Been to Val d’Isere? Had enough of Chamonix? Or maybe you just don’t want to spend a fortune on the slopes this year. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced skier, if you’re looking for an alternative ski trip, check out this pick of destinations all over the world. From vampires to soldiers, Northern Lights to monkeys, these ski resorts all have something out of the ordinary to make your winter getaway one to remember…
1. Hakuba Valley, Japan
Once part of the Salt Road, Hakuba is a village at the centre of 10 ski resorts around the Northern Japan Alps. Home to the Winter Olympics in 1998, and you can see why: towering peaks, over 200 runs and excellent dining options – as always in Japan. When you’re not swishing down the side of a mountain, head to Jigokudani Monkey Park nearby. Here you’ll encounter the enchanting snow monkeys that spend their days at leisure, bathing in the hot springs – alright for some.
2. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
When you think about booking a ski holiday, you may not initially think of the morman capital of the US, but the resorts come with affordable prices, good facilities and convenient locations. Salt Lake Park & City have seven resorts, all within an hour of the airport. Activities include skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, helicopter skiing, tubing, ice-skating, sleigh rides and hot air ballooning. And when you’re not doing snow related stuff, you can head into the vibrant university town for entertainment.
3. Lyngen Alps, Norway
If you’re travelling from the UK, the Lygen Alps is your closest stop for a ski fix. Spend one day skiing on the peninsula and surrounding islands, and the next fishing in the fjords. Picturesque Lyngen Lodge offers spectacular views of the mountains, as well as a range of alternative winter activities, including dog sledging and glacier walking. Visit between January and February and you also get to see the Aurora Borealis Northern Lights – a sight not to be missed.
4. Oukaimeden, Morocco
When you’re thinking of booking flights to Morocco you think of heat, colour and Sahara, but skiing? Yes, the snowcapped Atlas mountains may not offer the swankiest resort in the world, but it’s certainly a different experience. For one, it’s much cheaper than the French Alps, and so untouristy that visitors usually stay in the surrounding villages before being guided to the slopes by donkeys. When you’re not skiing or snowboarding, you can spend your time trying to spot ancient etchings in the sandstone trails.
5. Transylvania, Romania
Dracula must have been an excellent skier because his home land of Transylvania is full of top-notch resorts. The most popular is Poiana Brasov, but it is still relatively inexpensive in comparison with resorts in France and Italy. Lying at the bottom of the Postavaru Massif, it’s snow layer lasts 120 days a year. There are plenty of good quality restuarants and hotels, such as House of Dracula. Featuring gothic architecture worthy of the vampire count himself, you can also get a facial in the hotel spa.
6. Innsbruck, Austria
Why not combine a city break with a ski trip? There’s a reason why Innsbruck hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics: it’s a fabulous city nestled in a valley between the Nordkette, Patscherkofel and Serles high mountains. Be dazzled by sights like the Golden Roof and Ambras Castle, before heading out to the piste on the afternoon. Glaciated terrain in Stubai Valley means you can even ski in the summer months.
7. Gulmarg, Kashmir
Formerly a favourite summer holiday destinations for Brits stationed in India, Gulmarg is now a popular ski resort. Nestled within the awe-inspiring Himilayan peaks between Kashmir and Pakistan, the area is guarded by soldiers. But this doesn’t worry winter sports enthusiasts who flock here for the relatively unpopulated powdery terrain. Ungroomed runs, pony rides and monkeys make this skiing at its wildest.
Have you been to any of these destinations? Or perhaps you know an alternative resort we’ve missed? Let us know…