PREPARING for an overseas snow holiday can be daunting or easy, depending on which way you attack the task. Personally, I would prefer to leave it to the travel agent, especially if I was travelling to a new resort.
That could be different if you are returning to the same resort each year, but let’s be honest here, there are so many fantastic resorts to visit in a lifetime, so why keep being a repeat customer when the snow world awaits.
Felicity Moss at Mogul Ski World knows a thing or twenty about all snow resorts, having been in the business of snow holidays now for 37 years. When we quiz her, it is interesting to see what the current trends are and where people are travelling to.
It also helps to know that Mogul staff do travel to the resorts to gain first-hand experience, so you know when you are talking to staff they know all the tricks to make your holiday run smoothly.
While you spend most time on the slopes, you will want a nice apartment with Felicity saying, “We send staff to all different resorts to experience the resorts first hand. Not only do they ski or board the resort, but they spend many hours doing inspections of the hotels, chalets and apartments, keeping up to date with new buildings and those that are being constantly updated or those that are no longer suitable for our clients.”
“We have about 70 resorts from all around the northern hemisphere in our brochure and someone in our office would have been to nearly all of them.”
So knowledgeable staff is a great starting point and they also know all the latest deals of what is happening at each resort. That could influence some of your decision making just as the latest deals on great lift pass packages could sway your decisions.
Naturally the bigger resorts have great appeal, boasting big mountains and vast terrain, but that can also mean busier slopes, so discount little brother resorts.
Whistler Blackcomb is always popular and under the Vail Resorts banner where the Epic Pass helps you save. Direct flights to Vancouver and a comfortable three-hour coach ride from plane departure to village hotel will see you carving up the slopes in no time.
There is only one word to describe Whistler and that is BIG. It has everything you would ever dream of in a snow holiday from open bowls, steep couloirs, very long cruising blue and green groomed runs and a village atmosphere to match. Mogul Ski World has amazing Whistler specials, but they do fill quickly.
Aspen Snowmass in Colorado has always been an Australian favourite, and with four mountains to choose from and the beautiful town of Aspen for après, restaurants and nightlife, it has it all. They have exceptional skiing and terrain, plus when you have a dedicated après ski page on your website, you know they like to party.
Après ski in Aspen and Snowmass Village is treated as more than just something to do after a day of skiing and riding - it’s considered a lifestyle.
It does not always mean the bigger resorts are better and what is sometimes classed as a ‘smaller resort’ is far from it when it comes to on mountain options. All these resorts have great hotels and apartments, good restaurants, shopping and lots of other activities. Apart from all of this they are at a better price point.
Sun Peaks in Canada has been a regular fixture on Australian radars and is also perfect for families. With a quaint village and a quieter atmosphere, it has plenty of positives to entice you.
There is a great mix of terrain for all levels that can you see you blasting top to bottom on perfect corduroy or whisking through the pine trees on a great powder day. And I must say I am partial to the occasional soft bump runs after a snow storm and have experienced some of the best here at the top of Sun Peaks.
Sun Peaks has also announced $60m in resort developments including a new quad chair. This is a great news for one of the best ski in ski out villages.
Telluride is somewhat off the main route which is one of its great strengths. Those lucky enough to have visited this historic town all vouch for sensational skiing and a town that has a different vibe to others.
This year Telluride has aligned with the Epic Pass, with holders receiving seven days of skiing or snowboarding with no blackout dates at Telluride and 50 percent off lift tickets after the seven days have been redeemed.
Banff in Canada offers a great all-round experience to skiers particularly the younger market. Although it is not ski in ski out, the town is very vibrant with lots of restaurants, bars, nightlife and some great shopping. You can ski at nearby Norquay, or catch transport to Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, the latter a huge resort and all with some of the best scenery in Canada.
Australians have a strong affiliation with Japanese resorts and everyone has heard about the legendary powder snow. If you have visited you can attest to those stories being real and not snow tales, the powder is sensational.
Niseko is continuing to grow and still is the most popular with the Australian market for resorts in Japan, even though a lot of smaller resorts are now on the radar. Skiers are finding these boutique areas very interesting with more Japanese culture and a little less crowded.
While Europe is further travelling, the tradition of skiing the Alps should lure you in and it is always popular. Val d’Isere, in the Savoie area of France is a big drawcard where you have huge terrain options that will see you skiing for hours one way before your return to the charming village.
There has been a move back to Lech and St. Anton in Austria, where you will find tradition is part of the furniture here. Two Mogul Ski staff visited these resorts this year so they are up to date with everything new.
The snow business is very competitive and the big winner in the pass war is certainly the consumer. The big three choices are the new Ikon Pass, the Epic Pass and Australian Epic Pass that includes Perisher and the Mountain Collective. In the Mogul Ski brochure this year they explain in more detail, but here is a snippet of what resorts the passes offer.
The newest pass on the market, the Ikon Pass has a top pedigree of the best resorts in North America. There are different option passes that have some restrictions, but you would need years to ski them all.
Resorts like Aspen Snowmass, Alta and Snowbird, Deer Valley Resort, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Big Sky Resort, Killington Resort, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Sugarbush Resort and Canadas SkiBig3: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay.
Add to that Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain Resort, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort, June Mountain, Stratton, Snowshoe Mountain, Tremblant, Blue Mountain, Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Loon Mountain.
Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is one of the best on offer, and if you buy the Australian version you can ski at Perisher all season and then the best of North America. Choose from this list of high profile resorts the Australian Epic Pass or Epic Pass allows access. Depending on exact pass, some may have restrictions in holiday periods.
Epic list includes Whistler Blackcomb, Vail and Beaver Creek, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Stowe. Hakuba Valley in Japan and Telluride are aligned with the pass.
The Mountain Collective offers a pass with two free days at each resort, bonus third day at a resort of choice and then 50% discount on additional days. Resorts include Alta, Aspen Snowmass, Banff Sunshine, Big Sky, Jackson Hole, Lake Louise, Mammoth, Revelstoke, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Square Valley Alpine Meadows, Sugarbush, Sun Valley, Taos, Thredbo and Coronet Peak.
Whistler offers huge terrain and Epic Pass benefits. Photo Paul Morrison / Whistler
Jackson Hole is a favourite of the advanced skiers and is on the Ikon list.
Telluride has grown in reputation for Australians.
Revelstoke is part of the Ikon Pass.