Courchevel, Savoie, France1/35
With its private air strip, designer shops and swarm of five-star hotels, Courchevel boasts its wealth while walking the walk as of one of Europe’s best ski resorts. Ski between the five villages or go farther afield into Les Trois Vallées, the largest ski area in the world.
Aspen, Colorado, USA2/35
With not one but four different ski resorts, Aspen is loved by everyone from A-list celebrities (who can fly in by private jet) to serious ski and snowboard types. Its snow-covered heart offers designer shops and consignment stores, chic bars, fine-dining restaurants like Matsuhisa and Element 47, a Shigeru-Ban-designed art museum and, away from the shops, take your pick of adventurous activities, from snowmobiling to snowshoeing.
Snowmass, Colorado, USA3/35
While technically part of Aspen, Snowmass deserves its own spot – it is bigger than Aspen's three other mountains combined (Aspen, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands) and a host of slopeside accommodation. The Limelight Hotel has added a great vibe with its snowside bar and ice rink while farther up the mountain, the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster lives up to its name as it carries riders downhill at up to 45/kph.
Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Niseko United, Hokkaido, Japan4/35
You’ll find more powder snow dumped here than anywhere else in the world, with ridiculous amounts piling up at the four linked resorts clinging to the side of Mt Annanpuri. Luxe hotels are popping up all over, including a Park Hyatt.
Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada5/35
Named for an English Lord who never stepped foot there, Revelstoke is known for having the highest amount of vertical in North America. Suffice to say it has a stack of steep runs but it’s also the only resort to offer skiing, cat skiing and heli-skiing from its base.
Sun Valley, Idaho, USA6/35
With the location selected by an Austrian count, and the resort promoted to the Hollywood elite by Ernest Hemingway, it has serious star power. Beginners start out on Dollar Mountain with intermediates and advanced riders heading for Baldy. Stay in the quaint mining town of Ketchum or at the Sun Valley Lodge, which also has an exceptional spa.
Thredbo, NSW, Australia7/35
Whether ringing the bell at the top of Anton’s or watching (or doing) the flare run that glows down the mountain every Saturday night, visitors to Thredbo will love the range of snowy offerings. The Friday Flat beginner area is safe for those who have previously said “never ever” and the village has a stack of options for drinking and dining.
Steamboat, Colorado, USA8/35
A perfect blend of ranch town and ski resort, Steamboat surprises with its variety of terrain. Off the slopes, ride horses through snow, soak in natural hot springs or ride the Outlaw Coaster – the longest in North America. Time your visit for the Cowboy Downhill or the Winter Carnival to experience some truly wacky events – skijoring, anyone?
Skiing in the shadow of the Matterhorn is one of the highlights of Zermatt, which boasts three main ski areas covering 360 kilometres. Zermatt’s car-free old town, with its jumble of chalets, has a lovely ambience. For something different, ski to the Italian towns of Breuil-Cervinia or Valtournenche for lunch, then head back to Switzerland. It’s a full day but worth the effort.
Sun Peaks Resort, British Columbia, Canada10/35
The best of both worlds – big terrain, intimate village – makes Sun Peaks a perennial favourite for many. Dog sledding, ice fishing, a night event involving fondue and a ski run with nothing but a headlamp are must-dos, as is the opportunity to ski with Olympic legend Nancy Greene Raine, who lives in Sun Peaks and often runs free mountain tours.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy11/35
Set in the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Dolomites, Cortina wows on all levels: history, culture, great food, stunning vistas and legendary slopes like the Armentarola. It has three different areas and is also part of the Dolomiti Superski, a ski pass that gives access to 1200 kilometres of terrain at 12 resorts. For something different, stay in one of the many refuges (mountain huts) high in the hills.
Whitefish, Montana, USA12/35
This is what you get when you mix great ski terrain with a touch of the wild side. For locals, it’s all about the skiing and snowboarding and less about the comfort levels. In the shadows of Glacier National Park, you can stay on the mountain or in the old railway town of Whitefish. Arrive on an overnight Amtrak train from Seattle or Portland if you want to add a city stay to your snowcation.
SilverStar, British Columbia, Canada13/35
Fly into Kelowna for this gorgeous resort with its beautiful pastel village. SilverStar’s beginner and advanced offerings are both very strong – no wonder the Kidmans are regular visitors. You might even see them supporting the Vernon Vipers ice hockey team in town but even if you don’t, the non-stop action will thrill you.
Val d’Isere, Savoie, France14/35
With its postcard-pretty village and world-class slopes, Val d’Isere is très magnifique. Tackle the World Cup downhill run, La Face de Bellevard, then celebrate at party central – La Folie Douce. There are plenty of impressive accommodation offerings, including swish five-star hotels.
Beaver Creek, Colorado, USA15/35
Beaver Creek is five-star all the way with plenty of luxury accommodation including the elegant Park Hyatt, high-end boutiques and galleries. Special experiences abound, with free hot cookies on the mountain and the Allie’s Cabin Family Dinners where you ride a sleigh through the snow and finish with a three-course dinner. The ultimate? A night at the luxurious Trapper’s Cabin, where you and nine friends can sleep in style in the wilderness.
Cardrona, South Island, New Zealand16/35
Located between Queenstown and Wanaka, Cardrona is a resort for snow lovers of all abilities. It has 15 apartments on-site, a rarity in New Zealand, the first gondola in the Southern Hemisphere and has plans for new terrain by linking up with neighbouring Soho Basin.
Telluride, Colorado, USA17/35
This spectacularly beautiful town is in a box canyon, its pastel heart a National Historic Landmark District. It’s the place Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank, has incredible terrain – and you can ride a snowmobile to a ghost town. Choose to stay down in the historic town or over the ridge in Mountain Village, where the main ski resort, lodges and condos are located.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA18/35
From its big red tram that can carry 100 people, to the infamous Corbet’s Couloir where people ski over the edge on purpose, Jackson Hole is a skier’s mountain. Add moose, elk and bison and the western vibe of Jackson town and you’ll have one heck of a holiday.
Nozawa Onsen, Honshu, Japan19/35
For Japanese tradition on top of excellent snow, Nozawa Onsen is a great choice. Ski all day then stroll the cobbled streets of the village, stopping off for a soak in one of the 13 public baths. Don’t miss the Dosijin Fire Festival, held annually on 15 January.
Mammoth, California, USA20/35
With that Cali sunshine ensuring plenty of bluebird days, a Mammoth ski trip usually involves big views and big air at its award-winning inbound parks. Tie in a trip here with a visit to Las Vegas, Disneyland or Huntington Beach – the coast is a five-hour drive away so it’s possible to see snow and surf in one day.
Portillo is famous for its bumble-bee yellow hotel and va-et-vient five-seater poma lifts, its heli-skiing and the fact that it restricts the number of people on the mountain. The views over the Laguna del Inca aren’t bad, either.
Powder Mountain, Utah, USA22/35
“Pow mow”, as the locals call it, is refreshingly different. It is massive – with 3425 hectares of skiable terrain – but ticket sales are capped at 1500. Owners The Summit Group are building a community here with new mansions popping up as well as a space for artists to come and be inspired.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada23/35
Whistler has it all; it is close to Vancouver, has more than 200 runs on two mountains, and has the charm and glitz of Whistler village and Creekside. There’s an abundance of everything – accommodation, activities, dining options and facilities – all wrapped up in Whistler’s affable vibe. There’s a reason it is often voted the best ski resort and best ski town in the world.
Falls Creek, Victoria, Australia24/35
This Victorian gem is an excellent all-rounder with a slab of terrain for every level. You’ll find two of the best ski hotels in Australia here – Astra Lodge and the QT – with a charming European-style village. For a challenge, sign up for a backcountry tour with Olympian Steve Lee.
This pretty resort offers vast terrain across the states of Tirol and Salzburg, with 57 cable cars and lifts to whisk you up the slopes. Check out the view from the Bergbahn; dine at some of the 60 huts and restaurants on the mountain; and challenge yourself down the legendary Streif course, where the world’s top downhill racers reach ridiculous speeds during the World Cup event every January.
St. Moritz, Switzerland26/35
High in the Engadine Valley, St Moritz is a magnet for the glitterati – and the occasional royal. Apart from watching world-class skiing and snowboarding, visitors can see unique events such as polo on ice (yes, with horses), ice-golf and even ice-cricket.
Image credit: Getty Images
Vail, Colorado, USA27/35
Known for its eight back bowls, snow-draped villages and for being the home of former World Cup alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn, Vail is the complete package for those who love to ski and board – or for those just looking to stay in a world-class snow town.
St Anton, the Tirol, Austria28/35
Located in the Arlberg, St Anton is known for its steep runs, charming village and the legendary après-ski scene. A network of 88 high-tech cable cars and lifts transport skiers to a Disneyland of terrain, Arlberg's other villages and ski resorts. Have a schnapps at an on-mountain bar before you ski down – if you dare.
Yellowstone Club, Montana, USA29/35
This lofty resort is all about private powder – it’s not open to the public. To ski the pristine runs of Pioneer Mountain you need to own one of the ranch-style homes or condos in the gated community or be the guest of an owner. Think no queues and high-end luxury.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, British Columbia, Canada30/35
Kicking Horse is an emerging hotspot thanks to its steep chutes, cruisy bowls and rustic feel. Dine at Canada’s highest restaurant, Eagles Eye, or stay overnight in one of its suites. Kicking Horse also has its own grizzly bear, Boo. When he was orphaned, the resort created a sanctuary for him that you can ski right up to.
Kühtai, Tirol, Austria31/35
This charming village near Innsbruck is surrounded by glistening peaks criss-crossed by dreamy runs, many of which overlook its rooftops. You can stay in the Jagdschloss, which has a rich Habsburg history dating back to 1261 and is still managed by a Count, or sleep in an igloo at the Iglu Village.
Perisher, NSW, Australia32/35
The biggest resort in the Southern Hemisphere has four linked ski areas ensuring visitors don’t get bored on the same old runs. Stay on snow at a warm and cosy lodge like Corroboree or the Eiger to take advantage of fresh morning powder. Also test out the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.
Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada33/35
One of three resorts near Banff, Lake Louise is hard to resist, with challenging terrain, magnificent views and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. After your day zipping down slopes, head back to the Chateau and go ice skating on the postcard-pretty lake or drink at the ice bar.
Deer Valley, Utah, USA34/35
Because it was designed as a five-star ski resort from the ground up, Deer Valley delivers five-star everything. Well, everything but snowboarding. It’s ski-only and the hardest decision is whether to stay at Stein Eriksen Lodge, The Montage or the St Regis. Even if you don’t stay there, do visit all three for après, or book in for a spa treatment.
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