WIN­TER WON­DER­LAND

Which ski tribe do you be­long to?

Friday - - Front Page -

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

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