Best places to ski in 2013 - 2014
Thinking about your next ski trip but not sure where to go? Not to worry, we’ve got all bases covered, whether you’re a powder junkie or a party animal. Check out these great destinations for your winter 2012/2013 ski holiday. You can book your trip with us too!
You are … still new to this skiing lark and keen to improve in the best possible surroundings.
Head to … the awesome Whistler Blackcomb resort, just over two hours' drive north of Vancouver and host of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Because … with green and blue runs snaking around two huge mountains, even relative beginners can get to enjoy the views at the top without risking life and limb. And the ski school here is among the biggest and best, offering lessons for children as young as three, plus groups for women only and skiers with disabilities.
Stay at … the luxurious, ski-in/ski-out Fairmont Chateau, which has been listed among the world’s best places to stay. Located next door to the Wizard Express lift, the outdoor lap pool even has underwater music.
While you’re there … dare to try the "winter zipline" ride, or a luge run at Whistler's Sliding Centre. There's also après-ski to suit every taste, including (from mid-December) the weekly Sunday evening Fire And Ice show, featuring skiers and snowboarders jumping through a ring of fire. Eat your heart out, Johnny Cash.
What the experts say … "A mile of vertical, two massive mountains, amazing terrain, big snow, a long season and a rocking village – it just doesn't get better."
You are … only interested in skiing when the sun's shining and the snow is good.
Head to … Squaw Valley on Lake Tahoe’s north shore (a four-hour drive from San Francisco), with its laid-back West Coast outlook and two excellent ski areas.
Because … there are few more spectacular experiences than skiing under an azure Californian sky while taking in views of sapphire-blue Lake Tahoe ("the fairest picture the whole world affords", according to Mark Twain). Snow conditions are blessed by large and regular overnight dumps of snow.
Stay at … the Resort at Squaw Creek, which boasts four restaurants, an outdoor pool, a sports bar and its own skating rink and ski run.
While you're there … catch the shuttle-bus to "the Village" for all-American shopping and eating, including a "cupcakery" and locals' favourite Le Chamois, complete with heavenly sun deck. Other attractions include a one-hour husky dog sled ride through beautiful Squaw Valley meadow, and "tubing" down the slopes on custom-made missiles (sorry, snow tubes).
What the experts say … "Heaven is a powder day in Squaw. From the top of Granite Chief, every run feels like a new adventure."
You are … a good skier but an even better partier.
Head to … the pretty-but-not-at-all-sleepy Austrian town of St Anton: just over two hours from Zurich and setting for that seminal ski film, Chalet Girl.
Because … St Anton is as famous for its "extreme après" scene as it is for its skiing – which, by the way, is seriously good. Hangovers are obligatory here, reaching new heights/depths last season when the town was completely cut off by a freak snowstorm.
Stay at … the very central and very cosy Hotel Grieshof, with its tasty Tyrolean restaurant, indoor swimming pool and spa.
While you're there … knock back a Jaegerbomb or three in the Gampen ski area’s Krazy Kanguruh and Mooserwirt bars, both accessed from Red Run No1. Dancing on the tables may be a regular pastime here, but there are plenty more sedate options in the main town. And if you're partied and skied out (surely not), there's always Arl.rock, a mega climbing centre with added indoor tennis and squash courts plus four bowling lanes.
What the experts say … "St Anton has one of the liveliest après-ski scenes you’ll find anywhere. The best action is found on the mountain before you ski/stumble back to the resort."
You are … desperate for your kids to love skiing as much as you do.
Head to … Arc 1950 in the French Alps, a handy three-hour drive from Geneva.
Because … it's the perfect all-rounder. Everything's on your doorstep in this modern ski-in/ski-out village, which should keep tired children's whinges to a minimum. And then there’s the small matter of 425km of quality pistes for you to play on while the little darlings are at ski school.
Stay at … the rather lavish self-catering apartments of Le Village, slap-bang on the slopes and serviced with hotel-style facilities and oodles of hot tubs.
While you're there … relax in the newly opened Deep Nature Spa, with its volcanic and ice caves and "mon premier spa" for the kids. This particular Arc is not exactly party central (head down to sister resort Arc 1800 for that), but shops, restaurants and a half-decent cocktail bar, O'Chaud, are mere steps away – and evening babysitters are available.
What the experts say … "One of our favourite resorts in France, with some fantastic improvements to the lifts over the past few years."
You are … a free-ridin', ollie-lovin' airdog of a snowboarder.
Head to … France's original and still best board-friendly resort Tignes – just under three hours from Geneva and home to the annual European X Games.
Because … it's got everything, including long on- and off-piste runs for freeriders and a fun park for freestylers with an awesome superpipe. Linking with Val d’Isère to form the Espace Killy area, it's huge as well as high (2,100 metres), and the Grande Motte glacier offers year-round boarding.
Stay at … the Residence La Ferme du Val Claret: luxurious four-star apartments close to Tigne's western slopes with a nearby indoor pool and gym.
While you're there … go husky-dog racing around the frozen lake, paraglide over it, or even (gulp) go scuba diving into it!
What the experts say … "It's easy to see why people return here every year. The high altitude means you can find powder throughout the season."
You are … up for some serious posing, dining and shopping. Although, the skiing’s not bad either.
Head to … the daddy of all celebrity resorts: Aspen, Colorado.
Because … more than 100 brilliant bars and almost as many gourmet restaurants will keep you occupied while less indulgent companions waste their days with a couple of planks strapped to their feet.
Stay at … the seriously luxurious Little Nell hotel, with a bar that’s a firm fixture on the Aspen après-ski circuit. Unassuming from the outside, Little Nell is wholeheartedly dedicated to your comfort on the inside, with flaming fires in every room, a heated outdoor pool and stunning views of Aspen mountain.
While you're there … spot celebs on every corner, then act cool and pretend you haven’t noticed them. Sample every kind of culinary delight under the sun. Savour the Aspen Art Museum and other world-class galleries. Shop until your wallet begs for mercy.
What the experts say … "In case you do decide to put the skis on, many people think this is the best resort in the world."
You are … one of those strange creatures who prefers pushing themselves along to taking the lift.
Head to … the jewel in Switzerland's alpine crown, St Moritz (just under four hours by ski-rail transfer from Zurich).
Because … the Engadin valley boasts some of the best cross-country ski tracks in the Alps (interesting fact: for its first 50 years, St Moritz was only a cross-country resort). You'll swoosh through pine forests and wide plains, passing picture-perfect villages, glaciers and frozen lakes. There's also a floodlit loop around St Moritz itself.
Stay at … the five-star, exceedingly relaxing Kempinski Hotel, which is a short shuttle-bus ride to the town centre and has its very own ski school, kids' club and "Wellness Centre".
While you're there … relax with the rich and possibly famous in the Sunny Bar at the top of the Kulm Hotel; then head for the King’s Club to party into the night. In St Moritz, shops are exclusive, bars are trendy, and restaurants are excellent. This sports-mad town also offers horse and greyhound racing on its frozen lake, curling, cricket, polo, snow golf and, for adrenaline junkies, the world-famous Cresta Run.
What the experts say … "The cross-country runs are sunny, snow-sure and offer up incredible scenery. If you need a few pointers, many of the local ski schools have dedicated cross-country tuition."
You are … an off-piste obsessive constantly on the hunt for perfect powder.
Head to … Japan's flagship ski resort, Niseko, in the shadow of Mount Yotei, two hours west of Sapporo.
Because … it's renowned for its deep, dry and fluffy powder and superb off-piste and tree skiing – which, amazingly, you can tackle until nine at night, thanks to the resort's near- 100% floodlighting.
Stay at … the Hilton Niseko Village, with easy access to the Niseko gondola and excellent amenities including an onsen (hot spring).
While you're there … sample the local nosh at Fuji Sushi or one of the good value ramen restaurants in Niseko Hirafu. Also the centre of Western-style nightlife, Hirafu boasts an Australian-run bar in a converted ten-wheeled truck. Alternatively, go on a guided hike to the summit of Mount Yotei, then recover in an onsen – just bear in mind that men are obliged to bathe naked …
What the experts say … "If you're looking for the ultimate powder experience, look no further. And if you’ve never tried powder before, this is a great place to learn."
Expert reviews by Ski Independence – visit ski-i.com or call (0131) 243 8097.