Alpe d’Huez, France
For snow millennials
The formula for modern snow festivals is fiendishly simple and long established – bring big-name acts to a mountain setting and watch as the carnage ensues in a melée of beats, (Jager) bombs and slightly questionable skiwear. This year, however, promises something entirely new as Tomorrowland, the legendary Belgian EDM fest, rocks up for its first winter edition at the French ski resort of Alpe d’Huez, three hours’ drive from Geneva (9–16 March, 2019). Just 10 headliners have been revealed so far – Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Lost Frequencies and Afrojack are among those supplying the beats – but hopes are high given the event’s summer pedigree. If tickets elude you, Alpe d’Huez offers plenty to keep the regular party animals entertained long into the night.
Les Grandes Rousses is a central four-star at the foot of the ski slopes with a new spa opening this winter (essential for easing any aching limbs and/or heads).
Skiwear brights from Picture Organic mixed with festival glitter, sparkles and outlandish fancy dress.
Replenish your body with a Buddha Bowl from L’Ardoise in the resort centre, packed full of gravlax, avocado, crudités and noodles.
The après ski
Tomorrowland, of course. Any other time of the season, head to the Folie Douce for champagne.
“Sign up to the Sarenne Sunset, a 16km run in the resort, from the summit of Pic Blanc back to the village. Take the last lift up, share some local delicacies, then admire the sunset and ski down the legendary slope in the moonlight.” Anthony Guzman, marketing director, Alpe d’Huez
For piste avoiders
Why should skiers be the only ones to enjoy the mountains in winter? That’s been the virtual motto of Megève since it was established by the Rothschilds in the 1920s as a French rival to St Moritz; and on any given day the charming village centre is filled with fur-clad Parisians, eating and drinking and shopping with nary a salopette in sight. An hour from Geneva, Megève has held its position as the go-to for non-skiers for nearly a century thanks to its location in the foothills of Mont Blanc, its terrific food and rather lovely spas. While there is some fantastic skiing available, of course, (400km spread over three mountains), there are also 89 restaurants, three of which have Michelin stars, to keep everyone else busy.
Opened last winter, the Four Seasons, the first from this American brand in the Alps, has fitted in seamlessly, its modern take on traditional Megève finely nuanced thanks to the design collaboration of Ariane de Rothschild (whose family own the building) and designer Pierre-Yves Rochon.
Not a piece of Gore-Tex in sight; instead, it’s furs, leathers and cashmere.
Celebrate the local flavours and outstanding produce with Anthony Bisquerra’s refined Tout Végétal (“All-Veggie”) meal at the one-star La Table de l’Alpaga. Expect vegetables as you’ve never tasted them before.
The après ski
Take your pick of art galleries, the Palais de Megève (the largest leisure and wellness complex in the Alps), horse-drawn sleigh rides, fashion boutiques, épiceries, jazz at Les 5 Rues (one of the oldest jazz clubs outside Paris), a scenic flight over Mont Blanc, or simple snowshoeing through the forests.
“There is nothing I like better than simply wandering the centre – it’s beautiful in any season. And I love walking in the mountains first thing in the morning, picking flowers or mushrooms.” Emmanuel Renaut, head chef, Flocons de Sel
Mammoth Mountain, US
For powder hounds
The name says it all – there’s a mammoth amount of terrain to cover in this scenic Californian resort overlooking the Sierra Nevada, inland from San Francisco. With an impressive snow record and 3,500 acres of terrain, snow lovers have a mix of open bowls and flattering runs through the trees to explore. And for the truly mileage-hungry, this winter, Mammoth has teamed up with 35 other resorts around the world to offer the Ikon Pass, a multi-resort skiing and snowboarding season ticket. It gives unlimited access to 76,632 acres of terrain, which should be enough to not have to do the same run twice.
For ski-in/ski-out convenience, check into the Mammoth Mountain Inn, just opposite the ski area’s Main Lodge.
Functional kit in bold block colours from skiwear brands such as Spyder and Kjus.
A quick lunch at the Outpost, on the Back Side of Mammoth, before returning to the snow.
The après ski
Reward your legs for standing up to all that skiing with a drink round the fire pit at Tusks Bar in the Main Lodge at the bottom of the slopes.
“Located on the backside of the mountain, the Hemlocks are a hike-accessed powder paradise with enhanced natural terrain. Then grab a craft beer and grilled cheese at The Melt House, at the base of the Hemlocks.” Lauren Burke, long-time Mammoth resident
In this age of Instagram one-upmanship, the family ski holiday has become the ultimate weapon, and the charming Italian resort of Champoluc, two hours’ drive from Milan, ticks almost every box. For a start its excellent beginner-friendly pistes are relatively uncrowded, which is a boon for the kids, not to mention when dad wants to film himself carving up the slopes with his GoPro. Then, there is the virtual guarantee of photogenic food, and few things are better than pasta after a hard day on the slopes. Plus, because this is Italy, everybody on the mountain is dressed that little bit better, providing a great backdrop for a killer, envy-inducing mountain-top selfie.
There’s much anticipation for CampZero, the village’s new, soon-to-open five-star luxury active resort. Designed with families in mind, it boasts pod-style, two-storey suites sleeping four and a 25m indoor pool. Older kids will love hanging out in the communal lobby, complete with indoor climbing wall and big screens to show off your best GoPro videos from the day.
Laidback chic and good value skiwear from Italian brand CMP, as well as hardy active wear for kids from Polarn O Pyret and Reima.
Most restaurants in the village happily cater for children, but nowhere does it better than Pizzeria Churen.
The après ski
Head to the village’s outdoor ice rink for a skate or a whizz round the ice driving track in a Fiat Abarth. Alternatively, head for aperitivos at Lo Bistrot or Atelier Gourmand. Insider tip “Younger guests will love trying to walk along our slackline – it’s a fun way to improve your balance and is great for skiing.” Claudio Coriasco, general manager, CampZero
Niseko United ski resorts, Japan
For adrenaline addicts
You see them in their droves in Japan: skiers and boarders clad in technical wear, avalanche safety kit on their backs, barely communicating as they fixate on their next adrenaline-fuelled adventure. And, of the hundreds of resorts across the country, Niseko United, Hokkaido, is arguably the best place for it. A set of four interlinking resorts (Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and An’nupuri), they appeal to all abilities, but it’s adventurous intermediates and above who’ll be most in their element. Thanks to the relentless Siberian winds the resorts get an average of over 15m of incredibly light powder snow each winter. A mix of terrain both above and below the tree line on long groomers and in vast bowls attracts some of the best skiers and snowboarders on the planet.
The first apartment-hotel to open within the Hokkaido National Park, the new luxury resort Skye Niseko will offer ski-in/ski-out access to the Grand Hirafu lifts. Ideal for guaranteeing first tracks.
Technical backcountry kit from Patagonia, Arc’teryx and Norrona, complete with Ortovox Avabag, helmet and very, very wide skis.
Reward your epic endeavours with a suitably legendary meal at Somoza’s chef’s table with the tasting menu created by Chef Horie and his team.
The après ski
“Get into the backcountry for untracked powder in a surreal mountain environment. On a clear day the summit of Mount Yotei is the goal for those able to climb to the peak, and it’s even possible to ski into the crater of this volcano!” Andrew Spragg, owner, Rising Sun Guides