A few years ago, it was a car park next to the Medran ski lift station in the upmarket resort of Verbier in Switzerland – known for its extensive freeride skiing terrain and après ski celebrity scene.
Now, the Starwood owned W Hotel Verbier, their first ever foray into the mountains, dominates the upper part of this sunny plateau. It’s a big place, certainly long, with the front side facing the mountain and the back commanding views across to the Mt Blanc range and the newly linked area of Bruson.
You couldn’t get much closer to the ski lift station here. Walk out the door, cross the road and you are there. It’s not quite ski in ski out but not far off.
The façade of the property is sympathetic to the natural surroundings, predominately using dark wood and it doesn’t look out of place. It could very well be a blot on the landscape but it avoids this by blending in with some of the other new build properties that surround it, including the re-located Mountain Air sports shop with its contemporary café – which feels slightly urban and cosmopolitan.
This sits well with the ‘new’ Verbier clientele and you sense the W is the ideal spot for city types on short ski breaks. High worth individuals who want convenience, space and luxury with a bit of a twist. The hotel is full of unusual artwork, much of which can be purchased, and adds a contemporary feel to the public areas.
There’s two main restaurants, the Arola – managed by Spanish Michelin Starred Chef, Sergi Arola and the next door Eat Hola Tapas bar, built in the style of some of Barcelona’s famous eating places. A café next door to the hotel serves coffee and light snacks and then the bar on the ground floor provides a centre piece for residents and non-residents alike – it’s a spectacular cocktail bar that isn’t afraid of a bit of bling, but it seems to work and the atmosphere is uber-cool and has GQ, Esquire or Harpers Bazaar centre spread written all over it.
You don’t get that kind of place in many ski resorts, even in swanky Switzerland.
Once you’ve filled your tummy and started to wobble on the cocktails then you can start thinking about the rooms – and really, you should take advantage of them.
There’s a variety of types and sizes of rooms from the ‘Cosy Room’ at 36m squared right up to the ‘E-Wow Suite’, that includes a private sauna, loft space with a bar and a revolving bed. This room costs 10,000 Swiss Francs a night and I was lucky enough to at least have a look at it. When I asked who’d stayed there I was told that information wasn’t available, no surprises there of course.
For those not partaking in skiing, eating, drinking or relaxing in the room, the extensive spa and pool (both indoor and out) offers the usual stuff – but in the W style. There’s also conference facilities in the hotel for those companies that want to meet in a special place, although how much work you’d get done is another question when you have that many distractions surrounding you.
Good for: City slickers and fashion models on a weekend party trip
Bad for: Anyone who needs to plan their holiday budget on a spreadsheet
Price: From CHF 750
Rating: 9 out of 10
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