The ski season is now underway but with hundreds of resorts spread across the globe, picking the right destination can be a daunting task.
While some resorts are perfect for first-time skiers and families, others are geared towards more experienced skiers, or those just looking for a good party.
Whether it’s the fashionable resorts of North America, the glamour of the Alps, or the up-and-coming slopes of Slovakia, where to go and where to stay depends on many factors, including desired spend, who you’re travelling with, skill level and time of year.
‘Picking your ideal destination will usually come down to personal preference. There are some beautiful areas both close to home and further afield but the best place will depend on what you are hoping to experience while on holiday. Do you want to stay in a bustling resort or an authentic snowy chalet? Picking how you want to experience your winter wonderland will often help narrow down the “where,” explained Travel Counsellor Nicki Harrison, who recommends taking skill level and time of year into consideration.
‘Deals can often be found in the shoulder months but this can be due to the risk of lesser snowfall which will impede your ability to not only ski or snowboard but also enjoy other winter-style actives too.
‘As for your skill level, some places, like the Bulgarian resorts of Bansko and Borovets are renowned for offering opportunities for those completely new to skiing or still learning, whilst Les Arcs or Val d’Iseres could be the ideal choice for advanced skiers seeking a more thrilling challenge.’’
The best ski resorts for families
Children’s ages and family ability do come in to play when picking the perfect ski resort. However, life is made easier in a compact, car-free place with slopes on the doorstep or close by.
As for après ski, Travel Counsellor Nicki Harrison recommends choosing somewhere with plenty to keep kids entertained on the slopes:
’When going on a ski holiday with the family, having plenty of things to see and do is a must and it’s often very re-assuring for parents to know that they won’t have to pay out excessively whilst away. The ski resorts offered by Club Med are a fantastic way to go on an all inclusive skiing holiday and ideal for families.’
According to the Post Office Travel Money Report, Bansko, Bulgaria’s leading ski resort, is the best-value resort in Europe, with a week’s trip costing, on average, £1530 for a family of four.
Italy, and particularly the resort of Bardonecchia, was also identified as being cheaper and more laid back than its Alpine rivals in France, Switzerland and Austria. The only downside being that snow cover isn’t always as reliable as elsewhere in the Alps.
The best ski resorts for beginners
‘For first timers, I’d always suggest picking a resort that has some apres-ski facilities as well as the chance to book into a ski-school. That way you will feel in safe hands as you learn to tackle the slopes and can also take the day off to just enjoy your winter wonderland,’ said Nicki.
‘Many companies can offer to pre-book the ski-school with your package for the full duration but you can also arrange private lessons with the instructors locally for more of a one-on-one experience.’
Slovakia’s largest ski area, Jasná, is a good place to learn, with low prices, gentle slopes and a decent snow record. For an authentic French Alps experience, Meribel excels for beginners. It enjoys a good quantity of easy runs, plus there’s activities on offer like snowmobiling, husky dog sledding, snowshoeing, or relaxing in one of the many spas.
High in the Colorado Rockies is Breckenridge, a two-hour transfer from Denver airport, which is a one-stop flight from London. As a beginner, you’ll get first class tuition in small groups on uncrowded slopes with no button lifts and amazing snow.
The best resorts for a luxury ski experience
Luxury ski resorts are an experience unto themselves, boasting fabulous shopping, hotels, eateries and, most importantly, perfect runs to traverse.
‘There are so many wonderful resorts to choose from but a few definitely stand out, in my opinion. For example, the Solaris Residences in Colorado or the iconic Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi – you’ll never stay at the same Ice Hotel twice as it’s re-built every year – would be truly unforgettable. Then again, for something closer to home which gives you a lovely chalet style holiday but with all the luxuries of a hotel, the Chalet Hotel Kaya in Les Menuires is simply charming,’ said Nicki.
The hottest ski destinations for the 2019/2020 season
Georgia has enjoyed a tourism boom in the past few years. Gudauri is the biggest resort with 80km of slopes, plus Bakuriani and the country’s newest resort, Mestia, are offering ski adventures to intrepid downhillers.
‘I’ve found for the 2020 season, I’ve seen a lot more enquiries and requests for Canada and USA ski holidays rather than Europe,’ said Nicki, who recommends Whistler in Canada, Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado, or the perennially fashionable Aspen.’