Les 4 Vallées
Easy to reach by rail, especially from Geneva Airport, Les 4 Vallées ski area is truly in a league of its own. With its 410 kilometres of runs served by 80 ski lifts and stretching across the resorts of Verbier, Veysonnaz, Thyon, Nendaz, La Tzoumaz and Bruson, it is the largest in Switzerland and the third-biggest in Europe. One day is nowhere near enough to discover it in its entirety. In fact, it will take you all that time just to ski from one end to the other. Les 4 Vallées is also one of the highest ski domains in Switzerland, rising as high as 3,300m. In these days of global warming, it guarantees snow, with a battery of 510 snowmaking machines in reserve just in case. The season starts here in December, without fail – and sometimes even in November – with the traditional “opening session”, where skiers dressed up as Santa Claus or Père Fouettard (St Nicholas’ helper) can ski for CHF5. The season comes to a close in mid-April. The very best skiingLes 4 Vallées caters for every taste and level, from beginners, freeriders and freestylers to seasoned skiers and racers. The runs are impeccably prepared and patrolled. Lovers of steep slopes and complete tranquillity make a beeline for Bruson, for a long and wild descent through the trees to Châble. Freeriders are simply spoiled for choice, from the countless lines on the famous Mont Gelé, whose cable car was refurbished two years ago, to the Mont-Fort backside run, or one of the area’s seven ski itineraries. These runs, covered by non-packed snow, are patrolled and accessible to proficient skiers, even if they don’t have an avalanche transceiver (DVA) or any avalanche expertise. Verbier is also an Alpine mecca of heli-skiing and lies close to no fewer than four areas dedicated to it. A visual feastLes 4 Vallées affords unique views of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps. From the peak of Mont-Fort, at 3,300m, the eye is met by a land where the snow always lies, taking in summits as beautiful and as legendary as Les Combins, La Dent Blanche, the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. A “photopoint” has been set up at the entrance to the cable car and allows skiers to activate the camera with their ski pass and then retrieve their photos from the website www.skiline.cc. Les 4 Vallées has another string to its bow: its cuisine. The Verbier-Bruson sector alone is home to some 23 high-altitude restaurants and bars. The Igloo du Mont-Fort is the highest of them all, but not the largest, and serves the highest fondue in the Alps. Verbier? It’s a place that only superlatives can describe. www.4vallees.chLaurent Grabet
The Alps as WitnessIt’s often aboard an Ecureuil AS350 B3, a light and versatile aircraft, that one boards (heart beating wildly) for a 20-40 minute flight. Three minutes later, the Matter Valley unfolds and the blue-coloured avalanches of the Hohlicht Glacier sparkle below. The helicopter turns, rises, skims the top of a white-capped ridge, and flies directly towards the region’s most legendary triangular peak. In just eight minutes of flying, one reaches the Matterhorn’s hostile north face, plastered in ice and just metres away. The Hörnli ridge is next, with its alpine hut at its base, tiny and barely visible from on high. The helicopter continues to climb, hovering for a moment above the summit, before following the ridge’s edge. The Klein Matterhorn, Breithorn, and Monte Rosa sweep by on the starboard side, followed by views of the Gorner Glacier on the return journey. Another day, perhaps, will be the time to try helisking, seated in one of the plush, comfortable leather seats of an Eurocopter EC130 T2, until climbing out and breaking through the snow’s frozen crust, wading through the thick powder at the start of the run, feeling the rush of the icy wind from the helicopter’s blades. Imagine finding yourself up there alone, on top of the world. The best part is, it costs next to nothing: a drop-off at Unterrothon (7-8 minute flight time) is only 80 francs! www.air-zermatt.chDaniel Bauchervez
The latest edition of the Gault&Millau restaurant guide counts 870 Swiss restaurants recognized for their exceptional know-how, 96 of which are new to this edition. This marks a new record for the country, in terms of the sheer number of restaurants that were tested and approved by the demanding critics who compile this global gastronomic reference guide. Created in the 1970s, this guide came to life in the wave of nouvelle cuisine brought about by Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros Brothers, and Michel Guérard among others. These 870 Swiss establishments have been recognized for the quality of their ingredients, the attention to detail given when preparing them, and the ingenuity of the chefs. Zermatt performed particularly well. No fewer than 17 restaurants were selected, earning a cumulative 242 points, the same amount as last year. That number is 29 times higher than the Swiss average, in terms of the number of Michelin-starred restaurants per inhabitant. Although the cumulative score is the same, there were a few small changes: one restaurant no longer qualified, but another took its place; another restaurant lost a point, while two others earned an extra point and qualified in the top ranks. The Masters’ KitchensAt the very highest level, two chefs from each restaurant share the major accolades: Master Chef Ivo Adam from After Seven, the Backstage Hotel’s restaurant (along with Head Chef Florian Neubauer), and Salvatore Elefante from the Mont Cervin Palace’s Ristorante Capri (along with Head Chef Giovanni Bavuso). Together, these two establishments won 17 points on their own and have two and one Michelin stars, respectively. After Seven has many surprises in store, both in terms of the kitchen’s creativity and in terms of the establishment’s décor: from behind a full facade of windows, the restaurant evokes the atmosphere of a New York-style loft that’s been improved upon by Zermatt artist Hans Julen. Here everything feels visually-baroque and quirky, down to the table service, which is highly thorough yet fresh (and never stilted). The menu is unique in of itself: dishes are chosen by the number of plates and the time one wishes to be seated at the table. Eating at After Seven truly transforms a simple meal into an unforgettable experience, including bread that’s baked directly at the table, and lollipops created by the patrons themselves. The restaurant is open from December 7, 2019 to April 12, 2020. At the Mont Cervin Palace, the Ristorante Capri —where Head Chef Giovanni Bavuso brings his cuisine from the award-winning restaurant Il Riccio on Capri here to the mountains for the winter— is also only open for the season, from December 18, 2019 until March 29, 2020. Here, the cooking has a view of the Alps but is 100% Mediterranean, with strong marine influences. Some highlights from the menu? The yellowtail tartar trilogy and the house-made tagliolini with lemon, burrata, raw gambas, and sea asparagus. This fine establishment offers a chance to truly enjoy the full spectrum of Mare Nostrum delights. Reaching New HeightsThis year, there were also two establishments that earned an additional point from Gault&Millau. This included Alpine Gourmet Prato Borni (16 points), located inside the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, which is open in both winter (December 7, 2019-April 13, 2020) and summer (July 4-September 13, 2020). Executive Chef Heinz Rufibach has made it his mission to highlight and serve the best local products from Switzerland, with a special focus on Valais. Past menu items have included an amuse-bouche lobster and hay shot, mountain venison, an abundance of valley root vegetables, and a surprising selection of sweet wines. The Omnia, the signature restaurant inside the hotel of the same name, also improved their score from last year for a total of 15 points. Executive Chef Hauke Pohl, trained in the French culinary tradition, has created a menu that’s as contemporary as the hotel’s décor, with a balanced blend of regional and cosmopolitan influences, and ultimately defined by seasonal ingredients. It is also worth noting that Gault&Millau gave 14 points to three of Zermatt’s most legendary Alpine chalet dining establishments: Zum See, Chez Vrony, and Findlerhof… three more reasons to wine and dine in Zermatt this winter season. www.gaultmillau.chwww.backstagehotel.chwww.zermatterhof.chwww.the-omnia.comwww.montcervinpalace.chwww.zermatt.chClaude Hervé-Bazin
The vast whiteness
The urge to head off for a spot of ski-touring is understandably hard to resist when the snow is lying, all sunlit, untouched and powdery, and the avalanche report is on the positive side. And in Verbier, there are plenty of routes to choose from. One of the most frequented rises up to La Rosablanche, a 3,335m peak situated in the heart of the fascinating and timeless world of high-altitude mountains. Though Bagnes-born mountain guide Claude-Alain Gailland knows the area like the back of his hand, he never tires of it: “La Rosablanche is the linchpin, the key to many 360-degree Alpine adventures,” he explained. Those with the greatest reserves of stamina can get there straight from the resort, a journey of around 10km and with an elevation gain of 1,600m. An easier option involves setting off from Les Ruinettes (a climb of 500m less). However, the loveliest and least physically taxing route of all – one that leads you right into nature’s arms – is to take the ski lifts to the Col des Gentianes (2,950m) or Mont-Fort (3,330m). The first option, accessible to intermediate skiers, takes in two successive climbs, while the second, for more proficient skiers, features a single climb and offers a warm-up by way of the legendary descent of Backside Mont-Fort. “These routes partly intersect with those of the Haute Route and the Patrouille des Glaciers,” explains Gailland. They also pass close to Bec des Rosses, a breathtaking arena of rocks and snow, where the gladiators of Xtreme freeride battle against each other at the end of each season. It is a delightful little taster for the epic off-piste adventure that awaits and which explodes into life on reaching the glacier of the Grand Désert. Here, the imperious majesty of the landscapes simply overpowers the nevertheless intense sentiment exuded by carving out your own sketchy tracks, which man in all his vanity believes will last forever. The final 50-metre section is completed on foot. The best is yet to come: the descent. Once again there are various options to choose from. The gentlest of them leads to Nendaz via the Cleuson dam. The route leading to the Val des Dix through the Glacier de Mourti invites more reflection than the rest. A bus then takes you back to Verbier, passing through a large part of the superb 4 Vallées ski area along the way. The third option, through the Vallon de Fionnay, is the most technically challenging of all and offers the wildest scenery. Enthusiasts will note that heliskiing is also on offer in La Rosablanche. Whatever choice you make, though, the services of a guide are an absolute necessity. www.nolimitsexperience.chLaurent Grabet
Verbier the capital
As the sun slips behind the Val de Bagnes, the evening chill quickly takes its grip on Verbier. With shoulders tense and tight, passers-by quicken their step as they make their way down the street. In the superchalets, meanwhile, the happy occupants are relaxing in the warmth of their very own private spas. As for everyone else, the time has come to make a beeline for the resort’s most select oases of wellness. AWAY Spa & Fitness, W VerbierWith its graceful curves, the W’s beautiful swimming pool stretches from indoors to out, comprising hot and cold areas separated by huge glass screens. Covering an area of 800m2, the adjoining AWAY Spa comprises a jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, relaxation area and treatment rooms (La Prairie and Phyto5). On the menu are detox massages, holistic treatments and bespoke treatments making use of Swiss plant oils and pure oxygen, among other things. There is also a fitness room, yoga and pilates room, nail studio, hair salon, and yoga sessions for skiers. Feeling hungry? Then munch on seasonal fresh fruit from one of the bowls or pick something from the health menu. www.wverbier.com Spa Cinq Mondes at La Cordée des AlpesCould this be the most beautiful of them all? One of the resort’s flagship hotels, La Cordée des Alpes (a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World community) is home to a simply stunning spa, combining a stripped-back contemporary feel with the timelessness of beautifully shaped wood. The centrepiece is a 15m indoor swimming pool heated to 30°C and stretching between an extended fireplace and a long window looking out to the Mont Blanc massif. Also featuring a jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, three individual treatment rooms (Cinq Mondes) and a fitness centre, the spa is open to non-residents booking at least one treatment. It can also be reserved for private functions. www.hotelcordee.com Experimental Spa by Biologique RechercheSituated in the centre of the resort, the ultra-trendy Experimental Chalet – the latest offering by a group running bars and hotels in Paris, London and Ibiza – is a hotel, restaurant, cocktail bar, club and spa rolled into one. The spa uses products made by luxury French bespoke skin care brand Biologique Recherche and containing only fragrance-free natural and biotechnical active ingredients. Guests receive a personal assessment before each treatment. The spa is home to three treatment rooms, a hammam, jacuzzi and 50m² solarium. The treatments on offer include facials and a range of massages: essential oils, sport, hot stones, scalp and feet. fr.experimentalchalet.com The L.Raphael Temple of BeautyA pioneer in skin care and anti-ageing treatments, the L.Raphael brand operates out of Geneva, Cannes, New York and Beverly Hills. It has also opened an ultra-luxury “Temple of Beauty” at La Truffe Blanche in Verbier, a 280m2 chalet-spa that can be booked for private use. As well as nine treatment rooms, it also has a truly stunning 15m swimming pool that takes its design cues from Art Deco and Baroque, not tomention a hammam, Finnish sauna, gym, home cinema, hair salon, nightclub, and a vodka bar. It even serves sushi. www.l-raphael.com Spa Nuxe at Le Chalet d’AdrienHere at Verbier’s sole Relais & Châteaux establishment and only five-star hotel, the long 16m swimming pool (heated to a temperature of 29°C) attracts all the attention. When its huge glass doors are opened, the Alps are revealed in all their glory and offer a majestic backdrop to the terrace in the summer months. The spa also boasts a jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, fitness room and private treatment rooms. A wide selection of treatments are on offer, all using Nuxe products: body and facial treatments with flowers, plants,honey and crème fraiche; a range of massages (relaxation, detox, Californian, energy, and deep tissue); and a treatment that goes by the name of modelage vers les cimes. Lasting an hour and 20 minutes, it makes use of heated cushions, Edelweiss essence mist, and magnetite stones. www.chalet-adrien.com MassagesThere is more to life than spas. You could just as easily have a massage at a beauty salon or at home. There are a good 20 or so companies and individuals who offer such a service in Verbier. If you don’t want to leave the comfort of your chalet, hotel room or apartment, you can book services with 1936 Massage (specialising in relaxing and sport massages), or Chilali Massage (Swedish, sport, deep tissue and hotstones massages, reiki and shiatsu, yoga and stretching). Their masseurs bring all the necessary material with them. The two companies also offer pilates sessions and facials. Wholeycow Yoga Massage Fitness offer another option, taking a positive, global, physical and mental approach founded on personal development. Its services include Thai massages and reflexology, massages for pregnant women, aromatherapy, and après (or avant)-ski fitness sessions designed to help you raise your game on the pistes. www.massage1936.comwww.chilalimassage.comwww.wholeycow.chDaniel Bauchervez
Steiger & Cie
In the early 2000s, when Verbier’s high-end luxury real estate development was well underway and the popularity of contemporary alpine style on the rise, an ambitious young man saw an opportunity. Florian Steiger, a former CEO in the music industry, built a rock-solid team directed by Nicolas Koch in Verbier and Oliver Herweg in Zermatt, and Steiger & Cie was born. More than a typical agency, Steiger & Cie has always had ambitious goals: from the beginning, they sought to build an interconnected ecosystem that met every single one of their clients’ needs, both during and after a real estate purchase, using a vast network of reputed, highly-skilled professionals. Beyond BrokerageToday the company has offices in Verbier, Zermatt, and Crans-Montana. When it comes to property brokerage, Steiger & Cie’s close and exclusive partnership with Cardis | Sotheby’s International Realty ensures this core part of their business resonates on a global level and is up to the highest international standards. In posh ski resorts where the luxury market is key, Steiger & Cie manage all kinds of real estate assets, from small apartments sold for less than one million francs, to rare chalets that can go for 25 million or more. Finding and presenting real estate assets is one thing; knowing how to truly highlight their real value is another. Steiger & Cie take great pride in their stunning (but never misleading) photography of featured chalets and apartments, and avoid using extensive retouching or deceptive wide-angle views in their images. The company stands by their belief that ensuring authenticity and establishing trust from the offset is the best (and only) way to build a business relationship. Both clients and partner notaries use the same key words to describe Steiger & Cie: honest, reactive, and highly professional. But establishing trust is just the beginning: in order to close a deal, one needs an extremely thorough understanding of every element involved in the decision making. Being able to find the right asset for the right client, means taking both a client’s nationality and budget into account, as the canton of Valais has imposed strict regulations on real estate purchases by foreigners, something Steiger & Cie are well-versed in. The company also has strong ties to the canton’s largest architectural office. Can we expand the building? Will the undeveloped neighbouring parcel stay that way? Have redevelopments already been planned? Steiger & Cie will look for and provide the required information. How can a foreigner obtain a residency permit? How can I finance my purchase? How can I benefit from a tax package? Once again, you can count on Steiger & Cie. Yet another of the company’s strong selling points: to answer all the questions that might arise, even the uncomfortable ones. But it’s not all about selling points. Unlike many other agencies, Steiger & Cie is not here to simply push a sale and benefit from a short-term commission. The company looks further into the future with every decision they make to ensure they maintain their excellent reputation among current and future buyers. They will even go as far as to setup short-term rentals for clients interested in certain properties, so they can see firsthand if the property is a fit before making their purchase. And once the deal has been closed, Steiger & Cie is still available to coordinate workers and artisans for any needed renovations. Their vast network, which also includes relationships with local authorities, shifts the company identity beyond the realm of simple real estate brokerage and makes them a valuable community partner. In short, they are an engaged and committed companion, able to handle complex cases from start to finish, without mishaps and without wasting any time. www.steigercie.chClaude Hervé-Bazin
Chalet La Marmottière
Located a stone’s throw from the golf course and Le Hameau de Verbier, between the nearest skiable slopes and the centre of the resort, La Marmottière sits behind a screen formed by birch trees and spruces, right beside an irrigation channel. What was once a mere chalet is now a superchalet, one of those prestigious buildings that has taken Verbier to the very peak of Alpine luxury. The main chalet (900m2), reworked by the Valais firm AMD Interior Designer, has no equal when it comes to allowing the light in. With its huge sliding bay windows embracing the scenery, it even goes as far as to create a new aesthetic for mountain architecture. These windows usher the sunlight into the large cathedral-like lounge on the first floor, which is surrounded by the most panoramic of terraces. They perform the same function on the ground floor, where a shimmering swimming pool that stretches for 17 whole metres, right along the building’s façade, reflects the distant peaks. Up on the top floor, the two master bedrooms vie with each other in their very own beauty contest. They too boast large windows opening out on to Les Combins and a large private balcony. The sense of scale is the same, as is the sense of fulfilment. One looks out on to the landscape opposite, its king-size bed an island floating off towards the horizon. The other sits to one side, as if out of shyness. Each has its own lounge, complete with a big screen and warmed by a glass-encased fireplace, and ensuite bathrooms: a shower and sleek wood in one; a bathtub and anthracite marble in the other. The first floor is home to a number of other rooms, where guests can retire in the comforting warmth of aged wood after using all the little toys the house has to offer: an outdoor jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, gym, and a bar created by Italian craftspeople on the theme of luxury cars and featuring a pool table. There is also a games room, poker room, cellar, which itself offers panoramic views, and a bowling alley, hewn out of the rock. Meanwhile, the second chalet (600m2) has a 3D cinema, conference room, massage room and ski room. La Marmottière will take some beating! https://hautemontagne.com/chal...Claude Hervé-Bazin
In 1839, Doctor Lauber opened the first lodge in Zermatt with just three beds on offer (the predecessor of the Hotel Monte Rosa). Today, one of his distant descendants, Daniel F. Lauber, is working at the helm of the most intimate Design Hotel™ in Zermatt: the Cervo. Made up of eight independent chalets that each house their own spa, this prestigious 5-star establishment has been patiently building a small luxurious empire, and now includes two restaurants (the iconic Cervo Puro and the Ferdinand), the Owner’s Lodge penthouse, the Overlook Lodge (made up of five large apartments), and the Schali Lago chalet located on the edge of the small Schalisee lake, near Täsch. What do all these venues have in common? An exemplary appetite for alpine purity, brought to life through the use of warm and welcoming natural materials, and an assiduous quest for the best panoramic views, with the Matterhorn at the forefront. Leaning up against the heavily-wooded slopes, the Cervo looms over the village and the Sunnegga funicular station, the gateway to Zermatt’s skiable area. A distinguished member of Design Hotels™, the Cervo is celebrating its 10th anniversary by embarking on an ambitious transformation. In 1839, Doctor Lauber opened the first lodge in Zermatt with just three beds on offer (the predecessor of the Hotel Monte Rosa). Today, one of his distant descendants, Daniel F. Lauber, is working at the helm of the most intimate Design Hotel™ in Zermatt: the Cervo. Made up of eight independent chalets that each house their own spa, this prestigious 5-star establishment has been patiently building a small luxurious empire, and now includes two restaurants (the iconic Cervo Puro and the Ferdinand), the Owner’s Lodge penthouse, the Overlook Lodge (made up of five large apartments), and the Schali Lago chalet located on the edge of the small Schalisee lake, near Täsch. What do all these venues have in common? An exemplary appetite for alpine purity, brought to life through the use of warm and welcoming natural materials, and an assiduous quest for the best panoramic views, with the Matterhorn at the forefront. (R)evolution at the CervoSummer 2020 promises big changes for the Cervo. The hotel will partially shut its doors as it undergoes a modernization. The driving force behind these changes is the idea to delicately bump the Cervo out of its alpine shell and open it up to the world. Nothing revolutionary: the hotel’s infamous alpine chic style (which may very well have been invented here), will not disappear, rather it will evolve in a way that integrates more transnational, cosmopolitan influences for today’s mobile world, with the added goal of becoming more eco-conscious. The best concrete example of this? The lounge will become home to the 100% vegetarian Bazar restaurant, where Eastern specialities will sustainably be brought to life using the best local products from Valais. Meat-based diets are slowly falling to the wayside and raclette’s reign over mountain dishes has come to a end. Today’s reality is much more versatile; desires fluctuate in accordance with temptations. At Puro, the maison’s highly-rated restaurant that received 14 points from Gault&Millau, the menu leans towards the southern Alps, shining a spotlight on pasta and ravioli dishes with contemporary flair. Only the Ferdinand, forever tied to its alpine roots, will remain fully committed to its still-sacred manta: 100% pure, made in Switzerland. A Remodelled HotelOn a technological level, the Cervo is moving away from fading fossil fuel-based models towards clean energy. Once renovations are complete, 90% of the Cervo’s electricity and heating will be provided by a multi-source system that includes solar and geothermal heat pumps, which tap into deep subterranean waters some 150 m below the surface. The psychology of the establishment is also evolving. A new swimming pool with a view of the iconic Matterhorn is being built in the spirit of onsen, Japanese baths, with updated wellness and massage spaces, and a yoga teacher will be on staff. The Cervo aims to break free of the restraining image of a simple “hotel venue” to become a true living destination, an incubator for ideas and desires, and a venue with a focus on personal development. The fitness centre will be transformed into a meditation room to encourage inner journeys, with Beyond Exploring as its new slogan. The former spa will be redistributed into four future Spa Suites. A new chalet will be built with some 15 new, high-comfort rooms, complete with cosy contemporary decor at reasonable prices. The Owners Lodge, which is one of the most lavish options in Zermatt, will become more exclusive, as a way of extending the full range of offers available at the hotel. The renovations will be overseen by the interior design firm Dreimeta d’Augsbourg, and are set to run from April-May through November 2020. In the interim, the Cervo will be partially closed without fully closing its doors. Some of the rooms and amenities will remain open from June 26-September 27 as part of the Ferdinand Pop-Up Hotel (which includes a room service breakfast), offering the perfect opportunity to experience this incredible place without breaking the bank. www.cervo.chwww.ferdinand.swissClaude Hervé-Bazin
Chalet Hotel Schönegg
One doesn’t simply see a small piece of the mountainous landscape from the Schönegg’s immense terrace: one takes in a full 180° panoramic view of the Matter Valley, high above all of Zermatt’s other rooftops, tucked into the valley below, and directly within eyesight of the kingly Matterhorn itself. The Schönegg is a true wooden mountain chalet. In summer, petunias decorate the balconies. In winter, snow coats the chalet’s delicately sloped roof and trickles off to form hanging stalactites. The front doors open to an Alpine universe in every sense of the word: beautiful hardwood floors and furniture, delicately carved wood embellishments in the restaurant, the recently renovated panelling in the Charme rooms, and the contemporary touches in the Style Cervin rooms. To top it off, three fourths of the hotel’s 48 rooms have a view of the Matterhorn. The Hotel Schönegg boasts a view of the village from its sun-soaked terrace, enhanced by the hypnotic pull of the Matterhorn. This prestigious establishment was recently inaugurated into the highly exclusive Relais & Châteaux inner circle, an esteemed recognition that places the Schönegg in a league of its own, as the only Zermatt hotel within the group. One doesn’t simply see a small piece of the mountainous landscape from the Schönegg’s immense terrace: one takes in a full 180° panoramic view of the Matter Valley, high above all of Zermatt’s other rooftops, tucked into the valley below, and directly within eyesight of the kingly Matterhorn itself. The Schönegg is a true wooden mountain chalet. In summer, petunias decorate the balconies. In winter, snow coats the chalet’s delicately sloped roof and trickles off to form hanging stalactites. The front doors open to an Alpine universe in every sense of the word: beautiful hardwood floors and furniture, delicately carved wood embellishments in the restaurant, the recently renovated panelling in the Charme rooms, and the contemporary touches in the Style Cervin rooms. To top it off, three fourths of the hotel’s 48 rooms have a view of the Matterhorn. A Family of WinemakersThe terrace, beautifully named Infinity, becomes a stage for live music in April for Zermatt’s Unplugged Festival, assuming one arrives early enough to snag a seat. When it’s time for après-ski, the piano comes to life as the sounds of jazz or classical music ring through the air and drift towards the Matterhorn. The ambiance is relaxed, as patrons nibble on snack platters with a glass of wine in hand. But not just any wine… When it comes to wines, no one in Zermatt knows them better than the Schönegg. Sebastian et Anna Métry, the hotel’s lovely owners, brought a family of winemakers and a family of hotel owners together in union, and one could almost say grape juice is in their blood. For at least five generations, the Métry family has been growing grapes in Varone, on the other side of Valais. Enter the pinot noir and fendant, produced in limited quantities that just barely meet the needs of the hotel’s bar and restaurant, aptly named Uncorked. There’s no doubt that wine is the true guest of honour here. The Schönegg’s wine cellar counts almost 400 labels, nearly a hundred of which are from Valais, tasted and selected by the Maitre de Maison himself, along with an impressive selection of wines from Bordeaux. Powering the ovens for almost two decades, Chef Reinhold Wrobel brings local products to life through the Menu du Marché (5 courses), which changes daily. As a lover of Asian cuisine, Mr. Wrobel doesn’t hesitate to titillate the palette of diners with a touch of curry, a hint of miso, or a dash of sesame. The ambiance features comfortable wooden tables and benches, lit by chandeliers made of bottles, topped with a magnificent view of the Matterhorn. All these elements combined are what made this establishment a natural fit for Relais & Châteaux, and ensures the venue lives up to the group’s token slogan: Creating Delicious Journeys. www.schonegg.chClaude Hervé-Bazin
It’s four in the morning and Verbier is up and about.Correction: It’s four in the morning and David Beckham is up and about, in Verbier.Sporting a headtorch over his woolly hat, the British football icon slowly climbs his way up the mountainside in the dark, splitboard skis on his feet and a fine blanket of powder underneath. Before long, sunshine bathes the mountain in intense golden light, as day breaks on a cloudless, majestic and captivating landscape. “Amazing,” says the ex-midfielder, a world away from his usual stamping grounds. “It feels like you’re on top of the world. A fresh blanket of snow fell last night and the conditions are perfect for snowboarding.” So here’s what it’s all about: Beckham has been invited to Switzerland by the watchmaker Tudor with the idea of trying his hand at snowboarding. Where exactly? In Verbier, of course, on the slopes of the Massif des Combins. Beckham is not one to shirk such a challenge and is a natural fit as the Swiss watchmaker’s new brand ambassador, a partnership that has taken #BorntoDare as its slogan. His childhood ambition to become a footballer at all costs, his success, his long career playing for Manchester United among others, his media profile and his role as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador all point to an iron will and an ability to test himself and take risks, qualities that reflect the brand’s DNA. Tudor sent out a very special guide to accompany Beckham on his adventure: four-time Olympic champion and Norwegian snowboarding star Kjersti Buaas. Skiing instructors do not come much better than her. Stylish and full of enthusiasm and positive energy, the two have plenty in common. No sooner had they peeled the ski skins from their splitboards, than the intrepid duo set off down the virgin slope. “I couldn’t try other sports when I was playing and it’s only since I retired that I’ve got into snowboarding with my children,” says Beckham. “I was a bit apprehensive to start with. I’d heard that the slopes of Verbier were a bit of a challenge. But it’s amazing to follow in the tracks of a world-class athlete. All I want to do now is just go back out there and do it again.”Daniel Bauchervez
Valais/Wallis Promotion s’associe à l’entreprise haut-valaisanne hä?wear.
Valais/Wallis Promotion s...
Zermatt pendant l’hiver Corona 2020/21: La sécurité et la santé avant tout
Zermatt pendant l’hiver C...