Which ski tribe do you belong to?
THE SNOWQUEEN Skiing is all well and good – if it’s a blue sky day – but in any other conditions the only thing that will be flexed is your Amex.
WHERETOGO: Lech, Austria. If you’re after easy-breezy blue runs, perfect for pootling around while looking chic, Austria’s most upmarket resort is for you. It’s a hugely popular destination with affluent Germans, who cruise into the small village in their Porsches by the thousand. What’s more, Lech offers a more refined luxury than the likes of Courchevel in France. During the day, skiers decked out in Chanel ski gear swoop down the corduroy slopes, while those less keen on sliding downhill can explore the small boutique shops that flank the high street, or idle away hours sipping hot chocolate in one of the small cafés. Last season saw an expansion of the ski area, thanks to a new gondola linking the resort to nearby Warth-Schröcken – the Alps’ snowiest ski resort – which doubled the size of the ski area, so you won’t run out of terrain anytime soon.
WHERETOSTAY: Lech is home to one of the world’s most expensive ski retreats, the six-star Chalet N (www. chalet-n.com), which is situated in (even more) exclusive Oberlech. Costing an eye-watering minimum of Dh1.24 million a week, the chalet sleeps up to 24 people. There’s bulletproof glass and a Swarovski rainforest shower with a hand-strung crystal curtain, while the cutlery is made from pure titanium. And in the cellar there is a cinema room, with Gucci sofas. But of course, you can still be a snow queen without parting with a small fortune: the four-star Hotel Monzabon (www. monzabon.at) has rooms from Dh620, and its own spa, pool and ice rink.
THE LOWDOWN: Flights with Swiss, Dubai to Zurich return, from Dh1,235.
YOUNG AT HEART You want to spend your days ripping up the mountain, and your evenings enjoying some après-ski fun.
WHERETOGO: Ischgl, Austria. This is the party capital of the Alps – in fact by mid-afternoon the music is reverberating around the high mountain peaks, and once the lifts stop turning for the day, the frolics continue in the town. But don’t party too hard: the skiing here is excellent too, with plenty of testing terrain, and interesting off-piste routes. It’s also possible to ski into Switzerland, to the small duty-free village of Samnaun; border-checks are rare, but nonetheless, make sure to ski with your passport. Ischgl is famed for its all-star concerts that herald the opening and closing of the resort each season. Previous acts to take to the highaltitude stage include the likes of Katy Perry, Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue and Elton John. Last month, British folk-rock sensation James Blunt kicked off winter with a live performance.
WHERETOSTAY: Ischgl is a classy resort, which is good news, as you’ll need somewhere decent to rest your head after all the skiing and après-ski excitementexcitement. The majority of hotels have four-stars to their name, while the one five-star residence, the Trofana Royal (www.trofana-royal.at; five nights from Dh4,475) is one of Austria’s plushiest hotels.
THE LOWDOWN: Flights with Swiss, Dubai to Zurich return, from Dh1,235.
THE POWDER HOUND You’re not content with a day on the slopes unless you’ve felt your heart pounding and have skied in knee-deep snow.
WHERETOGO: Niseko, Japan. One of the snowiest resorts in the world, Niseko should feature highly on any exotic skiers’ wish list — especially those seeking off-piste terrain. Here you’ll find some of the lightest, fluffiest powder on earth. And when it snows, it really snows: in fact, it’s common for a storm to last seven days, which makes for unbeatable powder skiing. Once the clouds disperse, marvel at the Mount Yotei volcano, which dominates the vista. It’s all very Japanese; the lift attendees – armed with little brushes – dust any fresh snow off your head and bow as you board lifts, while a trip to the local onsen is considered as aprèsskiing. These complexes comprise hot baths, showers and volcanic thermal pools, and play a key part in Japanese culture. Men and woman shower and bathe in separate areas, but have the option of congregating together in a communal pool.
WHERETOSTAY: The ski-in, ski-out Green Leaf Resort (www.thegreenleaf hotel.com; rooms from around Dh1,043) is a popular choice. A recent refurbishment has helped maintain the high standards to which one becomes accustomed while skiing in Japan.
THE LOWDOWN: Air China flights, Dubai to Sapporo return, with an overnight layover in Beijing, from Dh4,750.
THE SKI FAMILY You have children in tow, so need a spot where the terrain suits all ages and abilities.
WHERETOGO: Les Arcs, France. The slopes here have something for everyone. Experts will find it hard to exhaust the terrain, thanks to the long descents, including some challenging steep ones, while intermediate skiers will particularly enjoy the Peisey-Vallandry area. It’s especially suited to families – and mixed-ability groups – because many of the major routes have an easy option as well as a more challenging one. This season also
sees the opening of a new €36m (Dh165m) ski area called Mille 8. It’s at the bottom of existing slopes, and the centrepiece will be an Aquafun Centre with an outdoor heated pool and hot tubs. There will also be a toboggan trail, a freestyle skiing section, night skiing and a kids’ playground with igloos and a mini toboggan run.
WHERETOSTAY: Until recently, there was a somewhat limited choice of hotels here, but that’s changing. Built a few years ago, the four-star Hotel Aiguille Grive (www.hotelaiguillegrive. com; rooms from Dh1,150) is unquestionably the best option. However, it’s less hotel, more private retreat, as the complex consists of six beautifully designed chalets. Each building features between four and six bedrooms, and can be rented as a whole, or by the room.
THE LOWDOWN: Flights with Swiss, Dubai to Geneva return via Zurich, from Dh1,200.
THE STALWART The traditional skiing holiday is 150 years old, and deep down you wish you lived in this bygone era. There’s certainly no room for all these newfangled ways of getting down the mountain.
WHERETOGO: Deer Valley, Utah. Skiers rule the roost here, so much so that snowboarders are banned, on the premise that they cause more trouble than they’re worth. It is lavishly upmarket, and offers arguably the best service of any North American ski resort. You need not fret about lugging your skis to the lift, or struggling to get them out of the clunky carrier on the side of the gondola – here that’s all taken care of by the attentive workers. The slopes are immaculately prepared each evening, but for those seeking more adventurous terrain there is also a fair share of tree skiing and some mogul runs to tackle. For the uninitiated, the resort offers free tours – with wellspoken and superbly polite guides – to suit all levels of skiers. These are perfect for those looking to see more of the ski area, or whose travel companions have differing ski ability.
WHERETOSTAY: Naturally you should opt for somewhere traditional. Stein Eriksen Lodge (www.steinlodge.com; rooms from Dh830) is the resort’s most luxurious hotel, yet it is unpretentious and homely. After a long day on the slopes unwind with a massage in the hotel’s spa, or loosen your muscles with a dip in the hot tub.
THE LOWDOWN: Flights with Delta Airlines, Dubai to Salt Lake City via Atlanta, from Dh4,660.
Get sparkling clean behind a crystal shower curtain
Relax like a true snow queen against beautiful views
Lech is home to the world-renowned Chalet N
Unwind at the Trofana Royal after some cosy après-ski relaxation
The Green Leaf is a popular ski-in ski-out resort
Niseko offers light, fluffy powder
The night skiing light show is a must-see for families
Intermediates will enjoy the PeiseyVallandry area
The Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley
Perfect for those seeking adventurous terrain
Take a break from skiing to try a spot of tobogganing