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The exclusive ski resort of Verbier is loved by celebs and royals

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You would be forgiven for thinking Verbier is completely out of your budget as a holiday destination.

After all, it is the ski resort of the rich and famous and is each year frequented by celebrities, entrepreneurial billionaires and the royal family.

But the snow-capped wonderland may be more within your budget than you would perhaps realise now that it is looking to reinvent itself as affordable – to attract a wider range of clientele.

The snow-capped wonderland of Verbier is looking to reinvent itself as affordable to enable a broader clientele to enjoy its slopes

What a gem: The resort is one of the most picturesque in the Alps – and is rightly world famous

The main resort of the Four Valleys, Verbier boasts an amazing array of blue, red and black runs open from November to April

I snapped on a pair of skis for the first time in ten years and took to the slopes of the world’s most exclusive resort to see if it really could be done on a budget – with surprising results.

The last time I went skiing was in France in 2005 when helmets existed only on the heads of cautious snowboarders, lanyards kept your lift pass safe and handy for when you needed to insert it into a machine, and snow blades were slowly growing in popularity.

But today helmets are everywhere, your ski pass works like an Oyster card and can be read through your jacket pocket, and blades – according to my ski instructor Alex – were a passing fad that are now ‘frowned upon’ by the ski community.

It wasn’t only my memories that were stuck in 2005, my technique left a lot to be desired as I tried to keep my skis parallel and make it to the bottom in one piece.

But with the guidance of my talented instructors – all of whom were from Altitude Ski and Snowboarding School – I just about made the most of the world famous resort.

Adding to the pressure was the fact that for one of my two days skiing I was lucky enough to share a slope with BBC Ski Sunday co-host and Verbier ambassador, Ed Leigh.

The rich and famous have flocked to Verbier for years and the resort is widely regarded as the most exclusive in the world

Ed Leigh (left), pictured with his Ski Sunday co-presenter Graham Bell, took to the slopes and showed us how it was done

The 41-year-old, who calls the resort in the picturesque Four Valleys ‘home’ – and it is clear to see why – was in Switzerland before jetting off to South Korea, where the Winter Olympics will be held in 2018.

He showed us around for the most part as we tried to keep up with him and even joined us for a spot of apres ski at Pub Mont Fort – where a pint of beer will set you back around 6CHF (£4).

I found much of Verbier to be fairly priced – if you know where to look – for the duration of my trip.

Don’t get me wrong, it is still very much a millionaire’s playground where Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, ski regularly along with Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark and Prince Harry.

The Beckhams, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law, Jamie Oliver and the apparent local favourite – who everyone I spoke to had met in some capacity – James Blunt, also enjoy its slopes.

Pixie Lott was in Verbier with her boyfriend Oliver Cheshire for New Year and spent the night in Le Farinet Lounge – a hotel with a downstairs section split into a nightclub, with a VIP area, and a rock bar.

Verbier boasts spectacular views of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc as well as some of the steepest slopes on the Alps

Victoria Beckham (left) is among the celebrities who have been spotted in Verbier. Prince Harry (right) also enjoys its slopes

I enjoyed a reasonably priced cocktail in the same seat as the 25-year-old singer (according to the bar staff) in relaxed surroundings before we headed to the room next door to listen to a live band.

In this room you can buy pitchers or buckets of bottled beer for 30CHF (£23.50) and 35CHF (£27.50) respectively and pogo the night away on a sweaty dance floor.

Admittedly it’s more expensive than some places, but it certainly portrays Verbier in a younger light than you would perhaps imagine.

And its not just in the local rock bar where this image is emerging. Across Verbier a real effort is being made to attract a younger – perhaps more cash-strapped – holidaymaker.

This year Verbier Impulse, the first of what will become an annual music festival, which organisers will no doubt expect to rival similar events staged in Mayrhofen and Tignes, took place.

Texas headlined the gig, which was held over the last two weekends of April, and James Blunt is tipped to be the main act next year – according to his endless supply of local fans that is.

Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, ski regularly at the main resort of the Four Valleys in Switzerland 

This stunning seven bed chalet is thought to be owned by Andrew York and Sarah Ferguson in the Swiss alpine resort

Verbier is set up perfectly to help you get around and gondolas run late into the night to escort you home after a few drinks. Alternatively taxis are on call in the very early hours of the morning.

Pixie Lott stayed in the W Hotel Verbier, which charges up to 10,650CHF (£6,800) for a night in a lavish suite with a separate loft, hot tub and private terrace, during her New Year stay.

But on the other side of the spectrum, more affordable accommodation is cropping up all over Verbier and the nearby snowy settlements.

It appears the area is feeling the financial squeeze as prominently as everywhere else and must attract a wider range of holidaymaker in order to survive.

I stayed in the picturesque village of Le Chable – near a train station that connects to Geneva and a very short gondola ride to Verbier – in the brand new Hotel A Larze.

Conveniently positioned next to the ski lift, the bed and breakfast has rooms for as little as 140CHF (£110) and the hotel comes with modern amenities including a sauna and heated boot room.

Pixie Lott was in Verbier with her boyfriend Oliver Cheshire for New Year 2016 and the couple spent the night in Le Farinet (left)

Pixie Lott stayed in the W Hotel Verbier, which charges up to 10,650CHF (£6,800) a night, during her New Year stay

Pixie poses in Verbier while wearing a striking blue ski outfit. She posted this image to her Twitter page

The price is pretty much on par with what you would expect to pay in nearby Morzine – a French resort popular with families from the UK.

The cost of a Verbier ski pass may also come as a surprise. Six days on the slopes in Morzine will set an adult back €255 (£217) while in Verbier you can expect to pay 373CHF (£258).

It is a little steeper in the Swiss resort and will add up if there are a few adults in the group, but the pass gives you full access to the incredible array of blue, red and black runs open from November to April.

The resort is also home to the famous Mont Fort run as well as some of the steepest slopes in the Alps and boasts breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn from the very top.

Perhaps the best kept secret in the area is Bruson – the resort on the opposite side of the valley.

It doesn’t boast quite the same slopes as Verbier, it certainly doesn’t have the same appeal, and the dated ski lifts take their time getting you to the peak of the mountain compared to the state-of-the-art ones in Verbier.

Jason stayed in the brand new Hotel A Larze (pictured), which is conveniently positioned next to a lift and boasts beautiful views

The hotel comes with modern amenities including a sauna and heated boot room and has rooms for as little as 140CHF (£110) 

But once you are at the top you can expect to ski untouched snow on a mountain populated by perhaps a handful of locals. 

For me the jury is still out on whether the resort can actually be done on a budget – especially given the fact that skiing is an expensive holiday full stop, regardless of the destination.

The area is making great strides in being affordable, it is opening up to a wider range of people and cheaper alternatives are becoming available.

Prices are certainly capable of surprising you – compared to a few years ago – and it should definitely come up in your ‘list of possible resorts’ when looking to book your next winter holiday.

But with the rich and famous continuing to visit and ultimately local businesses – predominately restaurants and hotels – targeting these people it will be a few more years before Verbier is able to shrug its reputation.

Jason stayed in the village of Le Chable (pictured) – near a train station that connects to Geneva and a short gondola ride to Verbier

The price of Hotel A Larze is on par with most family-friendly resorts in France

TRAVEL FACTS

For more information visit: www.verbier.ch/en.

Accommodation: Hotel A Larze.

Flights: Return flights from London Heathrow to Geneva are available with SWISS from £65. 

Train: Return train transfers from the airport or border railway station directly to destination are available with the Swiss Transfer Ticket, which is priced at 141CHF (£98).

Hire: Skis, snowboards and boots can be hired from Montagne Show.

Lift Pass: An adult day pass is priced from 75CHF (£52). An adult 6-day pass is priced from 373CHF (£258).

Tuition: Altitude Ski and Snowboard School.

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