I have to admit, when Si came home a few weeks ago and suggested a group ski trip over Easter, I’m not sure he received the response he was looking for. I can’t tell you how “traumatised” I am about the actual skiing part of a ski trip. He was quick to remind me of the parts I do like, namely the après, and it now looks like I am on board for a make or break Easter weekend ski trip to Val-d’Isère! With that in mind, I thought it would be fitting to round up some of the best ski resorts to help you plan your next snowy adventure.
Best for Après and Groups
What happens after a hard day on the slopes is equally as important, or in my case even more important! These are my favourite resorts to maximise the fun on and off the slopes.
The Espace Killy ski area is about a 2.5-hour drive from Chambery airport, so not necessarily the best option for a long weekend. Also, keep in mind, more regular flights operate to Geneva, which is a 3.5-hour drive; that said, it doesn’t seem to put our group off from returning season after season, so it must be worth it. In the lead up to the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, the town was given a much-needed facelift and is now every bit the picturesque village that you would expect.
The resort (linked to Tignes) claims to have runs for all abilities. And whilst I can’t technically dispute this given they have 300km of pistes, 78 lifts, and 76 runs (68% intermediate/ advanced), I would suggest the skiing is best enjoyed by strong intermediates. Benefiting from high altitude slopes (up to 3,456m), the resort is well worth considering for an early or late season trip.
La Folie Douce is the one stop show for slope party action. Expect fancy dress, tabletop dancing, champagne to be sprayed in your face and epic tunes. The run back into town can be a little more extreme after a few glasses and is best avoided. And given the La Daille gondola is located next door, I say keep safe and away from the drunken skiers below.
A little over 2 hours away from the Geneva airport, Verbs is a great long weekend option if you’ve got a bit of dosh to play with. Famed by the wealthy, famous and Royal’s, premium chalets can command prices up to £14,700 per sqm! Verbs actually hold a very special place in my heart: it was on a ski trip there that I first met Simon. The rest of that story is for people in the know?
With over 80 lifts, the resort is a great option if you are trying to cater to a number of different abilities. It equally has beginner and intermediate runs, with a few more challenging options for the seasoned skier. There is a shuttle bus service to nearby Les Esserts and Le Rouge for the complete beginner.
All of Verbier’s après is located in the centre of the pretty little town. Head to the Farinet, adjacent to the lounge bar for great live bands and a crazy party. In all likeliness, you’ll also probably find a degree of semi-nudity, tabletop dancing, ski-luge shots.
For late night partying, check out the Farm Club for chic interiors and a rocking vibe. The club has been going for 45 strong years and is still a must on any trip to Verbs!
Also worth considering…
- St Anton, Austria: or as the girls in my office used to call it, “St Manton”. Go for challenging off-piste action and vibrant nightlife.
- St Moritz, Switzerland: for GLAMOUR and stratospheric wealth.
Best Value for Money
Skiing is and always will be an expensive past time. That said, it isn’t always necessary to spank a lot of cash on the slopes to have a good time. Here is some good value for money options to consider.
Sauze d’Oulx, Italy
The resorts yesteryear reputation as a British haute has somewhat mellowed, though you should still expect to find the shenanigans of Brits abroad binge drinking in parts of town. It is accessible from several airports including Chambery, France, about a 2-hour drive away. Offering an abundance of uncrowded ego boosting, wide slopes and entertaining nightlife, the resort is worth checking out.
Whilst the centre of the village is pretty with narrow cobbled streets, the majority of the town lacks aesthetic appeal mainly made up of characterless tower block resorts. The whopping resort is made up of 440km, including 240 runs, of which 62% are intermediate.
To avoid any nasty surprises, the lift systems are in need of some TLC, and the village is quite steep when moseying about. You should also expect it to become busy with Italian skiers on sunny weekends. This could explain why it is slightly more cost effective than some of the neighbouring resorts.
Only a 50-minute drive from Innsbruck airport, this resort is a budget-friendly option for long weekends as well as extended stays. The idyllic village is made of traditional wooden and stone homes and working farms and was voted Austria’s most pretty village.
The resort is best suited to beginners and intermediates. It spans for considerable miles and has 47 lifts. Over 50% of the runs are beginner runs, so this is a great option if you want to try out skiing for the first time.
Whilst you shouldn’t expect an electric après vibe, there is still a healthy nightlife and plenty of slope-side bars to take advantage of.
Keep in mind that the village runs are exclusively for the use of beginners, however, a regular shuttle bus service runs to and from the gondolas, which can take you to come more challenging slopes.
Best for Couples
You needn’t be part of a rowdy group to enjoy the skiing action. The picture postcard views of snowy mountains mulled wine and roaring log fires, make the perfect romantic getaway with your loved one. That said, I am a realist and I’m sure that anyone who has ever been skiing with their significant other would agree, that you should expect at least one quarrel on this highly emotive and in some cases, competitive break. But that just makes making up all the sweeter?
Easily one of the most beautiful alpine villages, Zermatt’s long narrow high street is lined with alluring boutiques, bars, cafes and restaurants. There is an authenticity to this farming village made up of traditional timber and stone houses. It is easily accessible by several airports with the closest being 1.5-hours away.
The sizable 360 km resort is best suited to intermediate skiers, however, caters for all levels with 21% beginner and 18% advanced runs.
Zermatt offers many non-skiing activities offering couples the opportunity to take a break from the slopes. You could consider ice skating, curling, one of the many amazing spas, winter hiking/ snowshoeing or a helicopter sightseeing tour.
Expect phenomenal scenery, runs for all, good nightlife with upmarket bars and restaurants and a host of ski alternative activities.
Megève is French equivalent to the Swiss Saint-Moritz. The village dates back to the 13th century, however, it wasn’t until the 1920’s that Baroness Noémie de Rothschild developed the resort into the picturesque village that we know today. The town oozes luxurious appeal. Its cobbled streets are lined with boutiques and world-class restaurants including the only three-Michelin starred chef in the Alps; Haute-Savoie.
Lift passes available include the surrounding Mont Blanc area, offering 400 km of skiable piste made up of 235 runs. It is suitable for all skiers with a great split between beginner and intermediate runs.
Historically not notorious for its après, Megève is now home to an outpost of the La Folie Douce chain at the top of the Mont Joux lift. There is also an abundance of nightlife options in town.
If you fancy a break from the slopes, consider a relaxing trip to the spa, checking out the Friday morning market at the Palais Des Sports carpark or the nearby Sallanches market on a Saturday morning. Other non-skiing activities include hot air ballooning, snowmobiling, dog sledging, paragliding and scenic flights over the resort.
Best for Long Weekends
It’s not always possible to find the time to spend a week or two in the mountains. Or, if you are a fair-weather skier like me and don’t have the appetite for an extended break, a long weekend still allows you to dip your toe in and be part of the action.
The number one rule when choosing an extended weekend skiing break is close proximity to the airport. Chamonix is only an hour from Geneva airport, making it a fabulous option. The resort offers challenging terrine, not for the faint-hearted. Thrill seekers can experience steep runs and off-piste powder with a dramatic mountainous backdrop. For those in search of the illustrious champagne powder, local guides can help you seek out the sweet fields of powder while staying safe. Chamonix is considered to be the birthplace of alpine skiing and hosted the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924.
47 lifts are available of which an impressive 29% are advanced! The Guardian claims the run homebound from Brevent is “like a snowy running of the bulls last thing in the day”, and recommend hitting it early in the morning to experience freshly-bashed corduroy and sharply banked turns.
The resort is large, yet still attractive and offers both traditional charm and a lively nightlife. With an excellent reputation for après, check out Chambre Neuf, Monkey Bar or Le Vagabond for live, crowd-pleasing music and tabletop dancing.
This traditional Italian village is bursting with character and is surrounded by sensational scenery. The village is home to many enticing boutiques, bars and restaurants and has exceptional après. Courmayeur is easily accessible by serval airports, with the closest being 1.5 hours from the resort.
I have to say that Courmayeur is much smaller than some of the others, but at least you can boast that you skied it all in one weekend! Of the 20 km of piste, you have a pretty even split with 39% of beginner runs and 48% for intermediate skiers. A seasoned skier might find this resort less of a challenge.
There is nightlife to attract all budgets in Courmayeur. Try the imaginatively named, “The Club” for a great vibe and guest DJ’s, or the newly opened ClubHaus 80’s for a, you guessed it… 80’s inspired discotheque (hello Maggie’s!). Caffe della Posta and the Cadran Solaire offer a more sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere for evening drinks.
There is so much variety available when choosing a ski trip, and something available to suit everyone, even scaredy cat skiers like me! I hope this helps you plan your next trip.
Until next time, safe travels.
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