Could there be such a thing as a World’s Best Ski Hotel? A certain establishment in the center of Verbier, that rarefied Elysium of winter sports resorts, thinks so. And by its own reckoning, the most effective ski hotel on the planet is itself.
To be fair, the lazily-named W has won the distinguished title of World’s Best Ski Hotel on the World Ski Awards for seven years in a row, including at this yr’s awards (and Verbier won World’s Best Ski Resort 2022, the second yr in a row it has claimed the accolade ). But stay there for 2 nights, as I did with my fiancée recently, and it’s clear that the hotel wholeheartedly endorses the judgment.
The attention-watering prices, for one thing, are the form of rates charged only by a hotel convinced of its own superiority. The lavish indulgence of space – huge windows overlooking the gorgeous mountains, large halls stuffed with modern art and quirky photo booths, a large forecourt ranked with supercars – demonstrates the swagger of a World’s Best. And all of the terrifyingly casual staff smile on a regular basis, particularly after they’re speaking, when it is a dazzle of tan and teeth.
A hotel, I feel, has its own character. If the W was a person, it could be a Euro jetsetter, a trust fund type with swept-back playboy hair and a shirt that shows a little bit of chest. You’d find it smoking a cigar and guffawing on the pavement outside a Mayfair club within the small hours of a Saturday morning and taking a bank card payment for the privilege. If it was a girl, it could be glamorous and cruel, with high heels that might pierce the tarmac without compromising their shine. If it was a dog, it could be an onyx-black Labrador with a really glossy coat and gourmet tastes. But it surely is none of this stuff. It’s a hotel and it wants your wallet.
The W Verbier (above) has won the distinguished title of World’s Best Ski Hotel on the World Ski Awards for seven years in a row, including at this yr’s awards. Jake Wallis Simons checks in to ascertain it out
Is it price handing it over? Let’s start with the situation. From the plate-glass windows, or the wonderful wood balcony with cradle-seats and attentive, smiling cocktail waiters, you may see the glittering mountains stretching out beneath you want a scene from early Bond.
The cable automotive from the station bisects the sky, depositing skiers in sleek, tailored gear very near the hotel. Stroll through the cavernous hall with the trendy art, up a number of shallow, carpeted steps and past the subtly-positioned reception desks – nod to the casually-dressed receptionist and accept her white smile – and onto the supercar-studded forecourt, and the ski lifts to the pistes are about 20 steps away. In the peak of winter, you may ski directly into the hotel.
Then there are the rooms. They’re done up in that high-end European style that’s all vivid colors, surprising windows between bathroom and bed, sliding screens, minimalistic desks and plates of carefully-positioned strawberries and chocolate on arrival. You simply realize it was designed by an architect with silver hair and spectacles with vivid yellow, chunky frames.
Jake writes: ‘A hotel, I feel, has its own character. If the W was a person, it could be a Euro jetsetter, a trust fund type with swept-back playboy hair’
The guests on the W Verbier? Some are ‘super-rich’ and ‘internationally recreational of their weltanschauung’, says Jake
The room given to my fiancée and me was probably the smallest within the hotel – the grandiose debauchery of space is reserved for the lavish foyer and the rooms inhabited by the sheikhs.
Which brings me to the clientele. After spending a little bit of time relaxing on the wide balcony overlooking the mountains, and dining within the restaurant, with its waiter that explains the story of the food with a smile – about which more later – I arrived at a conclusion in regards to the customer base that I think to be accurate.
Broadly speaking, there are two groups. The much smaller group consists of a community of people that live a life consistent with the W’s level of luxury. These persons are super-rich, internationally recreational of their weltanschauung. A hotel named after a letter of the alphabet, which charges a suitcase of money for an evening, to them, is normal.
The W Verbier, says Jake, serves breakfasts ‘that makes you want your stomach was several times the dimensions’
‘All of the terrifyingly casual staff smile on a regular basis,’ writes Jake, ‘particularly after they’re speaking, when it is a dazzle of tan and teeth’
The second, much larger group, is on the hotel as a treat. It’s populated by members of the upper-middle classes blowing 600 euro for an anniversary or who’ve booked a dinner on the restaurant without checking the costs and are attempting their best to not feel uncomfortable. These people look dressed to impress and so they incessantly flick their eyes to the left or the precise, searching for out the smaller group that belongs here, speculating on the sources of their wealth, marvelling at their fingerspitzengefuhl and attempting to imitate their style.
(The sources of their wealth, after all, is something we had higher not discuss here.)
To the slopes! After the form of breakfast that makes you want your stomach was several times the dimensions – such is the bewildering array of food, all of which you ought to eat, and the sight of which leaves you feeling barely guilty in a way you don’t understand – you get wearing your ski clothes and amble all the way down to the boot room.
‘The rooms (Wow Suite pictured) are done up in that high-end European style that’s all vivid colors, surprising windows between bathroom and bed, sliding screens, minimalistic desks and plates of carefully-positioned strawberries and chocolate on arrival,’ writes Jake
Jake says of the rooms: ‘You simply know [they were] designed by an architect with silver hair and spectacles with vivid yellow, chunky frames’
The ski lifts to the pistes are about 20 steps away, reveals Jake. Pictured is the amazing view from the Wow Suite
Strangely, the boot room, where your skis are held in a rack and your boots on shelves, is the one a part of the hotel that doesn’t speak of luxury. It speaks of the municipal sports centre changing room.
We also visited the four-star Hotel de Verbier down the road, and the boot room at that much smaller establishment – which has never been voted World’s Best – included lockers equipped with lovely, heated pegs on which to hold your boots, helmet, gloves and so forth. Not chill racks and shelves.
However the W is closer to the slopes. Clip-clop over the road, your skis hoisted in your shoulder, and you’re on the cable automotive leading up the mountain. There you meet your ski instructor – we used a number of from the nearby Altitude Ski School and so they were sensible – and take off into the blue.
The skiing in Verbier is beyond compare.
The skiing in Verbier (above) is beyond compare, says Jake, who describes the slopes as a ‘delight’
The pistes are all pisted, because it were, meaning that the black runs are freed from moguls (which yow will discover when you enterprise off-piste with fat skis). The slopes are a delight, from the broad, friendly blues to the perky reds to the narrow, steep blacks. A number of the lifts are sponsored by Prada, including the one nicknamed the ‘James Blunt’, who locals claim was once fellated on the lift within the chilly air at an altitude of about 100 feet.
There are wonderful restaurants and cafés in all places and also you see impossibly elegant Swiss carving beautiful lines along the hard icing of the snow, followed by a set of youngsters who appear like they were born on skis.
Yes, Verbier because the World’s Best Resort I can get behind, although you’re feeling your money evaporating minute by minute.
Jake writes: ‘There are wonderful restaurants and cafés in all places and also you see impossibly elegant Swiss carving beautiful lines along the hard icing of the snow, followed by a set of youngsters who appear like they were born on skis’
As Simon Wiget, director of Verbier Tourisme, told me: ‘Verbier is the last word destination for a ski holiday par excellence. We now have the most effective hotel, the most effective resort and the most effective snow. Come and join us!’
However the W because the World’s Best Ski Hotel? It depends what you want, I suppose.
Pierre-Henri Bovsovers, the overall manager of the hotel, said: ‘It’s because of the professionalism and fervour of our talents, in addition to the trust of our owners that [winning the World’s Best award] is feasible.
‘We’re always searching for to enhance, whether it’s by way of service, infrastructure or the hotel’s facilities, we’re all the time willing to go the additional step and we make the satisfaction of our guests our primary priority.’
OK. But take, for instance, the restaurant. A high-end menu comprised of international cuisine, beautifully presented. A wine list that struts its stuff within the stratosphere of monetary success. Subtle, smiling waiters with great fingerspitzengefuhl. You possibly can be anywhere on the jetset circuit, and I suppose that is why they prefer it. The circuit, wherever it exists, is their home.
The slopes? There are ‘friendly blues, perky reds and narrow, steep blacks’, Jake reveals
But elsewhere in Verbier you will discover rustic restaurants that serve raclette, which comes as a panel of grilled cheese on a plate, accompanied by a small, padded bag filled with boiled potatoes, which you eat with the cheese and feel ghastly and wonderful.
Elsewhere in Verbier you will discover Swiss wine, which is not that tremendous but you may boast about it upon your return. Elsewhere in Verbier – even in Verbier, which surely must even be the World’s Most Expensive Resort – you will discover bars that feel Swiss, and hotels (just like the cosy Hotel Verbier) that feel Swiss, and you should have a way that you just are in Switzerland, and you may enjoy that nourishing synergy between Dasein and geography. You get none of that on the W.
World’s Best? I do not know. It is a matter of taste. But personally, I’d forgo a World’s Best for a Switzerland’s Best any day of the week.
Jake was hosted by W Verbier, where rooms, on the time of writing, are priced from around £450 per night per room.
PROS: Proximity to the slopes. The swank factor. Ski-in-ski-out in winter. Your every need is catered for. Nice spa.
CONS: Expensive. Basic boot room with no heating or lockers. Anonymous luxury. You possibly can be anywhere on the planet.
For more details about Verbier visit verbier.ch.
SWISS operates as much as 180 weekly flights to Switzerland from London Heathrow, London City, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh (seasonal during summer) and Dublin from as little as £59 one-way (Economy Light fare only includes hand luggage). Sport equipment can travel at attractive prices with the all-inclusive fares. Visit swiss.com.
A 3-day adult lift pass for 4 Vallees is priced from 210chfs/ £170.