A new plot twist in the 4 Valleys saga.


Nendaz Espace Mont Fort

OK, last time we blogged it was to assess what was happening in the 4 Valleys.

Basically, in case you missed it, Verbier announced it would not be selling 4 Valleys passes and the area didn’t really exist until an agreement could be reached.

So we tried to make sense of Televerbier’s announcement, look at the new lift pass called “Verbier Grand Ski”, and crucially whether or not this really was the end of Switzerland’s biggest connected ski area.

We expected something to come back across from the other partners, and it finally has in the shape of a rival ski area…

But we thought before – and we still believe – that there is a lot of time for brinkmanship and manoeuvring between now and the normal opening of the 4 Valleys, which is usually mid-December. So nothing is dead and buried until then.

So there’s news, and it’s not great.

The new Espace Mont Fort piste map

The new Espace Mont Fort piste map

We now have an update as things have changed. The Nouvellist has announced that Nendaz and Veysonnaz have joined forces to create a new area called “Espace Mont Fort” where you would be able to ski between Veysonnaz and Nendaz and go up Mont Fort (which belongs to Telenendaz but is jointly run with Verbier).

So, what does it mean?

Well, hard it’s to say. But it does make it seem as if the negotiating parties have packed parachutes and want to let the fellow members of the area-formely-known-as-the-4-Valleys that they can operate without them. In this case it would seem Telenendaz and TeleVeysonnaz want Verbier to know they can also survive if the biggest ski area in Switzerland dissolves.

new verbier ski area - verbier grand ski

The new Verbier Grand Ski piste map

Both Nendaz and Veysonnaz have released details of this new area, with Nendaz saying there has been an “excellent cooperation between Nendaz and Veysonnaz” and adding “the possibilities… of extending to other sectors will be confirmed if no agreement is reached by the beginning of the winter”.

They price the new area at 60chf for a day pass, so about ten chf less than the Verbier Grand Ski.

The same question again: should we be worried?

Well, our knee-jerk reaction is yes. We should worry. (But that is the knee-jerk response).

Because this isn’t the behaviour of people negotiating a settlement – it’s the behaviour of kids in the playground finishing an argument by taking their ball home…

But the knee-jerk-free thought is that it is not even August yet.

And that means we’re not even at the half way point between last winter ending and next winter starting. So there is time. Plenty of it. And as someone from the lift company pointed out, these arguments are typical when the agreements need renewing, it’s just this time social media and newspaper stories leaking the news and websites having to make announcements have shone a light on the negotiating and arguing – and the potential fall-out.

In the old days nobody would have known until they turned up on holiday, and when it was agreed before the winter we would never have known at all…

The original Nouvellist article in French:

Les 4 Vallées ne sont toujours pas prêtes de renaître de leurs cendres cet hiver. Après Verbier qui a lancé son produit “Verbier Grand Ski” à 71 francs la journée, Nendaz et Veysonnaz rétorquent avec “Espace Mt-Fort”, qui réunit les deux domaines skiables pour 60 francs le forfait.

Les deux parties, Nendaz et Veysonnaz d’un côté, Thyon et Verbier de l’autre, ont accepté une médiation dans le conflit qui mine les 4 Vallées. Pour autant, Verbier, avec son produit “Verbier Grand Ski” à 71 francs la journée, avait, il y a tout juste un mois, de fait, mis un terme au plus grand domaine skiable suisse.

Ce jeudi, TéléNendaz et Téléveysonnaz répliquent en lançant à leur tour “Espace Mt-Fort”, un forfait qui donne accès à l’ensemble des domaines skiables des deux stations et ce, pour 60 francs la journée. Les deux sociétés justifient cette action par le blocage actuel du dossier des 4 Vallées. “De nouveaux accord doient intervenir entre les partenaires”, peut-on lire dans un communiqué, “les discussions n’ont pas abouti à ce jour, et nous ne pouvons dans l’état actuel garantir le maintien des tarifs dans leur configuration passée.”

Pour autant, comme du côté de Téléverbier, on garde ici la porte ouverte à une éventuelle réconciliation dans les mois à venir. “Les possibilités et les modalités d’extension aux autres secteurs devront être définies ultérieurement si aucun accord n’intervient d’ici le début de la saison d’hiver.”

Leave a Reply