How To Pick A Good Ski Resort

Vail and Chamonix are just a couple of ski resort areas that bring visions of pristine white powder under bright winter sunshine. Yet, for many, a trip to a ski resort in Switzerland or Colorado isn’t in the budget. Even so, you may find the right ski resort close to your back yard! Choose the right ski resort by considering all elements from price and place to weather and when!

When to wake and start skiing

The time of year you choose can mean the difference between powder and snow pack and settles several other ski holiday concerns as well.

Who shares your ski dream?

In choosing the right ski resort, consider the members of your party. Does everyone ski at the same skill level and enjoy the same type(s) of skiing? If not, you’ll need to find a ski resort with several types of ski trails. If it’s a family outing, will you need child-care services? Are there off-slope and Après-ski activities that everyone can enjoy?

Snow – the stuff ski dreams are made of…

Probably the most unpredictable element of a ski vacation is natural snowfall. Although most ski resorts are equipped with snow cannons, there’s a significant difference between man-made snow pack and heaven-sent powder. Yet, before you give man-made snow the cold shoulder, consider that three feet of powder may not be your best option unless you are an expert. Rather than fretting over whether trails are hip-deep or snow-packed bunny slopes, put more weight on the types of trails you want to ski. A handy guide in choosing a ski resort is the piste map. Piste maps color-code a ski resort’s trails, marking each type from novice runs to double black diamonds.

Ski resorts – dream locations!

Switzerland is the king of the snows yet with all its Swiss banks and expensive Swiss chocolates, it’s packed with very affordable ski resorts. Switzerland offers every type of skiing imaginable from Alpine (of course!) to backcountry. Zermott is the home of the world’s second largest lift-served vertical drop and is ranked as Switzerland’s top ski resort. St Moritz and Lausanne are other popular ski destinations.

Although Switzerland may be the king of the snows, Kitzbuhel, Austria is called the “Pearl of the Alps”. However, the most regal peak in the Alps is located at Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France. In addition to skiing the second highest peak in Europe, you’ll ski the world’s longest ski run, 22.7 kms (13.5 miles).

Of course, in the US you can ski from sea to shining sea. Starting with Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine, ski your way through New England. Although top ski resorts in Vail and Aspen get most of the glory in the mid-US, many ski resorts throughout the central region, like Montana’s Big Sky offer much more than a scenic overlook! Ski resorts dot the West Coast from Washington to California. Try night skiing at Summit-at-Snoqualmie near Seattle or find plenty of top-notch Après-ski activities in California’s Tahoe ski resort area. If you prefer the far north, Alaska’s Alyeska may be just the ski resort for you.

Canada is also flecked with coast to coast ski resorts, starting with Mont-Tremblant, Quebec in the east and progressing through Banff/Lake Louise, Alberta and on to the Whistler/Blackcomb area in British Columbia.

If you aren’t ready to hang-up your skis when warm weather approaches, consider a down-under ski vacation. Australia’s Falls Creek area boasts several ski resorts with family-friendly ski packages. Treble Cone in the Wanaka Lake area of New Zealand has made some tremendous enhancements, sure to satisfy the dreams of any budding Olympic skier!

Discuss ski resorts with other skiiers at Talk Ski’s ski forum.

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