When choosing the next skiing trip our mind often wonders to those extraordinary bucket list destinations. There are 97 countries across the world that offer skiing and snowboarding. With ski resorts in the northern and southern hemisphere it is possible to ski throughout the year – it’s always snowing somewhere! With so many possibilities on offer there many fantastic and unique experiences to enjoy in the mountains. Here are our top 5 once in a lifetime ski experiences to get your imagination running wild.
For incredible alpine scenery and breath taking untouched landscapes, there is nothing that rivals a heli-ski adventure in Alaska. The Alaska ranges have been made famous by extreme ski and snowboard films – remember those opening scenes in Art of Flight? This was Alaska's Tordrillo mountain range. Heli skiing and snowboarding in Alaska is the ultimate freeriding adventure; the varied terrain and epic snowfall will guarantee that adrenaline rush you’ve been craving for. The last frontier is so vast you will feel like the first person discovering a new mountain. There are a large amount of heli ski operators across the Alaskan ranges that run singles days as well as multiple day trips. Alaska Heli ski runs are long, so you will get lots of skiing mileage during your trip, much more than other ranges in North America. Resorts in Alaska receive huge amounts of snow, with the highest parts of the mountains averaging 20-25m per season
Can you ski the 10 main resorts of the largest ski area in the world in one day? The answer is yes, and it’s an excellent day out that gets you to all the corners of this massive ski area. What better way to brag to your friends, than saying you’ve skied the 600km of the largest linked ski area in the world, Les Trois Vallées. Our Sales Director, Adam Johnson took 3 Iglu team mates on a mission to conquer the French giant. AJ takes us through their epic day...
Skiing in Finland is unlike any other Alpine ski holiday. If you want to ski in breath taking, peaceful scenery surrounded by ice-sculpted forests and frozen lakes, coupled with uncrowded pistes and resorts, a ski holiday to Finland offers you a very refreshing alternative. Skiing in Finland is varied, with a variety of runs suited for all abilities, but the ski areas are smaller than what we are used to in the Alps and ideally suited to beginners and intermediates. One of the fantastic reasons to come to ski in Finland is to experience one of the many unique activities at your fingertips. Enjoy meeting the animals and learning about their way of life on either the Reindeer safaris or the Husky dog sledding trips or for adrenaline junkies, you can get your pulse racing on one of the exhilarating snowmobile adventures and a magical visit to Santa is an absolute must for the whole family. If you are very lucky you may even catch one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world, the Northern Lights. Head away from the town and bright lights and you should be able to see the lights at certain times throughout winter.
Everyone deserves a spot of luxury in their lives, which is why one must experience the ultimate luxury ski holiday in a stunning chocolate box chalet in one of the finest resorts in the world, Val d’Isere. Well-stocked wine cellars, gourmet cuisine, private cinemas, chauffeurs, outdoor hot-tubs, a roaring log fire... luxury chalets are all about being pampered to the max. Good food is an essential part of a luxury ski holiday. The talented chefs are experienced and creative artists, producing modern and traditional cuisine to tantalize your taste buds. Everything in the luxury ski chalets are designed to make you feel relaxed, pampered and special. Val d'Isere offers one of the world's best ski areas, the Espace Killy, along with accommodation for everyone and anyone. If you are looking for a luxury private chalet then look no further than Chalet Lafitenia, run by Val d'Isere's most exclusive chalet operator and offering the standards of accommodation, food and service that you would expect from a luxury chalet in a world class resort.
Japan is home to the powder your dreams are made of. You may find it surprising that ski resorts in Japan get some of the deepest snow in the world. Located in the northern island Hokkaido in the Abuta district, Niseko is one of the most famous ski resorts in Japan. With an average of 11m of snow fall a year it is regarded as one of the snowiest ski resorts in the world. Niseko is made up of five interlinked areas, Annapuri, Higashiyama (Village), Hirafu, Hanazono & Moiwa. Hirafu is the main resort where you will find the majority of the town and accommodation. The terrain at Niseko is varied; the main ski area offers great ‘ski-what-you-can-see’ terrain with easy to access to fun off piste between the main ski runs. The legendary tree runs are in the strawberry fields and Miharashi with steep runs at the super alpen course and under the Kogen gondola. I was lucky enough to be in Niseko for a few months of the 2013-14 season and can guarantee that nothing will compare after a trip to this ski mecca. The trip does require a 13 hour flight to Tokoyo, followed by a domestic flight to Sapporo and then a 2-3 hour coach transfer straight to the resort, but once you’ve had that first day in fresh, waist deep champagne powder you will forget all about that journey to this dream destination. There may be a ton of snowfall in Niseko but bad weather doesn’t have to mean bad visibility with the bounty of tree runs and off piste forests to ski through. If you are lucky enough to get a clear day on the hill then you can marvel at the stunning view of Mount Yotei and views of the ocean if you get high enough. If you live for powder days and fanaticise about white snowscapes that your favourite skiers and snowboarders go year after year, then start planning your trip to the land of the rising sun and make your ski dreams to come true.
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With so many new chalets and hotels popping up in various European resorts just in time for the coming season, we decided to give you a low down on our top 5 new places to stay on your next ski holiday. Whether it’s all inclusive, catered chalets or half-board you’re after, there are plenty of new accommodations that are bound to catch your eye.
The location of the Sunstar Alpine Hotel offers you access to a large linked ski area, with plenty of runs available for all abilities. The hotel boasts one-hundred and six bedrooms and is half-board, providing delicious buffet breakfasts, a five course evening meal and regular themed evenings, complete with a themed menu to match. The hotel lies in a quiet area of the resort, overlooking the forest and Untersee Lake, with the main village area just a few minutes walk away. Ski lifts are located an eight minute walk away and there is a free hotel shuttle bus and a free resort bus on hand to shorten your journey. Guests at the hotel will benefit from free wi-fi, ski storage with boot heating, a bar and a smokers lounge. After a long hard day out on the slopes, relax at the wellness centre with the indoor pool, steam room, sauna and fitness activities, plus massage, spa and beauty treatments. There is also table tennis, badminton, tennis and bowling available onsite. For those who are bringing children who are too young to ski, there is a non-ski kindergarten open six days a week.
The much loved and snowsure resort of Ischgl now welcomes Chalet Belmonte to the family - a large catered chalet, which sleeps up to forty-three guests. All rooms are ensuite and offer their own balcony or terrace area. The chalet is ideal for couples and groups, although cots can be set up in a number of the rooms if requested. The main lift is situated just a five minute walk away and the bars and restaurants just three minutes on foot. At breakfast, guests will be offered a choice of continental and cooked options and will also be provided with afternoon tea, a five course evening meal and a selection of complimentary wines. The onsite bar is a great place to wind down before your evening meal, with much deserved pre-dinner aperitifs and canapés on offer. As well as on-site ski boot storage, guests will also find a steam room, sauna and an infra-red cabin to soothe tired muscles after a hard day out on the mountain.
With a huge skiing area and a fantastic snow record, Tignes provides the backdrop to this brand new catered chalet, which sleeps up to nine people across four ensuite bedrooms. The chalet is ideal for families and groups and features a spacious living area with stunning views across the Grade Motte Glacier. The chalet also offers wi-fi access and handy ski lockers for storing your gear overnight. Located just twenty-five metres away from the lively bars and restaurants of Tignes Le Lac, this new chalet offers an ideal location for a ski holiday, with everything you need right on the doorstep. The Rossett lift is situated fifty metres from the front door and the Toviere lift just one-hundred metres, putting you in prime position to be one of the first up the mountain.
The well-known and popular Club Med resort has opened up a new luxurious hotel, this time located in the wonderful Val Thorens. The hotel features a contemporary design which uses spacious and light interiors, complete with floor to ceiling windows to offer guests stunning mountain views throughout. The hotel is all inclusive with a variety of flexible dining options available, including takeaway packed lunches and snacks so that you can make the most of your time on the slopes. You’ll also find bars serving complimentary drinks and a host of evening entertainment, including a nightclub. Also included in the package are free ski and snowboard lessons, access to snowsports such as tobogganing, plus a climbing wall, a fitness centre and a spa. All rooms in Val Thorens Sensations are ensuite and you can choose from a club room, deluxe room or suite. On top of this, ninety-percent of the rooms offer picturesque mountain views.
January can be a financially tight month but offers some of the best skiing of the season. With this in mind, and in our ongoing efforts to help more people hit the slopes, we've refreshed our Guide to Cheap Skiing. And if you're looking for a cheap last minute holiday be sure to check out our Top Tips for Last Minute Skiing.
Cheap ski deals are a bit of a misdemeanour as skiing is never cheap. By the time you have added your travel, accommodation, lift pass, ski hire/carriage, lessons (if needed) and food & drinks in resort, you are often lucky to get away with spending less than £1000. That's not to say that with good planning, realistic expectations and a bit of luck you can of course get a great deal, saving a small fortune.
People often flock toward the likes of Bulgaria and Andorra for a cheap ski break, but the realism is they are catching up with the rest of Europe year-on-year for price, yet the ski areas are not always as snow-sure or as challenging as the more renowned resorts. Andorra's lift pass prices are catching those of France, at £180, and the airfares to Bulgaria mean it often costs more than a cheeky week to a more renowned resort with a shorter flight.
Having taken into consideration the resort costs, including lift pass & ski hire, the holiday costs and the ski areas, I have put together an indication of where the best value cheap ski deals currently lie. There are a couple of self catered apartments, some value chalets and an all inclusive package, to give you a good indication of what to expect and where to look. Bargain hunting for cheap ski holidays starts as soon as the winter is over, so you now don't need to hold on in hope of getting a last minute deal.
To keep things fair and comparable I have looked at mid January, traditionally the cheapest time of the season where the resorts are fully open and for arguments sake have kept to London(ish) airports.
Self catered holidays can be a false economy due to the cost of food in resort, though sneaking some dry foods and packet mixes into your suitcase can help with this — student-style skiing! But if you are there for the skiing and/or the nightlife, accommodation is often at the bottom of the list, therefore squeezing into a 20m2 apartment with three friends won't bother you in the slightest.
Having kept to the dates mentioned before, you might be surprised to hear that the resorts of Avoriaz, La Plagne and Alpe d'Huez topped the list for accommodation costs and reasonable lift pass prices. Okay so €5 or so a pint may be the main downfall here, but there are some great value places to eat in both these ski areas. Pizza Roll in Alpe d'Huez is well used buy the underpaid resort staff and at €3 a pizza who can blame them. In Avoriaz ski down the Les Marmottes restaurant in the Lindarets valley for some great value mountain food — which will be much appreciated if a diet of pasta and sauce is on the menu in the evenings!
Alpe d'Huez offers 260km of great skiing, a glacier, Europe's longest black run — the 16km La Sarenne — the infamous Le Tunnel's moguls and the great value Quartier des Bergers Apartments apartments. The lift pass is £165, but includes use of the both the heated outdoor pool (budgie smugglers required), the indoor pool & sports centre and the resort bus, the ski & boot hire is from £75, ski carriage is £17.50. The cheapest ski deal here is again on the 18th January on a flight from Gatwick airport at £276 per person, based on four people sharing — the cheapest deal, but slightly higher resort costs.
The Cassiopee apartments in Belle Plagne often offer great value, whether getting an early summer deal or a last minute cheap trip you can find prices here for sub £270 per person (based on 4 sharing). The lift pass is around £235 for the Paradiski Unlimited pass and ski hire is around £85 for skis & boots and ski carriage is £35. The best price at the moment from Gatwick airport on the 7th January for as little as £285 per person, based on four sharing a four person studio apartment — offering cosy but low cost accommodation.
Chalet holidays can actually offer better value than staying in an apartment, due to the fact most of your catering is covered (the staff have one night off during your stay). You are usually given a hearty breakfast, afternoon tea and a three course evening meal with wine. If you have good chalet hosts you can usually have a large breakfast with cereals, a cooked option and some fruit, then make yourself a cheese, ham or jam sandwich for lunch (though do this quietly as you are not supposed to) and ski back for tea, coffee and cake at 4pm and still have time for an aprés ski beer.
Based on out-and-out price, the Chalet Alice in Les Deux Alpes offers fantastic value. Again using a Gatwick flight the price for two people in a twin room is only £354 per person on the 25th January. So the difference in cost to have two full meals and afternoon tea, with only one evening not catered, is just £103 pp. Les Deux Alpes is a student favourite, offering good nightlife, glacier skiing and reasonable resort prices — the lift pass is only £190 and ski & hire is again around £85 and ski carriage is £35.
For a great overall deal, great value on the mountain and the chance to ski two countries in one holiday, then the Chalet Quatre Saisons in La Rosiere offers fantastic value. The ski area sits toward the end of the Tarantaise Valley, opposite Les Arcs and bordering Italy. Skiing down to La Thuile you can enjoy fantastic mountain food at great, Italian prices, giving great savings throughout the week. This time based on a flight into Gatwick and with two people sharing a twin room the price stands at £295 per person — at £180 for your lift pass with ski hire from as little as £55 (or ski carriage for £39) you are looking at £530 for a week with everything bar lunch and one evening meal paid for!
Over in Les Deux Alpes, there are some ridiculously good value all inclusive deals with the Club Med Les Deux Alpes, though if you fancy a different resort the Club Med Arcs Extreme often has comparable prices. Club Med offer something different to the typical British ski holiday, first of all they are French run, owned and styled hotels, though they have English speaking staff. If you are here for the skiing and not the resort nightlife the hotels have everything you need. The price include accommodation, transport, all inclusive meals and drinks (apart from champagne etc), lift pass, ski school and on charter flights ski carriage. You can ski back to the hotel for lunch, a beer or a snack, the bar is open until early until the early hours and there is entertainment for all ages. If you head out on the 26nd January you are only paying £1084 per person, based on two sharing — this means if you have your own skis you don't have to spend another penny (apart from travel insurance) and if you don't ski hire starts at £104 pp.
Whilst this deals is great last minute value, Club Med also offer terrific Early bird savings of up to £200 pp so booking early is highly recommended.
In a quick round-up, here are the overall price comparisons for the best value self catered, chalet and all inclusive for seven nights:
So depending on how much you expect to spend on meals both in your accommodation and on the mountain, whether you are heading out into resort to party, fancy a glass of wine over dinner, or want the freedom to enjoy a drink whenever you fancy, depends on what works out best for you. Self catered are cosy, but low cost, chalets are comfortable, yet good value and Club Med include everything you need for a great price.
* The prices in this article were correct at time of publish, though are subject to change at anytime.
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