Verbier Life shadowed photographer Yves Garneau at one of his photoshoots for luxury chalet company, Haute Montagne...

Canadian born photographer Yves Garneau has been taking photos in Verbier for nearly 20 years. In fact, the first ever cover of Verbier Life was kindly offered to the magazine by Yves, and his work has since been featured in numerous editions. Initially capturing action shots of skiers and snowboarders lost in waist-deep powder or jumping cliffs, Yves decided to make the jump to interior photography when he was approached by luxury tour operator Bramble Ski ten years ago.

"I would never have imagined my career taking this turn. I was so focused on extreme sports and spending as much time shooting in the mountains as possible. Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened to me!"

If you've ever tried to take a photo of a skier hurtling down a mountain, then you know it's not as easy as you might think, however good your camera is. The same can be said for interiors. A static subject may seem like a safer bet when trying to create a professional-looking image, but that's not quite the case. I was keen to watch Yves at work when taking photos of some of the world's most impressive and luxurious chalets – fortunately, he allowed me to shadow him at work on a shoot for Bramble Ski’s sister company Haute Montagne. The importance of 'dream'-selling images is paramount to marketing high-end properties.

“We are all bombarded with so many images every day, and have such short attention spans, that the photograph is ‘king’. Our guests’ first touchpoint with us and our chalets is one of Yves photographs, and we have to sum up our entire super luxury offering in each shot,” comments co-founder Natasha Robertson.

The amount of work that goes into each photo is easy to underestimate. The first stage is preparing the setting. Each room is 'staged' by the professional Haute team, making sure everything is perfect – just as it would be when their guests arrive; fresh flowers, throws neatly placed on inviting sofas, breakfast laid out... Yves’ years of experience is then obvious to observe as he chooses the best angle and camera setting for the shot. There's no 'auto button' used here. The process isn't rushed, and every angle and element of the photo is thought through. Hours can be spent in one room, waiting for the right light, adjusting objects to make everything perfect. After the photos are taken, the arduous editing process takes place, 'polishing' the photos so they are ready for print. This is a world away from the images used in holiday brochures of years before – these photos are the crème de la crème of interior photography, which only makes sense when selling holidays in the world’s best chalets.



The Alpine Home team tells us why to take a walk to Patier...

When you board a 747, most people would like to “turn right and go up the stairs”. Here you are cosseted in luxury and are served some of the best food and wine that the airline has to offer.
On arrival in Verbier, most people probably do turn right at some point and climb up towards Medran or indeed venture higher up the resort towards Les Esserts or Sonalon. But what if you were to turn left on entering the resort? By doing so, you would find yourself in the underrated area of Patier. Here, you will enjoy a bright south / south east orientation and some of the best views towards Italy and France that Verbier has to offer.

At this time of year, Patier offers ready access to the Verbier Festival, Show Jumping and the Sports Centre (currently under renovation). Year round, this quiet and calm corner of Verbier is private, discreet and has more of a village feel than central Verbier, given the prevalence of chalets over apartment buildings. Look a little deeper and you will discover Chalet Potala (CHF 5m) – a 4+ bedroom family chalet, boasting symmetrical balconies from which to enjoy the most of the morning and afternoon sun. At night the chalet comes into its own, looking down on the twinkling lights of Verbier.

Patier-0963You will also find Chalet Vermont (CHF 5.25m) – a stunning family chalet on 3 levels. The master bedroom comes with a private terrace and sunken hot tub from which to soak up the surrounding mountain panorama. Finally, you might spot the emergence of Patier's newest chalet – Le Grand Tavé (CHF 8.9m). Currently under construction, this luxury chalet will offer 4 bedrooms on three levels of accommodation, with an underground garage for 3 cars. The upper floors will all benefit from 180 degree views of Le Combin range. For less than Chf 25,000/m2, Patier offers prime views at business class prices – so now there’s every excuse to turn left!

Chalets Potala, Vermont and Le Grand Tavé are for sale through Savills Alpine Homes at 20 Route de la Poste, Verbier. Tel: 027 771 7777, or visit: www.alpinehomesintl.com

A walk through a 25 Million Verbier Chalet

This winter Verbier Life has been invited to share images from some of Verbier’s most exclusive chalets. This month Marilyn and Yoram Anselm invite us to look at their incredible CHF twenty-five million home.

On viewing Chalet Cotze it is clear to see Marilyn Yoram’s obvious natural talent and passion for design. Originally trained as a sculptor at Central St Martins College of Art & Design, London. Marilyn went on to found and run the British successful woman’s clothing company Hobbs.

The Anselm’s first moved from the UK to Verbier in 1999, initially renting properties, before purchasing and totally renovating their first chalet, ‘Fleur Sauvage’. The opportunity then arose to buy a plot of land in the desirable area above the Verbier sports centre and to design and build Le Cotze.

Working alongside a local architect to help with the project, the chalet was built in 2007 with dry-stone walls and old wood. The interiors are a mix of Italian, British and Swiss craftsmanship with Marilyn’s experience and talent designing clothes and the interiors for all the shops clearly shinning through.

“Strong discipline designing clothes and shoes in a group of over 500 shops teaches you how to work to a schedule and how to be professional - I brought that approach to building this chalet”.

Le Cotze is built over four floors, the first is made up of the living room with an impressive 17th-century French fireplace, a beautiful dining room with a round table and a homely, spacious kitchen with a sink designed and made by Marilyn from Italian stone. On the floor above is a master bedroom with spectacular views, a separate dressing room, a guest suite, office and living space for relaxing. A further four bedrooms are located on the ground floor, beneath which also has a large spa, gym, sauna, steam room and indoor swimming pool.

The sitting room is Marilyn’s favourite room in the Chalet, “ this room has a fabulous atmosphere – I believe you should feel comfortably contained in a room, but free to look out to the surrounding views”.

The Anslem’s have decided, that the time has come to downsize to a smaller Chalet in Verbier and buy somewhere back in the UK and to spend more time nearer family. When asked if she would miss the chalet she has put so much of her time into, Marilyn replies, “I’m not sentimental about the places I live in, I love each one when I’m living there - I’m adaptable”.

The next chalet will no doubt be an exciting project for the Anselm’s in between enjoying the many activities they enjoy in Verbier - just perhaps slightly smaller...

Inside Bramble Ski's Most Beautiful Chalets

(2010) Curiosity on what lies behind closed shutters is a trait of human nature. Bramble Ski invites Verbier Life to take a look inside some of Verbier’s most beautiful chalets.

Since the company began in 2005, Bramble Ski has been busy building a reputation as Verbier’s best-kept secrets.   From the beautiful wood and furs used in Nyumba to the exquisite art lined walls of The Dairy, their collection of chalets and apartments are some of the best Verbier has to offer.  Natasha Robertson of Bramble Ski explains, “We have always known that Verbier has some of the most beautiful homes in the Alps and now we are able to allow our guests access to these stunning chalets.”

As Verbier has become a destination resort for the worlds wealthiest individuals Bramble Ski has an increasingly international list of owners. This is reflected in the diversity of the chalet interiors across the portfolio. From the beautiful textiles used in the middle-eastern influenced Valentine apartments to the Italian green marble used to line the pool and spa at Nyumba.

How do they get their hands on these stunning properties?  “We are fortunate that our business has seen substantial growth, we now have over 20 properties in Verbier. In the last 5 years we have learnt that we must both have flexibility in our contracting process with owners and in tailored services we provide our clients. The aim of the team is to work in partnership with our owners to deliver maximum returns, while giving them the peace of mind that their homes will be cared for throughout the season.”

No detail is too small when it comes to the interior design of their Chalets with the use of natural stone and reclaimed wood.  “We are often asked to get involved at an early stage with the planning of these properties and work along side the architect and interior designers to come up with beautiful yet workable solutions for our owners.”

Natasha is keen to point out that there is something special about all of the Bramble Ski chalets but takes us through some of her favourite features.  “I love the stunning pool in the Victoria and Valentine complex where we have four apartments, there is a fantastic gym and it looks onto the most gorgeous grey slate pool, which is huge and so inviting. The craftsmanship in the carpentry of our flagship chalet, Maria Schnee in St Anton, blew me away. The whole place has the feel of a country manor but with a lightness of touch that you don’t expect in Alpine chalets.”

With their collection of stylish and elegant chalets and apartments we are sure Bramble Ski won’t be a secret for much longer.


Festive Period at Sir Richard Branson’s Lodge

(2009) Verbier Life takes a look behind the scenes over the festive period at Sir Richard Branson’s Lodge

When your home address is Necker Island, the expectations from the other locations you visit must be high. Perhaps this is why Sir Richard Branson chose Verbier when he created his alpine hideaway – the perfect location to spend Christmas.

Exterior 002"There’s nothing quite like a traditional white Christmas", says Branson. "I love waking up on Christmas Day and being able to look out my bedroom window and see a blanket of white snow. Christmas is always a family affair and a great time of year to spend some quality time together doing all the things we love doing. Most of my family are keen skiers so it’s great to be able to hit the slopes in the afternoon and work off some of that Christmas dinner that is prepared by our amazing chefs here at The Lodge."

The delicate mélange of professional informality with subtle opulence is felt as soon as you walk into a Branson Lodge - his ethos being, why not open the doors and share what he enjoys with others. The interior is an elegant mix of modern rustic décor and includes all the stereotypical fantasy ingredients of a dream chalet - and more.

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All nine bedrooms differ; two master suites boast an open fireplace, all with views of the spectacular Swiss peaks. The interior palette is light and cozy with bleached oak wood floor, chocolate brown and bursts of color throughout. The indoor pool has an adjoining steam room, gym and spa which offers an extensive selection of sumptuous treatments, appreciated all the more after exploring Verbier’s vast ski area.

13 friendly staff are at hand to see to your every whim. Only one thing remains to complete the perfect winter scene – a dog sleeping by the fireplace, yet even this is provided at the Lodge. Bambam, the chocolate flat-coated retriever adds a lovable addition to the homely ambience. The Lodge removes all the stressful elements from winter sports, guests are only required to wake up at leisure, enjoy a delicious breakfast before being swept effortlessly up the mountain. The bubbling outdoor hot tub awaits weary, contented muscles.