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Planning The Perfect Family Ski Holiday In Verbier

Ashley Chalmers

Contributor

With so many incredible options throughout the continent, planning a European ski holiday can be overwhelming at best and feel downright impossible at worst. This impression increases tenfold when you're planning for the whole family. Is it possible to plan any trip last minute, especially during high season? How do you account for varying skill levels? And what if you can only go for a few days, making the customary Saturday-Saturday chalet booking a non-starter? Fortunately, while Verbier is often renown for its A-lister party scene, it's increasingly becoming the ideal skiing destination for young families.

Where to Stay

While the luxuries of a full-service chalet cannot be ignored, there are plenty of reasons it’s not always feasible. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to find privately-owned accommodation in town. Airbnb is the obvious pick when looking for a short-term rental, and many of the listings are now hosted by professional management companies like Keys n Fly. This offers an extra level of booking security and erases some common concerns about booking a privately-owned home on holiday. Alternatively, local hotels like the Farinet and the swanky W Verbier are lush choices for travellers looking to book a long weekend without any added fuss.

Both of these properties are walking distance to the Medran lift station, and the surrounding area is worth considering when looking to book a flat or home. If you prefer to widen your scope or avoid the heart of Verbier village, consider searching closer to the Savoleyres lift. A free local shuttle easily and reliably transports visitors around the area, making your proximity to the shuttle stops more important than practically anything else.

W Hotel - Verbier

Helping your Kids find their Ski Legs

When it comes to renting your ski equipment, there’s no shortage of picks – and you really can’t go wrong with any of the local providers. One thing to consider, however, is where you’ll store your gear. The team at Mountain Air is fabulous with little ones, and located directly next to Medran, making it a convenient stop after acquiring your lift passes. But even better, they offer lockers on-site. If you’re not staying on-piste, leaving your skis and boots behind can be a huge lifesaver, especially if your arms are already full from toting toddlers to and from your Swiss abode. For the newest skiers in your group, a lesson is very likely a requirement.

L'École Suisse de Ski de Verbier offers classes for a wide range of ages, with both private and group options. They also have a baby and kids club at Les Moulins, where you’re welcome to leave your babies and toddlers for half-day and full-day programs. Those registered for group ski lessons spend their time with trained instructors while you hit the slopes yourself. Parents are also more than welcome to stay and watch. The best view is from the adjacent Restaurant Les Moulins, overlooking the entire nursery area. If you opt for a private lesson or prefer to teach your little one on your own, Les Esserts is an easy shuttle ride to the Hameau bus stop.

For 5 CHF, you can make use of the longest magic carpet in Switzerland. The gentle slope is the perfect place to train (or re-train!) anyone unsteady on their skis. The adjacent Restaurant Esserts offers a view to family members who again prefer to watch from afar, and has a terrace perfect for a post-ski coffee or chocolat chaud. Small but wide slopes at Le Rouge and La Chaux have a slightly steeper incline, perfect for once you or your little student are ready to graduate.

Non-Skier Activities

So you got the kids out on skis and it was… not great. Une catastrophe, as the locals say. Don’t give up! While it may take some patience and a few more attempts, a break from the slopes might also be in order. If you still want to enjoy your snowy surroundings, Verbier has plenty of possibilities. Sledging rentals are available, with varying degrees of intensity depending on age.

Dog-lovers will adore sledging with the locals, or searching for the locally famous St. Bernards. They’re known to occasionally relax around Les Ruinettes, waiting for head scratches and photo ops. If no amount of distracting will help you de-stress, then the best bet is a trip to the spa for mum and dad. The Away Spa at the W can be booked even if you’re not a guest of the hotel.
St. Bernard Mountain Rescue Dog

Family-Friendly Spots for Après-Ski

It’s true that apres-ski is notably a grown-up activity, but if you plan it right, you can enjoy a drink with youngsters in tow. Any of the spots right in town are kid-friendly while the sun is up, but local favourite Fer a Cheval boasts a central location with a sprawling terrace, perfect for people watching.

Where to Dine

Next to ski conditions, dining options might be the most important part of any alpine escape. Start the day with crepes at Le Milk Bar, nestled right in town. For lunch with a view, you can’t go wrong with Le Marlenaz. It’s a worthy hike to this cosy mountain retreat, and if you’re game for carrying a sledge up, you’re rewarded with an easy slide back down. Alternatively, Le Dahu offers a more dramatic view with a slightly simpler route. Just take the main lift from Medran all the way up to La Chaux, no skis or sledges required.

Worth noting is that the simplicity of the menu matches the journey – simple local fare with no fuss. For dinner, make time for the incredible burgers at Shed. They don’t take reservations, so try to arrive right as they open, or opt for takeaway. For traditional raclette, visit Le Caveau, while La Grange is the spot for fondue.
Traditional Raclette

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