From the leisurely to the adrenaline-Filled, there are many ways to arrive in Verbier. Here, Richard Mellor looks at the most splendid…
How do you prefer to get to Verbier? Ranging from lakeside locomotives to a glamorous heli-skiing arrival, the four distinct modes of transport all tempt in different ways.
Firstly, consider a private transfer, in which you’re met at Geneva’s airport and driven to Verbier in a comfortable Mercedes saloon or BMW X5. Two-thirds of this journey is via motorway which shadows Lake Geneva’s northern shore – meaning fine views of the French Alps (including the towering peak of Mt Blanc) – and bisects the beautiful, UNESCO-protected Lavaux Vineyard Terraces. Last comes the Route de Verbier road, complete with 13 thrilling hairpins above the village of Le Chable and ever-increasing amounts of snow in every direction. Whereas many Alpine resorts require a three-hour connection, the transfer to Verbier takes just 1 hour, 45 minutes – making short or weekend ski breaks very easy.
Travelling by train takes only slightly longer, and two things make this a great experience. Firstly, the position of Geneva Airport’s station: a mere three-minute walk from its arrivals hall. Then the travel itself: for while that motorway hovers just above Lake Geneva, the trainline idyllically hugs its shore. You’ll get to gaze at boats, ducks and swans on the glittering waters, and you’ll pass right by the medieval island castle of Chateau de Chillon. Half-hourly services operate this route to Martigny, and take 90 minutes. From Martigny, either take a 30-minute car transfer up the snaking Route de Verbier, or change trains and chug along for another quarter-hour to Le Chable, a village below Verbier, aboard the jaunty, red and white St Bernard Express Train. Transfers are again possible from Le Chable, while a gondola also connects up to Verbier.
Offering an especially quick means of reaching Verbier, private jets regularly fly into Sion, just 45 minutes from Verbier by car. The airport here has recently invested £10m on GPS landing systems – plus other facilities – which enable pilots to land on its tricky runway, set in a valley between sheer peaks, during almost all weather. Diversions to Geneva are now extremely rare.
The most exciting way to turn up? That’ll be by helicopter. As there’s no helipad in Verbier –the town quite rightly wants to protect its mountainside tranquility – those travelling this way can either fly directly to Le Chable before a 15-minute car transfer up to the resort, or plump for what founder and CEO Tom Avery describes as “a real James Bond-style arrival”.
This sees the helicopter land at the Croix-de-Cœur mountain pass. “If clients already have skis and boots to hand,” says Tom, “they can ski down straight into Verbier, where their bags will be waiting be waiting in their chalet. It’s quite an entrance!” However you opt to travel, the your chalet team will be ready to welcome you with warm smiles and chilled champagne. So: which option sounds most tempting?