Your Next Adventure: A Guide to the Best Ski Resorts in the World
Ski expert Peter Reichheld shares a comprehensive list of the best ski resorts around the world so you can start planning your next adventure.
I still remember my first ski vacation to Beaver Creek, Colorado. From the way the frost-covered Christmas lights illuminated the quant hillside town, to the heaping mounds of powder waiting for me the next morning and of course the freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies at the bottom of the mountain, I immediately fell in love. The mountain and the town really were the quintessential cozy ski town – a place truly more magical to my ten-year-old self than even Disney World.
To this day, I still get that same wonderful mix of awe and excitement every time I arrive in a new ski town, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve also come to realize how much work actually goes into planning the perfect ski vacation. Skiing isn’t cheap, especially when travel is added into the equation, and coordinating the perfect trip can sometimes start to feel more like a chore than the opportunity of a lifetime. Where will you stay? How will you get there? Is it kid-friendly? Will there be enough spas, restaurants, and art galleries to entertain my eighty-two-year-old grandmother for long enough for me to get in a full day of skiing? Am I guaranteed to find plenty of fresh powder?
These questions can all make finding the perfect ski resort challenging, so I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best ski resorts around so that you can kick back, pour yourself a mug of hot cocoa, and book your next adventure.
Best Resorts In North America
Beaver Creek, Colorado
In One Word or Phrase: Family-friendly
The Skiing: Beaver Creek is undoubtedly one of the best places for beginners to learn to ski. With 150 trails and some of the best scenic groomers around, Beaver Creek is definitely geared towards family fun. Looking to book a lesson for the kids while you enjoy knee-deep powder through hundreds of Aspens? Beaver Creek has got you covered. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s located directly next to Vail.
The Town: My own biases obviously come into play here, but it really is impossible not to fall in love with this town – it’s truly nothing short of magical. Beaver Creek village is nestled into the mountains, surrounding a beautiful ice rink that’s as nice to look at as it is to skate on. Whether you’re enjoying a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride dinner, pampering yourself with a spa day at the hillside Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, or enjoying what could truly be considered the world’s best on-mountain chocolate chip cookies, Beaver Creek has it all.
For a more in-depth look at Beaver Creek, as well as some of the other top spots in Colorado, be sure to check out this article.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
In One Word or Phrase: Powder
The Skiing: If you love knee-deep powder and open-face mountains, then look no further. With a healthy balance of backcountry options and standard trail runs, Jackson hole has it all. There is no shortage of challenging terrain here, and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine staying for years and never skiing the same line twice. From the moment you step off the plane, you will be surrounded by some of the best cold smoke powder the states have to offer.
The Town: As much of a summer destination as winter wonderland due to its dude ranches, grazing elk, and scenic valleys, thanks to Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s not difficult to understand why so many famous movies have been filmed in Jackson Hole, with its abundance of rugged beauty.
Park City, Utah
In One Word or Phrase: Aprés ski
The Skiing: While it would be entirely possible to enjoy an entire week in Park City without ever even hitting the slopes, we both know that won’t be the case. With more trails than any other ski resort in the United States, Park City offers a variety that is impossible to explore in its entirety in a season, never mind a one-week ski vacation. From steeply inclined back bowls, whose ridges provide one of the best views you’ll ever see, to deep powder runs through the Aspens, to long groomer runs that lead straight to the back porch of your lodge, you certainly will not ever get bored of the limitless options. Should you grow tired of the seemingly endless number of runs at Park City, Deer Valley is a convenient Uber ride away, a more quaint and private-feeling resort that is well-known for being ski only (sorry snowboarders!).
The Town: With a rich history as a town that was once centered around mining, Park city offers the premier apres-ski experience. From art shows selling stuffed moose heads to the savory elk steaks at Grub Steak Restaurant, coupled with a healthy balance of night life, you’re almost guaranteed to leave Park City wishing you’d had more time to spend off the slopes enjoying the surrounding area.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia (Canada)
In One Word or Phrase: Breathtaking
The Skiing: It’s no secret that British Columbia has some of the best skiing in North America. With two peaks connected by a scenic gondola, British Columbia is ski country. You’ll find yourself charging down glacial fronts with no shortage of places to find insane vertical drops. If you love big mountain skiing complete with massive on-trail jumps, stunning wide-open fronts, and endless potential for creative lines, Whistler needs to be your next destination.
The Town: While much of Whistler’s best food is found at on-mountain restaurants, you’ll find just as many fantastic food options in the mountainside village. For adventurous guests, British Columbia has no shortage of natural attractions to explore, including ziplines across jaw-dropping canyons, snowmobile touring, and canoeing on the clearest lakes you’ll ever see.
Best Resorts Throughout the Rest of the World
Les Trois Vallées, France
In One Word or Phrase: Endless
The Skiing: To classify this as one resort is cheating, but I’m going to do it anyway. With eight separate resorts, Les Trois is the world’s largest ski area, and it’s not even close – make sure you bring a map! Enjoy seemingly endless runs through one of the most breathtaking mountain ranges in Europe, consisting of 25 separate peaks able to accommodate hundreds of thousands of skiers at any given moment. For those craving the extra adventure, it is entirely possible to stay at a different resort each night, skiing from one destination to the next each day.
The Town: With eight separate resorts nestled in the peaceful solitude of the French Alps, Les Trois Vallées has plenty of options for lodging within the almost 400 miles (over 600 kilometers) of ski trails. Take your pick between eight elegant and charming resorts, including the luxurious, almost castle-like Le Strato, or the simpler yet equally beautiful Hotel Les Monts Charvin.
In One Word or Phrase: One of a kind
The Skiing: Japan’s combination of abundant powder and typically uncrowded resorts results in an excess of untouched snow. From backcountry options to tree skiing, you will find as much untracked powder as you could possibly dream of, although you will still find plenty of piste options for beginner skiers. The touring options here are seemingly infinite, but if you’re looking to find powder without having to work for it, there are plenty of amazing tree spots and on-trail powder options. All in all, Hakuba will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced – the typically mild climate and cheaper-than-average lift tickets don’t hurt either!
The Town: Hakuba center has a great balance of fast-food options and traditional Japanese cuisine complemented by the many bars and souvenir shops. Due to the large culture of tourism here, as well as the many English-speaking residents, you shouldn’t run into any trouble communicating with the locals, as most businesses are able to accommodate English-speaking visitors. Hit a karaoke bar or relax at a mountainside spa, and enjoy one of the most unique ski towns in the world.
If you have any questions on finding the best gear for your next adventure, chat with me or one of my fellow Ski experts here on Curated for free advice and recommendations.