Did you see images last winter of snow-covered Alps and just whimper? All that lovely snow so close and yet so far.
This season, however, Europe’s top ski resorts will be opening their lifts once more and welcoming back skiers who have been pining to get back on those slopes. The resorts haven’t been idle, either, with new hotels, chalets and cable cars ready to take on all that pent-up demand.
And the old Snow Train has been taken over by Travelski, which exclusively offers direct trains from St Pancras to Moûtiers and Bourg St-Maurice as part of packages to Tignes, Val d’Isère, Les Arcs, La Plagne, Méribel and Les Menuires.
Get booking now before everything is snaffled.
Val d’Isère, France
Best for: High-altitude style
You’ll spot: Tiger Woods, Jamie Oliver
The prices match the altitude, but Val d’Isère – combined with its linked neighbour, Tignes – does give you everything you want in a ski resort, including snow-sure slopes for all levels and lots of breathtaking off-piste. Its latest five-star hotel, Le K2 Chogori, opened last December, bringing K2 Collection’s signature mix of Tibetan and Savoyard style. It joins the resort’s other new five-star, Airelles Val d’Isère, which had the unfortunate timing of opening just as the pandemic hit.
Book: Ski Solutions has a week’s B&B at relatively new Le Refuge de Solaise, which sits at 2,551m, from £1,510pp including flights.
Best for: Mountain magic
You’ll spot: Thierry Henry, Nicole Kidman
It’s hard to take your eyes off the Matterhorn as it looms crookedly over Zermatt and forms one of Switzerland’s most gorgeous images. At its foot on Trockener Steg is the new Matterhorn Testcenter, a sleek place to test the latest gear. At super-swish yet sustainably minded Cervo Mountain Resort, a seventh lodge has opened along with the new Mountain Ashram Spa and a third restaurant. Book: Matterhorn Chalets has seven nights’ self-catering at two-bedroom Casa d’Amore from CHF3,250 (£2,557).
Les Arcs, France
Best for: Families, powder hounds... just about everyone
You’ll spot: Gal Gadot
What Les Arcs lacks in glamour it more than makes up for in incredibly varied terrain with bits of everything – fun slopes, steep blacks, air-thinning peaks and sheltered woodland runs. Arc 1950 is the most attractive of the villages, and this winter is being enhanced by VIP Ski’s new Bear Resort right by the ski lifts, with 30 hotel rooms, 12 apartments and a spa. Extend your lift pass to include La Plagne and take advantage of the new high-speed chairlift to Champagny-en-Vanoise.
Book: VIP Ski has four nights at Bear Lodge from £754pp, including breakfast, dinner and transfers.
Best for: Glitzy celeb-spotters
You’ll spot: Prince William, the Beckhams
Don’t let Courchevel’s bling blind you to the superlative skiing on offer in this starry corner of the Trois Vallées. This winter, expert skiers can tackle a new black run, Eclipse, which plunges into Le Praz at a vertical drop of 970m and a 30 per cent gradient. Not for the faint hearted. For something more sedate, check out the new luxurious Ultima Courchevel Belvédère resort and its 13 ski-in-ski-out chalets.
Book: Ski Collection has seven nights’ self-catering in a two-bedroom apartment in Coeur Courchevel 1850 from £4,412 including Eurotunnel crossing.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Best for: Old-school glamour
You’ll spot: Naomi Campbell, George Clooney
The classy queen of the Dolomites rivals anything in the Alps for its jaw-droppingly beautiful granite mountains. And now those pink-tinged peaks will be easier to reach with the new gondola linking Tofane with Cinque Torri’s fabulous Super 8 circuit – and, ultimately, the Sella Ronda circuit. Also new this winter is Hotel de LËN and its rooftop spa in the town centre.
Book: Inghams has seven nights’ B&B at the Hotel Montana from £679pp including flights.
Best for: Off-piste heaven
You’ll spot: Ed Sheeran, James Blunt
Perennial favourite among British skiers, Verbier offers an exhilarating taste of the high life from is challenging slopes – and its off-piste is among the best in the world. The new high-speed Médran gondola between Verbier and Les Ruinettes will make life so much easier. This winter’s new Mont 4 Zipline, the highest in Europe, starts at 3,300m and whooshes you at 100km/h until your head spins. In the town centre is completely renovated Hotel de Verbier, whose new Swedish owners have put a swanky Scandi stamp on this venerable hotel. Book: Scott Dunn has seven nights’ half board at Cordée des Alpes from £1,500pp including flights.
Best for: Medieval beauty and World Cup racing
You’ll spot: Prince Albert of Monaco, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Every January, crowds descend on Kitzbühel to watch the World Cup’s most thrilling downhill race on the Hahnenkamm course. But there’s so much more to the resort, including an enchanting medieval centre and 233km of varied slopes that don’t demand World Cup skill. Mileage-hungry skiers can test the new ski circuit between SkiWelt and KitzSki, the longest in the world. Book: Crystal Ski Holidays has five nights’ half-board at Hotel Bruggerhof from £489pp including flights.
Best for: Village atmosphere
You’ll spot: Tim Henman, Dermot O’Leary
These neighbours in the Portes du Soleil make a perfect couple. You’ve got pretty Morzine village with its traditional Savoyard chalets, and hop on the cable car to futuristic Avoriaz and its high-altitude slopes. At Morzine they’ve remodelled the Aigle red piste, giving skiers 2km of joy as they ski down from Nyon, and Eagle Park snow park has been given a total makeover. If you’ve got a head for heights, check out Le Pas de l’Aigle, a glass-bottomed viewing platform that gives you extraordinary views from Lake Geneva to Mont Blanc – and a 350m drop beneath you. Book: Pierre & Vacances has apartments in the new L’Amara Premium Residence from €1,447 for seven nights.
St Anton, Austria
Best for: Party animals
You’ll spot: King Carl Gustav of Sweden
St Anton’s après-ski scene lives up to its wild reputation, and its vast Tirolean terrain is just as mind bending. If your skiing isn’t quite up to it, you can easily access St Anton’s more sedate neighbour, Lech – the two of them form Austria’s largest linked ski area. Two new chalets show that St Anton can do posh just as well, with Chalet Marmot right on Nasserein’s slopes and Chalet Silver Fox 350m from the lifts.
Book: Private Chalet’s St. Anton offers a week’s stay from €9,380 including breakfast and afternoon tea; chalet-stanton.com.