If one measures luxury in its distance from the necessary, on a gilded scale of ever increasing pointlessness, then skiing would feature high on the list. However, luxury is precisely that pursuit of something that we do not need, enjoyment for the sake of enjoyment alone, and therefore the art of pitting oneself against the planet’s frozen monoliths fits this criteria precisely.
The sport, which grew through the Twentieth Century from a traditional Scandinavian form of winter transport to become one of the modern benchmarks of global luxury holidaymaking. The world’s elites are faced with the eternal winter choice of swapping being well-heeled on city streets with either barefoot on the beach or ski-booted on the slopes.
Attracted by the near perfect ski conditions and the almost unparalleled variety of slopes linking the resort to a vast network of runs that criss-cross the Alps, skiers have been flocking to Verbier winter-on-winter since the ski-boom of the 1960s. It is estimated that the population of what is still an essentially small alpine town in the Swiss Canton of Valais rises from around three thousand to over thirty thousand residents from summer to winter.
Without question one of the world’s premier luxury ski locations, Verbier will play host from this month onwards to its latest and perhaps most extravagant luxury location - No.14 Verbier. Old-school Hotel Les Rois Mages has been radically refitted and lavishly refurbished by the same team of architects, designers and craftsmen that brought Sir Richard Branson’s Verbier Lodge to spectacular life in 2006, and confidence is high that the new venture will outshine even its glittering predecessor.
It is the brainchild of David Pearson, founder of bespoke chalet operator Ski Verbier in 1992, and Tom Avery, a colleague from Ski Verbier and one of the most renowned alpine and polar explorers of modern times. By the time Pearson sold the business in 2006, Ski Verbier had a portfolio of seventeen chalets and Hotel Les Rois Mages, of which he kept hold. Their company, Verbier Exclusive, will be the top-tier tour operator that administers both No.14 and the group’s exclusive collection of smaller catered luxury chalets.
No hotel, No.14 is the area’s most expansive and luxurious chalet. This exclusive and intimate venue is available to rent in its entirety or per room, from which there are ten double bedrooms and three suites to choose. Each has been bespoke designed by top London designer Fiona Barratt, with custom-made furniture imported from the UK set in an ultra-chic timber and stone Alpine design scheme, and classily appointed with fixtures and features to luxury hotel standard.
Up to twenty six guests are invited to take advantage of state of the art spa facilities, such as the resident masseuse, ten meter indoor pool, cold plunge pool, indoor jacuzzi, and the two cedar hot tubs in the bracing mountain air. Entertainment is provided by a plush in-house cinema, games room, library and bar. Presided over by Roux Scholarship winner Daniel Cox, who has worked in some of the most prestigious Three Michelin starred kitchens in the world - New York’s Per Se, the Fat Duck in England and El Raco de Can Fabes in Barcelona, No.14’s restaurant is sure to become one of Verbier’s most envied eateries.
The high specification design based around ultra-luxurious hospitality principles is housed at No.14 in the classic log chalet structure typical of the region. Picture-postcard-pretty on the exterior and thus in keeping with the classy traditional Verbier look, No.14 is, however, a class apart and a design scheme above the rest of this remarkable town once one is through those timber-hewn doors.
- Ben Stewart
Address: Rue de la Valle 14
Tel: 1608 674 011
Photo Credit: Tom Avery