From Chamonix to Park City, we asked serious ski experts to give us their ultimate vacation list.
Jesse Ambrogi-Yanson 1 / 11
Where do you go for the ultimate ski vacation, in terms of snow, terrain, accommodations and amenities—which resort has it all? We asked the Mountain Vacation Specialists at Ski.com for their educated opinions. Averaging 26 years in the mountain travel industry, these ski vacation experts regularly travel the globe to experience the resorts, sample the cocktails at the best après bars, and try out the beds and hot tubs at the thousands of hotels, condos, and homes they offer—all in the name of bringing you the most important knowledge out there. Here’s what they had to say.
“Niseko, Japan is one of the most unique and wonderful ski resorts I have ever been to,” says Ski.com Mountain Vacation specialist, Tracy Clemens. “From glade skiing to world-class powder, the adventures, cuisine, and culture of Niseko should be on everyone’s world bucket list of ski adventures.”
Clemens recommends staying at the boutique Green Leaf Hotel, located ski-in and ski-out to the Niseko Village base area with beautiful views of either the resort or Mt. Yotei. Amenities at the Green Leaf Hotel include an intimate lounge bar for après, breakfast buffet, a wonderful onsen (traditional Japanese thermal hot pools) overlooking the snowy wooded mountains, concierge for transportation and dining at nearby Hirafu village, onsite ski/board rentals shop and access to the Hilton Niseko Village restaurants. Another plus: vending machines with an assortment of food and beverages including Sake!
Clemens also recommends visiting nearby Hirafu Village, another main base to Niseko. “A night in Hirafu should not be missed,” she says, “restaurants and bars are comingled among residential areas and some bars have no signage—just a door that is known to locals.” Here you can find every type of food from burgers and pizza to Thai, Chinese and, of course, some of the best sushi in the world.
If you’re looking for a “one-of-a-kind, top-of-the-line ski trip, look no further than Deer Valley,” says Ski.com Vacation Specialist, Rich Livingston. One of the greatest things about vacationing at Deer Valley, according to Livingston, are the non-stop flights from many east coast cities. “You can get an early morning flight and be skiing on world-class powder by early afternoon.”
Ease of travel aside, the Montage in Deer Valley offers incredible service ranging from a Bernese Mountain dog greeting and one of the largest hotel spas in Utah to arcade games and ski valet service. “If you plan on bringing the little ones,” notes Livingston, “the property offers Wii Stations, a tubing park, and a kid's art program. If they can stay awake long enough, everyone can enjoy some of the best s'mores west of the Mississippi.”
You can learn more about visiting Deer Valley Resort here.
If you’ve seen a ski movie in the past 15 years, chances are you’ve seen the stunning Grand Tetons and neck-deep powder at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Not just for the big screen, a vacation here really is just like the movies. Starting this year, two gondolas will be operating out of the base area and the recently updated, bigger tram will work to get you on the hill faster. Additional updated lifts means that formerly hike-to terrain is now accessible by chairlift, bringing more powder for all.
According to Ski.com Mountain Vacation specialist Laurel Ann, “staying in town just means you may be late to the powder day in the morning.” She suggests rolling out of bed at the Teton Mountain Lodge located slopeside in Teton Village, grabbing a quick breakfast and heading straight to the Tram Line. At the end of the day, after skiing thousands of tram-accessed vertical feet, one of the most popular après joints, The Spur, serves up a gourmet take on Poutine, guaranteed to rejuvenate your burning quads. And the best part, according to Ann, “your room at Teton Mountain Lodge is right upstairs!”
You can learn more about visiting Jackson Hole Mountain Resort here.
“The beauty of Park City, UT,” according to Ski.com Mountain Vacation Specialist Leo Dunn, “is you can be strapping in and on a chairlift within an hour of landing at the airport. The resort lies a mere 45 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport and flights are priced friendly compared to other destination resorts.”
Once at the mountain, Dunn recommends the Caledonian hotel as a central location to explore the mountain and town. “For mountain access, just walk outside and hop on the Town Lift. Before you know it, you’ll be standing at the top of Jupiter Bowl and dropping in to some of the best stashes the Wasatch Mountains have to offer,” says Dunn. With the latest addition of Canyons Resort, Park City Mountain now has an additional 4,000 acres of new terrain to explore, making it the largest single ski area in the United States.
The aptly named “Quit’N Time” run takes you back down to the Caledonian. Here, enjoy a soak in the private hot tub, and check out Dunn’s favorite après spot in Park City, the High West Distillery and Saloon. “It’s a throwback to the Old West and offers the best spirits around,” Dunn says.
You can learn more about visiting Park City, Utah here.
Chamonix, according to Ski.com Vacation Specialist, Katie Morlind, has something for everyone. The five amazing ski areas cater to beginners through experts, and the spectacular world-renowned off-piste Valle Blanche (which requires a guide) offers varied terrain from above treeline to tree skiing, steeps, and gentle slopes.
“In Chamonix there are over 60 restaurants that come in all flavors,” says Morlind, “from outdoor cafés to Michelin Star-rated restaurants.” She suggests staying at L’Heliopic for a “fun, cool vibe and easy walking to town. The hotel offers a new modern and clean look with great service, a pool, and health spa.”
Chamonix is a “large town with an even bigger heart,” she says. Despite being thousands of miles away, Morlind has always felt at home in Chamonix, and she has always “left wanting to go back.”
“Vail is one of those bucket-list destinations for skiers and riders and for good reason,” says Ski.com Mountain Vacation Specialist, Chrissie Davis. “The iconic resort is home to seven back bowls spanning seven miles across the backside of the resort. The ski area is enormous with over 5,289 acres and four distinct base areas, which are connected by free buses and heated walkways.”
Davis recommends staying at the Manor Lodge Vail because it’s a property that “has it all” and “will not disappoint.” This full service hotel offers condo-style residences ranging in size, but all equipped with a full kitchen, fireplace, spacious living area and a private patio or balcony with views. “But rest assured, you won’t have to cook on your vacation. Included in your room rate is an amazing daily breakfast buffet complete with egg station, sides, pastries and breads, fruit, juice, coffee, tea, and more. For après-ski and dinner, The Fitz Bar & Restaurant serves up elevated comfort food and a wide selection of Colorado cocktails and draft beers. Don’t forget to relax in one of the two outdoor heated swimming pools, four hot tubs, sauna, or steam room.”
The location of the Manor Lodge Vail is also ideal. A short two-minute walk puts you on the slopes at Golden Peak, one of the fastest ways to access Vail’s legendary back bowls. Starting your day here means getting to the fresh powder first.
You can learn more about visiting Vail, Colorado here.
If you’re searching for a ski vacation that gives you the most bang for your buck and serves up the most fun, look no further than Breckenridge. “A real ski town with world class skiing that won’t break the bank,” Breckenridge has a fascinating mining history and today is host to one of the most iconic ski resorts in the country with five peaks of the Ten Mile Range to explore. With so many activities on and off the mountain, Ski.com Mountain Vacation Specialist Darin Smith says “if you’re bored in Breck, you’ll probably be bored anywhere.” Adding, “people come to Breck to have a great vacation and that’s why they keep coming back time and time again.”
Smith recommends ski-in and ski-out One Ski Hill Place at the base of Peak 8 as the ideal place to stay in Breckenridge, and the “center of the dartboard where all the action is in the most raucous ski town in the country.” Located at the top of the gondola and just a short ride from Main Street, One Ski Hill offers easy access to the mountain and nightlife. From here you can easily explore the highest lift in the country, the Imperial Lift, or dine in town at one of the many fine-dining or dive bar locations.
Other features to mention are the on-site spa, the bowling alley right on the property, two pools, hot tubs, and a fire pit. The T-Bar, according to Smith, “is the perfect sunny après beer locale and a great place to get the ball rolling before heading down to Main Street.”
You can learn more about visiting Breckenridge, Colorado here.
Located in the stunning Colorado San Juan Mountains surrounded by 14,000-ft peaks, Telluride offers “some of the best views in North America,” says Ski.com Mountain Vacation Specialist Matt Danitz. According to Danitz, “the skiing, dining, nightlife, and views make it the best ski town in America. Long, steep runs get your quads burning and the lack of crowds ensure that you can ski run after run all day long.”
Danitz recommends not renting a car, and instead staying in the Mountain Village at the Mountain Lodge at Telluride. Located slightly off the beaten path, he suggests taking the free gondola or free shuttle service into town. “This property offers great amenities and great ski-in, ski-out access off of the Village Bypass ski run.”
You can learn more about visiting Telluride, Colorado here.
Courchevel, according to Ski.com Mountain Vacation Specialist Anthony Luczkow, is the ideal ski resort for any vacation for several reasons, but first and foremost is the size. According to Anthony, “you have direct access to the largest amount of lift-accessed terrain in the world—a huge amount of terrain for every ability level. Once there, you can ski into Meribel and even Val Thorens, each of which features seemingly endless amounts of both high alpine and treeline terrain.” Luczkow skied there as hard as he could for six days and “might have touched 3% of the terrain accessed by the lifts.”
With excellent grooming, attention to detail, and high level of service from everyone from lift attendants and ski instructors to on-mountain dining servers, “the resort is often compared to resorts like Deer Valley in North America.”
Accommodations are as ubiquitous as ski terrain, but Luczkow recommends staying at the five-star L’Apogee, a mountain contemporary hotel. “L’Apogee features every amenity imaginable and a level of service that is hard to match and almost impossible to beat. All of their facilities are on par with the best boutique hotels in the world and the area offers amazing and varied dining options as well.” Luczkow is still upset he never got to check out the sushi restaurant. If traveling with little ones, the kids’ room also has many activities to keep children entertained during your stay.
You can learn more about visiting Courchevel, France here.
Whistler is the perfect vacation resort for any skier. As Michelle Otero, Ski.com Mountain Vacation Specialist points out, “the U.S. dollar is currently strong, allowing for a great exchange rate with the Canadian dollar and providing good savings for the U.S. traveler.” The mountain has more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain with a great mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced options for all levels of skiers. Otero recommends the beautiful glass-bottom PEAK-2-PEAK Gondolas, which give skiers and non-skiers alike a bird’s eye view of the village and surrounding forests while traveling between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
“Stay in the amazing Whistler Village at the Westin,” she suggests. With a ski shop on site, kitchens, and fireplaces in every suite, an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub, full spa service, and on-site dining, you won’t have to go far for any amenity. If you’re traveling with children, the Westin offers daycare on site and ski school is located just outside the lodge. The Westin is also pet-friendly!
You can learn more about visiting Whistler, Canada here.