Verbier, Switzerland

 

Verbier is undeniably the best ski resort in the Alps. Not only is it stunning (I mean, isn’t that a given with any city, town or village in Switzerland?), but it also succeeds in manifesting the time-honored “Swiss” character – which is something that I LOVE.  You can ski some one of the best mountains in the world in the winter or hike in the summer.

 

What to see?

Yes, the skiing is great in Verbier, but there’s a lot more you can see and do here. You can try mountain biking, take on the wonderful hiking route of Croix de Coeur, or take a day trip to the beautiful lakes such as Lac de Louvie and Lac des Vaux.  The hiking trails are aplenty, with options for every age and ability.

If you happen to find yourself traveling between the Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald or Adelboden areas and Verbier, be sure to set aside about 3 hours to do the Oeschinen Lake (Oeschinensee) hike.  The hike begins at Kandersteg, where you can park at the base of the mountain and begin the 2.5 mile hike up to the top.  You can park at the gondola station east of Kandersteg (Gondelbahn Kandersteg Oeschinensee, located at Oeschistrasse 50, 3718 Kandersteg) and follow the signs up the path from there.   The lake at the top of the mountain is quite possibly one of the most beautiful things you will ever see in your life. This stunning, pale turquoise blue lake filled with glacial water is surrounded by cavernous cliffs on three sides and opens up to a meadow on the side facing town.  There are two restaurants on the edge of the lake where you can stop for a refreshing beer or eat lunch after the hike.  

This hike is appropriate for beginners, but if you can’t handle the hike or are pressed for time, you can take the gondola up for about $20.  To save time, we hiked up the mountain and took the gondola back down.  My clear recommendation if you are traveling either from the Lauterbrunnen area or through Lauterbrunnen to Verbier is to take the Lötschberg train car from Kandersteg to Goppenstein through the mountain to Verbier.  Like nothing you’ve probably ever experienced, the Lötschberg train through the Lötschberg Base Tunnel is a trip!  You drive your car onto a train car where you turn off the engine and ride in complete darkness through an entire mountain, dumping you off in an entirely different part of Switzerland—so different in fact that you can immediately notice the change in topography, flora and fauna.  In just 30 minutes you go from bright green fields and snow-capped mountains with everything in German to rolling hills, wine country and everything in French.

Where to stay?

My hands-down favorite is the relatively new W Verbier, which is a ski on ski off property.  The hotel is extremely modern, has a super fun vibe and the rooms are divine.  As a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member, they upgraded me to one of their fourteen sweets, which was a valley-facing room with high ceilings—high enough to have a second living room loft—a separate living area, two bathrooms, two closets, a see-through fireplace that separates the living space from the sleeping area, and a giant balcony with loungers and separate seating areas.  The rooms not only have all the amenities you could ask for (a huge min-bar selection, free coffee and tea, and all the toiletries you could think of) but are entirely tech-friendly: everything from the blinds to the in-room dining menu, the TVs, lights and Bluetooth music player are all accessible by a global remote that can open the curtains, turn on the TV and change the lights with the touch of a button. 

 

To add a cherry on top, the restaurants had wonderful food and the super sleek and stylish bar not only showcased great craft cocktails but also had a cigar room out on the balcony.  And the staff—well, anyone who frequents high end resorts knows that the staff can sometimes make or break a stay.  Pablo checked us in and was an absolute delight.  And Sophie, our bartender, kept us company when it was quiet and gave us hiking and restaurant recommendations.

Maybe the bright colors and the playful attitude of the W isn’t for you? If you want a place that has prime access to the slopes but still has that Swiss feel, Le Chalet de Flore and The Hotel Mirabeau are great options. If you’re looking for a more authentic experience and don’t intend on skiing hard, then look no further than The Nevai, the Bristol and the Central Hotel to experience a true Alpine stay.  

Where to eat?

There’s an abundance of old taverns and stylish restaurants in Verbier to make sure your taste buds are always satisfied. Craving classic Swiss? The cute mountain restaurant, Chez Dany is the best option. In the mood for some French delicacies? Let the elegant La Channe spoil you. And because no American can live without a freshly-baked cheese pizza, I’ll also plug the Italian restaurant, Le Dahu.  

If you’re looking for fine dining, The Kitchen at the W is just as good as any Michelin star restaurant.  We even stumbled upon the restaurant at the golf course after we were coming back from our hike, and were surprised to find out that the food was incredible!  We enjoyed two types of fondue—mushroom and chili pepper—while sipping on much-earned pints of beer before continuing down the mountain to our hotel.

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Happy Travels!

xoxo Lauren

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Mandapa, a Ritz Carlton Reserve
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