Looking for the best ski resorts for your winter holiday in the mountains, but not sure if you should head to Aspen or Austria? To help you decide which slopes best suit you, read our guide to the best winter ski resorts in the world for every type of superyacht owner - whether you're there for snow sports or Après-ski.
Which Winter Ski Resort Best Suits You?
Jackson Hole, US
What’s the hype: A valley between the Teton and Gros Ventre mountain ranges, the “Hole” effortlessly blends cowboys and caviar culture. This Wild West wonderland has some of the most challenging skiing in North America – its backcountry terrain is a Mecca for skiing enthusiasts from around the world – but still has plenty of creature comforts that attract a jet-set crowd including Harrison Ford, Sandra Bullock and former vice-president of the US, Dick Cheney.
Must ski: The iconic double black diamond Corbet’s Couloir is considered the gnarliest run in North America. You have to throw yourself over the edge of the narrow chute, which starts with an initial pitch of 50 degrees, and let gravity do the rest.
Mountain feast: To keep your blood sugar levels up, stop at Corbet’s Cabin. Sitting at 3,200 metres and accessed by the aerial tram, it serves fluffy made-to-order waffles with toppings ranging from the traditional, such as brown sugar butter and Nutella, to the obscure (but surprisingly delicious) peanut butter and bacon. You’ll need all that protein.
Après-ski: The Mangy Moose in Teton, complete with stuffed moose dangling from the ceiling, is packed with skiers and riders knocking back beers and margaritas after an adrenalin-fuelled day on the mountain.
Sleep: Teton Village, the hamlet at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, has the valley’s highest concentration of luxury hotels. Ski in and out of the Four Seasons or opt for the hip, eco-friendly Hotel Terra – complete with 100 per cent natural mattresses and artwork from regional artists.
What’s the hype: At the end of every January this pretty Austrian village, with medieval architecture and horse-drawn sleighs, gets an adrenalin injection from the Hahnenkamm downhill race – the skiing equivalent of the Monaco Grand Prix. The resort’s history dates back to 1893 when Alpine pioneer Franz Reisch managed to ski down from the Kitzbüheler Horn, making it the first Alpine ski run in Austria. Today, beyond its racing credentials, Kitzbühel offers a great variety of runs for family skiing and plenty of boutiques and wildly expensive cafés for off-piste cash splashing.
Must book: Luxury travel and property specialist World’s Finest International offer VIP access to the Hahnenkamm, as well as the opportunity to ski with downhill legends Bode Miller and Erik Guay.
Must ski: Before and after the race, the course itself, called the Streif, is a public ski area. It’s up to you whether to take on the track the pros race, or opt for the Family Streif, which misses out some of the more challenging parts of the Hahnenkamm.
Mountain feast: For Tyrolean cuisine, including fondues and schnitzels, Rosi’s Sonnbergstuben is located on Bichlalm mountain more than 400 metres above Kitzbühel – singing and guitar performances by a dirndl-clad Rosi are a highlight.
Après-ski: It might not be the most refined establishment but the Londoner, opened in 1976 by Rik Gunnell, owner of Flamingo’s in Soho, London, is still the place to party. The Short and Curlies still play live and haven’t altered their playlist in 20 years.
Sleep: Hide away in the six bedroom Eagle’s Nest, which is part of the Bode Miller collection and ideally located between the slopes and the town centre. As well as a state- of-the-art chalet you will receive a pair of signed skis to keep, plus a selection of Bomber skis to use throughout your stay.
What’s the hype: Photogenic mountain? Tick. Cosy timber cabins? Tick. Horse-drawn carriages clattering down cobbled streets? Well now you’re just overdoing it. Switzerland’s most famous resort fulfils every skiing cliché, but that’s why we love it. Its traditional charm means its celebrity roll call would rival Cap Ferrat’s (ranging from Jools Holland to Phil Collins) and a fur coat for wandering its fairy lit streets is de rigueur.
Must ski: If you are looking to impress friends with your Ski Tracks app statistics, the 13km descent from the top end of Europe’s highest cable car will give your numbers a welcome boost: from 3,883 metres up on the Klein Matterhorn, all the way into Zermatt.
Must book: Ski instructor Peter Kronig has enjoyed more than 50 seasons in Zermatt – he taught David Bowie to ski in the mid-70s. If he was good enough for Ziggy Stardust...
Mountain feast: Prices may be as steep as the Matterhorn itself but the burger at Chez Vrony, made from Alpine grass-fed beef, is a must. Book weeks in advance if you want a table during high season.
Après-ski: The Papperla Pub is a Zermatt institution and seamlessly absorbs both champagne sippers and beer drinkers. For a more refined end to the day Valaisian-styled (think wood panels and traditional Swiss décor) Elsie’s Bar helps balance your alcohol intake with fresh oysters, caviar and snails. Sleep: Located in the heart of Zermatt, with views of the iconic Matterhorn, Chalet Zermatt Peak offers superyacht-style service with a Michelin-starred chef, chalet manager and masseuse.
What’s the hype: Niseko’s location – in the path of the winds blowing from Siberia, the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean – means that when the snow falls, it’s dry and deep, creating the ultimate powder experience. And there won’t be a Kardashian in sight.
Must ski: For true powder hounds, off-piste skiing is where this area comes into its own (thankfully it is one of the few places in Japan where it is permitted). At An’nupuri resort there are four gates into the backcountry that expert skiers, with appropriate avalanche equipment, can pass through when it is deemed safe by the ski patrol.
Mountain feast: Tucked away in trees at the top of the Holiday Pair Lift #1 above Hirafu, Boyo-so offers authentic Japanese cuisine. Order the succulent katsu curry to keep you warm for an afternoon on the slopes – although be warned, the restaurant has one of the few non-warmed toilet seats in Japan.
Nocturnal activities: Forget après-ski (although the saki is plentiful) and take advantage of the night skiing on offer, with many runs staying open until 9pm.
Best time to visit: The season runs from December to the end of April – peak powder season is January and February, with regular dumps of 20cm or more.
Ice cool: Every year 300 tonnes of Niseko’s powder snow is painstakingly melted, refrozen and carved to create an ice bar. Sip a Sapporo from a glass made of ice, which you are allowed to keep as a souvenir (good luck getting it home).
What’s the hype: A former mining camp during the Colorado Silver Boom of the 1880s, Aspen has been a Rocky Mountain playground for the rich and famous for six decades. The Kennedys and Elvis would visit in the 1960s and today the likes of Goldie Hawn, Mariah Carey and Will Smith are regulars. Members of the Trump family, complete with an entourage of 100 secret service agents, even stopped by in March. Beneath the glitzy sheen Aspen boasts fantastic on-slope action, with four different ski areas catering for all standards, as well as a buzzing art scene.
Must ski: In the Ajax ski area, you will find a nod to the town’s mining past with a series of steep double-black chutes, which are built on the slopes where miners once tunnelled their way into the mountain.
Mountain feast: Ajax Tavern, located next to the Silver Queen Gondola, offers casual fine dining and is famous for its truffle French fries and double cheeseburger. Be warned – it’s easy to arrive for lunch and find yourself still there for the après-ski.
Champagne on ice: Aspen is home to the world’s first on-mountain champagne bar, which is pulled by a snowcat to a different location every spring weekend. Follow clues on social media to find where the Veuve Clicquot will be flowing.
All imagery courtesy of Unsplash.com.