Ski resorts around the world fight amongst each other for the attention of thermal-clad adrenaline junkies every year. When it comes to the most exclusive, most glamorous and most expensive ski resort in the world, however, there is only one Verbier.
Nestled in the Swiss Alps, Verbier has become a winter home for the rich and famous. The Beckhams, Jude Law, Jamie Oliver and Jemima Khan all head there for a winter break, you can rent Sir Richard Branson’s Verbier Lodge for the princely sum of £112,000 a week in peak season for 18 people, and chalet prices have rocketed to more than £1.6 million for an entry-level family house on the back of the ski resort’s outlandish reputation.
Chalets for sale in Switzerland don’t come close to the demand for property in Verbier, and an influx of Russian investment means the resort is heading even further upmarket.
The 3000m2 La Truffe Blanche recently went on the market with a price tag of more than £36 million, which was justified in part by its nightclub, a swimming pool lined with Onyx, cinema room and Finnish sauna.
Verbier properties typically command premiums of 80% compared to other apartments for sale in Switzerland; even a permanent spot in the town centre underground car park costs almost £100,000. The rental market is suitably buoyant too.
Chalets such as Chalet Jasmine come with a hot tub, a wine cave, a spa and room for 12, all for the bargain price of £48,000 per week at the peak of the ski season.
Inevitably, Verbier hosts the kind of high society parties to rival the likes of St Tropez and Marbella, and Pippa Middleton recently wrote a piece about the high-end nature of Verbier’s ‘scene’ for Vanity Fair. The local shops are more likely to sell Prada than Northern Rock, the local art gallery sells Andy Warhol originals, and a bar bill at The Farm, the 70s-styled nightclub that is open until 4am, will make the headache the next day so much worse.
The Coco club was famous for a £5,000 cocktail, served in an ice sculpture, comprising the best Champagne, brandy and other special ingredients. If that was not enough, the club’s curtains were made of fur and gold leaf adorned the walls.
Verbier is, simply, a microcosm of wealth that is notorious even in Switzerland, where Formula One drivers choose to live and massive wealth is par for the course.
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