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Best resorts from Geneva for weekend trip

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Looking at the options flying / driving from Geneva for a small mixed ability group towards the end of January.

Considering Verbier but I hear that parking can be a major issue. Is this bad enough to be a deal breaker? Also is it expensive? We would want to experience some of the renowned nightlife - is this as good as it's made out to be?

The other option is Morzine which I have some experience of. How do the 2 compare?

Any other resorts we should consider?

Thanks!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Consider going to Verbier by notoriously integrated Swiss public transport, instead of a car. Journey time from Geneva Airport via Martigny to Le Chable is about 2-1/2 hours, then you'd get the bus or télécabine up to Verbier. You're right that Verbier parking is limited/expensive. What I like is the return leg - going home, once you're on the train in Martigny, then it takes you right into the airport. No messing about driving the car 'round the lake, searching for petrol near the airport; then handing it over to some nutter car hire driver; and squeeze onto the transfer bus etc. But I appreciate that it can be a lot cheaper than the train for a group. Outbound tha other advantage is if you have people arriving on different routes and times - anyone who is late just catches the next train - no waiting 'round for hours for the one person arriving late.

Look at the SBB transportation website at https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html and the Swiss Tourist website at https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/home.html. The latter especially often has special offers combining transportation and accomodation. This year Verbier is doing a 12-month lift pass for CHF 400 for under-25s if you have any younger people in the party, see http://www.verbier.ch/en/liste-news-3/news-763/ (tickets on sale 1st Sept to 30 Nov only). SBB offer a 'foreigners-only' special return ticket from a point of entry to one destination, however, oddly, it can be more expensive than a simple return.

Cheaper accomodation would be available in Verbier satellites such as La Tzoumaz http://www.latzoumaz.ch/en/index.htm, Veysonnaz and Nendaz but you'd have to accept they are more family than party locations. And the link from Nendaz to the rest of the 4 Valleys isn't great.

The London Switzerland Travel Centre https://switzerlandtravelcentre.co.uk/ is also another useful site for planning Swiss holidays and has access to the varios SBB and mySitzerland special offers and can sell rail tickets etc.

If you were prepared to stay in the valley, or perhaps a smaller resort, then the Valais resorts (Crans-Montana, Ovronnaz, Grimentz, Zinal, Les Diablerets-Gstaad but not Verbier 4 Valleys) have a general pass https://www.magicpass.ch/ were you can try different resorts on a 'Magic Pass' (although there are some restrictions). There's a big thermal spa at les Bains de Saillon in the Rhone valley near Martigny https://www.bainsdesaillon.ch/en/ with hotel accommodation which would make for a different sort of holiday where you're based in the spa but might ski different resorts ad hoc. The BdS is more middle-of-the-road group/family facility, as opposed to the luxury/expensive places like Lukerbad.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
And apologies - you asked about cost. The big cost is skipass, to my mind. Prices for 2017-18 aren't out yet but last year for example was CHF 337 (£290) at tourist rate today) for six days across the whole 410 Kms of the 4 Valleys. Last year, we tried buying passes on a 1-2 days basis and this actually worked out a bit cheaper as we had a couple of bad weather days when we went snowshoeing instead. Daily 4 Valleys pass was CHF 70 / £60. This is the weekday/off-peak rate, add 20% for Weekend and another 20% for peak school holidays.

Accomodation: Like anywhere, really. You can pay £250K/week for a chalet in Verbier, down to about £1100/week for a 2-bed apartment in a satellite. Or less per person sharing a small room in a hotel. Self-catering: example of a typial satellite rental agency is the one who handles our apartment http://www.carron-immobilier.ch/en/ In Switzerland '3 rooms' = 2 bedrooms so if it says 6 people that probably means 2 on a sofabed. If you look at one of the properties, they also show reservation dates and when the holiday weeks are, including local half-term etc. which could be useful. A good indicator for Verbier prices would be the Verbinet site at https://www.verbinet.com/

Subsistence (this includes beer & wine!): Again, like anywhere, probably need to be careful if you're choosing somewhere to eat out in the evening. Self-catering works for some people who are happy to go out some nights or eat-in others. But I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. On-piste gets expensive if you start having big long lunches. We generally eat with the masses somewhere like the Savoleyres summit cafeteria with the usual fries, applejuice and sausage etc. You'll quickly realise that the up-market on-piste 'places to be seen' like at Carrefour are in a different category price-wise.

And disclaimer: We have an apartment in La Tzoumaz that we rent out through the above agency. So obviously we're biased about people considering a Satellite (https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/dec/06/satellite-ski-resorts-verbier-four-valleys-switzerland) and the 4 Valleys as a destination. To be specific about prices, in the non-peak weeks our 2-bedroom apartment rents at £844/wk going up to £1250/wk in the school holidays. It would be comfortable for 4 but personally, I'd look for something with more rooms for a larger group. You then get into a chalet looking to be more cost-effective as the numbers get bigger. The article also discusses some other 'satellite' resorts in the Alps. [EDIT - as below, take a look at airBNB and perhaps Verbinet to get an idea.]

I appreciate that you're probably looking for the Verbier night-life, so a satellite may well not suit. Our son did an all-nighter in Verbier from La Tzoumaz but in retrospect, wouldn't recommend it. They ended-up about 4am pretty much finished and paid about £200 for a taxi back.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Thu 17-08-17 12:30; edited 2 times in total
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I did a long weekend in Verbier a few years ago from Geneva - got a place right in the centre on AirBNB, with free private parking space. Just had a quick look on AirBNB and found plenty.

But agree with the train - very easy to do. And if you're going for the nightlife you can have a sociable drink on the train on the way.
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Nightlife - you'll have fun in either Verbier or Morzine. I'd personally say Verbier is better with more bars, and getting into club type feel - but is also more expensive.
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I'd go to Chamonix, way better nightlife
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@moseyp, it's not great for a mixed abilities group though.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@fixx, depends what/how mixed.

Verbier pricey, IME, love it but it's lost much of its charm. Amazingly accessible high level skiing though.

Myself? Morzine easy. Chamonix easier by road/transfer. In all villages exact situation important.
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I would stay in Avoriaz rather than Morzine myself if it is just a weekend trip the best skiing is right on your door step.. If you felt the need to visit Morzine one of the lifts runs till 10 - 11pm.
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@TQA, slightly more complicated logistics though.
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@ChrisP3, Megeve is another option with short transfer from Geneva. Lively at weekends, attractive town, good skiing, great scenery, pistes tend to be less crowded than Verbier or Morzine IME. No more expensive than Verbier, as long as you keep out of the luxury goods shops. Not inexpensive though.
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Why Geneva?? Head to Turin and you are on the Matterhorn in 1.5hrs.....
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Did a weekend (Friday night to Sunday night) at Led Contamines this year.

There's a report on here. Easily drivable from Geneva.

Don't know about the nightlife but skiing would be suitable for your group.
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 You know it makes sense.
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@ChrisP3, this is kind of falling into one of those crevasses, as you have literally 100s of skis station villages within easy drive of Geneva. Your most important choice is made; which arrival airport.

Mixed group? Portes du Soleil or Grand Massif seem logical. Even though I have an accom business in Chamonix, for a weekend, mixed group? I'd go Morzine. (Partially that's cos' we don't try and find weekend bookings Happy But many, many places suit the bill.

Spoilt for choice really.
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Verbier.
Chamonix.
Zermatt.

In that order.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just a thought, and it may not be relevant, but if some of your group aren't necessarily ski fanatics, there are some nice thermal resorts in the Valais. I'm thinking Leukerbad and the more affordable Ovronnaz [1] which are combined ski+spa. If you'd consider being based in the valley, the Bains de Saillion [2] are near Riddes, where you could drive up to any number of places for the day (Crans-Montana, Nendaz, Verbier (via le Chable), Glacier 3000 and even Chamonix) and then enjoy the spa at night. The big advantage is that if the weather is terrible, you've the option to spend the day at the spa or go on an outing to somewhere in the valley or on Lake Geneva.

[1] http://www.ovronnaz.ch/en/?season=winter
[2] https://www.bainsdesaillon.ch/en/

The 'Magic Pass' advertised is the general pass that lets you ski in any of the main Valais resorts other than the 4 Valleys. Probably not cost-effective for a short break, but it might be attractive if you're thinking of going again (which is of course the idea behind the offer, to encourage people to return).
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La Clusaz worth having a look at or Les Contamines
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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@ChrisP3, why are your only options Morzine or Verbier?
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under a new name wrote:
@TQA, slightly more complicated logistics though.


OK you can't park beside your hotel but there both covered and uncovered car parks and the final sledge shuttle is a fun start to the holiday.
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What?? @TQA, for a weekend trip the joys of an additional 40 mins drive (or cable car) plus twatting around with sledges and stuff does not compensate for beer or ski time. In my book.

Avoriaz just doesn't cut it for time-poor weekend logistics.
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@under a new name, the OP @ChrisP3, did ask for options other than Morzine or Verbier.
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@intermediate, oh. So they did.

I should rephrase.
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Thanks so much for all the responses. There's some really good information here for us to check out here. The majority of the group aren't going to be getting into Geneva until 20:15 so that might have some impact on our decision.

Cheers!
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@ChrisP3, rules out train to Switerland eg le Chable, unless the timetable changes.
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under a new name wrote:
What?? @TQA, for a weekend trip the joys of an additional 40 mins drive (or cable car) plus twatting around with sledges and stuff does not compensate for beer or ski time. In my book.

Avoriaz just doesn't cut it for time-poor weekend logistics.


Morzine is at 1000 m even in late Jan it is not certain that you will have snow down to Morzine and even less likely that it will be good snow. Even in good snow years you will not have ski in ski out access at nearly al hotels. So in the morning you will probably need to get a bus to the lift and take a long lift with 800m gain to Avoriaz. At the end of the day it is likely that you will down load and take the bus back to the hotel.

Avoriaz is at 1800 m almost all accommodation 90% + is ski in ski out. No bus required.

IMHO Avoriaz is a MUCH better choice.
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@TQA, if it didn't add 45 minutes to the transfer by car, dicking around with sledges, etc. or having to get there in time before the bubble closes...

All of which, in my experience make it less optimal for an efficient weekend trip.

(and it's rather less entertaining in the evening)

But ... horses for courses - and I will confess to a historical Morzine bias.
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Avoriaz is a perfectly legit choice for a weekend. OK so a teeny bit more travel time from GVA than Morzine but in reality you're talking about an extra 20 mins in the car to resort and then a quick sleigh ride to your accommodation. Well worth it for the convenience of being ski-in/ski-out wherever you stay. You can be in Switzerland in 20 mins in the morning, try doing that from Morzine. First 20 mins of your day probably spent queueing for the Super-Morzine.

Depends on priorities. If you're after maximum ski time and not fussed at all by atmosphere or nightlife then Avoriaz is great. If you're more relaxed about time on the slopes and also want some serious apres then Morzine might be better.
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@froomie, I always allowed 40 minutes for the drive. My recollection could be wrong. Then checking the car into the carpark. Then dicking around with sledges.
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You know it makes sense.
Massively depends on the conditions I guess. I did it in late March this year in sunshine with totally dry roads and it was 20 mins, but in heavy snow would be loads more. Would also advise strongly against taking own vehicle when a shared transfer will drop you directly to the "dicking about" platform for a sledge. So many companies offering the transfers now, prices are pretty good.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Other question of course is accommodation availability... Many apartments in e.g. Avoriaz that take weekend bookings?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
ChrisP3 wrote:

Any other resorts we should consider?

Thanks!


Val d'isere's apres and night life is up there with anywhere else in Europe and way better than most. There is parking for thousands of cars and the skiing is also snow sure for January. Plenty to suit all abilities. 2h15 drive from GVA.
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If you are not bothered about night life - Champery: 2.5 hrs train from Geneva Airport. One easy change at Aigle but the local line train departure is timed to coincide with the mainline train. You are then right in the middle of the village. OK so it's a cablecar up the hill but the village is pretty and you are then linked into Portes du Soleil area. Avoriaz 25 mins from top of cablecar. From middle of Jan snow cover should be good until end of March. Dec - early Jan - skiable but may be icy. Should be able to ski down to Grand Paradis and short bus ride back for most of season.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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bar shaker wrote:
ChrisP3 wrote:

Any other resorts we should consider?

Thanks!


Val d'isere's apres and night life is up there with anywhere else in Europe and way better than most. There is parking for thousands of cars and the skiing is also snow sure for January. Plenty to suit all abilities. 2h15 drive from GVA.


Add at least 1 hour to that, maybe more depending on traffic and conditions. It's too far for a weekend trip IMO.
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I have done Val d'Isere for a weekend a few times. It's do-able but there are easier options.
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Usually 3 hrs+ GVA to Val D'Isere. It's my favourite but maybe too far for a weekend.
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intermediate wrote:
Usually 3 hrs+ GVA to Val D'Isere. It's my favourite but maybe too far for a weekend.


I did six weekends there last season. They were either the 6.20pm Friday out of Gatwick and get to Val at approx 10.30pm French time, or the 6am STN on Saturday and be clipped in before noon. That is also allowing for Sat am arrival traffic.

Rent a car, A41/A43/N90 with a toll fob. It's only 3 hours on a transfer bus, which is the slowest and most expensive option for a weekend.

Why is driving 1.5 hours OK for a weekend, but driving an hour further not OK? Also, if going for a weekend, you definitely don't want to be waiting for/getting buses or putting up with poor conditions just to save an hour of driving, IMHO. A weekend needs to be snow-sure with good in resort access.
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@bar shaker, I am struggling to understand how you can get to Val by 10h30 local off a 18h20 local flight?
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@under a new name, easy. Private jet, skip customs, fast car waiting on tarmac, police escort to clear the way.
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under a new name wrote:
@bar shaker, I am struggling to understand how you can get to Val by 10h30 local off a 18h20 local flight?


The flight gets into GVA at approx 20.30 local time. It helps that we only have hand luggage for weekend trips but you are right and we actually get in around 11pm if the flight is on time.
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@Dr John, I didn't think many bizjets flew out of Gatwick. Anyway 18:20 + ~1hr20 flying = 20h40 so only 1hr50 to get from G5 steps to resort? Helicopter would work I suppose if night flying and noise regs accommodate.
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