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ON THE ROAD AGAIN - James Cove, Swiss Alps
Thursday January 11, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Our editor, James Cove, is doing what he loves the best. Roaming round the Alps visiting a bunch of resorts he's barely heard of.

This time it's Switzerland.

I'm visiting to Vercorin, St Luc/Chandolin and Nax.  

Ever heard of them?  

Hardly Zermatt, Verbier or Crans-Montana and that is exactly why I'm visiting. 

I absolutely LOVE going to new resorts I have hardly heard of and the little I know about them before I roll into town the better.  

My good friend, Harry White from Switzerland Tourism, sorts out all the details.   

"Look you know I hate plans and itineraries, so you judge what you think will work as you know what I like. Give me the details as late as you can and if it doesn't quite work out then the Lord will provide," I said to him as he laid out a (rough) plan for this latest journalistic jaunt of mine.

I want it all to be fresh as I see a resort with new eyes with no expectations, research, pre-conditions or details.

It makes me feel like a child - just discovering life as it is and excited as it unfolds.  

Regular readers of PlanetSKI will know I have spent the last few days in the international resort of Crans-Montana for a global snowsports conference - the European Mountain Travel Summit, EMTS.  
And now I have taken the funicular train down to Sierre in the valley below, the local 441 post bus to nearby Chalais and arrived to take what I was told would be a cable car to Vercorin.  

Strictly speaking I suppose it was.

Taking to the airTaking to the air 

There were some cables and a car coming down.

And inside? 

 As I walked through the village of Vercorin to my hotel, Swisspeak Resort, I was pleased to see one of my favourite ski hire outlets.

At least I could get some decent skis.

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland


The old buildings were beautiful - this one dates back to the mid-19th Century.

1844 to be precise.  

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

The village of Vercorin was slightly bigger than I expected - but not much. 

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

It had the obligatory church and numerous chocolate-box style Swiss chalets.
Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

And I looked forward to a traditional, old-fashioned Swiss hotel with an elderly lady as my host in an establishment that had been in the family for generations.  

But the opposite happened. 

Swisspeak, VercorinSwisspeak, Vercorin

Swisspeak, VercorinSwisspeak, Vercorin

Step forward Maria Bonin.
Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

Brilliant - I had come up with a few pre-conceptions in the past hour or so about Vercorin and been proved completely wrong. 

I liked the place immediately.  

And then I discovered all the crystal ball gazing we had been doing at the European Mountain Travel Summit was encapsulated in Vercorin.  

How come?    

This little pass that Maria showed me summed it up.  

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

The EMTS conference in Crans-Montana was all about looking into the future and how the snowsports market is changing - what people want and what they are supplied with.

The Swisspeak Resort sums it up.

It opened in December this season and is a modern hi-tech affair. I am the first journalist to visit.

It is a series of apartments ranging from 2-person studios to 8-person affairs.

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

It has a huge spa area.

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

And even a gaming room for the kids.

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

The wifi is super-fast and the bar ultra-modern.
Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

And via its app everything can be bought: from ski lessons, rentals, excursions and tables at restaurants.

You can even order breakfast to be dleivered to your apartment via an App.

The room key, ski room key and access to the spa are all on the card.

It was not the accommodation experience I was expecting but I loved it.

See here for further details.

It is the first of ten to be built across Switzerland and is billed as skiing accomodation of the future - a model for how the snowsports world is adapting its sales and marketing methods in the digital world.

It is run by Interhome, whose parent company is Hotelplan. 

Interestingly Hotelplan also owns the UK tour operators Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski so there might shortly be a few conversations going on behind the scenes to feature the product to the UK market.

And yet Vercorin is also a traditional and ancient Swiss mountain village.

The church dates back to the 11th century.

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

The old part of the village is well-worth a wander around.

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

It's a near-perfect mix of new and old.

So, what about up on the slopes?

There is a similar mix: piste and off piste, with something for skiers and snowboarders.

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

And so the skiing.

The statistics are rather unimpressive.

1 gondola with a mid-station and 4 button lifts.

It has 35km of ski runs, a few cross-country tracks and some toboggan runs.

It reallly doesn't look like much:  

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland


But I never judge a ski resort by its stats, but rather its feel.  

And Vercorin feels good. Very good.  

Like the town, a perfect mix of old and new.  

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

There is a wide mix of slopes, from a couple of challenging blacks to decent beginner areas.   

The top to bottom vertical off the main gondola gives a very respectable 1,000m of descent.  

And then there is the off piste - there is loads and all accessed straight from the lifts. 

It was an excellent place to start my three resort visit to the area as I describe in the video snow report below.      

UPDATE: Just in case you are wondering I have fixed a cheeky visit to Zermatt and am heading there on Monday for a couple of days
. Wink

And I can't recall better views from the restaurant terrace at lunch.


And just in case you haven't had enough of the views on a bluebird day in Vercorin:

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland

And all too soon my visit to Vercorin was over.

Next up Chandolin/St-Luc across the valley.

Bring it on.
Looking toward St LucLooking toward St Luc


Here is more information about the resorts in the Val d'Anniviers and here are the details about the resort of Nax.

For general information about Switzerland and the Swiss Travel Service that James has been using for his road and rail trip then check out the details on the Official Website of Switzerland Tourism. 
Flights were with SWISS and the journey was done with a special the 8 day rail ticket - see here for more details.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news


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