Annabel Harrison attends the opening of the new W Verbier, and finds that sleek, urban style works very well in the charming Swiss resort…
Been to a W? They are hotel paradise to a design junkie – adding shimmer and shine to whichever habitat they choose, be it a thronging inner-city hub (London; Istanbul) or an island retreat (Bali; the Maldives – W has 45 properties around the globe). Verbier, however, is the group’s first snowy retreat – and I’m one of the first visitors through the doors.
The choice of locale is perfect; Verbier’s reputation as a chic party resort precedes it. From royals to rock stars, the chances of spotting a famous Brit are high (in my case, actor Jamie Campbell Bower) and celebrity portraits line the walls of the chalet-style restaurants. Its location is accessible too; just an 80-minute flight to Geneva, then a two-hour drive around the lake.
W’s cutting-edge interiors and innovative touches don’t look gaudy amid the rustic surrounds. Four ostensibly traditional wooden chalets (Energy, Escape, Recharge and Infuse) are linked by glass atriums, flooding the interior with light and exposing wooden beams, matte black walls and incredible wall designs by Australian street artist Buff Diss.
The 123 rooms are chalet chic with funky bauble lights and red Perspex thrown in. Just curl up on the bed, click the button to light your fire (there are no tricksy firelighters here) and defrost with a hot chocolate.
My next priority is refuelling. Arola, where the charismatic Michelin-starred Sergi Arola showcases his Catalan take on Swiss cuisine, offers incredible ‘pica pica’ dishes, inspired by Barcelona’s La Boqueria Market. Eat-Hola is more relaxed, with our tapas dishes (from £10) prepared in front of the 25-metre bar
Of course, at some point you will realise you’re here to ski. We are so close to the main gondola, with ski-in, ski-out access, as well as the hotel’s own ski shop and the buzzing Off-Piste bar; ideal for an après-ski vin chaud with a DJ soundtrack. The Four Valleys area offers more than 400km of ski runs, satisfying everyone from powder hounds to those just off the nursery slopes (me). Make sure you take the four-gondola ride to the top of Mont Fort (3,330m altitude) for the awe-inspiring panoramic view.
To heal the aches, the W’s AWAY Spa – a rabbit warren of slate grey, with saunas, pool and Jacuzzi – offers a novel Signature Massage (£114), carried out with clay and paintbrushes, before you relax over a drink at CARVE, the hotel’s in-house club.
Venturing out? Le Marlenaz’s authentic Swiss cuisine is worth the 20-minute walk (even though it’s uphill, through snow and you need a torch). After which anyone who’s anyone heads to the Farinet Hotel or Farm Club. Just don’t expect to have any Swiss francs left at the end of the night…
A double room at W Verbier starts at £342*. Call 00800 3252 5252 or visit wverbier.com