Prince Andrew has a modest little chalet amidst its snowy peaks and the Duke of Cambridge has been caught dad dancing in its bars. In fact the smattering of royals and other international VIP types make Verbier in the Swiss canton of Valais one of the most exclusive ski resorts on the planet. Come summer however, it’s all change and this pretty alpine hangout is keen to market itself as an affordable summer escape. That’s not as far fetched as it might seem; accommodation is far kinder on the pocket outside the ski season and many of the activities on offer are made eminently affordable by a 4€ a night tourist tax.
On paying your €4 you’re given a Verbier Infinite Playground (VIP) pass which means free or discounted activities including food, swimming and biking. The area is particularly keen to promote its cycling and the VIP pass will get you 50% off a lift pass for you and your mountain bike. It’s well worth the outlay – for expert riders and enthusiastic amateurs the Verbier Bike Park is a downhill dream. It’s got 6km of serious downhill tracks with a head-spinning 700m vertical drop in altitude which makes it perfect for thrillseekers and speed specialists.
If you’re not quite at expert level, you can start on something a bit kinder – there are four different gradients of trail – green, blue, red and black so it’s worth taking your time to build up your confidence. All told, there are 20km of downhill tracks and there are also plans to develop more obstacles and ramps and if you need a bit of guidance, each afternoon, pro-riders from the Verbier bike team can show you around the trails (min. 2 people), telling you all you need to know about the park and the obstacles on the way. The park’s open from early June to late October but check lift opening dates before you go.