There is no luxury winter pastime quite like skiing, with crisp pistes, mountain views zooming past and indulgent après ski events drawing more and more holiday makers each year who are looking for a snowy wonderland rather than a winter sun escape. The selection of ski resorts dotted around the world are endless and with so many to choose from, there are destinations to suit every budget and taste. Particularly popular after the holiday season in January, February and March, the peak skiing season is only just upon us and there is no time like the present to treat yourself to an active trip to push away the post-Christmas blues.
Luxury ski resorts are an experience unto themselves boasting fabulous shopping, hotels, eateries and most importantly perfect runs to traverse. Here we have gathered the world’s most luxurious ski resorts to put on your travelling wish list in 2020…
1. Aspen, Colorado
A chic heavyweight in the list of the world's most luxurious ski resorts, Aspen has four world class mountains offering a huge diversity of terrain and on snow activities. The world famous town is filled with some of the finest hotels, restaurants and shops of any North American ski resort. Boasting over 300 days of sunshine a year and an enviable snow record on its crowd-free slopes, it is easy to see why Aspen often tops the list of the most luxurious places to ski on the planet.
A fast-paced, high tech resort with all the comforts & luxuries you could wish for, Aspen has long been renowned as one of the top ski resorts worldwide.
Where to Stay: Little Nell Hotel
The jewel in Aspen’s crown is The Little Nell Hotel, with the city at its front door and the mountain at its back door, this 5 star, 5 diamond hotel offers slopeside luxury, legendary service and feted cuisine.
The only ski-in, ski-out access hotel in Aspen, Little Nell was so named after the historic mine which once sat in the same location. Opened in 1989 it took the hotel just two years to win a grand slam of hospitality rankings which they have earned every year since.
2. Verbier, Switzerland
Offering an incredible winter playground for skiers and freeriders alike, the Alpine resort Verbier is celebrated the world over for its peaks. In the heart of the Valais region, it is the largest ski area in Switzerland with 410km of runs making the location ideal for both advanced and beginner skiers along with snowboarders, with numerous slopes for every experience level.
A fantastic highlight of the Verbier resort is the legendary Mont-Fort run which has inspired the greatest winter athletes for generations. A 1,750m black run with an altitude of 3,300m, it is one of the steepest Alpine slopes to challenge even the most seasoned of skiers.
The new jewel in Verbier’s crown, W Verbier was the first Starwood hotel to open in the Alps and the second 5 Star establishment to open in the region. In the heart of the town, it is just metres from the ski lifts allowing you to go from piste to luxury bar within minutes.
For tired bodies after a day on the slopes, the 800m² AWAY Spa wellness centre will soothe any aches and pains and the W Verbier also includes two bars, two cafes, two restaurants and even a nightclub to party the night away.
3. Zermatt, Switzerland
With the majestic Matterhorn always in view, Zermatt boasts unparalleled scenery at every turn and dates back over 500 years. Full of romantic neighbourhoods and quiet corners, it is the quintessential Alpine resort visitors fall in love with again and again. A peaceful yet wild mountain world, it is completely car free and the shops, cafes, bars and sumptuous hotel lounges make Zermatt pulse with life.
With 360km of pistes and lifts which go up to the Klein Matterhorn at 3,883m visitors can soak up the panoramic views of the 4000m mountains surrounding them and with cosy mountain restaurants dotted along the carefully groomed runs there are endless opportunities to rest and relax on the way down.
Where to Stay: Grand Hotel Zermatterhof
Welcoming illustrious guests from around the world since 1879, The Grand Zermatterhof is built for living not just sleeping. First formed when the local parish priest decided that the old families of the town should build their own hotel, the Grand Zermatterhof was built entirely by Zermatt citizens.
An iconic landmark at the heart of the Zermatt village, the old-world glamour of the Grand Zermatterhof makes this luxurious hotel one of the most decadent choices in the area and the perfect escape after a long day of wintry adventures.
4. Whistler, Canada
A year-round leisure and meeting destination, Whistler is nestled in the Coast Mountains just 75 miles north of Vancouver. The location of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Whistler’s facilities are second to none and the resort offers not just one but two mountains to explore. The Whistler and Blackcomb mountains include 8,100 acres of snow covered slopes and receive on average 38.2ft of snow annually.
Frequently ranked as the number one ski resort in North America, the municipality of Whistler is home to a diverse community of more than 10,000 residents and the town’s restaurants, shops and hotels are some of the finest available in the world.
Where to Stay: Four Seasons Resort & Residences
The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler epitomizes the mountain spirit which is grand in scale yet intimate in nature. Oozing European refinement, the hotel contains 273 lodge guest rooms, hotel suites and townhouses each with out of this world services and amenities to accompany the spectacular decor.
Just minutes from the Whistler village, it is perfectly located to enjoy the area’s hottest shopping and dining spots and the Four Seasons Resort and Residences also has its own impeccable steak restaurant Sidecut where you can create your own decadent steak rub.
5. Courchevel, France
Courchevel is a part of one of the largest skiing areas in the world called Les Trois Vallées which offers skiers summits for every level and taste. Made up of four towns originally named for their altitudes, the complex includes Courchevel Le Praz (1300), Courchevel Village (1550), Courchevel Moriond (1650) and the most luxurious of them all - Courchevel itself, previously named Courchevel 1850.
An ever evolving winter destination full of championship sporting events, fine dining and unbeatable entertainment, Courchevel has been the place to go for royalty and celebrities for decades and it is still one of the most exclusive resorts to visit. Also new to the area in recent years was Aquamotion a 15,000m² water complex with a state of the art wellness centre, countless pools and water sports facilities to make a holiday to Courchevel even more adventurous.
Where to Stay: Hotel Le K2 Altitude
The K2 forms a veritable hamlet, made up of a main building and its adjoining chalets, nestled into the mountainside and integrating seamlessly into the landscape. The K2 benefits from a privileged location, being both near the centre of Courchevel 1850; yet still retaining a high level of privacy and ski-in ski-out access.
The hotel and suite-chalets spread along the slope and overlook the valley for panoramic views. Decorated as unique worlds with precious materials, the rooms mix the charm of elegant authenticity with high tech modern equipment. The suite-chalets of the K2 combine the intimacy of a private residence with the ultimate in service provided by the devoted staff of the hotel, making any room or suite in the K2 hotel an unbeatable choice.
6. Gstaad, Switzerland
Julie Andrew’s once said Gstaad is the ‘last paradise in a crazy world’ and this still rings true of the unique winter destination today as it is still up there with the most luxurious ski resorts. Nestled in the magnificent Alpine mountains, this resort combines a stylish attitude to life and a touch of glamour with leisure activities and room for enjoyment including an unprecedented selection of cultural and sporting activities.
Internationally renowned for luxury and high society, the resort’s slogan is ‘come up, slow down’ exhibiting the peace and quiet that can be found on the Gstaad mountainside forming a deliberate counterpoint to the general social trend of achieving more in less time. The ultimate retreat to get away from it all, it offers 220km of slopes, a glacier ski area, ski touring and it is also considered a tobogganist’s paradise.
A grand dame of luxury old-world hotels, the Gstaad Palace has stood watch over the town for over a century and even with a turbulent history of world wars and financial crisis, it is still standing strong today. A glamorous choice for Gstaad visitors, each of the 100 well-appointed rooms is furnished with Alpine elegance modernized with state of the art upscale finishes.
With a recently extended Palace Spa to revive the body and mind after a hard day on the slopes and exquisite cuisine to sink your teeth into, the Gstaad Palace allows you to explore this peaceful yet abundant resort in style.
7. Vail, Colorado
One of the largest ski resorts in the world, Colorado based Vail has more than 5,200 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain, seven legendary Back Bowls reaching over 7 miles and the most groomed pistes on the planet. Home to top athletes competing in the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships, Vail has also hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships in 1989, 1999 and 2015.
With blue skies for over 300 days a year, Vail appeals to every generation and offers an exceptional winter holiday experience with the resort’s top Ski & Snowboard School to ensure you’re taught the best techniques, and the events, activities and festivals make sure visitors are always entertained. Also containing numerous shops and spas for downtime between skiing or snowboarding, the final finishing touch to the area is the abundant culinary experiences and luxury accommodations on offer.
Opulent yet inviting, the Arrabelle hotel makes you feel as if you truly belong. Exhibiting old-world charm, no other hotel in area combines this classic mentality that inspired the Vail Valley we know today with the same level of luxury. Located at the base of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, you can’t get any closer to the slopes that the Arrabelle and the hotel’s eye catching style is reminiscent of Europe’s grandest resorts.
From Go-Pro hire to capture the best bits of your holiday to the plushest pet accommodation and their own range of homemade ice cream, the Arrabelle is the perfect retreat for a winter escape and Après Ski Deck is the ideal place to enjoy an after-ski tipple with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains.
8. St Moritz, Switzerland
Celebrating 150 years of winter tourism recently, St Moritz is one of the most famous holiday destinations in the world and its name is synonymous globally with style, elegance and class. firmly earning it's place as one of the world's most luxurious ski resorts, it offers the Alpine lifestyle at its best. St Moritz is where the concept of winter holidays was first born and it has also been the esteemed host of not one, but two Winter Olympics.
Rising to prominence thanks to the mineral springs which have been attracting visitors for nearly 3,000 years, the resort can count the first electric light, the very first ski school and Switzerland’s first electric tram in its list of pioneering feats. Home to exceptional leisure, sporting and cultural activities par excellence, St Moritz is legendary in the winter holiday world and it was the first geographical location to be trademarked.
Where to Stay: Badrutt's Palace
As legendary as St Moritz itself, Badrutt’s Palace is embedded with more than a century of history and is a world famous symbol of the top skiing destination. A beacon in the stunning natural Swiss Alp surroundings, it is home to royalty, stars and sports lovers who value quality above all else.
Renowned for exquisite luxury, first class service and limitless indulgence, Badrutt’s Palace is a gem among world-class hotels and is constantly changing whilst still preserving its historical inheritance. First opening its doors in 1896, the hotel has been meeting its guests’ high expectations since the beginning and this marker continually shapes Badrutt’s Palace’s future renovation and change.