Time to book your winter ski break? Check out our ultimate ski guide for this year’s coolest destinations to hit the slopes
The first snow is almost here and it’s time to book your winter vacation. But where to go?
If you’re looking for something a little different this year, we’ve consulted with the experts at one of our trusted travel partners to bring you the ultimate ski resort guide. From family-friendly breaks in Europe, to snow-covered volcanoes in Japan, and heli-skiing in Siberia or the Arctic – we’ve got all options covered.
MCC members can arrange your trip through our Bookings service to take advantage of our extensive network and preferential rates. Our travel partners are the best in the business and we work tirelessly to arrange every detail of your trip to ensure you and your family have a memorable experience.
You can make reservations for these and hundreds of other destinations by completing the bookings form, or messaging a member of the team via WhatsApp on +966 533 633 607. Get in touch to find out more…
1. Kitzbühel (Austria)
A mountain playground of the celebrity jet set, Kitzbühel is one of skiing’s most famous names with a long-standing reputation as one of Austria’s best. The medieval town is steeped in history and tradition but also knows how to have a good time.
Although synonymous with downhill racing’s fearsome Streif run on the Hahnenkamm, most of Kitzbühel’s skiing caters to all levels from nursery-slope beginners to expert off-piste skiers. The resort is one of the lowest in altitude, but great strides have been made in terms of infrastructure to ensure skiers will have ample pistes, even in less good conditions. Kitzbühel is part of the huge SkiWelt Arena with more than 400km of skiable area together with the café culture for which Austria is famous, and excellent spas.
Stay at Hotel Tennerhof, a five-star Relais & Châteaux alpine gem full of mountain elegance with an award-winning restaurant and fabulous spa. Romantic bedrooms, suites and luxurious chalets have antiques, four-poster beds, high ceilings, private balconies and spectacular views. One double room was once the home of James Bond author Ian Fleming.
2. Zell am See (Austria)
One of the most scenic and well-loved lake and mountain resorts in Austria, Zell am See is beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Zell. It is also close to the Hohe Tauern National Park and the magnificent Grossglockner mountain region. Most of the medieval town centre is traffic-free with a variety of shops and attractive cafés.
Its ski area offers a great variety. At altitude, you can ski at 750m or at 3,000m. There are steep and challenging north-facing mountain sides, and gentle south-facing cruising blues. Big, wide and gentle, narrow, steep and challenging, it’s all here. The ski pass includes three areas: Zell am See, Kaprun and Saalbach-Hinterglemm with a combined total of 360km of runs.
Stay at Grand Hotel Zell am See, the grande dame on the lake. A tourism institution in the region, this classic and traditional grand hotel has hosted royalty, politicians and influential business leaders for almost 150 years. Its romantic and cosy rooms, wonderful location, easy access to the town, and excellent spa and wellness area will delight any visitor.
3. Andermatt (Switzerland)
Andermatt used to be a well-kept secret among the Swiss ski aficionado crowd who appreciated its central location at the heart of Switzerland (two hours by train from Zurich), excellent snow conditions (most years Andermatt receives the most snow in the Swiss alps) and challenging slopes.
This all changed with the arrival of an Egyptian billionaire who turned sleepy Andermatt into one of the Alps’ greatest jewels. The town now boasts a world-class, super-luxurious Chedi hotel, vastly enhanced sporting infrastructure (a summer golf course of international renown) and much improved and enlarged ski areas, knitting together the slopes of Andermatt with neighbouring Disentis and Sedrun.
The Chedi Andermatt is a dazzling five-star hotel blending the best of Swiss traditional materials and modern design. With beautiful rooms and public areas, excellent restaurants and an outstanding spa there is little reason to venture outside – except for the skiing.
4. Dolomites (Italy)
Italy’s Dolomites offer a vast and dramatic arena to ski and explore, with some of the more far-flung corners being particularly charming and less touristy. Skiing can be easy on groomed pistes, or challenging off-piste with expert guides. Famous resorts include Cortina d’Ampezzo, Corvara and San Cassiano.
The best way to experience this gorgeous area is to move from one spot to another on a ski safari, staying in several hotels and rifugios (comfortable guest houses up on the slopes). All the logistics and luggage transfers are handled discreetly – you can just focus on skiing in the most stunning landscapes the Alps have to offer. Eat wonderful regional delicacies in excellent restaurants and stay in romantic hotels and rifugios with guides on hand.
Spend the first nights at White Deer, which you will have entirely to yourself to acclimatise. Find your ski feet, enjoy warm Ladin hospitality and excellent facilities including a lovely private spa. Then strike out for three to four nights of ski safari before ending with a few more nights either at the marvellous Rosa Alpina (now an Aman partner hotel) in San Cassiano, or at one of the leading hotels in glitzy Cortina.
5. Niseko (Japan)
Why travel round the world to Niseko on Japan’s Hokkaido Island to go skiing? The answer is twofold: extraordinary quantities of excellent powder snow, combined with the wonderful wackiness that is skiing in Japan. From steaming onsen hot springs to snow-covered volcanoes; and minimalist modern boutique hotels to cosy ryokans (traditional inns) – Niseko has it all.
Stay at Zaborin, a modern and achingly cool ryokan set in an unspoiled forest. Zaborin offers one of the most intimate, tranquil and exclusive accommodations in Niseko. The 15 villa suites all feature their own private indoor and outdoor onsens (hot spring baths) sourced from a gensen kakenagashi, the rarest and most prized type of hot spring. Another highlight is its acclaimed dining, described as the northern version of kaiseki (traditional multi-course dinner), using locally sourced produce.
6. Lake Louise (Canada)
There are few ski resorts in the world with a better view than Lake Louise in Banff National Park. At the heart of the vast SkiBig3 arena (with Banff and Mt Norquay) Lake Louise offers access to a staggering 3,200 hectares of skiable terrain for all abilities, blanketed by an annual nine metres of feather-light, dry Canadian Rockies powder.
Without a doubt, the most iconic place to stay is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. There is nothing subtle about this palatial hotel, but the location alone is worth getting past the American-style grand hotel facade. In summer, the waters of deeply turquoise Lake Louise will keep you enthralled. In winter the wonderful location surrounded by mountain peaks with the lake frozen solid creates a winter wonderland. Note there is no ski-in/ski-out in Lake Louise, anywhere you go skiing requires the use of a shuttle bus.
7. Crested Butte (USA)
Crested Butte is often referred to as Colorado’s last great ski town for its historic charm and soulful spirit. Although close to Aspen, Crested Butte could not be more different from its glitzy neighbour. The Victorian town has a population of only 1,700, and the wooden facades of the buildings look as if they’re from a western movie set. If you want to experience true Rocky Mountain skiing Americana in its purest sense, Crested Butte might be for you. The area receives an average of 450cm of snow per year and it’s a place of extremes with serious skiing and snowboarding terrain, particularly off-piste, contrasted with an extremely laid-back culture.
Located in the heart of Crested Butte, Scarp Ridge Lodge feels like a European ski chalet with Rocky Mountain style. The former saloon still has its Wild West facade, but the interiors have been transformed with reclaimed iron from the old mills in town and generous amenities, such as an indoor saltwater pool, rooftop hot tub and oxygen-enriched air system.
8. Lake Tahoe (USA)
Lake Tahoe isn’t actually a ski resort but rather a vast ski arena comprising several famous resorts: Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Northstar, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl and Diamond Peak are only the most famous names among them.
Tucked into the snowy Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and straddling the states of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe has long been a destination reserved for athletes and adventurers. Today, there’s such a focus on winter sports here that you’ll find ski resorts in every area around the lake and in any configuration you can imagine. Depending on your requirements you will find a resort that fits – all have in common excellent snow conditions (up to 13m per year) and a wide variety of groomed and ungroomed runs catering to every level.
Of course every resort has its own star hotels, however first among many should be the elegant and charming Ritz-Carlton at Northstar. Featuring ski-in/ski-out access to Northstar’s slopes, this luxurious resort offers a spa, two outdoor swimming pools and three restaurants.
9. Kamchatka (Siberia, Russia)
Take a heli-skiing trip to Kamchatka, a vast and mysterious land brimming with wilderness, volcanoes, geysers and perfect powder. Although it is about as far off the beaten track as you can go (it’s at the far eastern end of Siberia) you will be surprised to find modern infrastructure and stunning untracked slopes that cater from beginners all the way to experts.
Heli-skiing is a growing business. You will never forget the adventure of being lifted to your run by a huge Mi8 helicopter riding from the slopes of high volcanoes (average vertical drop 2,000m) and smaller mountains (average vertical drop 1,000m), looking down towards the sea. You even have the world’s only opportunity to ride down into the crater of an active volcano, with guides in constant attendance.
Stay at a modern mountain lodge in Snow Valley with a big hot-springs pool, hot-spring baths, a sauna and a simple yet cozy restaurant. This isn’t about conventional luxury – the luxury here comes in the unique location.
10. Baffin Bay (Canadian Arctic)
Take things further off the map by heli-skiing the most remote ski area imaginable: Canada’s Arctic Baffin Bay. Here lies an Arctic base camp, created for the very select few to ski the world’s northernmost heli-ski arena. Set against the stunning backdrop of Baffin Island, the glacially formed fjords offer untracked runs nearly four kilometers long in beautiful terrain. With tumbling glaciers, deep fjords and the world’s tallest sheer granite walls, the rugged east coast of Baffin Island provides some of the most dramatic scenery in the Arctic.
Beyond breathtaking heli-skiing, this Arctic adventure is about more than just making turns. Explore the frozen ocean for arctic wildlife, immerse in local Inuit culture, take in the breathtaking scenery and enjoy gourmet meals prepared by your own private chef. Basecamp Baffin is a polar first and the only mechanized skiing in Arctic Canada.