This place does divide the crowd. For every person I have met who loves Wengen, I have met also at least one other who loathes it. Too British, too posh, too low, not enough snow, small ski area, no difficult skiing, old lifts, no night life, no snow making and so on.
I haven’t looked recently, but the ski guides seemed for a long time to perpetuate these views. The travel pages in the newspapers as well take a certain angle when writing about the area. Quaint, but let’s get back to Val d’Isere and do some real skiing. Wengen to many is locked firmly in the 1930s.
So is it true? Are we all characters in a P.G. Woodhouse novel? Well no, we are not I think. All the complaints about Wengen have a kernel of truth I suppose, but largely lost in time.
It is true that seventy or so years ago, the English upper middle class dominated the social scene here; but earlier tonight a quick check in the pub revealed British (all areas), Swiss, Irish, Americans, Australians (okay, only the one), Germans and Dutch. The French and the Belgians come here too, although they don’t get out much. Anyway, not a dinner jacket in sight.
As for the skiing, it matches Espace Killy, the Three Valleys, the Four Valleys and any number of valleys. It might be around 200 kilometres of piste in the Jungfrau region and not the 600 kilometres or more of some of the “mega” areas, but the variety of skiing is enormous and you would have a low theshold to be bored.
It is true also that the railway is at the heart of the lift system, but you don’t have to use it unless the foehn wind blows. Everywhere there are fast lifts, four or six seaters. There has been enormous investment in snow making and the Jungfrau railway continues to do more.
I have to admit, it’s not Verbier at night time, but there are enough places to go and if you want to stay out until 3.00am, you can do that.
Finally, the off piste. Much of it is above my pay grade, but that is the point I suppose. It is a challenge.
Wengen and the other villages in the Jungfrau have not been their own best publicists; but in the end we have a decent sized ski area with plenty of variety set in the most beautiful scenery with modern lifts and ample snow making. You can get a beer too. What more might you want?