Category Archives: News

Winter is upon us

It has been a busy year for us here at Bramble Ski. 2013 has been a year of further growth and change. This is what we have been up to:

  • Again our portfolio has grown this year. We now operate a fantastic collection of almost 50 luxury chalets and apartments across four of Europe’s finest resorts.
  • We have expanded our operational portfolio to the resorts of Villars in Switzerland and Lech in Austria.
  • We have re-developed and re-branded our website (we hope you like it) focusing on delivering the information our clients need in the most beautiful and efficient manner possible. Every bit of information on our new website is never more than three clicks away.
  • In anticipation of the above, we set out looking for a sales and marketing manager in the spring, and the response to this search was incredible. In the end, we had two equally strong applicants and as a result our sales and marketing team grew from one person to three! Welcome on board Malcolm and Fiona.
  • We’re upping our service levels again this year and recruitment is always a key driver in this. We pride ourselves in being able to pull together a team of professionals who thrive on the satisfaction of providing impeccable service. We have literally received thousands of applications this year and are excited about the team we have in place.

Now, with the first snow storms past and our teams arriving at the end of the week for staff training, it is game-on. As we embark on another winter providing our guests with unrivaled service in the most beautiful properties located in some of the finest European ski resorts, our vision is clear:  to redefine the luxury chalet experience.

Our newest luxury property in Verbier

Luxury chalet with swimming pool in Verbier

Corniche has a 10-metre pool with swim jets and a decent gym for bad weather days.

We are excited to launch our latest addition to our portfolio of luxury chalets in Verbier. Just a stone’s throw from the Savoleyres lift this beautifully furnished property with swimming pool, gym, sauna, Hammam and outdoor Jacuzzi will certainly be popular.

Corniche is available from January 3, 2013 for all the remaining high season weeks of the season (Russian Christmas, February half-term and Easter). We can offer it on a serviced basis with daily cleaning and concierge service or with our fully catered service which includes a dedicated driver service, chef and hosts, massage, ski instruction and of course our concierge service.

Thanks to Yves Garneau for once again taking fantastic shots of another fabulous property on our portfolio.

For more information on Corniche and luxury catered ski holidays to Verbier and St Anton call our sales team on +44 207 060 0824 (in the UK), +41 22 534 9774 (international) or email info@brambleski.com.

Photographs by Yves Garneau

Skiing this weekend has been postponed

After our previous post we`ve now just discovered that Verbier will not be opening this weekend. So if you were planning to ski, then you `ll have to get yourself to the top of the mountain. While we don`t have official confirmation of the reason yet, we suspect that the concern is the lack of snow. Once again we`ve had a spell of amazing blue skies and pretty warm weather which has done any aspiration of an early opening no favours. There is the possibility of some snow in the forecast for Thursday/Friday so we still may get some turns in … earned turns mind you.

Skiing in Verbier commences this Friday …

There is about a foot of snow in the north bowl down to Lac de Vaux.

With the lifts opening in Verbier on Friday I decided to hike up to Attelas this weekend to have a look at how much snow is in the Lac de Vaux bowl.

We parked at Le Carrefour and hiked up under the new detachable six-man chair lift that has replaced the old La Combe and Mayentzet chairs. All work on the new lift is now concentrated on the base station. The pylons, the lift cable and the top station are all completed. Linking up with the Funispace, Les Attelas and Chaux-Express, this new high-speed lift called La Combe 1 is going to prove a great alternative to Médran as an access to the mountain. See the full Verbier lift map here. Below are some images of the new lift …

From Ruinettes we decided to pick the direct route up to Attelas and climbed under Les Attelas (commonly called the ‘James Blunt lift’) . The steep, sometimes hair-raising pitch, finally gave way to the somewhat flatter boulder-field gulley and it was here, bathed in sunshine, that we were rewarded for our route selection. Circumambulating the rocky outcrop above us, we spotted a majestic Ibex. As I clambered up another steep pitch to try and get a better angle of him, he gracefully obliged, posed for a few more minutes and then disappeared around the corner.

Alpine Ibex.

With little to no snow on the sun-drenched slopes heading up to Attelas and no snow in the forecast, I began wondering how skiing was going to be possible at Lac de Vaux this coming weekend. But the sheltered and noth-facing bowl, in contrast, has some decent coverage, no doubt aided by hard-working snow canons. There is about a foot of snow in the bowl down toward the lake. Don’t bring your best skis out this weekend, but there is enough to get a few turns in.

From here, we completed the loop around the Attelas peak and hiked to Col de Mines noting a number of small releases into Valon D’Arbi en-route. Emerging at the col in the late afternoon sun, the fiery colours of autumn beckoned us back down to Verbier.

Photographs by Barry Cox.

 

Mountain culture in London

While in London last week I got a chance to peek around the annual London Ski and Snowboard show at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. I got there as the doors opened on Wednesday, the first day of the show, and so missed out on the carnival-like festivities that typically characterise the event, but it did give me a chance to peruse the exhibits without having to elbow my way through the crowds.

As a recent iPhone convert, I was intrigued by the efforts made by a couple of British exhibitors to capitalise on the difficulty of operating touch-screen technology with gloves on. eGlove has a small range of gloves designed with conductive material in the index finger and thumb to facilitate touch-screen use. Without actual reviews supporting the technical capabilities of these gloves in extreme environments, and with the likes of Burton and North Face also producing similar-purpose gloves, leading the market may prove difficult. iPrint has a different, simpler take: their conductive adhesive strips attach to any glove and, at a couple of quid for a pair of stickers, provide a much more affordable solution. The unknown factor here is how long these adhesive strips can be used for before they fall off and need replacing.

But perhaps the best solution to this dilemma would be to leave our touch-screen crutch at home when we head into the mountains?

The highlight of my day was in fact a visit to the Royal Geographic Society in South Kensington. The Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Himalaya exhibition is a thought-provoking and poignant piece of work produced by photographer and founder of GlacierWorks David Breashears. The exhibit is on until November 11th and is well worth making an effort for.

Since 2007 David Breashsears has made eight photographic expeditions to the Greater Himalaya region. Together with his team at GlacierWorks they have set out to recreate some of the classic photographs of the region taken in the early 1920s by Sir Edward Oliver Wheeler, George Mallory and Vittorio Sella.

The result is astounding, a collection of then and now images that illustrate the vast reduction in the world’s greatest vault of pure untapped water. Breashears attention to detail in retracing the footsteps of these early pioneers in the most inhospitable environment on the planet is captivating and stirring. If you’re in London, don’t miss this.

New properties and improved communications

The leaves are starting to fall here in the Swiss Alps as the countdown to winter begins. The first lifts are due to open in 6 weeks and the locals are all predicting a bumper snow season.

We have added three new properties for the coming season. Chalet Montana and the Penthouse Le Daray will be rented on a weekly basis and Chesa Luna on a seasonal rental basis.

Barry Cox has joined our central team as our Group Marketing and Communications Director. With 10 years of experience in photojournalism in Europe and Africa and 4 years of experience heading up our Canadian operation he will focus on electronic and traditional communications to the market.

In St. Anton our 5 luxury properties are selling fast while in Switzerlnd sales have hugely picked up over the past few weeks as the Swiss Franc has lost some
strength against the Euro, Pound and other key currencies.

Three New Properties Added in Verbier

Chalet Montana, Alpine Luxe – sleeps 11 (additional beds available), stunning 7 bedroom, 750m2 free standing chalet, ski-in, perfectly located close to Medran and the centre of the village, available for all weeks of the season. Prices between CHF48,000 and CHF75,000 a week on a catered basis.

Penthouse Le Daray, Alpine Classic – sleeps 9, beautiful 4 bedroom, 2,25m2 penthouse apartment, great location at the bottom of the Le Rouge piste with great access to all areas of the village. Priced between CHF13,500 and CHF25,000 a week on a catered basis.

Chesa Luna, Alpine Luxe – Sleeps 10, beautiful 5 bedroom, 2,75m2 chalet, located in the heights of Verbier, priced at CHF230,000 on a seasonal basis.

Seasonal / annual rentals

We have Chesa Luna available on a seasonal basis for CHF 230,000 and a new 3 bedroom property located 200m from Medran also available on a seasonal or annual basis (please enquire for details).

Please see our Seasonal Rentals page for further details.

Property finder service / Properties for sale

We have a great selection of luxury properties in Verbier for sale. For further details see our Real Estate page.

If you’re after raclette in Verbier, then get to Le Châble in September!

This past weekend Le Chable hosted its annual Raclette Festival, a celebration timed to co-incide with the descent of the local cows from their summer-time pastures up in the alpine, to settle, for the oncoming winter, in the lower meadows of the valley. For a small town, Le Chable sure knows how to throw a party!

Raclette, derived from the French word racler meaning “to scrape”, is both a type of cow’s milk cheese and a dish, indigenous to Valais. It’s a deliciously simple concept: a wheel of raclette is cut in half and the open cheese held over a wood fire or grill for a few minutes allowing it to begin melting. This delectable layer of raclette is then scraped off on to a plate and served alongside baby potatoes, pickled onions and gherkins, and is best accompanied by a glass of locally produced fendant.

Le Chable was bursting at the seams for the weekend and it seems that no one was prepared to miss out on this eating and drinking fiesta. With rivalling dairies set up for raclette production in numerous stalls around the town square, benches and tables lining the road, and an enormous marquee erected for live entertainment and further seating, the town was ready for the onslaught. Old and young, local and foreigner, immersed themselves in the merry-making that continued well in to Saturday and Sunday evenings.

A variety of Swiss musicians kept the atmosphere charged, in particular a talented yodeller from Bern whose tiny frame defied the odds as she belted out songs that won the affection of the crowd. For the children, a display of farm animals, a bouncy castle and a trampoline were on hand. But for most, it was clearly the mouth-watering raclette and local wines that were the reason for staying… and staying some more.

Photographs by Barry Cox.

Snowpulse purchased by Herculean Swiss company Mammut

An interesting Swiss business acquisition that took place earlier this summer might not be hot-off-the-press news, but it’s worthy of a mention. Snowpulse, located in Martigny close to the freeriding mecca of Verbier, was purchased by mountaineering product giant Mammut Sports Group for an undisclosed amount on July 1st.

Snowpulse’s avalanche airbag system is already popular around the world. Its cannisters are filled with compressed dry air and can be refilled. The ABS technology (and in fact Mammut’s own Removable Airbag System packs) utilise nitrogen filled cannisters and cannot be refilled, and therefore need to be replaced once deployed. From what I gather the benefits are debatable: considering that most skiiers must board planes in order to get their back-country fixes and airlines have varying policies on carrying nitrogen-filled cannisters, it is certainly less expensive to fill a Snowpulse cannister once landed than to purchase a new ABS nitrogen cannister, but is it any more convenient having to source a location that will do the job at your destination?

Either way, air bag technology offers what’s widely regarded as the safest solutions to avalanche survival and that pro cannot be under-valued. Now that Snowpulse is 100% owned by the long-established Mammut, this Swiss product has the capacity to fully reach its potential. Exciting.

Bramble Ski web designer participates in one of Europe’s toughest cycle races

Philip Field, Bramble Ski’s web designer, recently participated solo in the Race Around Ireland – an ultra-marathon cycling race that circumnavigates the country - to raise money for Help for Heroes. The total race distance of 2,171km is demanding enough in itself but this year’s entrants faced the added challenge of battling headwinds from tropical hurricane Katia that at times exceeded 100km/h.

Phil, racing for Team Exiles, now lives in Verbier and did most of his training preparation in the Swiss Alps. With the hard yards done prior to the race, he and his back-up team had worked out a sustenance strategy of riding for four hours on energy gels and resting and refueling for one. After 37 hours of duelling with the wrath of Mother Nature however, Phil decided to withdraw. Read his fascinating account of the experience here. Only two of the 11 solo riders managed to complete the event. Phil managed to raise almost £3,000 for his chosen charity. Everyone at Bramble Ski is really proud of his efforts in and out of the saddle.

Philip Field owns and operates Zest Design and is responsible for illustrating and representing Bramble Ski’s unique brand and approach to luxury ski holidays on our website.

La Désalpe, return of the mountain cows

The month of September marks the official transition from summer to autumn in the northern hemisphere. Around the world ski movies premier and ski-bums begin to dream of copious face-shots for the season ahead. In the Alps, increasingly ‘wintry’ weather conditions prevail and snow begins to fall and settle in the alpine. Swiss mountain lore dictates  that the time has come for shepherds to drive their cows, who have spent the summer grazing lush highland meadows, toward the sanctuary of the plains and valley bottoms.

The tradition of this procession of shepherds and cows is celebrated with a festival called Désalpe across Switzerland. La Fouly,  a tiny settlement at the dead-end of Val Ferret (a valley on Switzerland’s southern border with France and Italy) is a 45-minute drive south-east from Verbier, and is the local centre for these festivities. It’s a  typically picturesque village surrounded by gothic-looking mountains and imposing glaciers. And, as if on cue for Désalpe, the weather turned overnight from weeks of glorious sunshine and high temperatures to a wet, misty and decidedly cooler day.

After four amazing years in Canada’s western interior it was fantastic to return to Switzerland and, within a week, experience a mountain festival that exudes the culture and history of Europe. Below are a selection of images from the day. Next weekend: the Raclette festival in Le Châble. Just part of the joyous induction back into Swiss life … cheese, and more cheese … wine, and more wine … cows, and more cows!

Photographs by Barry Cox.