Back in the day – that is, the early 20th century – skiing was never simply skiing: it was “winter-sporting”. And if you were a royal, an aristocrat, or a Hollywood star, it was simply what one did at all manner of exceedingly prestigious European resorts such as St Moritz, Zermatt or Cortina.
Things have changed a bit since those days, of course. Skiing was far from immune to the effects of the mass-market package holiday boom of the latter part of last century, with a plethora of new purpose-built resorts emerging before our eyes. However, one thing that hasn’t changed very much is skiing’s irrevocable association with the very finest of opulence.
If experiencing some of that opulence for yourself is on your to-do list, well, these are some of the resorts that we would recommend- many of which more reasonably priced than you might expect!
Switzerland’s largest ski area is the 4 Valleys with Verbier standing as its main resort, so what better starting point could there be for a luxurious ski break? Its blend of a sunny and picturesque setting, an enthralling terrain and an energetic nightlife makes it a big hit with the young and sporty crowd.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make a slightly more sedate time of it in chic Verbier. Head to the secluded Plan-Praz area, for instance, and you will find Chalet Pierre Avoi, which can be booked for the exclusive use of a group of as many as 14 adults along with two children.
Expect nothing less than a panoramic terrace with its own fire pit, a sauna, an outdoor hot tub, a dedicated massage and treatment room, two sitting rooms and even trained chefs who will be able to cater to even the fussiest dietary preferences.
Oh, and you could be paying as little as $25,000 to enjoy the entire chalet, including a 24-hour driver service. Simply click through to the Ski Verbier Exclusive website to find out more.
You might not have initially thought it, given the simply magnificent backdrop provided by the encircling Dolomites, but for many locals and visitors alike the scenic slopes aren’t necessarily even the biggest attraction of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
After all, those slopes have plenty to compete with, what with the elegant Corsa Italia providing the perfect territory on which to partake in the same evening stroll – or passeggiata – that is such a time-honoured ritual for residents. Just make sure you look the part by donning copious amounts of fur as you peruse the chic boutiques, and while you drink away the hours in the intimate wine bars!
But isn’t there supposed to be a ski resort here? Oh yes… there is. You’ve got an incredible four sectors to choose from in Cortina, with Faloria and Tofana accessible by lift, and Cinque Torri and Lagazuoi a short bus ride away.
These areas all have their distinctive characteristics as far as terrain, elevation and aspect are concerned, so you’re unlikely to get too bored here. Most of the slopes, however, are best-suited to intermediate-level skiers.
As for the ideal place to stay… well, we might as well go straight to the top with the five-star Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf. It’s very much steeped in old-world “winter-sporting” glamour, and you can find packages at Ski Solutions from $2,195.
Beaver Creek, Colorado, USA
The level of service that you can expect at Beaver Creek is exceptional – it really is the complete ski village in ways that may seem almost unnecessarily luxurious at first.
Consider, for example, the heated pavements and covered moving walkways that remove the need for you to even walk through snow or climb stairs. Sophisticated new lifts further help to make every aspect of your ski break here feel as smooth as you like, taking you across the resort’s three mountains with their wide-ranging beginner and intermediate slopes, powdery glades, soft bumps and black diamond runs.
There’s almost no accommodation here that isn’t ski-in/ski-out, although we are especially fond of the four-star Osprey boutique hotel, which is a mere 26 feet – or about 10 paces – away from a chairlift. Now, that’s what we call ‘close to the action’.
Ski Independence has some interesting B&B packages available – including flights and transfers – from as low as $2,500 per person for seven nights, rising to $3,000 per person if you fancy staying for 10 nights.
St Anton, Austria
The Arlberg region of Austria is one of the snowiest parts of the continent. When you also consider the 305 kilometres of pistes, 200 kilometres of off-piste itineraries and more than 55 kilometres of challenging off-piste terrain that make up St Anton alone, you can probably begin to appreciate why it’s among the highest-rated ski resorts in the Alps.
St Anton has much to recommend it, including an alluringly stylish town and an efficient lift system encompassing some 88 lifts. Continual investment in new infrastructure helps to make this resort feel wonderfully fresh with every visit.
The local accommodation isn’t always the standard ski-resort fare, either. In Nasserein, for example, it takes shape as the hip hexagonal box bearing the name of the Ancient Greek goddess of Artemis, who is also represented in statue form in the entrance hall. The chalet consists of six individually styled bedrooms, all of which offer utterly enchanting views, and the chance to enjoy such wellness amenities as an indoor swimming pool and wet room.
Pay from $2,800 to stay in this sought-after contemporary accommodation when you book online.
Baqueira Beret, Spain
It’s still something of a hidden gem for foreigners, but Spaniards definitely appreciate the refined charm of Baqueira Beret – with regular guests including no less than the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, who has a holiday home here.
Baqueira Beret also has the distinction of being the sole Pyrenees resort to face the Atlantic, and while the surrounding area offers no shortage of attractions ranging from the low-key tapas bars to swanky new hotels, it’s the three main zones of the ski area itself that are its biggest draw.
You’ll be right next to the lift when you book a stay in the five-star Hotel Val de Neu, which offers wonderful spa amenities as well as four different restaurants to dine in style. Kaluma Travel has B&B packages available from $800, excluding flights and transfers.
Whatever you expect from a luxury ski break, our recommendations will enable you to experience every part of winter-sports traditional glamour, while benefiting from the latest investment in amenities by the most respected and forward-thinking resorts.