Wondering where to go for your snowsports hit this winter? Wonder no more. We’ve lined up some of the season’s best trips, whether you want to defy gravity or your lack of coordination…
For perfect powder
For far-flung off-piste action, pack your gear for Niseko in Japan, which might be a bit of a schlep – but trust us, it’s worth it. The region’s blessed with incredible powder, 48km of pistes and the biggest average snowfall in Japan (around 15m – aim for December to March for the really good stuff), not to mention plenty of amazing tree runs. When you’re not hurling yourself about in some of the driest and lightest powder in the world, there’s snowmobiling and onsens – natural springs of steaming, hot water packed with healing powers that’ll soothe those weary legs in no time. And don’t even get us started on the sake-based aprés sessions.
How: Inside Japan Tours offers eight-night trips staying at the Greenleaf hotel from £1,336pp. Price includes international and domestic flights and passes, insidejapantours.com
For music lovers
For those who like to party as hard as they ski, combine the two at Austria’s Snowbombing festival, which hits the slopes from 4-9 April. The lineup is chocca with big-name acts, including the Prodigy, Fatboy Slim and Andy C, but be sure to check out London-born-and-raised emerging talent Anna Wall. As for the mountain? Well, the Mayrhofen ski area is one of the finest in Europe.
How: Visit the website for accommodation and ticket information, snowbombing.com
For thrill seekers
La Plagne, France
Learning to ski is a literal pain in the ass. What do you do if you love the thrill of that speedy downhill descent, but can’t quite master that crucial standing up thing?
In La Plagne's 19-turn bobsleigh track reaches speeds of 90mph
Beginners, don’t fret: La Plagne, France, is your answer. Along with ten villages, wide, gentle slopes and 225km of marked runs, you’ll also find the world’s most revered bobsleigh track. The 19-turn run reaches speeds of 90mph, and you can choose between a speed luge (half sitting, half lying), a bob raft (for four people) or the big daddy, bob racing (where you take a seat behind a professional ‘driver’). Not one for the softies.
How: Crystal Ski offers seven nights from £358pp including flights, crystalski.co.uk
For the weekend
CairnGorm Mountain, Scotland
If you’ve spent restless nights wondering where the UK’s highest post box is, you can finally sleep easy. Take a trip to CairnGorm mountain in the middle of the Scottish Highlands and not only will you find the UK’s highest postbox, you’ll also be in the company of the UK’s highest restaurant and the longest funicular. This is about more than the adrenaline rush of posting letters at high-altitude, though. A trip to Natural Retreats CarinGorm mountain is an easy one for a ski weekend – take the Caledonian Sleeper on a Friday evening, hit the slopes on Saturday and Sunday, and return on the sleeper to arrive at Euston at 7am Monday. Head straight for your desk and shuffle papers, pretending to do work until you can go home and catch some well-deserved zzzz.
For something different
Multiple resorts, Turkey
If you think Turkey’s all kebabs and beaches, you thought wrong. And we’ll admit it, so did we, until we discovered a new Turkish adventure ski extravaganza from ski expert Snoworks. It’s an off-piste trip with a mixture of resort uplift and ski touring (walking up with skins on the skis) – a great one for more experienced off-pisters looking for culture and something very different to the usual Alpine jaunt. The 12-day trip visits four ski resorts – Uludag (which translates to ‘sublime mountain’), Palandoken (the longest ski trail in Turkey with one of the toughest runs in the country known as the Dragon trail – blimey), Konakli (a favourite of advanced Turkish skiers) and Sarikamis (in the Eastern Anatolia region). You’ll have an instructor for the duration of the trip, so if you’re good at the start, you’ll be absolutely blinding by the end of it.
How: Snoworks offers 11-night trips from £2,743pp including accommodation, half-board meals, international flights and ferries. snoworks.co.uk
For ski and surf
Whistler, Canada; Laguna Beach, US
Want to work on your tan as well as your ski technique? Combine skiing and surfing with a new American-based trip from Scott Dunn. The trip commences in Whistler, home to large, above-the-treeline open bowls, tree runs, glacier skiing, backcountry guiding and heli skiing. After getting your fill of that, you’ll head down to sea level to spend the rest of your trip in milder climates surfing and standup paddleboarding in the Pacific Ocean at Laguna beach. Hone that core!
How: Scott Dunn offers a 12-night Snow‘n’Surf itinerary from £2,520pp including flights, transfers and accommodation. scottdunn.com
For Arctic adventure
If you’re one of those high-school overachievers that nails basically any sport, this six-day sailing and skiing trip could be for you. With the help of Another World Adventures you’ll be one of the few people discovering the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the West Fjords of Iceland – just a few miles from the Arctic Circle.
your sailboat acts as your movable base, taking you to spots that would normally be out of reach
There’s a variety of untouched mountains and ridges to see (with up to eight hours of skiing a day), and your sailboat acts as your movable base, taking you to spots that would normally be out of reach. When you’re not skiing you can take the boat’s kayaks for a paddle, pick mussels and feast on Icelandic cuisine.
How: Another World Adventures offers six-night trips from £1,421pp including flights, food and yacht-based accommodation, anotherworldadventures.com
For the ultimate rush
Kicking Horse, Canada
Don’t just sitting there waiting for storm clouds to drop a massive dump in your resort – take matters into your own hands (with expert help, of course). With Kicking Horse Powder Tours you can follow the dump, as it were, with a Storm Chasers adventure trip. You’ll spend a few nights at Kicking Horse, the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada, then snowmobile and ski your way to a heated expedition camp in the wilderness. After a night camping, you’ll be transferred in your ‘big rig’ – essentially a rockmobile tour bus – that’ll drive you across the Powder Highway region of British Columbia in search of the very best snow (beer in hand, natch). What happens when you get there? Well, more fun we’re afraid: heli-access ski touring, backcountry skiing and catskiing. Strong intermediates and hardcore skiers and boarders will get their fill with this one – while beginners will be on a Highway to Hell. (Sorry.)
Details: Kicking Horse Powder Tours offers Storm Chasers trips from £3,650pp including return flights to Calgary, seven nights’ accommodation, ski guiding, transport, helicopter access, ski touring and cat skiing, kickinghorsepowdertours.com
For cheap(er) thrills
Bansko and Borovets, Bulgaria
Bansko and Borovets may sound like a Balkan techno duo, but they’re actually popular ski resorts in Bulgaria. Both are perfect for beginners too, not only for the range of slopes and ski schools, but because no one wants to pay thousands of pounds for a week on their bum. Borovets was Bulgaria’s first ski resort and sits on the forest-clad Rila Mountains, once a hunting ground for Bulgarian Kings. The ski schools have an excellent reputation, offering tuition four hours a day, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the lively apres-ski scene. Bansko is a good choice for those going for boarding over skiing – the ULEN Ski & Board School has some of the country’s best instructors, and there’s 70km of pistes to plough down. Forget lary clubs, the aprés-ski sessions are centred around local mehanas – taverna type restaurants serving local cuisine and drinks in a log fire setting. The best bit? You can pay less than £300 for flights and accommodation for a week, while the ski schools are great value, too.
How: Balkan Holidays offers seven-night trips from £291pp including flights, accommodation and transfers, balkanholidays.co.uk
For big thinkers
Imagine 7,300 acres of skiable terrain, all piled into one easy trip. New for the season is the massively anticipated linking up of the Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons in the US. The two will be connected by Quicksilver – a new high-speed gondola that’ll mean skiers can access more than 300 trails and 14 bowls spread over 17 peaks. The development will create the largest single ski area in the United States, which comes with a new logo and punchy tagline declaring, ‘There is only one: Park City’. Blimey.
How: Ski Safari has a ten-night holiday starting from £1,425pp based on four sharing a two-bed suite, with flights and transfers, skisafari.com
For food lovers
For those who prioritise their stomachs as much as their ski runs, try Courmayeur in Italy. Here you’ll find mountain restaurants serving heaving portions of pasta dotted in a compact ski area of steepish pistes that won’t have you trembling on your ski-lift trip up.
For those who prioritise their stomachs as much as their ski runs, try Courmayeur in Italy
There’s a selection of B&Bs that leave you to make the most of eating out, while restaurants are great value, too (fuelling is important for performance, right?). Just 90 minutes from either Turin or Geneva, it’s an easy one for a long weekend, ideal for people who care as much about their next meal as their next descent. And if the food’s good, the powder’s even better…
How: Momentum Ski offers three nights’ B&B from £460pp in Courmayeur, including return flights and transfers, momentumski.com
It’s been declared as ‘the most beautiful village in Austria’, and we can’t argue with that. Building regulations since 1953 have meant constructions could only be in a wooden style – the result is an achingly pretty ski resort that’ll have you appreciating the relaxed pace, scenery and retro charm of this quaint town in no time. There’s short lift queues, well-marked runs (1 green, 34 blue, 13 red and 18 black – ideal for intermediates), along with a pretty lively aprés-ski scene. It’s not a dancing on table tops and downing shots kind of place, but that’s the point – the only sights you’ll be appreciating are empty ski runs and story-book buildings.
How: Inghams offers a week half-board from £609pp including flights and transfers, inghams.co.uk
For the glory
Ski Racing in Klosters, Switzerland
Put that competitive streak of yours to good use with a ski-trip to Klosters in Switzerland. The resort is the royal family’s regular hangout, while its other claim to fame is the Parsenn Derby, one of the oldest downhill races in the world, which is now open to amateur entrants. You can enter the 7km race as part of a team, but if you’re not one for letting down your teammates (or allowing them to let you down), then go for the individual trophy. The prize? The glory, of course. When you’re not gearing up for your race, spend your days in the backcountry, home to off-piste that’s as good as it gets.
How: Four nights’ B&B is from £880pp, based on two people sharing at the Silvretta Parkhotel, ptski.com; this includes a day of race coaching, the entry fee and transfers from Zurich airport. Swiss has return flights to Zurich from £73, swiss.com
Located 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Riksgränsen claims to be the world’s northernmost ski resort (some protective people in Norway challenge that, but hey ho). Either way, it means that this wild resort is open March to June, when the climate is more temperate and the days are longer (skiing under the midnight sun? Yes please). You won’t get gazillions of hotels, and there’s approximately 15 pisted runs, with extensive off-piste terrain making it a mecca for freeriders after plenty of elbow room. Following a day on the slopes, hang up your skis and glug some ‘glogg’ (mulled wine) in the outdoor tubs at the world’s northernmost spa (we expect that title is challenged, too).
How: Ski Safari offers seven nights’ B&B with flights from £715pp, skisafari.com
For the family
There are many good things about skiing in France (especially the cheese, croissants and wine), but chief among them is the mind-bending number of options – particularly if you don’t mind going where the locals go, rather than where all the Brits go. French Alps specialist Peak Retreats has introduced a number of new ski holiday options for the coming season, and our favourite is the addition of Auris-en-Oisans. It’s a somewhat under-the-radar resort, located on the edge of the Ecrins National Park in the south-east of the country. You’ll find it a peaceful and welcoming base, with 135 slopes (prime territory for beginners and intermediates) and it’s wallet friendly, too. Book into one of the newly built ski-in-ski-out apartments to make the most of the location. If you’re travelling with a family, this’ll do very nicely indeed.
How: Peak Retreats offers a seven-night trip from £137pp, peakretreats.co.uk