a stay at the gorgeous Chalet d’Adrien in the peaceful Savoleyres part of the resort starts at £690pp mid-season.

Skiing there

With just two or three days the local lift pass is probably sufficient unless you want to spend a day exploring the Four Valleys. A three-day Verbier pass costs 175 SF. Experts will want to tick off the good and the greats of Mont Fort’s moguls, the Tortin steeps and Vallon d’Arby – a favourite itinéraire of ours. Piste skiers should head for Col des Gentianes first thing and its splendid red run, rarely overcrowded and a great blast beneath the crags to La Chaux. Save some time for the separate Savoleyres area too: it’s a good introduction to powder when present and the long sheltered runs to La Tzoumaz suit intermediates well.

The best lunch spots include the lovely Cabane Mont-Fort, commanding a fabulous viewpoint. Chalet Carlsberg is handy mid-piste at Attelas, with good Alpine food and meat dishes, and Ruinettes has the pricey but smart table-service Cristal. But Chez Dany is the ultimate Verbier stop-off, tucked away with classic food and a rustic charm.

Après-skiing there

Verbier partying takes place mostly in the resort rather than mountain huts, although stopping for a beer in Chalet Carlsberg or the Rocks Bar at Ruinettes before the last run down is a good plan to avoid the crowds. In town, the Farinet rocks at teatime often with live bands and dancing. Pub Mont Fort, King’s and Big Ben Pub are Brit favourites. Later on the swanky club scene takes over. The Moroccan-themed Casbah is open until 4am. The Coco Club is the fashionable (and expensive!) place to bop the night away, along with the Farm Club. Verbier has plenty to offer the discerning diner too, from gourmet to pizzas. If you do nothing else, though, take a snowmobile trip up the mountain to La Marmotte for an evening meal followed by a torchlit descent.



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