Short Break Ski Holidays in Verbier
There is only one phrase to describe Verbier ski resort: “Go hard or go home.” This applies to both the skiing, with some of the gnarliest skiable terrain in the world on your doorstep, and the nightlife, which is almost as legendary as the powder. This is one of the great alpine resorts. Verbier accommodation’s old exclusivity and soaring popularity have led to some inflated prices in resort, but despite almost continuous development the town has retained its beauty and indigenous charm. The resort is large, both in terms of the village itself and Verbier skiing terrain, and holds a sunny panoramic setting with great views down to the valley below. The nightlife, like the pistes, is lively and varied. If you’re looking to ski Verbier, be aware that this is definitely not a resort for the faint-hearted.
Verbier skiing’s recent investment in new fast lifts is only a tiny detail in this cult resort’s appeal, which is mostly based on serious off-piste and testing mogul fields. Anyone not quite ready for that level of skiing will also find some beautiful pistes and less-daring descents, although be prepared to progress pretty quickly if you really want to sample all that Verbier skiing has to offer. Beginners should start away from the main runs in the Les Esserts area and, from there, progress onto the easy meandering blues on Savoleyres. There are slow ski zones at La Chaux and Tournelle to help you build confidence and a special children’s area in Les Moulins. Intermediates can claim about 40% of all Verbier ski resort’s pisted runs, while the other 40% are better suited to the experts. Cautious intermediates will enjoy the sun-drenched and less crowded Savoleyres side of town too, plus the more challenging slopes down to La Tzoumaz on the other side. The Lac de Vaux from the top of the Medran lift is good for a blast and there are plenty of fun red runs for strong intermediates spread across all Four Valleys, although some can be harder to reach if you don’t want to take the lift. Boarders may not enjoy a lot of the long flat run outs, but for advanced skiers, the marked but unpisted itinerary routes represent the major draw, with one in particular, the Tortin Wall, topping many a “World’s Scariest Descents” list. Head “off the back of Mont Fort” (down the North Face) for a very big, very steep and very black mogul run or over to the Mont Gele for two other awesome itineraries. Verbier skiing offers unlimited back country options, but every square foot can and does get skied, so you’ll have to get up early to beat the local shovel-and-probed-up ski bums to the best powder.
The 4 Vallées lift pass covers 412 km in Haute-Nendaz, Siviez - Mont-Fort, Veysonnaz, Thyon / Les Collons, Verbier, La Tzoumaz, Bruson and Evolène with each of the ski areas offer distinctively different skiing. In Verbier expect cruising blues combined with Mont Gelé, where, from its 3023m summit, a multitude of ski runs will give even the most hardened experts a run for their money. Bruson offers a tree lined escape from any low cloud conditions. La Tzoumaz brings you a large selecton of runs dropping into the trees and finally Mt Fort which will keep the more expert skiers entertained for hours.
Après ski Verbier style usually takes the form of a bar crawl from the top of the resort down to the Place Centrale. At the top is (“Still the original, still the best,”) still the Mont Fort Pub for happy hour from 4-5pm. If you’re not rushing home for dinner at the Verbier chalets, make your way down the road, where next up is Le Farinet, a classy affair with a balcony overlooking the town centre. After that you’ll reach the central hub of T-Bar, Crok No-Name Bar, Murphy’s Bar and the upmarket Kings Bar and Lounge. If you’re on the Savoleyres side of town, slide off the slopes straight into Bar 1936, where the fantastic atmosphere comes from live music and lots of shots. Quieter drinks can be had at Milk Bar, which does fantastic hot chocolate and cake, or at the Chez Kamel tea rooms. For all-night partying, take your pick of the Icebox or Casbah, or if you’re pockets are deep enough, the Farm Club, all of which stay open until 5am.
Verbier ski resort, being a large cosmopolitan town, has an impressive cultural scene nestled between its ski slopes and bar stools. You’ll find a total of four museums and three art galleries, plus a cinema showing mostly English language films. The shopping is pretty good with everything from trinket shops to Prada boutiques, plus plenty of good ski shops. If you’ve still got the energy, the fitness and sports centre has a swimming pool, squash and tennis courts, a sauna, whirlpool, solarium and ice rink. Outdoor enthusiasts should try ice climbing, snow shoeing or cross country skiing and there are also 16km of winter walking trails across the beautiful mountains. Don’t miss a go on the 10km long toboggan run from Savoleyres to Tzoumaz.
There are over 40 dining options supplying the vast Verbier accommodation and offering plenty to whet the appetite. For authentic Swiss fondue, you can either head to the Sonalon or book a skidoo pick up to take you halfway up the mountain to La Marmotte. Al Capone’s has great pizza whilst vegetarians and anyone looking for good value should follow their après with a delicious meal En Bas (Downstairs) at Pub Mont Fort. For something a bit different, Chez Kamel has a full curry menu and a buffet on Friday and Saturday or try the sushi bar at the Hotel Garbo, which also has a mid-priced brasserie. The King’s Restaurant has great seafood and game. For the best in gourmet dining, let Roland Pierroz, one of Switzerland’s most renowned chefs and holder of 19 Gault Millau points, dazzle your taste buds at his self-titled eatery, or try La Pinte du Rosalp and its award-winning Le Baravin winebar.
Verbier skiing boasts 30 mountain restaurants over the whole domain so there are plenty of places should you feel the need for a pitstop. When the weather’s bad, most skiers head for the cosy interior of the Cabane Mont Fort on the Gentiane to La Chaux, otherwise the sun terrace is the place to be. Savoleyres has a lot of good places to stop; the Buvette de la Marlenaz and La Marmotte are particularly good for lunch on a sunny balcony. Booking is recommended at the classic Chez Dany, where the food is as good as the amazing views, or stop for a gluhwein and cake whilst waiting for the bus back to Verbier at Wax Bar.