Think of skiing and a resort with traditional Alpine chalets may come to mind, or you might see more of the canyon scenery of Colorado. Does the USA have the top places to ski or is it Europe for you? They both offer superb skiing opportunities and surrounding areas to visit, plus they’re packed with top of the range facilities and have a fantastic atmosphere that makes visitors come back time and time again.
For me, it has to be Europe. My all-time favourite is Val d’Isère in France. It’s a huge resort as it also neighbours Tignes, so I’m never short of things to do on my skiing holiday. I can ski the 3000 metre terrain, which has a flurry of snow from the Mediterranean, but I can also join in the après ski fun at the many cafes, bars, and restaurants that line the route. In particular, Dick’s Tea Bar is a favourite. It’s a bar that has lovely drinks and nibbles and then turns into a late night venue with a DJ.
Val d’Isère is great for my friends and me, as we like to sample a little bit of everything, but with its ice skating rink, tobogganing area, water and leisure centre, and spa, it is suitable for people of all ages and circumstances. The town centre is a worth a visit too with a Monday market as well as designer shops.
I’ve always used Ski Bonjour for finding a chalet in Val d’Isère. Bonjour-Bivouac has been my favourite so far. It’s only 40 metres away from the slopes so I can hop straight on when I’m up and ready in the morning! And for a little bit of luxury, it has a sauna and chef to make my holiday experience totally relaxing. I’ve also stayed at Bonjour-Palmyre. This was similar to Bonjour-Bivouac but also had its own cinema room and is really close to my aforementioned favourite, Dick’s Tea Bar.
But I have heard that the US can rival Val d’Isère. One of my good friends regularly goes to Sugarloaf in Maine. This has recently been improved with over $5 million of investments but she has always enjoyed skiing there, even before the improvements. Although Katie has her own favorite hotel that she is loyal to, Sugarloaf is full of motels, bed and breakfasts, and cottages available for rent. Passing the day away by skiing the 138 trails and exploring the ski town sounds like paradise to me. She also headed out West to Colorado Springs to get a completely different view. As well as experiencing the fantastic skiing in the mountains, she spent some of her time seeing the area, including visiting Old Colorado City.
I’d love to join her one day so that I can experience skiing in a completely new area. I’ve seen that new ski resorts are opening in places such as India, China and Japan too, which would be another different experience!
So where is your preferred skiing destination? Are you open to new places or do you have a firm favourite that your return to for every holiday? And most importantly, would you cross the pond from your best location?
There are few things more gorgeous than fresh snowfall that has yet to be broken by tracks or the twinkling of a thousand stars on a cold, cloudless night. And nothing is more fun in this winter wonderland then gliding down a mountain slope on skies or tearing across the fresh snow on a snowmobile.
Before beginning to traveling the farthest corners of the globe I started in my own backyard and few states impressed me as much as Montana during the winter. Not only is it gorgeous but it's also a playground for grown-ups, a chance to once again feel like a carefree kid with no responsibilities. It is also an amazing family destination because it is fun for all ages.
Two years ago while passing through Montana I had my first experience with winter glamping and no other glamping experience since has come close. It's hard to even convey how amazing it is to spend the day outside, bundled up against the low temperatures and frolicking around like a kid, only to come inside from the cold and instantly be transported to warm, safe haven where a nice glass of German Riesling and a warm fire await.
Glamping is still a relatively new vacation option yet it is one that has quickly become popular in many countries around the world. It is, as the name suggests, glamorous camping and no other form of camping compares. Imagine a tent, yurt or other semi-permanent structure that is so elaborately furnished and stocked with modern technological conveniences that it is hard to even believe it isn't a luxurious cabin. Now that is glamping.
Arguably the most popular of all winter spots, Montana is well-known for it's amazing skiing. What the states lacks in population it makes up for in mountains and they come alive during the cool weather months. Whether beginner or expert there is something for everyone in this great state.
Picture a pristine frozen lake...and now imagine you whisking across it on skates, spelling out your name in cursive letters or doing figure eights. Ice-skating is my favorite of all winter sports and as most of you know how clumsy I am, it should go without saying that I don't injure myself nearly as much on the ice as I do while skiing.
Whether you prefer hitting the snow on a gasoline powered beast of a machine or comfortably sailing across it on a horse-drawn sleigh, both offer a relaxing and refreshing way to enjoy the winter wonderland.
Of course there are plenty of other winter activities to partake in, especially if you stay somewhere that will cater to your every whim, such as The Ranch at Rock Creek. This includes winter paintballing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, sledding for the kids and pistol or rifle shooting for the adults.
Tempted to try glamping, either as a family or as a romantic getaway for two? The Ranch has you covered! Of course if you still are not sold on that idea, they also have private log homes and a more traditional iconic lodge. Whichever you decide just know that the possibilities for wintertime fun are endless. This year make your winter vacation an unforgettable one at The Ranch at Rock Creek!
The many attractions of Switzerland make it an excellent destination for a European adventure. From the majestic beauty of mountain landscapes to the cultural attractions of some historic cities, there is much for visitors to enjoy on a trip to this landlocked country. Aside from the usual Swiss highlights, there are plenty of other things to see and do and the following are some to consider.
Switzerland has long been a popular destination for winter sports and there are plenty of resorts offering catered ski chalet holidays. This type of vacation provides access to the slopes and the opportunity to take in some impressive alpine scenery of snow covered peaks and valleys. While many holidaymakers enjoy racing down a prepared or off-piste slope, others prefer cross-country skiing and for these the Engadin Skimarathon is something to consider. This annual cross-country race is open to anyone over the age of 16, with up to 13,000 competitors taking part each year. The full distance covers some 42km although there is also a half-marathon that runs to 21km. For the adventurous that want to take part, it can be an incredible Swiss experience and one they will certainly remember.
A less energetic way for all the family to enjoy some winter scenery is on offer at La Tzoumaz resort in the Alps. It has one of the longest toboggan runs in Switzerland, which stretches out to around 10km in length. Access to the top of the run at Savoleyres is by cable car and from there it is an 820m drop all the way back down to the resort. This allows riders to build up some speed as they slide to make it an exhilarating experience for children and adults.
Lucerne is a popular destination in Switzerland and the Jailhotel in the city offers a unique way to stay there. The historic building was originally constructed in the mid 1800s and served as a prison for many years before being converted to a hotel in the 1990s. It retains many of the original features and visitors can get a feel for what prison life was really like as they spend the night on bunk-beds in a barred cell. There are also larger Governor and Library rooms on offer and as it is a budget hotel, it has some of the most affordable prices for accommodation in Lucerne.
The Ballenberg Open-Air Museum is situated on Lake Brienz and offers the chance to stroll through some Swiss history. Around one hundred traditional buildings from across Switzerland have been brought to the museum and reconstructed in all their glory. This includes homes, schools, farm buildings, and other architectural gems. The museum also provides demonstrations of traditional Swiss crafts and food making, as well as having a farmyard display of over 200 animals and garden areas growing local plants, herbs, and flowers.
Switzerland is a beautiful country, with scenery and attractions that ensure anyone will have an enjoyable time on a trip. Those that choose it for a vacation should consider trying some of the activities shown above. They offer a more unusual experience, but are certainly worth the effort for a truly fun Swiss adventure.
Nothing says winter quite like a proper snowfall, so make it your mission to experience it properly. Instead of a mild winter with plenty of grey skies and rain showers, you could be having fun in the snow, making memories and trying something new. That’s what Andermatt in Switzerland has to offer you; it truly is an alpine playground!
So how do you actually get to Andermatt, and what is there to do when you arrive? Here are a few hints and tips to start your planning process...
The closest airport to Andermatt is in Zurich, 125 kilometres away; by car it should take you around 90 minutes, but if you prefer to get the train you can relax on your 2.5 hour journey. Then again, if it is easier for you to fly into Milan (MXP) the drive is still only a reasonable two hours. When you consider how much you’ll be able to do on your trip, the drive becomes a lot more appealing! Also, it’s a great time to look at the scenery as you make your way to the resort.
When you get to Andermatt, you’ll want somewhere to put your bags and rest your head. There are some excellent places popping up, but The Chedi Andermatt looks especially nice...a perfect way to enjoy a little slice of Swiss luxury. Places like this stay true to the alpine playground description; it has a ski-in living room and a spa and wellness centre with hydrothermal facilities, that can help to get rid of those aches and pains from the piste!
Once you’ve arrived and had a chance to recover from your journey, it’s time to explore the good stuff. There is guaranteed snowfall in Andermatt, so skiing and snowboarding is the order of the day. You can go almost 3,000 metres high up Gemsstock Mountain in cables cars before you come down again with gravity! Beginners might prefer the Gurschenalp and Nätschen Mountain...
It’s worth keeping in mind that the temperatures in Andermatt are between -5ºC and -10ºC in the winter months; it’s a very good idea to bring your winter woolies with you. The cold can often deceive skiers who believe they’re getting hot; your skin will be exposed to the chill if you take off your layers so avoid doing this to protect yourself against frostbite!