Verbier is the cradle of the Hôtel de
Verbier legacy and Swiss freeriding.
The Verbier château is first mentioned in the books, established by the Duke of Savoie, a fit and agile man, reportedly a great skier and father of 17 children.
The Verbier château was unfortunately destroyed by the forces of Savoie after the fierce “Bataille de la Planta”, the Verbier and Valais forces however emerging victorious.
The charming 15 seat Verbier Village chapel was built. Some ecclesiastical paintings from the 17th century have been preserved for invading skiers of the 21st century.
Thanks to the generosity of the residents, the old church was replaced after it became too small to serve the exploding population of downtown Verbier.
The first reports of lone skiers in Verbier appeared. Verbier is still a summer pasture, not inhabited year-round.
The ancient Valaisan tradition of the annual cow festival has now been given its formal title of “Combats de reines”(The battle of queens). These refined and thrilling battles can, to this day be experienced each year just below Verbier Village.
The village was inhabited by a substantial population of lush, cheerful cows and a couple of frostbitten herdsmen. Verbier’s freeride skiing was born from an organised squad of intrepid mountaineers, earning their turn by hiking up 15 km from Sembrancher, for the sole purpose of skiing back down again.
The first Verbier ski school was opened.
The Verbier development company was founded, with the aim to develop Verbier into a tourist resort.
The Swiss military sought to guard the invaluable white gold of Verbier and thus was born the Patrouille des Glaciers. This smooth 110 km non-stop course from Zermatt to Verbier was designed with the dual objective of training the poor conscripts. Today, this course has become a popular event, a right of passage for the keenest athlete. Every two years one can witness these men and women, somewhat akin to the native mountain ibex, armed with a ski in each hand and weary smile of relief, stumble across the finish line in the centre of Verbier.
A report from the Swiss transportation authorities declared Verbier as “one of the sunniest places in Switzerland, with its dry climate and wealth of great biological and therapeutic value”. The expert report recommended that Verbier could reasonably only host a maximum of 2’500 beds going forward. Verbier at this time had merely 27 inhabitants. The Swiss authorities subsequently felt times were peaceful enough for a skiing study to be conducted and thereby realized that Verbier was an ideal skiing location.
The Verbier pioneering spirit again materialized itself through the creative “funiluge”. The funiluge is the grandfather of ski lifts. A hand started engine activated a cable fixed to a giant, 12 passenger sledge. The cable is attached to a tree, pulling the sledge 200 metres up.
The landmark Hôtel de Verbier, the oldest family owned Verbier hotel still in operation was built. The same year, Verbier’s first truly mechanised lift was built.
The first Verbier chairlift was installed.
This was the starting point of a rapid five-year expansion of the Verbier lift system.
This year constituted the springboard for a decade of developing Verbier into a solid ski attraction, in particular for celebrities.
The Verbier-Village cheese dairy was built. With this came the local creative invention of the milk pipeline, an innovative way to transport the liquid white gold down from the pastures. The traditional transport mules were bankrupted. However, for natural reasons the white gold did not age too well inside the pipeline system, which lead the milk farmers to instead, resort to the orthodox method of delivering the milk to the dairy with vans.
This was the year of the all-time, genius, Verbier-Swedish collaboration skiing comedy “Sällskapsresan 2 – Snowroller”.
The lift system expansion culminated with the top station of Mont-Fort at a massive 3300m following a 10-year logistical struggle.
During Verbier’s “crazy years”, the Verbier Extreme freeride competition was launched as a contest for daredevils brave enough to charge down the intimidating Bec des Rosses’s north face.
The Tour de France was effectively settled through a riveting sprint battle on the way up to Verbier.
Hôtel de Verbier was taken over by the current operating family, thoroughly renovated and reopened with a new lease of life.