The Swiss mountain village of Verbier has established itself as one of Europe’s most glamorous winter ski resorts, attracting famous faces and world-renowned brands to its exclusive slopes.
Once the apres-ski is truly over, it’s worth hanging around to discover the quieter side the summer months bring. At this time of year, sustainable slow-food and alternative outdoor pursuits step into the spotlight.
In the warmer months, Verbier is a sun-soaked sanctuary sandwiched 1,500 metres up in the Swiss Alps. Perched on a sunny, south-facing plateau, with dramatic views of Massif des Combins (one of the highest peaks in the Alps), the green mountains flourish in the sunshine and allow for an entirely new way to experience the destination. Maintaining its excellent reputation for adrenaline-fuelled outdoor sports year-round, swap skis and snow boots for e-bikes, golf clubs, climbing ropes, and paragliding parachutes whilst enjoying world-class hospitality.
THE PACKING EDIT
The Lodge is part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition portfolio of unique retreats. One of region’s most elite private chalets, discreetly situated just two minutes from the centre of town, it is generally only available to book on an exclusive-use basis. This makes The Lodge perfectly private whilst conveniently close by to all Verbier has to offer.
Offering captivating views over the stunning Swiss Alps, the property is ideally set up for the winter months with a ski and snow boot room, outdoor hot tub and warming spa, and steam room. However, it’s The Lodge’s resident team who believe the place truly comes to life in the summer. With a choice of nine suites and bedrooms, the traditional Alpine chalet-style property has a luxurious interior and a friendly team on hand, including Michelin-trained chefs and a spa therapist. In short, you can focus on what you enjoy the most whilst being catered to 24/7.
W Hotel Verbier
Marriot’s W Hotel brings the brand’s edgy, cosmopolitan vibe to the Swiss Alpine retreat of Verbier. 1,531 meters up in the mountains, stay in one of the 123 rooms, each of which feature a fireplace, private balcony, and signature W bed. The hotel is moments from the village’s buzzy bars and designer stores and allows instant access to over 400 km of hiking terrain throughout the summer months.
The hotel’s collection of six restaurants makes it a magnet year-round. Notably, this includes the popular fine-dining W Kitchen – using local foods and adding a contemporary twist to reflect the future-forward hotel brand the menu is best summed up as ‘modern local cuisine’. On bright, summer evenings, start your night outside on the deck for a pre-dinner aperitif overlooking the mountains beyond before moving into the sleek dining space.
Eat + Drink
Lower down the valley from Verbier is the village of Vollèges. Built around its 500-year-old bell tower, the ancient Swiss village is considered the capital of the wine-producing region. Additionally, the villagers have set up their very own brewery, making it the perfect place to sample local beers.
Take a tour of the humble micro-brewery, and enjoy a beer tasting paired with local cheeses and cured meats. A passion project of the local community, the brewery was set up by a group of eight colleagues who have a love for malt and hops; they meet on the first and third Friday of the month to produce their beer.
Situated a little lower down on the other side of the valley in Bruson is the Raclett’house. Founded by Eddy Baillifard (considered a local ambassador of this typical Valais cheese) his restaurant pretty much does what it says on the tin: serving the most delicious raclettes. Throughout the summer months, this popular spot is where the locals settle themselves for lazy lunches sipping on refreshing lagers whilst indulging in all the cheese.
The cheese-championing restaurant specialises in regional dishes with a variety of melted cheese raclettes on offer from a goat’s cheese to a truffle infused option. There is also the opportunity to buy and take home your own cheese to enjoy back home.
Looking over Verbier on the Planards is restaurant, La Marmotte. Surrounded by the ringing bells of the cattle that graze the higher parts of the mountain in the summer months, this charming chalet hideaway offers beautiful views of Verbier from above.
A traditional wooden Alpine building, perfectly situated along a popular hiking route, La Marmotte makes a great refreshment stop off to enjoy local dishes such as open-fire raclette, fondues, and röstis in a typical Valaisan atmosphere. A truly authentic experience.
The destination to try the local’s signature potato röstis is Le Carrefour, which is said to be the oldest restaurant in Verbier. Set on the Carrefour ski slope, in the summer its location adapts perfectly to hungry golfers positioned at the top of the Golf de Verbier course.
With an outdoor terrace that offers some of the best views of Verbier, the fun restaurant is known for its plates of delicious rich röstis, alongside fondues and steaks. Crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, Carrefour’s potato röstis are finely shredded and browned in the pan and come with a variety of meat or vegetable options. The popular signature rösti is paired with a cut of venison and deliciously rich café de Paris sauce.
Horse and Cart Fondue: Ferme des Moulins
Starting and finishing at the village of Ferme des Moulins, at the base of the valley in Sembrancher is this novel horse and cart fondue tour. A new way to experience the destination whilst enjoying the traditional Swiss cheese fondue paired with local wines, the two-hour moving culinary experience crosses local villages and meadows in a chariot drawn by three horses.
E-bike cycling tour
If the concept of cycling the mountains sounds stressful, then e-bikes are your answer. An inclusive way for everyone to peddle around the valleys of Val de Bagnes, e-bikes allow for as much (or little) effort as your desire. With over 800 kilometres of scenic cycling trails (both on and off road), an e-bike tour allows you to peddle effortlessly from one picturesque village to another. Follow the Dranse de Bagnes river, and you’ll come across villages of Lourtier, Fionnay, Sarreyer, and Bonatchiesse for moments of calm. Here, Swiss time stands still with locally produced slow food dishes and relaxed locals, enjoying the warmer conditions.
Hiking is a great way to explore the slopes in the summer months whilst abundant with colourful flowers and lush grasses. Lac des Vaux is one of the most popular routes for summer hikes. With two gleaming mountain lakes, it offers a perfect spot for a picnic, fishing trip, or wild swim above Verbier and La Tzoumaz. At around four hours in total, The Grand Tour of Lac des Vaux takes you back to La Tzoumaz through the great wilderness of the Vallon d’Arbi. With its crystal-clear waters, the lake is home to rainbow trout and snapper which attract fly and grasshopper fishing enthusiasts.
Instead of launching yourself down a snow-covered mountain, take to the skies on a paragliding flight. An activity for those in search of an adrenaline rush, it’s an unforgettable way to take in the sprawling valley from above. Many of the take-off spots (Les Ruinettes, Savoleyres, and La Croix-de- Coeur) offer more than 1,400 metres of vertical descent, landing at the bottom of the Val de Bagnes, in Le Châble.
For more information about Verbier visit www.verbier.ch. Return direct flights from London Heathrow to Geneva start from £80 with SWISS AIR.