Out of office: sublime skiing
Want some ski action this winter? These four destinations are guaranteed to deliver snow – and plenty more besides
Luxe chic at… courcheval, france
This famous and fabulously glam ski area is at one end of the Trois Vallées, the world’s largest lift-linked ski area. With north-facing slopes, Courcheval has some of the best snow – and an impressive après-ski too. The skiing Courcheval’s slopes rank among the best in the world – expect long, smooth, confidenceboosting pistes and soft, squeaky snow that’s fab for intermediate skiers. There are 150km of runs, of which 23 are green, 34 blue, 32 red and 10 black. The vast lift system includes the resorts of Méribel, st Martin de Belleville, Les Menuires, Val Thorens and La Tania too. head to Creux, a long red piste at the top of Courchevel, first thing – it’s more often than not sunny, quiet and offers plenty of variety for brushing up on technique. When visibility isn’t great, nip to Folyères, a long blue that runs through narnia-style trees into La Tania. Where To stay Courcheval 1850 has long attracted the glossy posse, but Courchevel 1650 (also known as Moriond) is cosier and has identical skiing. Check into Portetta, a 38-room hotel that’s pitched perfectly piste-side and run by owners of Uk hotspots Lime Wood and The Pig. it channels stylish but cosy mountain chic with squishy sofas, reclaimed wood and stone floors, open fires, an impressive spa and a brilliant hassle-minimising ski hire facility in the basement. The après-ski acclaimed Brit chef angela hartnett has a residency at Portetta’s Cucina angelina and, oof, it’s good. expect an italian-influenced menu celebrating locally sourced produce, with an impressive array of meat grilled on an open range within the restaurant itself. or check out koori at L’apogée in Courcheval 1850; it sure isn’t cheap, but serves up mouthwatering sushi with impeccable service ( oetkercollection.com). Folie Douce ( lafoliedouce.com) in Meribel is the place for wild afternoon parties and La Boulotte in Moriond ( laboulotte.ch) is great for live music and beers. The LOWDOWN rooms at Portetta start from £215pn ( portetta.com). Fly to Chambery airport, which is just over 100km away, from £90 one way ( skyscanner.net). Daily lift passes are about £50pp.
Picture perfect skiing at… lake louise, canada
The hype about Lake Louise is not hyperbole. Set in Alberta’s Banff National Park, the turquoise glacier-fed lake is insanely beautiful and the nearby Lake Louise Ski Resort has an astonishing 4,200 skiable acres of pristine champagne powder to carve. the Skiing Free shuttles ferry you to the ski area, and the chances are, if you’re still adjusting to the Canadian time zone, you’ll be up and at ’em early enough to enjoy fresh tracks – 139 runs of empty perfection. Refuel at the timber-framed Lodge of ten Peaks at the base, where well-earned comfort food is served in front of huge stone fireplaces. where to Stay The rooms at the five-star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise are simple and elegant and the setting is magical. if you can, splash out on a lake view. From here, skate in picturesque perfection, or book a place on a horse- drawn sleigh around the perimeter. Don’t miss an authentic snow-shoeing experience or a half- day trip to the frozen falls at Johnston Canyon. the APRÈS-SKI This resort is not really about nightlife, but what it lacks in après-ski is more than compensated for at the Fairmont, where waist-busting Swiss fondues are served up in the walliser Stube (£28 for two) and romantic formal meals can be savoured in the Fairview (about £50pp). There’s an ice bar outside and, if you get the chance, switch your usual après pint for Canadian ice wine – it’s so good it’s rarely exported. the Lowdown Rooms start from £165pn ( fairmont.com). Day passes for Lake Louise cost from £67 ( skibig3.com). Flights from London to Calgary cost from £663 per person ( aircanada.com).
Snowboarder heaven at… flims, switzerland
Unlike its showy neighbour Zermatt, Flims has retained much of its original Alpine charm, with pretty chalets populating the village and a rapid gondola that connects it with the huge Laax ski area. the skiing There are slopes for all abilities among the 224km of pisted runs at Laax and, unusually, snowboarders are encouraged here – there are four snow parks and it plays host each January to the Laax Open, a mind-blowing fourday contest of slopestyle and halfpipe technique. where to stay set within its own parkland above Flims, the waldhaus is more of a resort than a hotel, with rooms, suites and chalets spread around multiple elegant Belle Époque buildings. The spa is amazing – as well as a menu of impeccably delivered treatments, there’s a spectacular indoor and outdoor pool complex. The mixed naked sauna, followed by a dip in the ice-hole carved into the pond outside, is a life-changing experience. the Après-ski The recently re-opened mountain station gaalaxy ( laax.com/skigebietschweiz/galaaxy) has a restaurant with 360° views. Come evening, head for Laax village and the underground riders palace nightclub ( ridershotel. com/club) for ibiza-style Dj-ing. For something more refined, enjoy regional specialities at the waldhaus’s epoca (the Alpine hay soup is delicious) or head to the hotel’s summit Bar for a cocktail. the LOWDOWN superior double rooms at the waldhaus from about £300pn B&B; chalets from £289pn ( waldhaus-flims.ch). Fly to Zurich or geneva on swissair from £67( swiss.com). Download the inside Laax app to get a lift pass from about £38.
La dolce vita at… san martino di castrozza, italy
high in the Dolomites, this resort in the trentino region is a Unesco national heritage area dominated by towering, rugged peaks that turn spectacular shades of pink at dawn and sunset. the skiing something for everyone, from broad and gentle to intermediate slopes and plunging blacks. part of the Dolomite superski area, as well as skiing in san Martino di Castrozza itself (48km of pisted ski runs), lift passes give you access to the entire area with its 1,420km of downhill skiing that includes 668 pistes, served by 573 ski lifts. The trentino ski sunrise programme also gives you exclusive early-morning access to the slopes – breakfast in a mountain hut followed by skiing as dawn breaks. Magical. where to stay The recently renovated historic residence Madonna has five apartments with views of the magnificent pale di san Martino mountain. the Après-ski The cowboy-themed ranch ( facebook.com/ranchthedolomitesbar) is where everyone heads for post-skiing drinks. For dinner, ristorante Da Anita serves delicious local fare ( ristorante-daanita.com). On weekends only, try the scenic refugio rosetta, high on pale di san Martino ( rifugiorosetta.it). the LOWDOWN A two-person apartment starts from £123pn ( residencemadonna.it). Fly to Verona (about £55; easyjet.com, ryanair.com, whizz.com), then hire a car or take a transfer to san Martino di Castrozza.
Scenic skiing, Lake Louise
Cucina Angelina Loft 3, Portetta
Ice hockey, Lake Louise
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Drink in the Dolomites Historic Residence Madonna