There’s undeniably a certain allure about going skiing in the Swiss Alps, and it’s an allure that’s only heightened when you also get the chance to stay at one of the most aspirational hotels on your Marriott Bonvoy bucket list: the W Verbier.
Situated high up in the mountains in the Valais Canton on the south of the country, Verbier is one of Switzerland’s most popular ski villages that’s known for its vibrant après-ski culture in addition to the challenging slopes of the Verbier–4 Vallées ski resort.
It’s only fitting that Verbier plays host to the first ski-in ski-out resort within the W Hotels portfolio and a multiple-time winner of the World’s Best Ski Hotel, and as someone who’s both an avid skier and a big fan of the W brand, I naturally couldn’t wait to check it out.
Back when Marriott Bonvoy offered the sweet spot of redeeming only 60,000 points per night for its top-tier properties, I had splurged exactly that amount for a two-night stay at the W Verbier in early January. The cash prices during this period were exorbitant to say the least, starting at 880 CHF ($1,290) for a base-level room, so I knew I was getting excellent value for my points.
These days, the W Verbier is a Category 8 hotel within Marriott Bonvoy, meaning that a free night would cost 70,000, 85,000, or 100,000 Bonvoy points for off-peak, standard, or peak rates respectively. While that’s a huge amount, it could still be worthwhile compared to paying the cash rate, although I imagine the tricky part will be searching for a date during ski season that isn’t categorized as a peak rate.
In This Post
- Location & Getting There
- Arrival & Check-in
- Sublime Penthouse Suite
- Bars & Restaurants
- Skiing & Snowboarding
- Other Facilities
- The Best of Verbier
W Verbier – Location & Getting There
Considering its remoteness in the Alps, Verbier is not an easy place to reach.
Geneva Cointrin Airport (GVA) is likely the most convenient port of arrival, but from there, you’ll still have to travel along the Swiss Railways for a few hours to reach the station of Le Châble, most likely after changing trains in Martigny. This train journey costs 28.40 CHF ($41), and you can purchase the ticket either online in advance or when you’re at the station.
If you’re flying into Zurich (ZRH), it’ll be a longer train journey of about four hours in duration, also involving changing trains in Martigny to catch the hourly service between Martigny and Le Châble. I actually departed for Zurich at the end of my stay in Verbier, and this ticket cost me 41.40 CHF ($60).
Le Châble is a small town at the base of the Alps in this region, and right opposite its train station is the cable car that leads to the Verbier ski village. The cable car costs 9 CHF ($13), although if you have a Verbier–4 Vallées ski pass that’s valid for the day, it can also be used to travel on the cable car.
The cable car journey affords some pretty spectacular views of the surrounding region, and as you’re nearing the top of the hill, you can already see the W hotel’s distinctive chalet on your right-hand side at the edge of the village.
W Verbier – Arrival & Check-in
Once you exit the gates of the Verbier cable car station, it’s a short walk of a few minutes over to the W on the south side of Verbier. If you’re travelling with lots of luggage, you may find it a bit challenging to haul everything through the cable car, the elevators, and the village’s sloped roads, so just keep that in mind.
As you arrive on the W’s premises, you’ll notice that it’s comparatively more understated than many other Ws around the world, with the exception of the massive rotating “W” sign on top of the W Off Piste après-ski bar.
The main hotel building is actually opposite from that, and you’ll turn right upon entering to arrive at the check-in desks.
Once you’re inside, the distinctive W look and feel is unmistakeable: bright colours everywhere, furniture and ornaments in funky geometric shapes, and a stream of upbeat pop music in the background to keep everybody amped up.
The W Verbier seemed to have a particular affinity for outlandish animal structures, which could be found all throughout the lobby space.
I was welcomed to the hotel by a friendly host, who took note of my Titanium Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and confirmed that I had used my Suite Night Awards to upgrade to a Sublime Penthouse Suite.
(A friend of mine who lives in Switzerland had advised me that the W Verbier tends to be pretty stingy on complimentary elite upgrades, especially during peak season. Therefore, since I didn’t want to miss out on a suite for such an expensive stay, I decided to burn some Suite Night Awards on this one and aim for the best possible upgrade, which was confirmed five days in advance.)
The host also offered me the choice of 1,000 Bonvoy points or daily complimentary breakfast for two, and I naturally opted for the latter (Jessy had changed her mind about joining me on this trip, so I had invited a friend of mine who lives in London instead, who’d be arriving at the hotel a few hours later).
And with that, the host invited one of his colleagues to show me to Room 647. We headed two floors up on the elevators – because the W Verbier is built into the hillside, the lobby is actually designated as the 4th floor, with guest rooms situated both above and below.
W Verbier – Sublime Penthouse Suite
As a two-storey duplex, the Sublime Suite occupies the sixth and highest floor of the building, alongside the two top-tier suites: the WOW Suite and the Extreme WOW Suite, neither of which, alas, was possible to book using my Suite Night Awards.
The W Verbier is one of those Ws with extremely dark hallways, which made it a bit difficult to find my room at first. I’m not sure why the “dank nightclub” look is so common among Ws; I far prefer it when I can actually see where I’m going in the hallways.
In terms of overall design, the W Verbier combines chic modern decor with Swiss alpine sensibilities, and that’s apparent from the moment you swing open the heavy-set wooden door and step inside the Sublime Suite.
The front of the suite mainly consists of the walk-in closet and changing area, with lots of space to store your ski and snowboard equipment every day after hitting the slopes, as well as a bench to sit on while you change into your gear.
I loved the little Swiss accents dotted around the place, like the Swiss flag adorning the in-room lockbox or the Helvetica typeface book.
There’s also a half-bath near the front of the room, which includes a toilet and a small sink in the corner.
The remaining parts of the room – the living area, bedroom, and bathroom – are designed to wrap around the central elevated platform one-by-one.
First up is the living area, which consists of an extended couch against the wall, as well as a working surface and a television. The couch came with a fur blanket, which proved very useful for hanging out on the balcony (more on that later).
Meanwhile, I had a fair bit of work to do during my stay, and unfortunately I didn’t find the desk to be a very comfortable surface for getting stuff done. It was a pretty small space for one of the hotel’s larger suites, and the items on the desk kept clashing with the minibar snacks.
Then again, I suppose most visitors to the W Verbier don’t need to work too much, so I can’t complain too much.
(I was also mildly annoyed that the hotel didn’t offer universal power plugs, so I had to use my European adaptor for everything. For a hotel that opened in 2014, you’d think that it would be something they’d pay more attention to.)
Turning the corner from here, we arrive at the bedroom, which featured a full-sized king bed that was exceedingly soft. I’m not usually a fan of overly soft beds, but I ended up sleeping like a baby on both nights in this one, perhaps because of a combination of the jet lag and the fatigue from the skiing.
I also loved the design of the bedside lights here, which were suspended all the way from the lofted ceilings.
Opposite the bed is a second television, and adjacent to that, there’s even an electric fireplace that can be used to heat up the room! The fireplace is a bit tricky to operate, though, and the staff member who was showing me around the room had to spend a few minutes explaining how to turn it on and off.
Adjacent to the bedroom is the walk-in bathroom, which, in keeping with many Ws I’ve stayed at in the past, has no doors or privacy screens of any kind.
I did think the bathroom was very stylish though, and the illuminated countertop stood out as a very cool design that I had never seen before. There’s also a decently sized bathtub perched along a full-length mirror, as well as separate chambers for the toilet and shower.
And speaking of the shower, its excellent water pressure was a real gift, to say the least, after spending a long day in the snow.
Now that we’ve completed our tour of the ground floor, let’s head up the stairs to the upper level, shall we?
If I’m being honest, the upper level of the Sublime Suite is definitely a case of style over substance: there’s another couch, a large set of speakers, and a third television up here… and that’s about it.
Sure, it seems like the upstairs would be ideal for entertaining guests, but then you’d imagine they’d put a liquor cabinet and a small table up here too, wouldn’t you?
And as if the bedroom and bathroom didn’t already lack privacy, the upstairs area provides a birds-eye view of both spaces as well.
If you’re travelling with companions with whom you’d prefer to have a degree of privacy, it’s safe to say that this wouldn’t be the right suite for you!
Finally, that leads me to the best part of the Sublime Suite: the outdoor balcony, which faces directly to one of the ski trails that leads down to the hotel.
There’s a large daybed on one side of the balcony, and a smaller bench on the other, allowing you to sit in the comfort of your fur blanket with a cup of coffee and watch the skiers and snowboarders storming down the hill throughout the day.
Since I mostly spent the daytime hours up on the slopes, I only got to enjoy the balcony very briefly on a few occasions, but I could see it being an awesome place to hang out if you wanted to rest for a day, or perhaps were accompanying your skiing or snowboarding friends or family on the trip but aren’t an avid participant yourself.
The views were quite captivating at nighttime too, with the rotating W sign lit up against a backdrop of purple lighting on the surrounding buildings.
Overall, I quite liked the Sublime Penthouse Suite for how unique it was, and I think it did a great job of emulating a warm and cozy Swiss chalet in a style that was fully on-brand for W Hotels.
W Verbier – Breakfast
Breakfast is served in the W Kitchen restaurant starting at 6:30am every morning. Since the lifts and gondolas at Verbier–4 Vallées open at 8:30am, it was important to get an early start in order to maximize our time on the mountain.
Compared to the Ws in Asia that I’ve stayed at, where the breakfast is very much a razzle-dazzle affair, the buffet spread at the W Verbier was certainly more understated in comparison. Small dishes, pans, and trays were used to display the breakfast items, which included some of the usual greasy breakfast foods, but had a focus on healthier items as well.
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This being Switzerland, cold cuts, cheese, and tarts were naturally a prominent feature among the spread, and to my delight, you could even help yourself to a few glasses of Prosecco if you wished.
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There was also a variety of breakfast dishes (mostly on the à la carte menu to fuel your day before hitting the slopes, and as a Platinum Elite member or above, you’ll be able to order as many items as you want off the menu.
I tried some of their poached eggs, which were pretty tasty, with some smoked salmon and avocado on the side. Staff members were also on hand to deliver you coffee or tea, and I had an Americano followed by a cappuccino to kickstart each day.
On the whole, the breakfast was tasty and very filling, so I was quite happy with it, even if it didn’t quite reach the same heights as some other Category 8 Marriott hotels I’ve stayed at.
W Verbier – Bars & Restaurants
The W Verbier has a handful of dining and drinking venues, although you should be forewarned that everything is priced the way you would expect a luxury ski resort in the Swiss Alps to be.
Many Ws around the world offer a dedicated Woo Bar with a full-service bartender, but the Verbier location combines that space with the W Living Room adjacent to the lobby, complete with an outdoor space with heated lamps as well. There’s ample seating for anyone who’s interested in grabbing a drink or a bite – to the tune of 25 CHF ($38) for a cocktail or a light snack item.
My friend and I briefly dropped by for a snack on the first evening, before deciding that our money would be much better spent at one of the restaurants in Verbier serving proper Swiss cuisine, so that’s where we headed for our remaining meals.
If you do choose to dine at the hotel, though, you have quite a few options to choose from. The W Kitchen, which hosts breakfast in the morning, also serves up a variety of local and international cuisine for dinner.
Sharing the same space as the W Kitchen is Eat Hola, a tapas bar. Meanwhile, Carve, the sushi bar, is located down a long, bright-red hallway underneath the W’s “bleachers”, although it never seemed to be open when we wanted to check it out.
Finally, at the very far end of the hotel building is Arctic Juice & Cafe, where you can pick up coffee and light food items throughout the day. Stuff is still expensive, though: I paid 6 CHF ($9) for a flat white!
W Verbier – Skiing & Snowboarding
As a ski resort, the W Verbier’s most important feature is no doubt its Mountain Concierge, which can be found down a long hallway with some cool “W”-themed designs running along the length of the wall.
The Mountain Concierge is your one-stop shop for arranging everything you need to hit the slopes seamlessly as soon as you arrive. Prior to your trip, you may reach out to the Mountain Concierge and order the exact lift tickets you’d like to purchase, and they’ll have it prepared for you on the morning of your first day.
The price is the same as what you’d pay if you ordered your lift pass directly (I’ll talk about these prices further below), and the full amount gets billed to your room, so you can even rack up some extra Marriott Bonvoy points for your troubles.
In addition, the Mountain Concierge can also coordinate with local gear rental shops if you need to rent skis, snowboards, and/or winter clothing.
Anyway, whether you’ve rented your gear or brought your own, you’ll simply come down to the Mountain Concierge every morning and let them know your room number, and they’ll bring out all your gear for you. They’ll keep your regular clothes for safekeeping and exchange them again at the end of the day.
And in the event that you’re changing out from your ski boots but don’t have your regular shoes with you, they even have a set of crocs that you can borrow!
While the Mountain Concierge can be accessed from the hotel’s exterior, it’s still across the road from the Verbier piste, so it isn’t truly ski-in ski-out. That honour goes to the W Off Piste après-ski bar, which is positioned directly at the end of the piste – so you’d shred your way directly to its front doors, put your skis and poles up, and go inside for a nice drink to unwind.
In terms of its snowsports facilities, the W Verbier does a fantastic job meeting skiers’ and snowboarders’ needs, and definitely adds a touch of luxury and indulgence to the experience of a ski weekend in Verbier.
W Verbier – Other Facilities
A few more of the hotel’s features are worth highlighting as well. The “bleachers” are one of the most attention-grabbing design elements in the public areas, providing a set of snazzy cushions along the steps to sit on.
It was all topped off with a gigantic beanbag bed, which was as uncomfortable as it looked, and was much more suitable for taking Instagram photos than for actual relaxation.
There were several other spots for photo shoots dotted throughout the hotel, like this photo booth with colourful scribbles all over it…
…or this neon green mini-gondola over by the Arctic Cafe.
Then let’s talk about the spa and gym, which I was a little disappointed by. The space has some very low ceilings since it’s all located underground, which didn’t feel very luxurious to me.
The gym itself was also rather limited, both in size and in terms of the variety of exercise equipment.
While I didn’t get a chance to check out the swimming pool, my friend did manage to sneak in a visit just before we departed the hotel, and he took the liberty of snapping some pictures for the review. Despite being on the smaller side, the pool liked nice enough, with a cool indoor-outdoor glass feature (although the outdoor section was understandably closed for the season).
The Best of Verbier
Before we conclude, I’ll share a few words about the overall skiing experience at Verbier. In the past, I’ve mainly skied in Hokkaido and Whistler, although it had been a good few years since I did a proper ski ski trip, so I was very happy to return to the slopes here in the Swiss Alps.
Lift passes at Verbier were more reasonably priced than I was expecting: a one-day pass costs 73 CHF ($105) per person, while a two-day pass costs 144 CHF ($207) per person. There were also half-day passes available, as well as longer durations up to six days (with each incremental day being charged a flat fee). For all information about purchasing lift tickets, refer to the Verbier–4 Vallées website.
(By the way, Verbier 4–Vallées is the name of the entire ski region that’s spread out across four valleys in the surrounding Alps. It’s the largest ski area in Switzerland, and would definitely require at least a week’s time if you wanted to try out all the slopes and runs.)
Since I only had two days this time, I stayed mostly within the Verbier valley, with a few occasional side-trips to the Bruson valley as well. The conditions weren’t the greatest during early January, as the temperature was well above zero, and as a result, and many of the trails were on the icy side.
Most of the intermediate trails begin at La Chaux or Les Ruinettes at around 2,200 metres above sea level, although you can also take a sequence of lifts and gondolas up to the highest point, Mont Fort, at 3,300 metres above sea level.
The views from Mont Fort are pretty spectacular, and you can even see the Matterhorn in the distance on a clear day. However, the only way down is by way of a long and gruelling black-diamond trail, so if you aren’t a proficient skier or rider, then you may be taking the gondola back down.
I’d consider myself generally pretty comfortable on black diamonds, though not without taking the occasional tumble and definitely with room for improvement, too. I’m definitely looking to hire an instructor one of these days to sharpen up my skills as I continue to seek out the world’s best skiing hotspots – next up on my list are Patagonia and Aspen (perhaps with a visit to the W brand’s second ski resort, the W Aspen), with an eye on returning to Hokkaido and Whistler as well.
Compared to everywhere else I’ve been, the ski culture in Verbier was significantly more relaxed, and therefore the après-ski culture was significantly more amped up. Most of the trails shut up shop at around 4:30pm, and unlike other places, there’s no possibility to ski at nighttime; instead, everybody hits the restaurants and bars for the night.
My friend and I enjoyed some delicious meals around Verbier, including a few hearty helpings of fondue at the highly-rated Restaurant Le Caveau, followed by a few pints over at Farinet, a lively après-ski lounge housed within a boutique hotel that plays live music on most nights.
The W Verbier is widely touted as one of the most distinctive, if not the outright best, location in the entire W chain, and on the basis of my two-night stay in their Sublime Penthouse Suite, I’d wholeheartedly agree. While the suite wasn’t the largest nor the most well-appointed, it was a beautiful and unique space that was worthy of the occasion, with the full-length balcony facing the ski slopes as the standout feature.
Having said that, this hotel is painfully expensive by almost all metrics, whether we’re talking about the cash rates, the number of points for a free night, or the cost of food & beverages once you’re there.
So while I’d love to come back to the W Verbier for a repeat stay in the future, but in practice I think I’d find the prices pretty hard to justify in exchange for what I’m getting; moreover, while skiing in Switzerland was a worthy bucket list item, I do still prefer the vibes in Japan or British Columbia, or perhaps the opportunity to try out the powder someplace new.