Is it really the end of the 4 Valleys? Should we be worried?
The 4 Valleys on hold after failed negotiations
For the last 24 hours Verbier and the internet have been awash with the news that the 4 Valleys ski area – one of the biggest in Europe and the biggest in Switzerland – has been dissolved.
Is it true? Well, yes. But only for the moment…
Why are we in this situation?
Well, like most good arguments it’s about money. The four ski areas can’t agree on distribution of the money from lift passes sold across the area – Verbier blames Veysonnaz, and Veysonnaz has hit back by calling Verbier “irresponsible”. We understand Veysonnaz pulled out of the old deal 18 months ago and this is the result.
The details of how it works, how it might work and where the sides are disagreeing are vague, but in simple terms four people are sitting at the table, and they can’t agree.
Who is actually at fault is, of course, impossible to say, but without a unanimous solution the 4 Valleys as we know it cannot exist.
So is this it?
Does this mean no more Backside of Mont Fort and no more skiing past the dam to Siviez? No more day trips to Thyon? No more Mash?
Well, don’t write anything off just yet.
This news has hit the headlines as Verbier announced next season’s lift prices yesterday and as a result of the conflict they aren’t offering 4 Valleys passes – which has shone a light on the stalemate between the ski areas.
Right now, however, you can still by summer 4 Valleys passes and hike and bike your way all over the network. Perhaps not next winter though…
Verbier Grand Ski.
In place of the traditional 4 Valleys pass for next winter is a new pass: Verbier Grand Ski.
Now cynics have pointed out it’s simply a Verbier pass. But upon closer inspection it goes a bit further.
As you’d expect the Verbier, La Tzoumaz, Savoleyres and Bruson pistes and lifts are all there. (Bruson of course the home of a shiny, new, high-speed bubble lift and a lot of skiing terrain most Verbier regulars have never visited.)
But the new pass also includes the Mont Fort Sector (which is under the jurisdiction of Nendaz, but run jointly with Verbier) and also the Siviez chair lift (part of Nendaz) according to reports from PlanetSKI.eu.
That means you will be able to ski just beyond the normal Verbier area and crucially ski the famous Backside of Mont Fort.
How this is possible is not clear – perhaps Nendaz and Verbier are on the same side? That would be pure speculation but if you can’t speculate it’s no fun.
Well, our-man-in-the-know had a meeting with Televerbier today and they claim to be in constant contact with all parties and that negotiations are on-going.
Significantly the price of the new Grand Ski Verbier pass is almost identical to the price of a 4 Valleys pass, leaving the door open to changing the pre-ordered passes into 4 Valleys passes should the solution be agreed.
It’s also not impossible a new network will emerge, we speculated about a tie-up with Nendaz but why not? Perhaps the 4 Valleys will become the 2 Valleys?
It is clear that the publicity over the situation is not ideal, but the pass system as it stands is hardly a bad option – after all, if we all put our hands on our hearts how many of us ski the 4 Valleys? Yes, that Greppon Blanc drag lift puts everybody off…
Honestly though, many believe this is just a story about hard bargaining and the timing of announcing lift passes – it could well all be resolved well before the snow starts to fall here. We certainly hope so.
And remember, the 4 Valleys links wouldn’t normally open for another six months, and that’s lot of time to negotiate…
More on the story:
Le Nouvelliste (in French)
Le Matin (in French)
The tourist office also released this earlier…
Which roughly translates as…
We wish to pass on the information that we have feared for some time already: the end of the 4 Valleys agreements. Click here to find the message to us from Televerbier. [Link not available]
Despite this separation, and as pointed out MM. Morand and Burrus, we have an area of great quality, a quality team and a modern way that will allow us to continue to attract many tourists and fans to GRAND SKI. Remain confident and above all welcome our guests in the best possible conditions.
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