Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
The twin peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains together make the Whistler Blackcomb ski area. Whistler Blackcomb is a ski resort in Canada located on British Columbia’s west coast in its Coast Mountains, just a 90-minute drive from Vancouver. It is arguably one of the largest ski resorts in North America and has the greatest uphill lift capacity. It features the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola for moving between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains at the top. Whistler’s ratio of “normal people” to Winter Olympians is out of this world; there is a very real chance of running into past, present and future Olympians and Paralympians in the lift line on any given day.
La Plagne, France
La Plagne is one of the world’s most popular ski areas and was the most visited ski area in 2017-18 according to a report by International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism. It is located in the alpine valley of the Tarentaise in France. Its terrain is vast and varied, with a skiable area of 100km² at altitudes ranging from 1250m to a towering 3250m. It also has fantastic off-piste skiing on the north face of Bellecôte. If that’s not enough to keep its skiers entertained, La Plagne is also connected to its neighbouring and equally famous (3rd most visited) ski area, Les Arcs, by The Vanoise Express—one of the world’s fastest gondolas. La Plagne and Les Arcs form a massive new interlinked area called “Paradiski”.
Zermatt is one of the best-known ski areas in Switzerland. It offers everything tourists dream of in the Swiss Alps, from views of the world’s most photogenic mountain, the Matterhorn, to narrow streets lined with wonky chalets. It has 200km of pistes of its own and is also linked by lift and piste to Cervinia in Italy, providing another 160km of pistes. A spectacular new gondola lift to Klein Matterhorn at almost 4,000m, with large cabins and panoramic views, was opened during the 2018-19 season. Its varied snowsure slopes make it suitable for families, intermediates, experts and ski tourers.
Breck & Vail, USA
Breckenridge and Vail are the two twin ski areas located in Colorado. Breck, as locals and fans know it, is usually the second most visited ski resort in the US after Vail – with whom it shares lift tickets and passes.
Breck has nearly 3,000 skiable acres and a summit at around 13,000 feet. It sees an average of 175 inches of snow annually that offers plenty of powder to shred on ski vacations. Breck also boasts a quaint Main Street and a park that’s great for sledding.
Vail is not as high as some of the other resorts in the area but still receives a heavy amount of snow, with more than 350 inches per season. With 31 lifts and three terrain parks, it is spread over 5,289 acres. It also does an extensive amount of grooming, which is great for beginner and intermediate level skiers.
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental ski area is located in the Tirol region of Austria. It is the largest interconnected ski area in Austria. It was also the second most visited ski area in 2017-18. It is home to over 284km of ski runs, 90 modern cable cars and lifts, 81 rustic Alpine huts and 3 toboggan runs. It also boasts of Austria’s largest night-skiing area with 11 km of lit slopes.
Niseko is located in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. Niseko is home to some of the best ski slopes in the world. It is the number one ski destination in Japan for those who love powder because it seems to be continuously snowing here and the deep, deep powder is way too tempting for skiers. This is also where business tycoons and celebs dine on sushi and relax in natural hot springs. Its trails have plenty of pistes that are ideal for skiers and boarders of all levels. It also offers extensive off-trail skiing, which can be accessed through special gates or by participating in a guided tour.
Catedral Alta, Argentina
Catedral Alta Patagonia (also called Cerro Catedral) is located in Argentina and is named after its granite peaks that resemble a cathedral. It is the largest ski area in Argentina and offers the most lift-accessed ski terrain in South America. Though it offers slopes for skiers of varying caliber, it is particularly suited for intermediate and advanced skiers with good tree skiing and off-piste choices for the experts. It offers stunning views for the non-skiers too, as it is developed inside Nahuel Huapi National Park in the vicinity of the park’s namesake lake.
Aspen Snowmass, USA
Aspen Snowmass is located in Colorado and is basically a combination of four ski areas or four mountains – Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk. Buttermilk has gained popularity by frequently hosting the Winter X-games and has large number beginner and intermediate runs, whereas Aspen Highlands is known for its advanced and expert runs. Snowmass is largely a family oriented hill with great intermediate skiing. Lastly, Aspen Mountain, unlike Buttermilk, has no beginner runs. The combined terrain of 4 mountains exceeds 5,500 acres, with Snowmass alone accounting for more than 3,000.
Les Trois Vallées, France
Les Trois Vallées is the world’s largest ski area with 600km of runs, resulting in 18.5 km² of groomed runs, spread between the three main resorts of Courchevel, Meribel, and Val Thorens. It also has 120km of runs for cross-country skiing. The ski area collectively has a total of 183 ski lifts to zip its skiers from one valley to another. There’s even a fourth valley, the Maurienne valley, which is adjacent to Val Thorens but can also be accessed using a long gondola lift from Orelle, leading to the region’s highest lift-accessed point at 3,230 meters. Courchevel and Van Thorens have terrains to suit everyone from beginner to expert.
The mountain of Hlíðarfjall is located in the Icelandic town of Akureyri. It has been one of the top skiing areas in Iceland for over 40 years. It is known for its high-quality snow, extensive off-piste tracks and exciting ski slopes with a stunning view of Icelandic mountains. The diverse terrain ensures that all the skiers of varying caliber can enjoy their skiing vacation.