Now that winter is finally here, (at least in Texas it is), snowy outdoor activities are likely on your agenda. And what better way to enjoy the snow than to hit up a ski lodge? Just the notion of going to a luxury lodge, bundling up in warm blankets and enjoying hot chocolate in front of the fire while the snow falls outside after a good ski session sounds like heaven!
Skiing has quickly become a winter activity staple that the whole family can enjoy, and for good reason: it’s fun! There are ski lodges all around the world that cater to ski enthusiasts regardless of skill. New to the idea and want to learn? Many ski lodges offer guided tutorials and soft slopes to introduce you to the activity. If you’re a seasoned pro and looking for a challenge, many of these places also have some difficult slopes that will keep you on your toes.
Because of the growing popularity of this winter activity, ski resorts have begun to up the ante. They’ve added beautiful hotels, gorgeous lodges, tasty restaurants and all sorts of entertainment to keep you busy when you’re not on the slopes. And if skiing isn’t necessarily your thing but you still want to enjoy the snow, then check out one of the many trails that these ski lodges offer!
Now for the most important part of skiing: the snow quality and the terrain of the mountainsides. Any place with snow and some slopes can open a ski lodge but as the experts will tell you, it’s the snow and terrain that really counts. We’ve taken the guesswork out of the equation on our list; not only are these resorts decadent, but they also offer quality snow and terrain
When you think of luxury ski lodges, the above image probably comes to mind. Beautiful snow capped mountains in the backdrop, a beautifully lit village that comes to life at night, and powder soft snow. Courchevel is everything luxury and decadent about skiing and winter activities. Unfortunately, the upscale villages and luxury has earned Courchevel a reputation. Many consider it to be over the top or too bourgeoisie. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked as it offers expert skiers some seriously good snow.
Courchevel is the world’s largest alpine ski domain and is part of the Les 3 Vallees region. There are over 600 kilometers of ski runs that are interconnected spanning across 10 gorgeous summits. The summits are higher than 2,500 meters so you’re guaranteed to not only get some killer views, but some seriously thrilling skiing. There are over 150 kilometers of alpine ski terrain so you won’t feel crowded on the slopes. The resort also has 60 lifts running so you won’t be waiting long. These summits are also great for snowmobiles ad we highly recommend taking one.
Courchevel receives an average of four meters of fresh snow a year and it’s painstakingly cared for the staff. This meticulous care keeps the terrain fresh and perfect for skiers to enjoy.
Interested in off-piste skiing? Well, Courchevel is well known for theirs and it’s considered legendary. Seeking adventure? Check out their Black run. It includes a corridor that’s supposedly one of the most difficult black runs in the world. Is tight tree skiing your thing? Then head for Jockeys and Jean Black pistes for a workout. This area has a number of trees that will keep even the most experienced skier on their toes.
2. Vail Mountain Resort
Unfortunately, when people think of ski lodges and book their trips, they often neglect the United States. Most assume that the US can’t offer what other countries do as far as height, snow quality, terrain, and luxury lodging. But for those in the know, Vail Mountain Resort checks all the boxes without ever having to leave the US.
Vail is one of the largest of Colorado’s ski resorts and has even earned itself a place as one of the largest in the world. Shocker, we know but Colorado has seriously been hiding this gem. This resorts offers a ton of terrain that caters to all skill levels. Consider yourself an expert? The trails and off-piste skiing will definitely keep you on your toes and test your endurance. Experts an also head to one of the seven back bowls for glades and bumps. An average of 350 inches of annual snowfall keep this area in perfect skiing condition.
Looking for variety? Vail has over 5,289 acres of skiing serviced by 31 lifts and then an additional three terrain parks that are designed to keep winter sport enthusiasts busy. Here you can find powder soft snow that’s perfect for backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and even snowmobiles. Done for the day? Then check out the town. Like the other resorts on our list, Vail takes good care of its terrain and snow; and it really shows! Well-groomed runs tower over the luxury hotels, five-star restaurants, and fine shopping and offer a truly beautiful backdrop.
You can find this ski resort in Colorado.
3. Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler Blackcomb might have a funny name but it offers up some seriously quality skiing. So what makes this resort so great? Well for starters it utilizes the terrain of two mountains to make it Canada’s premier ski resort. It’s also the largest winter sports area in North America so should you grow tired of skiing, there’s plenty of other outdoor activities to do.
There are more than 200 runs and 37 lifts so if you’re looking for a quality resort without the long lines then Whistler Blackcomb is a must. The large amount of runs and lifts means that you’ll spend less time standing behind people waiting to get back onto the slope and more time traversing the terrain. As far as the terrain is concerned, there’s a wide variety that means all skill levels can enjoy the fun. Wide-open bowls on the mountain and the Horstman Glacier on Blackcomb, which offers year-round skiing, make this an incredibly desirable destination.
If you visit, you also need to check out the three kilometer plus Peak 2 Peak gondola. The gondola connects the two mountaintops to each other and is also the world’s largest unsupported lift span. So if you’re looking for a view, check out this lift. Speaking of views, Whistler also offers gorgeous views that span all the way to the Pacific Ocean so taking the lifts might be your favorite part of the experience.
You’ll find this gorgeous resort in British Columbia, Canada.
Like Courchevel, Zermatt is a picturesque ski lodge. This beautiful area features a village nestled between the peaks in a bowl and like Courchevel, the town comes to life at night with the warm glow of amber lights. The lodging here is also nothing short of decadent so if you’re looking for a resort that offers quality skiing and a luxury stay, then Zermatt should definitely be on your list.
Zermatt is the highest winter sports area in the Alps and also has one of the greatest vertical drops in Switzerland so if you’re looking for something to get your adrenaline pumping, you’ll definitely want to visit. The Matterhorn peak can be seen from almost anywhere in Zermatt, calling to skiers and winter activity enthusiasts. This peak offers 350 kilometers of pristine snow, slopes, and trails that cater to all levels of experience.
This resort has also been busy; for the 2019 season, Zermatt offers the world’s highest 3S Lift, which is capable of carrying 2,000 skiers an hour to the Matterhorn Glacier (which sits at 3,883 meters altitude) and you’re able to ski year round here. So like the others on the list, you can spend less time on a lift and more time on the slopes.
Interested in off-piste? Well, Zermatt offers some seriously exciting off-piste opportunities. Located along the Rothhorn, Stockhorn, and the Matterhorn Glacier, this area offers an exhilarating off-piste experience. The Haute Route is 178 kilometers of mountain route that stretches from Zermatt to Chamonix and offers some serious off-piste skiing. Despite experience, a guide is mandatory due to the expert skills required and high-altitude stamina. This route also takes around eight days to finish.
You’ll find this beauty in Switzerland.
5. Aspen Snowmass
Aspen Snowmass is another Colorado gem that won’t force you to break out your passport and sit on a plane for hours on end to reach some seriously delicious ski slopes. Like Vail Mountain Resort, Aspen Snowmass often appears in the top among other ski resorts in Colorado. Worldwide speaking, Aspen still often makes the list so if you’re worried about not getting a quality experience, don’t be.
Snowmass is composed of four ski areas that surround Snowmass Village and Aspen. The combined terrains of Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Aspen Mountain cater to skiers of all levels of experience. The resort offers more than 5,500 acres of skiable terrain and Snowmass alone accounts for more than 3,000 of the acres. Looking for a smaller area that’s just as well known? Check out Buttermilk, which is the smallest of the four and well known for hosting the Winter X-Games since 2002.
Unlike the others, Aspen Mountain is for intermediate and expert skiers only; even if you’re looking for a guide, the strict regulations won’t let just anyone onto its slopes. Here you can expect steep terrain courtesy of the three ridgelines which are all rated black or double black. So if you’re in the mood for some serious thrill and a test of your skills, head to one of these runs on Aspen Mountain for a mind-blowing experience.
Inexperienced but still want to enjoy the gem known as Aspen Snowmass? There are some unique areas of ungroomed terrain that have been sectioned off as safe for those of all experience levels. In order to reach these areas, you’ll need to hook up with the Aspen Powder Tours who take riders and skiers by snowcat into the sanctioned off areas. Since they are located behind the Aspen Mountain, traditional lift systems don’t work.
You can also find this gem in Colorado.
If you know anything about skiing, then you know all about Meribel. Completely new to the joys of outdoor winter sports? Then chances are you still know about Meribel. Meribel is one of two of the top ski resorts in France and arguably the world. Those “in the know” know all about Meribel and like we said, even those who are new to it are familiar with the world-class ski resort.
It shares Les Trois Vallees (the Three Valleys) with Courchevel. The Three Valleys make up the largest ski domain in the world so it’s no surprise that Meribel is so well known. The terrain is somewhere between 1,100 meters and 3,230 meters in altitude. Over 85% of the ski area is over 1,800 meters and when coupled with snowmaking facilities, nearly 50% of the area’s pistes are guaranteed to have both a long season and great conditions. We should also mention the snow quality is some of the best in the world and is meticulously cared for.
Looking for a rush? Take a ride on the Saulire Express gondola that traverses over the narrow, steep gully that rests between the peaks of La Saulire and la Dent de Burgin. The gondola offers breathtaking views for those who aren’t scared of heights. After the ride, ski down through the ungroomed snow of Tournier Corridor. Make sure to take in the breathtaking terrain and scenery on your descent; it’s world class.
If you’re looking for even more thrills, travel to Mont Vallon, which is the highest skiing location in Meribel. Mont Vallon sits at 2,952 meters and the 1,000-meter descents is one of the most exhilarating and gorgeous runs in the three valleys. For more breathtaking views, check out Roc de Fer peak which offers a 360 degree panorama of Mont Blanc and twelve other peaks.
You’ll find Meribel in France close to Courchevel.
Skiing off into the sunset
Are winter activities on your must-do list now that winter is finally here? We know for us, it’s definitely at the top of our vacation ideas. So which of these ski resorts sounds most like your speed? Which one(s) are you most interested in checking out? And if you know of any other gems that we have left out, let us know! We are always looking to expand our knowledge so feel free to drop us a line!