Not every skier wants to throw themselves down a double black diamond ski slope. For many, the actual act of skiing can be secondary to just being there, among the most stylish, romantic alpine destinations on Earth. Nowhere does pampering quite like the ski market – some of the world’s finest restaurants and hotels can be found on the slopes of the world’s best ski mountains. We show you the 10 most luxurious ski resorts on the planet…
1. St. Moritz, Switzerland
St. Moritz is arguably the most luxurious ski resort on Earth. It lists Europe’s royal families and Hollywood’s biggest names as regulars. Over 10,000 private jets land each year at its nearby airport. Its main street – Via Serlas – is home to endless boutique stores like Chanel, Bulgari and Pucci frequented by shoppers arriving in horse-drawn carriages. But while St. Moritz epitomizes European luxury, it’s also oddly accessible… at a price. Perhaps here more than any other European destination frequented by royals can you mingle and eat at the same restaurants and bars. Don’t miss Europe’s most famous ski bar – the King’s Club in Badrutt’s Palace – where the dress code stipulates, simply: ‘Dress To Impress’. While most come just to be seen, its merits as a ski resort can’t be overlooked – St. Moritz has twice hosted the Winter Olympics and each year hosts a World Cup ski event.
2. Aspen, Colorado, USA
Aspen is the world’s most famous ski resort, hands down. Each Christmas and New Year, celebrity magazines document a who’s who of Hollywood holidaying in town. But don’t let the celeb hype put you off, Aspen is so much more than a star-spotter’s paradise. It’s home to the US’s most famed ski-in, ski-out five-star ski hotel, The Little Nell, whose wine cellar contains over 50,000 bottles of the world’s rarest wines. There’s four ski mountains to choose from, all with North America’s most charming on-mountain restaurants. While luxury skiers flock to Aspen, there’s none of the pretentiousness you might find at similar European resorts. Ski bums mix freely with billionaires at the town’s bars and restaurants, and Aspen’s hippie roots are always on display… dude.
3. Lech, Austria
Lech is how Austria does luxury skiing. There’s no more understated high-end ski resort on the planet. In Lech you won’t find huge five-star chain hotels – its village is still just an old farming town with a 600-year-old history, where barbers, bakers and milkmen go about their business mixing freely with Europe’s wealthiest visitors. But this is where royalty comes to get away from life – it was Princess Diana’s favourite resort, and it’s the choice of another sort of British royal family – the Beckhams, as well as the Dutch royal family. But while wealth isn’t flaunted here as it is in St. Moritz, make no mistake about it, Lech offers a seamless high-end ski holiday. From its ski-in, ski-out five-star pensions run by jovial innkeepers to its perfectly groomed slopes ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers, everything in Lech is effortlessly perfect.
4. Courchevel, France
Located on one end of the world’s largest ski area – Les 3 Vallées – Courchevel is actually made up of four villages. Its highest village, Courchevel 1850, is where the wealthy flock. For here, up high in the French Alps where some of Europe’s best snow can be found, you’ll find more plush hotels than any city in France except Paris – there’s 11 hotels with five-star ratings and three hotels with France’s most prestigious six-star ‘Palace’ rating. If you’re hungry, there’s more Michelin-starred restaurants here than in any ski resort on Earth – five restaurants even carry a two-Michelin-star rating. And if you didn’t have space to pack all you need, there’s Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dior boutiques on its tiny main street. Little wonder that the King of Morocco and the Saudi Royal Family come calling each winter.
5. Lenzerheide, Switzerland
Of all the luxury resorts in Switzerland, Roger Federer chose Lenzerheide to build a holiday home at (and he built one right next door for his mother). While Lenzerheide isn’t a household name outside Switzerland, it’s actually home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other resort in Switzerland. It’s also the home of Switzerland’s highest rated ski hotels. But you wouldn’t know that here – and that’s the best part. Here on sun-filled slopes (Lenzerheide’s unique geographical aspect allows you to ski in sunshine all day long) you’ll ski by cows in paddocks and past traditional villages with cobblestone streets and 800-year-old baroque Catholic churches lit up like Christmas trees. A cable car was recently built to connect Lenzerheide to the neighboring ski resort of Arosa, so now there’s over 225 kilometers of groomed trails with barely a skier in sight.
6. Whistler-Blackcomb, Canada
Whistler-Blackcomb is how Walt Disney might’ve imagined a ski village – nestled below two huge pine-covered ski mountains connected by the world’s longest and highest gondola, Whistler’s central village is home to Canada’s finest hotels, restaurants and bars. And it all looks so damn good. And it is all right here at home!
here’s not a tree out of place in Whistler-Blackcomb – there’s even black bears (at the start of spring) and elk and deer wandering about. Luxury skiers have a choice of some of the country’s best hotels – luxury chains such as The Fairmont, Four Seasons and the Westin offer ski-in, ski-out digs with views over the peaks. There’s over 100 restaurants (including arguably Canada’s finest – Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar, whose owner pioneered farm-to-table dining in Canada), bars and lounges – you won’t find a more exciting après ski scene in North America. And there’s so much more: heli-skiing operators can pick you up from your back door and the Scandinavian Hot Spa is one of Canada’s best day spas.
7. Cortina, Italy
There is no more charming place to ski this winter than Cortina. Here skiing is secondary to simply being seen. But let’s get one thing straight: the skiing here is some of the best in Italy, don’t forget Cortina hosted the 1952 Winter Olympics. There’s just so much to do here that you might soon forget you’re here for the slopes. Cortina has to be one of Europe’s most charming ski villages. Here grand 19th Century mansions dominate the streetscape – and you’ll walk through cobbled, snow-covered streets on your way to chairlifts. But glamor is done so beautifully in Cortina – there’s two-Michelin starred restaurants, but they’ve been in the same family for four generations. Nowhere does chic with less effort than Cortina – but then, isn’t that Italy in a nutshell?
8. Val d’Isere, France
Val d’Isere was once a simple alpine farming village, now parts of it are referred to by locals as Millionaire’s Row, and there’s 45 hotels offering some of Europe’s fanciest bedrooms. Thankfully, the invasion of wealth didn’t spoil the traditional feel of the place. In the Old Town, old stone properties take pride of place, and Val d’Isere forms part of ‘l’Espace Killy’ – ‘the most beautiful ski area in the world’. But luxury abounds here, while Val d’Isere’s après ski scene is France’s most lively, it packs a hefty price tag, Europe’s best on-mountain cocktail bars are all here. And only Courchevel 1850 has a comparable number of five and six-star private homes to rent, and there’s two-Michelin-starred restaurants such as L’ Atelier if fancy dining is your desire. The skiing is just as five-star, cable cars and funiculars take you up to groomed slopes used in World Cup events and the 1992 Winter Olympics.
9. Deer Valley, Utah, USA
While snowboarders detest the place – it’s one of four ski resorts on Earth that refuse to allow them in – skiers welcome the oasis Deer Valley provides for them. Though Aspen receives the kudos, it’s actually Deer Valley that each year is awarded the title as the America’s best luxury ski resort. Deer Valley – like Lech – establishes its reputation upon its under-stated luxury. Hotels are gloriously picturesque – with views across snow-covered valleys – but operate with minimum pomp and ceremony. All are ski-in, ski-out and ski butlers are offered to guests so they need never touch their skis or boots upon leaving the slopes. But it’s Deer Valley’s skiing kudos that define the resort – there’s six mountains with world’s best snow just outside your hotel which each year host World Cup events.
10. Zurs, Austria
Close to Lech, Zurs is even more intimate and fancy, but in that gloriously under-stated Austrian style. The slopes here are never crowded because most of its high-end clientele prefer après ski and coffees in the sunshine over all-day riding (but you do have access to one of Europe’s largest ski networks). However après ski isn’t about all-night parties here: think dimly-lit piano bars serving Bollinger. Zurs is one of the world’s most romantic ski resorts – it’s tiny and intimate, and largely devoid of families. There’s barely 20 hotels and 20 restaurants in town, but all of them offer unparalleled luxury. With regulars such as Princess Caroline of Monaco there’s fancy rooms aplenty – why not fork out 4,000 euros for the Royal Suite of the Hotel Zuserchof, which comes with its very own personal butler.
Find hotel deals in Zurs
Ski resorts tend to be a bit far from the airport and sometimes the hotels aren’t right on the mountain. Renting a car can make your ski holiday less stressful. Compare car hire deals to save money.
Love to ski? Check out our ski guide with the best destinations and tips to help you plan your ultimate ski holiday