The rise in low-cost accommodation and the ease of searching for bargain flights (if we do say so ourselves!) means that a ski holiday no longer has to cost a fortune or involve grim package tours. We’ve picked some of the best all-rounder ski resorts across the world to get you inspired.
One of the best all-rounder resorts in the world, Meribel is picturesque, family-friendly and home to some great bars for those looking to celebrate a successful day on the slopes. Not to mention access to over 600km of piste across the 3 Valleys resort area meaning even the most diverse group should find something to suit everyone. It’s especially popular with British skiers and many of the ski-schools and guides speak good English as a result; ideal if your school-level French is a little rusty. Look for flights to Chambery or Geneva then get one of the many bus transfers up to the resort. Most accommodation in Meribel and the surrounding villages of Meribel-Mottaret and Mottaret includes meals so the restaurant scene is a little small. However there are several bars that get the party going in the evenings – stay in the centre if you plan to join in, while families might prefer to stay in the quieter outskirts.
Whistler is the biggest ski area outside of Europe and also hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, further securing its credentials as a world class snow sports resort. The variety is superb with everything from easy beginners slopes to extreme heli-skiing mountains. There’s also great snowboarding on the mountain and in purpose-built terrain parks for those looking to perfect some tricks and jumps. The well developed village also offers plenty for non-skiers such as zip-wires, sledging and ice skating, on top of a great selection of bars, restaurants, spas and shops if the adrenaline gets too much. The downside is that the resort can be crowded in peak season with long queues for the lifts and your money won’t go as far as in some other destinations. However Whistler is much more accessible than many other resorts being only a short drive from Vancouver; it’s well worth spending some time in this beautiful and relaxed city to get the most out of your Canadian trip.
St Anton, Austria
Fly in to Innsbruck or Zurich to catch the train up to St Anton. It’s an ideal destination if you are equally attracted to the apres-ski nightlife as well as a bit of winter sports. There’s enough slopes to keep most skill-levels busy during the day, although links to the wider Arlberg lift system means that are plenty of pistes to explore. A wide range of accommodation will suit all budgets and Austria is well known for offering good-value skiing. However the real edge St Anton has over neighbouring resorts is the incredible nightlife. For a relatively small town it has a huge choice of bars and restaurants to get your apres party going. Fill up on weiner-schnitzel and let the jagerbombs flow!
Copper Mountain, USA
After starting life as a mining town, Copper Mountain is now a well-designed winter sports resort with excellent purpose built facilities. Beginners, intermediate and expert areas are on separate parts of the mountain. This can be a disadvantage if you are going in a large group but if you all have similar levels of experience then it means no scary speed-demons to put off learners, nor wobbly novices clogging up the path off the lifts. It’s also easy to get to as it’s right off the I-70 highway, with frequent bus transfers to and from Denver airport. Copper Mountain is much quieter than many of the other resorts in the region so it is highly rated by families and those looking for a less frenetic pace on the mountain. There’s also a good range of non-ski activities such as tubing and snow-shoe tours, and several other resorts such as Breckenridge and Keystone are only a short drive away should you fancy a change of scene.
For those on a tight budget Eastern Europe has some fantastic ski resorts with excellent value for money. Jasna in Slovakia (45 mins drive from Poprad airport, or 3 hours from Bratislava) has great facilities and variety but is still uncrowded and affordable. Centred around Chopok mountain the resort has recently invested heavily in infrastructure and lifts so much of the mountain is now easily accessed. This includes 12 free-ride areas where experts can enjoy off-piste skiing without needing a guide. Quiet tree-lined runs and views over the forests of the lower Tatras make for picturesque setting even on the easier slopes. The major downside of Jasna is the lack of nightlife – there’s only one proper bar and a handful of restaurants, although this could be seen as an upside for those looking for a more tranquil experience. If you are desperate to get out the best option is to head to the nearby town of Liptovsky Mikulas; this is also the place to come if you are looking for non-ski activities such as a cinema or a swimming pool.