A charmingly traditional resort, which retains a homely small village ambience despite its fame, Meribel nestles in the centre of the immense Trois Vallées ski area, one of the largest in the world.
Some 600 kilometres of trails provide a vast amount of choice whatever your ability ensuring that Meribel is as popular with families as it is for advanced skiers. This is a picture-perfect resort lined with superb amenities, but in our opinion what really sets Meribel apart is the sheer scale of the terrain available to you.
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The most eastern resort of the vast Trois Vallées ski area, Courchevel offers upmarket skiing at its finest. Four distinct villages, of which Courchevel 1850 (named for its altitude) is the glitziest, attract a jet-set clientele with luxurious accommodations, Michelin starred restaurants and a village lined with upscale boutiques.
The skiing is no less impressive of course. Courchevel serves up a wide selection of runs with some particularly challenging blacks, and a superb lift network that sees amazingly low queues even during the busiest periods.
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Val d’Isere, along with Meribel, typically draws a strong British presence with its long, snow-sure season and world famous après ski. The resort is close to the border with Italy, and combines with neighbouring Tignes to create the L’Espace Killy ski area, which offers 300 kilometres of terrain, with 90 lifts, including two funiculars, a gondola and several six-person chairlifts.
Advanced skiers are especially well-served in Val d’Isere, which regularly hosts championship events and promises the thrilling Face de Bellevarde, which was used for the men’s downhill in the 1992 Winter Olympics.
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Centrepiece of the extensive Portes du Soleil ski area, which makes up some 280 slopes across French and Swiss territory, Morzine was the brainchild of Jean Vuarnet, a local boy who took downhill gold at the 1960 Winter Olympics.
Although its low altitude can make it a risky bet at the start and finish of the season, Morzine is always a popular option for families, with a raft of excellent winter activities on offer, from tobogganing and ice skating to lake diving.
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A favourite among European royalty for generations, Lech ranks among the most prestigious ski resorts in Austria – think custom-made ski boots and heated seats on the chairlifts. That exclusive reputation tends to put off casual day-trippers, and consequently a relaxed atmosphere pervades the resort even during peak season.
Forming part of a huge interconnected ski area, which includes the famous White Ring tour, Lech is a wonderfully snowy resort that has produced its fair share of Olympic luminaries.
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St Anton, Austria
St. Anton is among the most popular ski resorts in Austria, known for its spectacular scenery and tricky off-piste terrain. A state-of-the-art lift system and an ample snow record only make it more desirable.
For many visitors however, St. Anton’s appeal lies in what happens after the lifts close down for the day - the nightlife here is some of the wildest in Europe. Our tip? If you can resist the pull of the bars and clubs, then you can be fairly confident of nice clear slopes for your early morning runs.
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Whistler Blackcomb is without question one of Canada’s largest and finest ski resorts. Just a two-hour drive north of trendy Vancouver, it boasts an exceptional snow record – the locals speak of “champagne powder” – averaging around 38 feet of snowfall every season. Ranked best in the world an astonishing four times in five years by SKI Magazine, Whistler is characterised by long tree-lined runs and rugged, wild scenery amplified by regular Pacific storms.
Getting around is a breeze. The incredible PEAK 2 PEAK gondola links Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, creating a network of over 200 pistes, while the lift system has an overall capacity of more than 60,000 people per hour.
Vertiginous Cervinia is less pricey than Zermatt over the border in Switzerland, but shares equal access to more than 300 kilometres of terrain, which is reliably snowy throughout a long season. It’s not surprising that many visitors will return year after year.
Overlooked by the imposing Matterhorn, it has to be said that some of the resort’s older architecture is not especially attractive. However, it is the slopes rather than the village that have cemented Cervinia’s reputation as one of the most sought-after ski resorts in Italy – lazily cruising along in the sunshine here is simply idyllic.
Ranked the number one resort in Japan, Niseko in Hokkaido is composed of four interlinked ski areas: Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and An’nupuri, which can all be skied on one pass.
Niseko’s reliable powder snow arrives on the winds from Siberia for an annual average of 15m. Given the variety of runs, off-piste terrain and night-skiing here, not to mention the renowned facilities, we think that whatever your ability, this is probably the best place to start if it’s your first time skiing Japan.
An enormously popular Colorado resort that has long been a retreat for reclusive celebrities and corporate executives, Aspen spans four ski areas that provide a rich variety of terrain across some 240 kilometres of pistes. Beginners and intermediates are best served in either Buttermilk or Aspen Highlands, while Aspen Mountain, or Ajax as it’s known to the locals, presents a challenging proposition even for more advanced skiers.
We recommend skiing Aspen towards the end of the season, when the crowds drawn by the high-octane Winter X Games have dispersed and the raw beauty of the Rockies is usually at its clearest.
One of the oldest and most snow-sure resorts in France, Les Deux Alpes is home to the largest skiable glacier in Europe, allowing for enviable summer skiing. A long season, coupled with a highly regarded snow park and fantastic après ski makes Les Deux Alpes a firm favourite with all grades of skier.
Such is the number of runs, you can comfortably ski here all week without covering the same ground twice, while unusually, the most challenging runs tend to be the lower ones closest to the resort. Once you’ve taken off your skis for the day, you can also choose from an appealing selection of winter activities include snowmobiling, horse-drawn sleigh rides and paragliding.
So where will it be?
We hope this list has provided a bit more inspiration for your next ski holiday. We have over 70 properties across 10 resorts in France and Austria so if one of those listed above catches your eye, get in touch and speak to one of our Sales Team.