We love escaping to the mountains for a week of skiing or snowboarding whilst being surrounded by stunning alpine scenery. Even though purpose build ski areas lack a degree of charm, it’s difficult to call any ski resort ugly when there is a beautiful mountain backdrop on your doorstep.
Europe offers world class skiing and is not only home to some of the most sought after ski resorts in the world but also the most picturesque areas. We take a look at our favourite 5 ski resorts lavishing in breath-taking landscape.
The Jungfrau region is famous for the elite views of the 3 mountain giants - Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The unspoilt magnificent resort of Wengen is accessed by an enchanting mountain railway, as no traffic is permitted in the town. Traditional architecture with beautifully renovated interiors adorns the resort bringing immaculate quality and comfort together in the 21st century. The full area Jungfrau Top Ski Region ski pass covers not only Wengen but 213kms of pistes, providing almost unlimited scope for intermediates on a range of relaxing runs or more testing routes down the Kleine Scheidegg mountain.
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The magic of Megeve touches all generations, from the beautiful traditional style town to the stunning tree lined runs and the spectacular views of Mont Blanc. It is difficult to rival the beauty of Megeve’s surrounding landscapes. From its origins as France’s equivalent to Switzerland’s elegant St. Moritz, there is no surprise that this is the playground for the rich and the famous. The medieval centre has many stylish, luxury hotels and chalets and the 325km of piste provide a varied, leading ski area.
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Skiers and snowboarders flock to the Tyrolean Alps every year because of the attractive villages combined with the exceptional ski areas. Tirol is home to world class skiing with riding at over 100 ski resorts. The charming resort of Alpbach is one of the jewels in Austria's crown and is indeed a true winter wonderland with superb skiing and comfortable, high quality accommodation. The small, family friendly resort is filled with Austrian charm with its sweet, wooden chalets and historic buildings. The newly formed Ski Jewel area has opened up 145km of skiing with lifts up to 2128m with amazing vistas over the Alpbach Valley peaks, the Rofan Range and the Ziller Valley. As well as 3 stunning valley runs the skiing area has a huge choice of freeride possibilities.
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Cortina d'Ampezzo, known as the Queen of the Dolomites, is the premier ski resort in Italy and is often compared to the likes of Courchevel and St. Moritz. The majestic snowcapped Dolomite peaks are awe-inspiring with their unique formations and exceptional natural beauty, which creates the perfect backdrop for this pretty ski town. With some of the finest mountain scenery in the Alps, these stunning peaks and beautiful wooded valleys are particularly stunning at dusk. Cortina is pure Italian style; expect non skiers parading the wealth of shopping spots or most importantly ‘doing’ lunch. The ski area is full of well-groomed pistes great for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders with access to a vast ski area covered on the Dolomiti Superski pass.
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Nestled beneath the magnificent Matterhorn, Zermatt is a traditional town filled with charming chocolate box chalets and jaw-dropping scenery. Situated in the Valais region of Switzerland, this ski area will never fail to charm you. With the panoramic views, crystalline landscape and the highest glacier in the Alps, is it no surprise that Zermatt is considered one of the best ski resorts in the world. The skiing in Zermatt is some of the best in Europe, with 360km of pistes there is something for everyone. Intermediate and Advanced skiers will particular love the wide choice of red and black runs and the famous cosy mountain restaurants. This winter landscape offer lots of sun and with high altitude skiing up to 3883m it is the perfect ski resort throughout the season. A truly romantic paradise.
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View our Picturesque Ski Reorts board on Pinterest here
Last week we launched our World Cup blog series with two Southern Hemisphere resorts - Chile VS Australia. Chile came out top, beating Australia with its epic backcountry runs and reliable snow conditions. This week we’re moving a little closer to home, with the battle of two European countries, Switzerland VS France. Both are big favourites for many skiers and snowboarders, but which one will be crowned King of the Alps? We compare the slopes, après and cuisine to find out.
SwitzerlandMost resorts in Switzerland are set at a high altitude, bringing guaranteed snow as well as glacier skiing and good conditions throughout the season. Many of the ski areas provide long runs and challenging pistes, making it particularly good for skiers at a more intermediate to advanced level. There are, however, still opportunities for beginners. The resort of Wengen has a ski school as well as a blue piste and a ‘slow speed zone’ for those just starting out. From stunning scenery to plenty of pistes, backcountry runs and snowparks, Switzerland certainly has a lot of variety. The Graubunden ski area is Switzerland’s largest mountain area, offering a whapping 225km of skiable piste. Head to Verbier and you’ll find your ski area expanded to across the 4 valleys, which includes the neighbouring resorts of Nendaz and Les Collons. If you visit Zermatt you’ll soon spot the famous Matterhorn peak, which is often featured in many photos of the resort. There are some great advanced runs here as well as the opportunity to do some heliskiing for those who are looking for a new challenge. It is also the highest altitude resort in the country sitting at a top height of 3900m. For the adventurous ones out there, Flims Laax is home to 4 snowparks (including Europe’s largest half pipe) and a glacier for spring and summer skiing.
France Much like Switzerland, France also offers plenty of variation, from high altitude resorts to snowparks and glaciers. Snow reliability is high and the majority of resorts offer good snow conditions throughout the season. Les Deux Alps is the highest resort, standing at a top altitude of 3600m. The resort experiences long sunshine hours and boasts 220km of piste, a board park and a halfpipe. There are plenty of linked ski areas such as the massive Three Valleys with its 600km of runs. Portes du Soleil is one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with lots of ski-in ski-out accommodation which is ideal for families and kids. For your freestyle fix, the Paradiski area has four snowparks and two half-pipes. France caters equally well for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. Alpe d’Huez has lots of blue runs, beginners only areas and no abundance of ski schools. If you like backcountry skiing, Tignes has some fantastic off piste opportunities, as does Val d’Isere. There are also numerous glacier resorts in France, including Tignes, some of which offer skiing all year round. Winner: France
Switzerland The après scene in Switzerland is a little on the small side, with not a great deal of après venues on offer. However, each of the bars makes up for it, with resorts such as Verbier known to have some fun and lively nightclubs. As well as nightclubs, expect to find discos, jazz bars and quiet pubs – something to cater for every taste.
France France is home to some well-known après venues, like Rond Point in Meribel and the legendary La Folie Douce, which has bars in Val d’Isere, Meribel, Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez. Ibiza Rocks the Snow Festival is also held yearly in France, bringing some great partying and music to the mountains. All in all, expect some wild après, live bands every night and quieter venues where you can relax with a drink. Winner: France
St Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland Switzerland is the home of the delicious Fondue as well as a whole other collection of comforting mountain foods. Enjoy Käseschnitte (cheese on toast), Raclette (melted cheese scraped overmeat, bread and vegetables) or fried potato Rösti’s. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Switzerland is a great place to find Swiss Chocolate and no end of delicious cakes and pastries.
France Most dishes found in the French mountains are cheese, potato or bread heavy. Traditional French dishes include Tartiflette (baked cheese, potatoes and meat), Beaufort Tart (a cheese and pastry tart), sweet crepes and pastries. Winner: Switzerland
Les Deux Alpes, France
Winner: France This one was a very close call – both countries have some excellent skiing, après and food and are both firm favourites for many snowsports enthusiasts. The winning streak came from France due to its ability to cater equally to beginner, intermediate and advanced abilities. It also knows how to throw a mean après party to end the day!
Today marks the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and many of the countries fighting it out to be the winner of the World Cup are also some of the finest countries in the world to ski in, so in true Iglu Ski style we have been pondering which countries would win in a battle of the best ski resorts. First up is Group B teams Chile VS Australia with a clash to find the best of the southern hemisphere resorts. We will look at the 3 top factors of a leading ski resort (the slopes, the après and the cuisine) in an endeavour to crown the winner of Chile VS Australia. Perisher, Australia
Chile Skiing in Chile is often regarded as a once in a lifetime opportunity due to its location in South America and the legendary off piste. The country offers 20 ski resorts which are located in the south with ski lifts peaking at 3500m. The Andes provide the perfect playground for adrenaline seekers and adventurers wanting to heli-ski with its 1 million acres of untouched powder. The Andes is the second highest mountain range in the world with the summit of Aconcagua sitting at 6950m. One of the best reasons to visit Chile is for guaranteed snow due to the high altitude. The resort of Portillo averages 24ft of snow as well as plenty of sunshine similar to spring skiing in the Alps. Resorts in Chile are smaller than its European counterparts and lifts can be quite dated but slopes are quiet and Portillo even limits tickets sold so there is never a busy day on the mountain. Valle Nevado is situated in the heart of the largest ski area in the southern hemisphere and snow is guaranteed by the height and the considerable size of the terrain. This season, Valle Nevado opened 2 weeks early, on Friday 13th June, due to fantastic early snowfall. Ski Pucon is situated on a volcano and is popular with freestylers due to the natural half pipes formed by lava. Chile famously featured in the Art of Flight with Travis Rice and Scotty Lago sending it off a 12ft kicker in the pristine South American backcountry. This put Chile on the map for many snowboard enthusiasts, including myself! AustraliaWith winter kicking off down under this month, many ski resorts in the Southern hemisphere are starting to open… with or without snow! Unfortunately it hasn’t been the best start of the season in Australia and many resorts are still looking green on opening weekends. Resorts have to rely on snow guns to get some snow on the slopes, but with temperatures gradually dropping, it is expected to dump very soon. Australia is famously known for its sun, sea and surf, but it is also a ski lovers paradise. Most ski resorts are found in the two states of New South Wales and Victoria. Perisher is the largest ski area in Australia, located in the picturesque Kosciuszko National Park neighbouring Thredbo just up the road. Mt Perisher peaks at 2054m, with the highest chair lift reaching 2034m. One of the most visited Australian resorts is Thredbo, the resort has the steepest terrain in Australia and also the longest runs including the 5.9km Super Trail. Further South sits Mt. Hotham and Falls Creek which are linked by a helicopter ride. Falls Creek freestyle park and pipe consistently wins awards as well as playing host to many high profile snowboard events throughout the winter. Cross country skiing is available in most resorts where visitors can take advantage of the long groomed trails through the forest. Winner: Chile
Chile Due to the small villages nightlife is limited in many resorts. Valle Nevado has the largest concentration of restaurants and bars and Portillo offers live music in a local bar and an all-night disco Australia Most of the resorts in Australia are well developed with large villages. Some tourists even come mainly to party with may be some skiing thrown in on the odd day. With 4 villages, Perisher is known for bars and restaurants becoming very active in the evening once the lifts have closed. Falls Creek has 28 bars and restaurants but if you are looking for a quiet evening there are spa options or places to sit in front of an open fire. Winner: Austalia
Mt. Buller, Australia
Chile Traditional Chilen food may be hard to find in ski resorts. In large hotels you will probably encounter high quality international food and in budget accommodation you will find simple foods. Chile produces a bounty of fine fruit and vegetables which are easily found around resorts. Typical Chilan food is normally meat heavy with plenty of slabs of meat and fish in restaurants, where breakfast is more of a sweet affair with biscuits, cakes and tarts. Australia As Australian resorts aren’t very high and villages are easily accessible the food is general to what you find all over Australia. Many villages have a range of restaurants from fine dining to better value options. A traditional lunch on the mountain would be a burger/hot dog and chips but many resorts are starting to extend their ranges to include healthier options. If you are able to travel just outside the ski area to sub-alpine villages in Victoria, you can treat yourself to a feast of flavours including local beers and fresh produce Winner: Chile
We love snow and the more snow the better. The Australian ski season can be variable with bad years having barely any snowfall. Australia does have many great resorts and features to make a fantastic week on the slopes, but Chile has it in the ‘back of the net’ with its epic backcountry and snow sure resorts.
There's plenty to look forward to this coming 2014/15 winter season, whether you’re staying put in the UK or taking a holiday to the mountains. If you’re eager to swap the summer sun for snowy pistes, then start your countdown now and get planning your next adventure.
Here’s a look at what’s to come…
We used to get festival blues when they all finished for the summer, but now we don’t have to. The popular festival Ibiza Rocks heads to the mountains each year bringing a host of DJ’s and live bands with it. Get your party on and enjoy live music, plenty of snow and wild après. We can’t wait!
Spring 2015 will welcome another year of this well-loved comedy festival, which last year saw comedians such as John Bishop and Al Murray perform. From live stand up to musical parodies, you’ll always find plenty to keep you entertained in-between your time spent out on the pistes. Plus, there’ll also be beer. Lots of beer!
This festival, held in Mayrhofen, Austria, showcases a mixture of new emerging talent and well-established artists. There are also ski and snowboard lessons on offer, plus contests and of course – optimum opportunity for après fun times. To give you a taste of what to expect, last year’s line-up featured The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, DJ Yoda and Foxes.
January 2015 will see another year of the X Games in Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado, with contests in skiing, snowboarding and snowmobile. Previous years of the games have seen our very own Jenny Jones claim gold three times (yes Jenny!). With coverage provided by ESPN, you can enjoy the all the action from the comfort of your sofa.
This December, Breckenridge will play host to Dew Tour to celebrate its tenth anniversary. There’ll be athlete meet and greets, live music, plus snowboard and ski contests in superpipe, slopestyle and streetstyle. Expect to see the likes of Torah Bright, Sage Kotsenburg, Rowan Cheshire, Jenny Jones and Aimee Fuller compete.
The Freeride World Tour stops at various resorts across Europe and North America, offering top skiers and snowboarder the chance to compete for the World Champion title. If you’re on holiday at the time, be sure to stop by at one of the events and check it out – some of the resorts visited along the way are Chamonix, Verbier and Mammoth Mountain.
The 2014/15 season will see the opening of a new 4 Trident Club Med hotel in Val Thorens – Val Thorens Sensations. The hotel is all-inclusive (including ski & snowboard lessons) and is due to open in December 2014. With a fantastic ski-in ski-out position and a display of exceptional mountain views through its huge panoramic windows, the hotel also features a new innovation - Wi-Fi on the slopes! If you’re a Club Med fan, we recommend you try this one out.
Read more about Val Thorens Sensations here.
Opening on the 5th July 2014, the ‘For Friends Hotel’ is situated in Mösern, Austria. The hotel offers stunning views across the surrounding mountains and valleys and is situated 20km from Innsbruck. The hotel will feature an infinity pool, a spa which offers sound therapy and the chance to rent the luxurious For Friends Roof Top Suite.
Located in Zell am Zee, Austria the Mountain Lake Resort will offer 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments and penthouses, each boasting their own mix of traditional Alpine design mixed with a contemporary twist. Keep cosy and warm with comforting underfloor heating plus a steam room and sauna for winding down after a long day. The hotel also features floor to ceiling windows so you can really make the most of the surrounding mountain scenery.
Our featured offer for Mountain Lake Resort.
With over 60 lift constructions under way in Europe and North America, lift systems look to be improved in many resorts next season. Many of these new builds will be effectively upgrading the current lift systems and there will also be a few brand new ones to look forward too as well. In Scheffau, Austria one of the most expensive chairlifts in the world is currently under construction. The chairlift will hold 8 people and will featured cosy heated seats, weather hoods, foot rests and a conveyor belt system for ease of entry.
At the end of July 2014, the 1456m high Jakobskreuz viewing platform will open in plenty of time for the winter season. It will feature five viewing areas which offer displays of the beautiful surrounding mountain landscapes and will be the setting for various lectures, seminars and workshops.
The world’s longest suspension bridge for pedestrians will open in Reutte, Austria later this year. The Highline 179 will rise 110m from ground level and is certainly not for the faint of heart! If you’re looking to take a little break from the day’s skiing or boarding, then certainly give this a try.
You don’t have to go to the mountains to enjoy snow-related events. From the 30th October – 2rd November 2014 the Ski and Snowboard Show will take place in Earls Court, London. Here you’ll find a huge range of activities and stalls; ski and snowboard taster lessons, an ice rink, curling, tubing, après activities, an Austrian themed stand and much, much more.
London will play host to another Freeze Festival this year (dates TBC), with live music, mountain drinks, comforting cuisine and snow-themed fun in Clapham Common. Last year saw live performances from DJ Fresh and Idris Elba as well as international ski and snowboard rail jams, film screenings and even a Christmas jumper world record attempt.
With the UK still feeling the hype from this year’s successful Winter Olympics, our engagement in snowsports has never been better. After Jenny Jones’ bronze medal win, snowdomes and dry slopes were full to the brim, regularly finding themselves fully booked and even running out of rental equipment. The Go Ski Go Board campaign was launched alongside the Olympics to encourage more people to give snowsports a try. The campaign is set to run for the next four years, meaning that there are plenty of ongoing opportunities on offer for pre-holiday lessons, taster sessions and improvers courses at reduced prices. This is an exciting time to get involved with UK snowsports – you can even start your season early and get some practice in before the first resorts open their doors.
What’s more, if you’re serious about skiing or boarding, there are more and more opportunities cropping up to apply for sponsored positions at your local snowdome. Olympian, Rowan Cheshire, started off as a member of the Chill Factore freestyle club in Manchester and fellow Olympians Aimee Fuller, Ed Drake and Jamie Nicholls are all members of The Snow Centre’s pro club in Hemel Hempstead.
One of our favourite things about the winter is the festive season and what better way to get that festive feeling than spending it in a ski resort surrounded by heaps of snow. With the disappointing lack of snow in the UK this year, at least we know we’ll get our snow fix out in the mountains. With local parades, activities for kids, sleigh rides, Carol concerts and festive food and drink, you’ll be feeling Christmassy in no time. New Year ’s Eve also plays host to some spectacular firework displays at most resorts, as well as some fantastic parties to see in the New Year.
Visit the Canadian resort of Whistler for the chance to experience a range of exciting festive activities for both families and adults alike. Watch athletes perform tricks through hoops of fire, sip a hot chocolate (or something a little stronger) around the bonfire or don your fancy dress for the Dress Like Santa Day.
See 2015 in with a bang at the Tignes annual Fire Mix Party featuring live music, DJ’s and lots of outdoor partying. Grab your friends, wrap up warm and start 2015 off right. What’s more, there’s nothing more refreshing than a day out on the mountain to settle that sore head…
Drink mulled wine, listen to carols, browse the Christmas markets and get yourself in the Christmas mood this year. With guaranteed snow (unlike here in the UK!) and plenty of beautiful seasonal lights, we couldn’t really think of a more magical way to spend the festive period.
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