Of the four valleys in the famed Valais region of Switzerland, Nendaz stands out as a place to bring the whole family. While all the areas boast incredible views, and world-class skiing and winter sports activities, Nendaz’s more approachable vibe is perfect for all ages, and an abundance of apartment rentals helps make it more accessible too. Plus, there’s plenty of experiences that will keep everyone engaged and active—not to mention well fed.
I flew nonstop to Switzerland on Swiss International Air Lines and arrived well-rested and ready to explore this incredible country. My trip started in Geneva where I took the train to Sion, followed by one of CarPostal’s trademark yellow buses to Nendaz as a guest of the region. Even though I was exhausted from the flight, I stayed awake throughout the entire journey. The views are that incredible. As you travel along Lake Geneva, vineyards start to emerge and it’s simply gorgeous to behold. (Insider tip: get a seat on the right-hand side for the best views.) Trains and buses are equipped to store skis making it super easy to travel with your own. Once on the bus, we passed by a couple of small villages before rolling into Nendaz at the base of the ski hill.
A charming little village, Nendaz is full of open-air venues and has a huge park. I arrived to paragliders landing everywhere around me—all you had to do was look up and you’d see people parachuting in the air. It was one of those unforgettable travel moments that destinations like this offer.
It also has the option of renting an apartment at a reasonable rate and cooking your own meals—there’s a great grocery store in town—and still having access to the higher price-point that Verbier commands just one valley over if you want a splash of glamour. (Verbier is where British nobility has been skiing ever since they started skiing and is now home to a vibrant party and après-ski scene.)
The largest ski resort in Switzerland
Overlooking the Rhone valley, you’ll have panoramic views of the Alps wherever you stay. Traveling alone, I stayed at the excellent four-star Hôtel Nendaz 4 Vallées & Spa, which boasts indoor and outdoor pools, hot and dry saunas with plunge pools, a kids spa area, and an infinity pool looking out over the valley—an amazing setting. The hotel lies in the heart of the Haute-Nendaz mountain station and the “4 Vallées” ski resort, the largest ski resort located entirely in Switzerland. With access to more than 256 miles of slopes and 66 lifts, winter sports fans couldn’t ask for a better place to suit up and ski or snowboard.
My first morning there, I slapped my skis on and took the beautiful new gondola up to the ski hill, which ends right in town. As you’re skiing over the edge, it feels like you’re skiing right into town. It’s an incredible feeling.
Next-level winter adventures off the slopes
But Nendaz is more than ski, ski, ski. Whether you’re a skier or not, there’s ample winter adventures to be had beyond the slopes. For one, Nendaz boasts one of the tallest ziplines in Europe, The Mont-Fort Zipline. (If you have a fear of heights, you might want to sit this one out.) You’re really on the top of the Alps.
Once you’re out and cruising, it’s exhilarating. When you sit down and put your weight and trust into the cable, it’s the scariest heart-dropping moment. You’re putting all your faith in the Swiss technology that made that happen. The operators count down from six to one and you go shooting down—about as fast as I’ve ever done anything. As you’re tearing down it, you can clearly see out hundreds of feet in every direction, with the Alps all around you. And the long ride affords you time to get over the adrenaline rush and enjoy the views and settings until you coast down to the end.
Snowshoe hikes and raclette over an open fire
For a fun and easy outing for the whole family, consider a guided Raclette and Raquette experience. A guide leads you on a short snowshoe walk into a wilderness area that’s protected against camping or hiking off trails. (Nature conservation is taken very seriously here to protect the wildlife and preserve the pristine nature of the area.)
Our guide brought his own firewood, broke out a massive roll of raclette cheese, and started a fire so it could melt the cheese. This is the traditional way of doing it; an open-fire approach is how it’s best served. He used a hand-carved knife from a found ibex antler. And he presented it with a beautiful bottle of Valais region white wine, made of the Fendant grape. They’re very proud of it being one of the oldest and best wine regions in Switzerland, and I understood why with each sip.
We also enjoyed a traditional Swiss energy snack of sausage made with apricot. It was deliciously fresh. Seeing apricot trees in full bloom with beautiful white flowers and then eating this felt extra special. And to top it off, the raclette, shaved off with our guide’s trusty knife, was served with the best bread I’ve had in years. Standing there in the fresh snow of the mountain with the warmth of the fire and the cheese perfectly melted was spectacular—a fantastic meal washed down with delectable wine.
The view from the highest peak
Of the show-stopping views all over the area, especially rewarding is Mont Fort, the highest peak in the Four Valleys area that’s easily accessible via a succession of cable cars and gondolas from Nendaz. When you get to the top, at an altitude of 11,000 feet, you’ll find 360-degree panoramic views of iconic Swiss peaks, including the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, the Grand Combin, among hundreds of others. Like so many experiences in Nendaz, it’s an unforgettable moment and one that you and your family will treasure.