Guaranteed snow? Luxe digs? A new “chondola”? These alpine resorts promise a bumper season. By Glenn Cullen.
YES, THERE WILL B E SNOW Mount Buller, Victoria
A guarantee of snow in Australia seems a big call in the land of blazing summers but with a new, cutting-edge snow-making system, that’s exactly what Mt Buller (pictured above; mtbuller.com.au) has on offer. To ensure your winter will be a white one, the resort’s Snowfactory can pump out the fluffy stuff 24 hours a day, seven days a week in temperatures as high as 15°C.
EPIC ADVANCES Perisher, NSW
Perisher (perisher.com.au), the country’s biggest ski resort, is now owned by American ski giant Vail. That means we should expect a raft of changes within the next few years. This season, you’ll get a smoother ride on the Skitube from Bullocks Flat, thanks to a $2 million upgrade and $500,000 worth of new hire gear at Perisher Snowsports. An Epic Australia Pass now allows up to 10 days’ riding at Canada’s No. 1 resort, Whistler, plus other northern resorts, as well as an all-season pass to Perisher.
BIG MOUNTA IN, B IG CHANGES Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand
The North Island’s mighty massif is sometimes overlooked in favour of its southern cousins but $NZ100 million of planned upgrades should put Mt Ruapehu (mtruapehu.com) back into the frame. This winter, a quad chair replaces the Waterfall T-bar and there are three new carpet lifts and expanded snow-making. Conditions can vary greatly but when the weather settles later in the season, there are few better places for a spring snow getaway.
A DECADENT DUO Coronet Peak/The Remarkables, Queenstown, New Zealand
The perennial question in Queenstown used to be where to ski: The Remarkables or Coronet Peak (nzski.com)? This season, if you don’t mind splashing out a little cash, it could be where to stay: Eichardt’s Private Hotel (hotel.qantas.com.au/eichardts) or Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa (hotel. qantas.com.au/sofitelqueenstown)? Two of the area’s most stylish establishments, both feature new penthouses. Eichardt’s has an expansive balcony with panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu, as well as the use of – wait for it – a butler, private chef and driver. Penthouse No. 10 at the Sofitel is Paris meets the Alps and has a private movie theatre, six-person Jacuzzi and a personal butler.
CHONDOLA R IDE, ANYONE? Cardrona, New Zealand
Is it a chairlift? Is it a gondola? Actually, it’s a bit of both. Travel up the mountain faster in the just-launched “chondola” at Cardrona (cardrona.com), the family-friendly alpine resort situated between Queenstown and Wanaka on the South Island. Replacing the McDougall’s quad chair, the chondola is a high-speed six-seater with the added bonus of an eight-seat gondola between every four chairs. The net result is faster and more comfortable access to a fairly big slab of the resort’s terrain.