Ski Vacations: A Guide to Finding the Perfect Slope
From the winding back-country runs at Whistler to scenic slopes in Geneva and Santa Fe, we explore the world’s best destinations for a winter getaway.
Whether you’re more apt to tackle a double diamond or meander at the bottom of the bunny slope, these six ski vacations around the world are perfect ways to embrace the cold this winter. Use these insider tips to take on the best of the runs in four mountain destinations in North America,
A run for everyone in Vail, Colorado
With nearly half of its 193 manicured trails gently winding between pine forests or down un-hurried bowls, Vail has a wide variety of scenic runs suitable for skiers of all skill levels. While less challenging descents are available for those looking for a gentle back-country experience, advanced skiers must tackle Vail’s infamous Back Bowls, or test their mettle on Vail’s longest run, the 4-mile-long (6.5-kilometre) Riva Ridge. Just take care at its steepest section, known for good reason as the “Tourist Trap.”
Set just at the base of Vail Mountain, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail is conveniently situated for its guests to experience the best of the Colorado Rockies.
Perfect for families
As Matt Wilson, Concierge at the Resort, says: “Families should consider Adventure Sessions, an offering that’s unique to Vail.” In this ski school, similarly skilled skiers get to skip long chairlift lines, learn new skills and explore trails together. Afterwards, take a family sleigh ride up Beaver Creek Mountain for a memorable dinner in a cosy log cabin.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences VailBook Now
Snow and sea collide near Beirut, Lebanon
Though you may not think of snowy terrain as being part of the Middle Eastern landscape, there are actually six ski resorts located within a few hours’ drive of Four Seasons Hotel Beirut. Views from their summits might include the Mediterranean Sea, or the ancient Roman ruins in historic Bekaa Valley. Mzaar Kfardebian, the Middle East’s largest resort with 42 trails, observes ski season from January to April. On a clear day, you can glimpse the minarets of Beirut’s mosques from the 2,500-metre (8,087-foot) peak of Mzaar.
The Cedars, a historic resort nestled in the country’s ancient cedar forest just 130 kilometres (81 miles) north of Beirut, is ideal for nature lovers wishing to explore scenic terrain on cross-country skis.
To warm up
If you’ve had your fill of skiing, you can scuba-dive, watch from a yacht as the sun sinks into the ocean, or grab a rare Scotch or cocktail at The Bar, all while surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and the sea.
Four Seasons Hotel BeirutBook Now
Legendary terrain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
With 90 percent of its 133 named trails designated expert, advanced or intermediate, Jackson Hole demands respect from the world’s best skiers. Framed by the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort combines 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) of ski terrain. From Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole, at the base of the slopes in Teton Village, skiers look up to Rendezvous and Après Vous mountains.
Book a back-country guide from the Base Camp Ski Concierge to explore some of Jackson’s legendary terrain, like Cheyenne Bowl, Granite Canyon and Corbet’s Couloir.
Hope Maloney, Chef Concierge at the Resort, suggests ending a day on the slopes with a scenic dogsled tour or an evening of stargazing in Great Teton National Park. “Visitors find themselves marvelling at the night sky in Jackson Hole,” she says, “and our Resort boasts a staff astronomer, who offers private viewing sessions combined with a sunset dinner.”
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson HoleBook Now
The best of the back country in Whistler, British Columbia
Set in the heart of Whistler, home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler places some of Canada’s best back-country runs in your backyard. In addition to Whistler Blackcomb’s snowy playground, consisting of 200 ski trails, 16 powder bowls and three glaciers, you’ll find an engaging, family-friendly town to explore.
Learn to ski powder with Extremely Canadian, Whistler’s expert back-country guides, on the gentle slopes around Emerald Express and Symphony Amphitheatre before tackling signature runs like Couloir Extreme and West Cirque.
Worthy of an afternoon off the slopes
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, within walking distance from the Resort, is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history and culture of local First Nations with interactive exhibitions, live demonstrations, guided forest walks and a craft area.
For the kids
Kids are in their element here, with three outdoor hot tubs, a heated outdoor pool, daily s’mores by the fire pit, and fun-packed ski lessons.
Swap s’mores for Sauvignon with the daily wine tasting before enjoying a succulent dinner at SIDECUT Modern Steak + Bar restaurant.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences WhistlerBook Now
Gateway to the Alps: Geneva, Switzerland
Set on the shores of Lac Léman and ringed by snowcapped mountains, Geneva is your portal to the Alps, with a host of Swiss and French ski resorts on the doorstep.
For awe-inspiring views of the surrounding glaciers and ragged peaks, visit the iconic resort of Chamonix at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps. It’s just a one-hour drive from Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva. Ski the 20-kilometre-long (12.5-mile) Vallée Blanche – the world’s longest off-piste trail – in France before celebrating back in Switzerland at Il Lago restaurant with North Italian cuisine and Swiss wines.
Ride a cable car to the precipitous top of Aiguille du Midi on Mont Blanc for panoramic views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, or experience the best of Lake Geneva by hopping on a boat for the Beautiful Shores of Geneva tour, which runs year round.
Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues GenevaBook Now
Sunshine and snow in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Boasting an annual average of 300 inches (7.6 metres) of snow and 300 days of sunshine, the snowcapped mountains of New Mexico are home to nine ski resorts and some of the most untamed chutes and bowls in North America.
From the more expansive Taos, with 1,294 acres (524 hectares) of fabled terrain, to the more intimate 27-acre (11-hectare) Cloudcroft, the southwestern state offers a wide variety of options for skiers. Just 20 minutes from family-friendly Ski Santa Fe and about an hour away from Taos Ski Valley, known for its steep chutes and dry, powdery snow, Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe is the ideal base from which to explore this expansive ski scene.
Ask the Ski Concierge to arrange a guide to take you down Taos’ side-country run, Big Tesuque (aka “Big T”), which snakes through forests along old park service roads.
The Chipmunk Corner Center ski school at Ski Santa Fe offers child care for kids ages 3–11, allowing you to hit the slopes while your children learn how to ski on kids-only trails. The centre has a nursery, too, for children ages 3 months to 3 years.