Guaranteed snow? Luxe digs? A new “chondola”? These alpine resorts promise a bumper season. By Glenn Cullen.
Mount Buller, Victoria
A guarantee of snow in Australia seems a big call in the land of blazing summers but with a new, cutting-edge snow-making system, that’s exactly what Mt Buller has on offer. To ensure your winter will be a white one, the resort’s Snowfactory can pump out the fluffy stuff 24 hours a day, seven days a week in temperatures as high as 15°C.
Perisher, the country’s biggest ski resort, is now owned by American ski giant Vail. That means we should expect a raft of changes within the next few years. This season, you’ll get a smoother ride on the Skitube from Bullocks Flat, thanks to a $2 million upgrade and $500,000 worth of new hire gear at Perisher Snowsports. An Epic Australia Pass now allows up to 10 days’ riding at Canada’s No. 1 resort, Whistler, plus other northern resorts, as well as an all-season pass to Perisher.
SEE ALSO: How to Get the Best out of Perisher
Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand
The North Island’s mighty massif is sometimes overlooked in favour of its southern cousins but $NZ100 million of planned upgrades should put Mt Ruapehu back into the frame. This winter, a quad chair replaces the Waterfall T-bar and there are three new carpet lifts and expanded snow-making. Conditions can vary greatly but when the weather settles later in the season, there are few better places for a spring snow getaway.
Coronet Peak/The Remarkables, Queenstown, New Zealand
The perennial question in Queenstown used to be where to ski: The Remarkables or Coronet Peak? This season, if you don’t mind splashing out a little cash, it could be where to stay: Eichardt’s Private Hotel or Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa? Two of the area’s most stylish establishments, both feature new penthouses. Eichardt’s has an expansive balcony with panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu, as well as the use of – wait for it – a butler, private chef and driver. Penthouse No. 10 at the Sofitel is Paris meets the Alps and has a private movie theatre, six-person Jacuzzi and a personal butler.
Cardrona, New Zealand
Is it a chairlift? Is it a gondola? Actually, it’s a bit of both. Travel up the mountain faster in the just-launched “chondola” at Cardrona, the family-friendly alpine resort situated between Queenstown and Wanaka on the South Island. Replacing the McDougall’s quad chair, the chondola is a high-speed six-seater with the added bonus of an eight-seat gondola between every four chairs. The net result is faster and more comfortable access to a fairly big slab of the resort’s terrain.