A truly great ski town is a tough formula to crack. It needs the right combination of character & charm combined with enough of the necessities to be functional – and of course it needs to have some banging snow! Here are a few of my all time faves for your Winter 2016/17 inspo.
1.Park City, Utah, USA
When I first went to Park City, a common response was along the lines of ‘What is there to do in Utah? Isn’t it full of Mormons? Are you even allowed to have any fun there?’. The answers to which are: Plenty!; Yes (and all of them lovely); and HELL YES!!! Having been to Park City quite a few times now, I can attest very strongly to great restaurants, a selection of nightlife options that can handle the Hollywood elite (think Sundance Film Festival), outlet shopping for rest days, and most importantly, a great variety of skiing within a short distance.
The 2 crown jewels of Park City are Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort. Deer Valley is a skiers only slice of heaven where the staff are there to nurture and serve you and I kind of feel like they might even offer you a massage if you came off a run looking a little stiff. OK, probably not really but it has a no tipping culture and the staff are trained to go the extra mile for their guests, and you feel the difference!
Park City Mountain Resort is the combination of 2 previously separate ski resorts, Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons. These 2 great resorts have now combined into one incredible resort with terrain variety and options for all levels taken to the next level. It is part of the EPIC pass, which means you can buy one pass and ski all over the US and even Japan and Australia within the same year.
But aside from these beauties, there are plenty of other great ski resorts within an hour or so from Park City for those who like a different spot every day! Between Alta, Solitude, Snowbird, Brighton and Sundance just to name a few, staying in Park City leaves you truly spoiled for choice on all fronts.
2. Val D’Isere, France
My all time favourite Deer Valley ski runs
This town was everything I ever wanted from a ski town in the French Alps! An adorable place with dreamy white mountains everywhere. Did I mention the patisseries? Dear God take me back….
La Folie Douce is mandatory to visit for apres ski to experience table dancing in ski boots, live musicians playing throughout the crowd, and a party atmosphere that will make you want to stay forever!! I recommend showing up around 3pm. Dick’s Tea Bar should definitely be on the list to visit as well to kick on into the night if you are keen to go on for longer.
Try something different – learn to snow kite with Oxygene or Fly Mountains ski schools! So much fun.
For great accommodation options have a look at Ski Bonjour – Check out Bonjour Bivouac for the perfect balance of on snow accom with all the hard work taken out of your stay! We had an absolutely amazing time staying here with a great location and perfect set up for our stay. Comfy and cosy, with great hosts and food!
3. Big White, Canada
Big White is a sweet as pie Canadian ski town with a kick ass party vibe to boot and most importantly – the snow is CONSISTENTLY UNBELIEVABLE!!! Accessible via Kelowna (fly in from Vancouver in a about 55 minutes), then a 30-45 minute drive up the mountain. Great terrain options with such epic snow. The haunting first run view of the famous Big White snow ghosts is truly memorable.
Head to Happy Valley (access by skis or car) for Apres ski between 4-6pm to check out great live music (usually Jon Bos Rocks who puts on a really great show). With plenty of great food options you too you are spoiled for choice.
Snowshoe Sam’s is a must visit with great live music and an awesome vibe. To top it all off, the Canadians are pretty much the nicest people on the planet.
4. Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown (even without snow) is a town well worth a visit. Whether travelling with a family or a group of friends, this place literally has something for everyone. Plenty of bars, with some amazing secret spot restaurants hidden behind doors with no signs. Known for its action, Queenstown has no shortage of options outside of skiing including bungee jumping, heli skiing, white water rafting, sky diving, jet boating over the Shotover river (not for the faint of heart) among just a very few (check out Viator for some more options).
My favourite spots The Cow restaurant and also a must visit is Fergberger for the best burgers in towns. I assure you, the lines are worth the wait!! A cranking party town, but with plenty of family options, this is another gem with something for every visitor.
With resorts nearby including Cardrona, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak & Treble Cone you are spoilt for skiing options. The only downside is there really isn’t ski in ski out accommodation (or at least there wasn’t when I was there) so you are either looking at a bus trip or a drive up the mountain in a hire car each day (approx. 40-60 mins).
5. Vail, Colorado, USA
Vail is another absolutely gorgeous ski town that will make you want to quit your day job and move here immediately. Even if it means making next to no money you won’t care because you will live in a perfect village with perfect snow and mostly blue skies every day. This town had been on my bucket list for a while and it was worth the trip!!
(Photo credit @vailmtn instagram)
a.k.a Garfs is a must visit – really it is THE place to get to if you want the Vail Experience. Great for après ski drinks, but it was also a great place for a stop off for lunch to grab a refreshing beer after the hard work on the slopes. With plenty of other great options you definitely won’t struggle to find fantastic eating and drinking venues.
Tavern on The Square at Arrabelle is a great spot for people watching as well, especially if you can get there in time to get an outdoor seat around the fire. Another special thing about Arrabelle is the spa…. heaven!!! If you need to take a break from the slopes, this is where to go!
We landed in Denver and drove to Vail, then continued the road trip down to Utah to hit the slopes in Park City courtesy of the EPIC pass as it is applicable here also (as well as for other Colorado resorts Breckenridge, Beaver Creek & Keystone)
Local tip – check out a local ice hockey game if you can for some up close and personal off the slopes action!!
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