The View from the Top: 8 of the Best Ski Vacations in the World
Get the Most Out of Winter
When winter rolls around, skiers and snowboarders are the first to emerge, giddy with anticipation to snap on their goggles and ride up a chairlift. While the best winter vacations for some might involve picking a destination made more beautiful by a blanket of snow, winter sport fanatics have one thing on their minds: the best place to hit the slopes.
For some, winter sports are a way of life; for others, they’re an occasional pastime best enjoyed with friends and family. Regardless of where you stand on this spectrum, it’s important to find a destination that meshes well with your expectations and desires for an enjoyable experience.
While we all know there would be nothing quite like heli-skiing at some of the more remote places in the world, adventure luxury travel options aren’t within most of our means. With that said, factoring in location, price, skill level and the type of crowd attracted, these ski/snowboard destinations warrant your attention and are some of the best ski resorts in the world.
1. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA
A world renowned ski and snowboard destination, Jackson Hole has arguably the best ski lift in North America. Recently replaced in 2008, its panoramic tram boasts breathtaking views of the slopes and surrounding terrain.
With 133 trails, 50% of which are ranked at expert level, experienced skiers will get the most out of their time at Jackson Hole. Snowboarders can ride on 100% of the mountain and also have access to the only Burton Stash parks in the Rocky Mountains. It also caters well to those look for a luxury ski trip as the town of Jackson has a wide selection of culinary delights and cultural happenings.
Don’t want to spend the whole time on the slopes? Jackson Hole is a great winter weekend getaway destination and has plenty of other fun snow-filled activities from wildlife safaris to snowmobiling.
2. Telluride, Colorado, USA
Colorado has some of the best ski resorts in the US and Telluride tops that list. If you’re looking for the charms of an Old West style resort without the crazy crowds and luxury shopping, there’s no better ski trip destination than Telluride. It also makes for a perfectly romantic Christmas getaway for couples.
Although it’s a little less accessible than other resorts in the area, the beautiful mountain and protected forest vistas are worth the extra effort. There’s even a heli-ski company that offers lessons and camps for more adventurous riders.
3. Wanaka, New Zealand
Home to only 5,000 people, Wanaka has a hip, small town vibe and attracts skiers/boarders on the younger side of things. It’s also a top destination for those who want to hit the slopes year round as their season runs from June to October.
4. Kitzbühel, Austria
For a romantic ski vacation, the medieval village of Kitzbühel has become a European hot spot. Intermediate skill levels fare the best here, although it’s also home to the famed Hahnenkamm racecourse.
With eight renowned ski schools and a skiing tradition that dates back to 1893, it’s no wonder Kitzbühel was named the best ski resort in the world by Skiresort.de, which tests and evaluates resorts worldwide.
5. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
For the best all-around ski experience, Whistler Blackcomb caters to every taste and skill level. Over 8,000 acres of terrain stretches across the expanse of the resort, which means you’ll never run out of trails even after a week’s stay.
Aside from hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is well known for its après-ski bar scene the world over. No matter when the urge to ski hits, you can always take a spin at Whistler as the resort is available for skiing and snowboarding year round.
6. Verbier, Switzerland
Part of the largest ski area in Switzerland, Verbier has consistently been a favorite among beginners and experts due to the wide range of skiing, snowboarding and related activities offered at the resort. Freeriders will adore its steep, backcountry slopes and unrivaled views of the Swiss Alps.
Although it’s on the pricier side, Verbier makes it worth your while with world class dining, nightlife, celebrity sightings and chalet-style hotels.
7. Big Sky, Montana, USA
Big Sky became the largest ski resort in the US in 2013 and boasts a large vertical drop of over 4,000 feet. It’s seen a large number of upgrades and improvements in the past five years as more people flock to the resort for its wide open space and sparse lift lines.
There are many kid-friendly runs that cruise through the terrain and ample powder to last all day.
8. Niseko, Japan
Combining four separate but interlinked ski resorts, Niseko has been called Japan’s number one snow resort for its high quality powder snow and accessibility to tourists. Aside from backcountry powder skiing/snowboarding, night skiing has become a popular and challenging alternative for adventurous types.
Consistently a favorite for international skiers, Niseko offers cat skiing, cross-country skiing and heli-skiing on untouched powder bowls near Mt Yōtei. In addition to an array of snow-filled activities at one of its terrain adventure parks, Niseko has quite a lively après-ski scene.