Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Phil Hopkins
Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent
1:00 AM 10th February 2024

Princess And The Verbier Magic Carpet!

"Are you OK?" said the Frenchman to his daughter as she skied down the nursery slope at Les Esserts in Verbier, Switzerland.

"Oui," said the tiny tot moving a dummy to the side of her mouth so that she could reply. Shortly afterwards a tantrum followed as the child, rolling on the ground in the freezing snow, demanded to be carried back to the top of the slope!

And such is life, it would seem, for the average child born into this country of timepieces, chocolate and cuckoo clocks: you will almost certainly be skiing before you can walk, if that doesn't sound like too much of a contradiction!

So, at the tender age of 62 with a free bus pass beckoning, me and my +1 - Princess by name and a little younger I must confess - began our journey to Verbier, Europe’s unofficial 'Royal' ski resort: I had my own Princess, L plates and a plan: to learn to ski and return to the UK in one piece!

Easyjet at Manchester Airport and a train connection from Geneva via Martigny, delivered us to the Alpine village, widely regarded as one of the world’s ‘Grade A’ ski resorts - Fergie, Prince Andrew and their two offspring, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, have been known to don their salopettes there.

Singer songwriter, James Blunt, is the proud owner of a chalet, not forgetting, of course, other visitors like Hollywood A listers Jude Law & Leonardo Di Caprio. Even the King in waiting, William Prince of Wales, is said to have had one of his ‘lads’ trips to the resort in 2017!

Needless to say, Verbier is a class act and, whilst I knew I would be in good company, up to that point the closest I had come to salopettes, snow boots or a thermal beanie hat, was a photo on the wall of Glide ‘n’ Slide in Otley, West Yorkshire, one of the region’s longest established ski retail outlets.

Verbier based Warren Smith Ski Academy had paid a visit there with its winter sports roadshow some four months earlier, and had recommended lots of thigh and calf exercises ahead of our January adventure.

The Warren Smith Ski Academy, preparing beginners and experts for the slopes:
The Warren Smith Ski Academy, preparing beginners and experts for the slopes:
Fully equipped with ‘all the gear’ (…and no idea!) we checked into the Hotel de La Poste on Verbier’s equivalent of the local high street (Rue de Medran) in the heart of all the action: shops, bars and a 200m walk to the main ski lift with free bus connections to all the others.

Hotel de La Poste on Rue de Medran
Hotel de La Poste on Rue de Medran
Minutes later neighbouring hire shop, Ski Service, were giving us strict instructions on how to clip ourselves into our ski boots, assuring us that our respective DIN settings would guarantee rapid boot release from skies in the event of a sudden fall: these were also guaranteed at no extra cost!

For now though, our kit would be stored in the hotel’s boot room overnight.

Aldi and Lidl’s ‘middle’ aisles, along with a couple of Trespass skiwear shops back in the UK, had supplied us with all our basic clothing needs although we needn’t have worried. The Cirkel Supply Company in Verbier, offers a full skiwear rental service, with delivery directly to your hotel.

Our home for the next five days, Hotel de La Poste - still family run - was clean and homely with views to die for, friendly waiters at meal times – a couple were working for food, lodgings and the chance for daily skiing during the ‘season’ – and beautifully prepared but simple cuisine.

Simple but beautifully prepared food at the Hotel de la Poste, Verbier
Simple but beautifully prepared food at the Hotel de la Poste, Verbier
Quite how we planned to make the nursery slopes after a starter, main, cheeseboard and sweet only the Lord knew but, with a few blessings from Heaven, we prayed for snow and a lot of luck. We were in good company. The US couple in the adjacent room were from Minnesota and at “$300 a day” - I suspect they meant ski passes - had decided to give Colorado a miss in favour of Verbier which, they said, was stunning and far more cost effective.
“We have a Magic Carpet, pizza and fries,” said Mannon from Australia, our ski instructor for the morning at Les Esserts, a 10-minute bus ride from our hotel.

“Pizza?” I said, mystified, only to discover that she was alluding to the inverted ‘v’ shape that a snow plough stance makes, the first move that any novice must master if he or she is to either stop or stay on their feet!

Mannon (right) gives Princess the Royal treatment!
Mannon (right) gives Princess the Royal treatment!
“Kids remember that easily,” grinned Mannon as her Danish counterpart added to the conversation, “and fries are when skies remain parallel,” said Copenhagen’s answer to Ray Kroc!

A complex affair made simple but it seemingly worked and pretty soon we were snow ploughing, sorry, pizza’ing’ our way down the nursery slope, unaware that the so-called ‘Magic Carpet’, a slow-moving conveyor belt, would be the transport that returned us to the top of the gentle beginners’ ‘slope’. A Princess? Now a Magic Carpet?

Feeling the magic (carpet!)
Feeling the magic (carpet!)
Would I ever be allowed to forget this moment back in the UK? I feared not.

Three hours of hard slog (!) worked up an appetite and our first taste of après ski was the nearby Les Esserts Restaurant, a gourmet and gastronomic stopover where you can enjoy raclettes and grills over a wood fire.

Restaurant Les Esserts
Restaurant Les Esserts
The general choice of après ski options in Verbier and its surrounds, is considerable as you might imagine and, higher up the slopes you will encounter the likes of Le Dahu - authentic and refined cuisine at an altitude of 2,265 meters – and home to pizza chef Rado who came 8th in the world pizza chef championships!

Award winning pizzas at Restaurant Le Dahu on the pistes
Award winning pizzas at Restaurant Le Dahu on the pistes
But, if you want something really special, then look no further than the tongue tingling brunch at Chalet D’Adrien, lunchtime cuisine in a league of its own with waiters, chefs in their toque hats and views to die for, if you are prepared to brave the elements and opt for a table on the terrace with its cool views and blue skies.

Scenic brunch at Chalet D’Adrien
Scenic brunch at Chalet D’Adrien
There you will be fed homemade antipasti, hot Italian dishes from the meat grill, risotto, seafood and tantalising deserts. Ski afterwards? Absolutely, if you can still move!

However, if taking to the slopes isn’t your idea of fun, and I have a relative more inclined to ‘watch’ family members than participate herself, then Verbier can offer you a range of varied off piste activities.

Tobogganing ‘almost’ qualifies because it doesn’t involve skies but it’s as fast and furious as you make it and tremendous fun!

The Mont-Fort panoramic viewing platform will leave you breathless in wonder while Taki Trek’s eight sledging dogs will invigorate your soul but not before they have covered you in sheepskins and led you off in to the snow-capped mountains of the Val de Bagnes.

The Taki Trek dogs
The Taki Trek dogs
For art lovers, there’s the 3D Sculpture Park, a short gondola ride from the town.

The brainchild of New-York artist Madeleine Paternot and Verbier-based artist Kiki Thompson, it is, by any other name a wonderful, outdoor gallery which you can enjoy as you meander back down the mountain path to lower climes.

But what would any resort be without total relaxation?

The Spa at La Cordee des Alpes, a hotel and restaurant in the centre of town, promises to relax every muscle in your body after the rigours of the slopes.

An afternoon spa at Verbier's Hotel La Cordee des Alpes
An afternoon spa at Verbier's Hotel La Cordee des Alpes
And, in between, for those ambitious enough, they can ski, ski and ski again. By day two, and thanks to my second wonderful instructor from the Swiss Ski School, I was pushing my way down a Blue Run for beginners.

Fantastic progress so never underestimate the value of person tuition.

I never thought that I’d say it but skiing has a certain drug like quality to it and, at the age of 62, the idea of applying for an OAP bus pass in the next year or two is far less attractive than hitting the slopes, shouting Geronimo and toasting the world as I take my life in my hands and head downhill!

This pensioner in waiting is hooked on Verbier! Here’s to re-vitalised youth. Cheers!

For more information about Verbier visit

A seven-night stay at Hotel de la Poste in Verbier costs from £794 pp based on two sharing on a half board basis. Two-night minimum stay. Details: here

Return direct flights from Manchester to Geneva Airport cost from £90pp with easyJet

Swiss Travel System provides a range of exclusive travel passes and tickets for visitors from abroad. The Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the Swiss Travel System: rail, bus and boat network.

This pass also covers scenic routes and local trams and buses in around 90 towns and cities, and includes the Swiss Museum Pass, which allows you free entrance to 500 museums and exhibitions.

Prices start from £209 for a three-day second-class ticket. A Train from Geneva Airport to Le Chable VS via Martigny costs from £59 /CHF65 for a return 2nd class ticket. Details:

Lift Pass
An adult one-day pass for the Verbier 4-Vallées sector is priced at CHF85/£78.
An adult six-day pass for the Verbier 4-Vallées is priced at CHF389/ £352
For more information, please visit: Prices winter 23-24 - Verbier 4Vallées (

Ski Hire Equipment
Ski Service (skis & equipment). Details: here
Cirkel Supply (Premium skiwear rental). Details: here

Ski Lessons
Altitude School
Details: here
Ecole Suisse de Ski
Details: here

Les Esserts restaurant
Le Dahu
Brunch at the Chalet d’Adrien

Off Piste Activities
Mont-Fort panoramic platform
Dog Sledging - Taki Trek
Toboggan run - the toboggan run
Spa at La Cordee des Alpes
Walk along the 3D Sculpture Park

For Access to the Verbier image library please visit here