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Verbier, Switzerland

Good skiing and snowboarding, great powder and lots of nightlife.

There is no doubt that Verbier is trying hard to retain its international visitors, improving over the last few years its grooming, snowmaking, ski school and lifts – most recently with the overdue replacement of the Tortin gondola. But major complaints remain. Some are down to the organization of the resort – the kind of slope sign posting would be comical if it were not infuriating – but others are down to the lie of the land.

For experts prepared to hire a guide in order to explore off-slope, Verbier is one of the big names. With its FourValleys lift network and a claimed 250 miles of slopes; Verbier would seem at first sight to rank alongside the French mega-resorts such as Courchevel or La Plagne for slope skiers, too. But it doesn’t; the Four Valleys is an inconveniently sprawling affair, while Verbier’s local slopes are surprisingly confined. Of course, slope skiers can have a satisfying holiday here – but you can do that in scores of resorts from Alpbach to Zell am See. Whether they can match Verbier’s famously vibrant nightlife is another question.

What’s Great

  • Extensive, challenging slopes with a lot of off-slope potential and some good bump runs
  • Lively, varied nightlife
  • Fewer liftlines than there used to be
  • Hardly any surface lifts in Verbier (though still lots in linked resorts)
  • Sunny, panoramic setting, and great views from the highest slopes
  • Good advanced-level lessons
  • Much improved slope grooming in recent seasons

What’s Not-So-Great

  • Overcrowded slopes in certain areas
  • Sunny lower slopes will always be a problem, even with snowmaking
  • Easily accessed off-trail slopes get tracked out very quickly
  • Still some serious liftlines. particularly on 4 Valleys links
  • Slope map and direction signposting still hopelessly inadequate
  • Busy traffic (and fumes) in center
  • Some long walks/rides to lifts
  • The Four Valleys network is no rival for the Three Valleys
  • Pretty expensive