Greatest Ski Holidays

skiing
Winter is when skiers start to think about booking their skiing holiday. In Europe there are hundreds of destinations to choose from. France, Switzerland and Austria all have very popular ski resorts, but if you are looking for a bargain then try Eastern Europe. Borovets in Bulgaria and the high Tatra mountains in Slovakia are attracting increasing numbers of skiers. A survey by pricerunner.co.uk and travelex.co.uk revealed that not only are the Eastern European resorts much cheaper than the popular destinations in the Alps, but they are also rated quite highly. Bansko in Bulgaria, Jasna in Slovakia, Zelezna Ruda in the Czech Republic and Kranjska Gora in Slovenia all got a mention.If you are unsure which resort to pick, companies such as Forbes create a list of the top ski resorts in the world. The list will contain many Western and European resorts primarily because of the quality of the snow and the village atmosphere. New England has snow, but it won’t feature much on the list. This is because its snow tends to be icy, not powdery like the snow in Europe which is better for skiing. However, skiing holidays are about more than the quality of the snow. Resorts such as Aspen are hugely popular and the slopes are crowded, meaning that you probably spend more time waiting for the chair lift than on the slopes. Another consideration is the après-ski scene. For some people this is the best part of the holiday. There should be plenty of opportunities for dining, drinking and swapping stories in front of a log fire. It is also a good idea to choose somewhere that has activities other than skiing, just in case your legs need a rest from the slopes. Your accommodation is also important and should be comfortable with easy access to the slopes.

Ski holidays can be expensive, but there are ways to save money. When you book your holiday you should consider a package deal as these often work out cheaper. A single lift ticket can be very expensive.  Try booking at the last minute and stay in catered accommodation to save on eating out. Book your ski pass and ski hire online and always pay in local currency.

Ski resorts that regularly make it into the top 10 lists are:

Aspen: Located in the beautiful state of Colorado, Aspen always features on the list of top ski resorts due to its excellent ski runs that are suitable for skiers of all abilities. It is also the place where you have the chance to ski with the rich and famous although the downside of this is that it is not cheap!

Cortina: Another top choice is this stylish Italian ski resort which hosted the Olympic Games in 1956. Cortina was one of the world’s first ski resorts. The Cortina Ski World is located in the Alps and is one of the most scenic places in the world, with 120 kilometres of ski trails and 52 lifts.

Mont-Tremblant:  Canada’s best known ski resort first opened in 1939 and has recently been given a $1 billion facelift. It is a compact ski resort lying in the pretty Laurentian Mountains. The village has a distinctive French feel to it and it has a number of cafes and bistros in cosy log cabins, as well as boutiques and restaurants. The skiing is suitable for mixed groups and there is a good ski school. Another plus for this resort is that it is just one hour from Montreal for those who would like to do some sight-seeing along with their skiing.

Stowe: Located in Vermont, this is another American resort famed for its picturesque setting. It has the largest vertical drop in the area and is famous for its double-black diamond ‘Four Front’ trails, suitable for experienced skiers. However, it also offers trails suitable for intermediate skiers and beginners. Away from the ski slopes it has over 90 shops and 60 restaurants.

Chamonix Mont-Blanc: Situated in the French Alps, it played host to the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924. It lies at the foot of Mont-Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps. It is renowned for its vertical drop of 9,209 feet and for having one of the world’s longest runs, the Vallee Blance, at 13.7 miles.

Banff/Lake Louise: This ski resort in Alberta, Canada is located in the Banff National Park. It is one of the most scenic mountain resorts in North America and has very reliable snow conditions. Covering 4,200 acres it offers tree-lined runs, smooth slopes and plunging bowls, providing ideal skiing for everyone from the novice to the expert.

Vail: Another ski resort in Colorado, Vail claims to be America’s favourite resort. With 5,300 acres of skiable terrain it has the largest ski area in the USA. Vail also has a lot to offer besides skiing with art galleries, ballooning, dog sledding, museums, ice skating, hockey and snowmobiling.

Zermatt:  Switzerland’s top resort is a picturesque village and a car-free area at the foot of the Matterhorn. It has the second biggest lift-served vertical drop in the world. Zermatt has large snowfalls and the longest skiing season in the Alps.

Kitzbuhel: The most famous resort in the Austrian Tyrol. Skiing began here in 1892 and the 700-year old village still retains its traditional charm. Kitzbuhel is home to the Hahnenkahm the most dangerous and famous of the downhill ski races and is Austria’s winter entertainment capital. It has excellent skiing and snowboarding, but due to its low altitude snow may be lacking on the lower slopes.

Whistler/Blackcomb: This resort in British Columbia provides the best skiing in North America with the biggest vertical drop. It has 8,171 acres of skiable terrain and has been voted North America’s Favourite Ski Resort by OntheSnow.com visitors. The village has cafes, spas, galleries, international stores and over 100 restaurants that feature cuisines from around the world including French, Chinese, Italian, Mexican and more.