Switzerland - a nation blessed with majestic Alpine mountain panorama has been for centuries the most preferred snow tourism destination and India is one nation that Swiss tourism authorities are taking serious note of, largely due to India’s burgeoning clout as a financial powerhouse.
The signing of the Joint Statement during the visit of the Swiss President in the year 2017 and the visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Switzerland in 2018 further heightened the already cordial relations between these two great nations. The Indo-Swiss bonhomie is best reflected in the words of Prime Minister Modi thus: “A Long-Standing Dynamic Partnership”.
No wonder, every year an ever-increasing number of Indian tourists flock to Switzerland for their annual holidays and increasingly they are opting for Ski vacations and evolving their entry into the dynamic world of activity oriented tourism. It should come as no surprise that the Swiss Tourism Board is aiming a million Indian visitors by the year 2020.
These days Verbier boasts of perhaps some of the world’s top-notch ski “pistes” along with genuine Swiss chalet-architecture and blessed with an eclectic après nightlife scene, offering a bewildering array of ski holiday programs has literally catapulted Verbier as the ultimate ski & snow holiday destination.
Just imagine the scenario of hundreds of petite wooden chalets apartments and hotels built of wood on the backdrop of the stunning snow-clad Alpine mountains! Verbier’s panorama fixes you with a setting that would have existed centuries back. On a serious note, let me tell you, the town’s real-time development commenced only after the last World War with the introduction of the ski.
Verbier has always been tagged as the playground of the rich & the famous like some of the French high-end resorts, but the ingenuity of the Swiss hospitality mandarins to make Verbier more accessible to the average tourists has meant that today Verbier is so much more affordable!
The landscape is dramatic to say the least and the skiing zone powdery, with an exclusive beginner’s area right at the bottom of the mountain. For seasoned skiers, a plethora of bumps, and itinerary runs means that great names from the world of Ski are known to descend at Verbier round the year.
Ideally located in the Canton of Valais, Verbier is an integral constituent of the super exclusive “4 Valleys Ski Area”, with easy access to ski areas like Thyon, Nendaz, La Tzoumaz and Veysonnaz, which means that visitors to Verbier are actually holidaying in one of Switzerland’s largest ski area.
Off late, Verbier has been in the news for being billionaire business magnate Sir Richard Branson’s mountain retreat. Perched high up on the edge of the Swiss Alps, His Lodge offers nine stupendously done up bedrooms, each one of them classic Swiss gem, an in-house pool, hot tubs and a spa for rejuvenation. The bewitching beauty of Verbier is best summed up by Sir Branson himself:
Welcome to The Lodge! From the moment I saw it I knew this beautiful chalet in the Swiss Alps was destined to become my favourite mountain hideaway. I chose Verbier because it’s an amazing year round destination and offers world-class skiing, fabulous après-ski and everything you could wish for in a summer escape! Para-gliding, rock climbing, mountain biking... you name it! I hope you too will enjoy your experience at The Lodge as much as I always do.
Much of Switzerland is immensely rich in active tourism, and Verbier along with its surrounding Alpine towns have been the preferred zone for ultra rich Indian youngsters who venture out every year for not just adventure tourism, but exclusive “Summer Schools”.
Summer schools in the Swiss Alps offer global exposure, personality enhancing skills and grooming for children who one day will go on to run their family businesses or start their own business ventures. Verbier and its surroundings are dotted with exclusive summer schools and the combination of language, adventure sports and etiquette inoculation offer a truly global exposure to these wannabe business stewards. According to Sunita Aeren, wife of renowned Indian businessman Sanjeev Aeren: “My 16-year-old daughter wanted to go to Switzerland because she had never been to a summer camp abroad. Most parents opt for Switzerland because it also allows their children the opportunity to ski. For many, foreign summer camps are good grooming classes. My daughter is not an outgoing child, but she wanted to do something exciting this summer. This activity class in Switzerland is helping her open up and speak for herself.”
When it comes to the question of sustainability, the Swiss are way ahead of other nations and taking care of the environment and giving back is one of the hallmarks, so to say, about the Swiss people. Most of the hospitality properties and lodges are committed to sustainable development and hugely stress upon local community initiatives.
Apricots, strawberry and peaches grow in abundance in Verbier during the summer months and so jams are manufactured in abundance. While the world-famous Swiss cheeses are sourced from renowned cheesemakers - Roger and Marc Dubosson, the makers of the famous Raclette cheese that comes from the Canton of Valais and milk from the cows that graze on the Alpine meadows. What about drinking water? The Swiss Alpine mountains offer perhaps some of the freshest drinking water repositories available on Planet Earth! And there is a 100% ban on plastic bottles to pay heed.
Verbier isn’t all ski & snow. In fact, the annual Verbier Festival that is celebrated in the month of July offers visitors a once-in-a-lifetime chance to savour some of the greatest names in the world of classical music who perform on the surreal backdrop of the Swiss Alps. An exhilarating series of concerts, choirs, orchestras and music recitals keep the audience spellbound.
This unique festival was conceptualized back in 1994 by Martin Tson Engstroem, which went on to evolve as one of Europe’s most classy music extravaganza. Last year, an exclusive documentary on one of the world's finest violin maker - Florian Leonhard was showcased at the Verbier Festival that offered significant insight on this extraordinary musician who dedicated his entire life to classical music.
The bewitching beauty of Verbier is perhaps best summed up by an anonymous skier who fell in love with Verbier centuries ago thus: “Skies are not just pieces of wood, steel and fibreglass. They are tools for escape, a medium for personal expression, a way to challenge fears, push limits and share incredible experiences with your friends”.
Couldn’t be a better anecdote than this.
Traveler’s Fact File
In Verbier, most hotels and lodges have that authentic Swiss Chalet feel and the ambiance is rugged. Some of the popular hotels in Verbier are Chalet D’Adrien, W Verbier, La Cordée des Alpes, Chalet De Flore, La Vanessa to name just a few. Many visitors to Verbier opt for Mountain Huts due to the cozy ambiance. Some of the most preferred once are Cabane Brunet, Cabane De Chanrion, Cabane De Louvie, Cabane Du Mont Fort and Cabane FXB Panossier.
Fine Dining & Nightlife
Verbier is renowned for its traditional yet varied array of gourmet eateries and fabulous bars. Visitors are offered a bewildering array of Swiss mountain restaurants. Le Dahu located at the bottom end of La Chaux lift, offers both self-service as well as table service plan. Le Carrefour is another great option and can be reached by foot offering local Swiss gourmet food. For Sushi lovers the T-Bar is outstanding. If you are looking for a cozy ambiance, Chez Dany is ideal and the option of post meal toboggan ride has enticed many visitors heart.
Verbier’s Après nightlife scene is absolutely lively. Ice Cube bar located at the top of the Medran lift. From here you can ski to Le Rouge, which is famous for its live DJs, regular events and fantastic views across the valley. Every night, live music is on at Le Farinet, which is legendary for its bustling scene and the occasional visit from celebrities around the world. For a more laid-back night, head to Fer a Cheval for a cozy drink or Farinet Lounge to enjoy first-class cocktails.
The international airports in Geneva and Zurich are convenient ways to reach Verbier. From Geneva Airport hired cars are readily available and the road journey is exhilarating. Geneva airport is well connected with some of the world’s leading airlines operating regular flights.
Absolutely free bus service is available that circles around the Verbier resort area. Buses start from Carrefour touches down all the way to the interiors of Verbier.