Six Incredible Places to Ski This Winter
This winter, resist the habit of skiing your local mountain for weekends on end. (Unless you live in Aspen or Zermatt.)
Instead, ski down fjords and glaciers. Aprés while watching the northern lights or at an Italian vineyard. Share the slopes with polar bears or the British royals.
As long as you choose from the six destinations below, you’re guaranteed to have a totally novel experience that few people before you have ever encountered. After all, we’ve picked each place based on its ability to deliver something completely new—be it a standard-setting five-star hotel or otherworldly terrain.
Still need help deciding where to book? Take our quiz to find the trip that’s right for you.
For powder junkies, there’s no better place in the world than Niseko, Japan’s top ski resort, on the island of Hokkaido. It’s long been popular with Aussies but is now gaining global traction, thanks to its incomparably soft snow—along with the opening of the area’s first five-star hotel, Kasara Niseko Village, two years ago.
Last year, the destination saw a 106 percent rise in winter visitors. That number is poised to grow this year, as Hokkaido is now connected to Tokyo by bullet train for the first time. Kasara’s room stock is also set to quadruple over the next two seasons; the resort is expanding from its original string of eight townhouses to 40, and all will be duplexes with three bedrooms, wooden soaking tubs, and heated gear-storage rooms.
Right in step is the mountain’s own evolution, with two new chairlifts and two new magic carpet lifts for beginners coming online this winter.
No trip to Japan would be complete without some cultural and culinary indulgence. So while you’re in town, be sure to taste some Japanese whisky, indulge in some soba and yakitori, and soak in a traditional onsen. It’s the authentic Japanese twist on aprés ski.
Whistler gets all the love when it comes to skiing in Canada, with Mont Tremblant as an East Coast runner-up. But this year, neither one of them will lay claim to the country’s most exclusive ski terrain.
For the first time, Weber Arctic Expeditions—run by the same family that owns two five-star wilderness lodges, Arctic Watch and Arctic Haven, in Nunavut—is offering public bookings for exclusive ski trips in Clyde River, on the northeastern shore of Baffin Island. Here, 6,000-foot-tall mountains jut out from the edge of Baffin Bay, many of them undiscovered and unnamed.
Weber gets you to the summits by helicopter, then guides you down trails that have probably never seen skiers before. (What footprints they do see belong to polar bears and foxes.) “This is exploratory skiing at its purest,” guest experience manager Tessum Weber told Bloomberg. “It’s the farthest reaches of the world, but you’re still really well supported with really good food and in a comfortable place.”
About that comfortable place: The company books out a community-run hotel for the last two weeks of April and first two weeks of May (the entire ski season in this extreme environment) and makes it available for up to eight guests per week. Then it brings in a sommelier and chef from one of its two other lodges—all considered among Canada’s top culinary talents.
And if guests want real community experiences, Weber takes them to local events that focus on native arts, such as throat singing and drum dancing. “This is a real, authentic Arctic adventure,” he explained.
Weber’s previous ski trips, which were made available to guests by special request, have typically drawn “people who are inclined to risk.” (Finance execs make a strong constituency, no matter where in the world they hail from.) But he insists that this experience is fair game for intermediate skiers, not just experts.
“There’s more challenging heli-skiing in British Columbia than in the Arctic,” he said. “As long as you have that desire to go into exploratory mode,” he elaborated, “you’ll be totally fine.”
Little-known fact: It’s possible to combine heli-skiing and northern lights sightings into one over-the-top dream trip. To make it happen, head to Norway, where the oh-so-trendy Scandinavian design is just icing on the cake.
There, the boutique adventure operator 62 Nord is offering action-packed trips out of Ålesund, a west coast town known for its fishermen, fjords, and unusual concentration of Art Nouveau buildings. It’s not a traditional ski destination—the only conventional resort with groomed trails nearby is quite small by European standards—but the heli-skiing here is straight out of a GoPro ad campaign, with rugged, plummeting terrain that’s completely untouched.
To help you navigate the intense conditions, 62 Nord has recently hired Karsten Gefle, one of the best freeriders in the world, to guide its guests. He’ll take them to the most scenic alpine spots and on runs that lead straight to the fjords.
Make sure to reserve some time for other adventures, too. Ålesund considers itself one of Norway’s adventure capitals, and there’s no shortage of things to do. Get on a boat and sail the fjords to smaller, colorful fishing towns along the coast. Visit with communities of puffins, eagles, seals, and whales. Stuff yourself full of local seafood. And then stay up late to watch the ultimate aerial display: the northern lights. This is a trip you won’t soon forget.
For ski lovers—or those who appreciate an epic social scene—Courchevel needs no introduction. France’s most glamorous resort town has been a favorite for decades, frequented by celebs and royals who can ski down perfectly groomed runs by day and hole up in maximalist chateaus by night. Among the regulars? David and Victoria Beckham, Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the King of Morocco, to name a few.
This year, Courchevel is turning up her charms for those who’d rather splurge on hotels than homes—offering a slew of upgrades so luxe, they might make converts of the A-listers. Topping the list is the soon-to-open Hotel Barriére Les Neiges, a spinoff of the iconic Cannes hotel whose 42 plush rooms are decked out in amber wood from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Each has a private terrace and ski-in, ski-out access from a prime spot on the Bellecôte piste, near the tony village of Courchevel 1850. The hotel's Patagonian-inspired restaurant, run by acclaimed chef Mauro Colagreco, is poised to become a gathering spot for the ski town’s elites.
This world-class resort has often been seen as too remote and inaccessible (compared to Vail or Aspen, anyway). But the Colorado town where Tom Cruise and Oprah own homes is opening up, thanks to new airlift on Allegiant and Great Lakes Airlines connecting the city with Denver.
It’s also joining the Mountain Collective, which gives season pass-holders access to 14 destinations worldwide. Even in the company of so many other respected mountains, Telluride holds its own—it gets great snow, has incredibly scenic intermediate and advanced runs, and is largely crowd-free (for now).
By the time the first snowfall hits, the destination will also have a stunning new property from hoteliers that created Dunton Hot Springs, a Colorado ghost town resort that has hosted Ralph Lauren fashion shoots. Their latest opening, Dunton Town House, will be just as chic. It’s a modern bed and breakfast with five rooms in a little green Victorian house, set along one of the historic mining village’s main thoroughfares. It’s a two-minute walk from the nearest gondola and Colorado Avenue.
The intimate, design-driven property will be a departure from the larger resorts in Mountain Village—and an opportunity for guests to check out the burgeoning food scene in the heart of town. For dinner, head straight to 221 South Oak, a New American spot by Top Chef alum Eliza Gavin, who casts a spotlight on Colorado ingredients. Conveniently, it’s just across the street from Dunton, in a wood-sided cottage that’s nothing, if not charming.
The Italian Alps
Don’t force yourself to choose between the Swiss and French Alps. Pick both of them—and add the Italian Alps while you’re at it. From your home base in the Aosta Valley, it’s easy to ski three countries over the course of a week. Stay at the Grand Hotel Billia, said Andrea Tassini, co-founder of Allure Alps, and you’ll have a whopping 22 resorts at your fingertips.
The highlight reel includes runs down the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, which recently introduced a rotating gondola that offers 360-degree views of the Italian-French border. (Adding to its cool cachet is the fact that it literally straddles the border, so you can ride it up the Italian side and down into Chamonix, France.)
If that doesn’t prove that the Italian Alps are all about maximizing your options, consider the aprés ski and day-off possibilities: Milan and Geneva are both two hours away. Turin is even closer. Which means that Tassini can just as easily hook you up with a personal shopper as he can put you in a helicopter for picnics and Champagne on a Swiss glacier. Ice climbing, ice karting (the amateur winter equivalent of Formula One racing), and heli-skiing are all available here, but stargazing and wine tasting are equally indulgent ways to unwind. After all, you’re in Italy, which means you’re never too far from an amazing vineyard.