Ski season is upon us, so for all you snow-loving globetrotters wondering where to get your kicks this winter look no further than our list of the Top Ten Best Ski Resorts In The World. What makes a kick-ass ski resort anyway? Waist deep powder, blue-bird skies and face shots for days. Add a charming mountain town steeped in history and you pretty much have it. From the Southern Hemisphere to Northern Japan, here’s our round up of the Top Ten Best Ski Resorts In The World.
TOP TEN BEST SKI RESORTS IN THE WORLD
Niseko, Japan – Best For: Powder Fiends & Sake Aficionados
Some of the fluffiest powder known to man falls on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Thanks to a near-constant storm cycle pumping out of neighboring Siberia, the mountains here receive a jaw-dropping 590 inches of snow a year. That means Niseko rarely doesn’t have a powder day, which leaves its abundant, lightly skied and Aspen-filled off-piste terrain the stuff of dreams! Four interconnected resorts surround Mount Niseko Annupuri, and are all skiable with one handy lift ticket. Niseko itself features a laid-back, surfing-town vibe with dozens of onsen hot springs to help ease those aching after-ski muscles.
Chamonix, France – Best For: “Steep And Deep” Thrill Seekers
Known as the birthplace of extreme skiing, Chamonix sits in the shadow of Mont Blanc, and offers some of the worlds premier lift-accessed steep terrain. Famed for its spirited nightlife, make no mistake, it’s the mountains that rule here. High-speed lift and cable car systems access 11 skiable zones. But with more crevasses than any other ski area in Europe, those who love life should hire a local guide before heading out of bounds.
Treble Cone, New Zealand – Best For: Northern Hemisphere Winter Junkies
Treble Cone offers more skiable terrain than any other South Island resort you can shake a stick at. With the entire area above tree line, it offers intermediate skiers an array of steep groomers, but options are somewhat limited for newbies. Almost half the runs are rated expert, but for the more daring it’s the collection of wide-open bowls, chutes and ridges that will really get your pulse racing.
Girdwood, Alaska – Best For: Glamour-Adverse Outdoorsmen
40 miles south of Anchorage, Carhartts are mandatory and most roads unpaved here, so if crowds and fashion aren’t your thing this is your kind of place! Surrounded by the imposing Chugach Mountains, Aleyska Resort has the largest terrain in the State. If you’re not afraid of a little in-bound hike, the ridges near Alyeska peak offer a stash of steep chutes. For those with a healthy bank balance, heli- and cat-skiing is also available.
Portillo, Chile — Best For: Boutique Resort Experience
High amidst the Andes, a 100 miles northeast of Santiago, sits world-renowned Chilean ski resort, Portillo. It became the first South American resort to host the World Skiing Championships in 1966 and has been on the map ever since. Typically short, intense snowstorms are followed by bluebird powder days when the spectacular vistas can be fully appreciated – Aconcagua, the highest mountain on the continent can be seen nearby.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy – Best For: Après Ski & People-Watching
Located in the Veneto region of Northern Italy Cortina d’Ampezzo has been a winter sports mecca since the 1930′s. The slopes are popular with up-market visitors from Rome and Milan, many of whom enjoy shopping, people-watching and lunching as much as the odd leisurely excursion onto the hill. Bond fans might be excited to learn the resort was a major location in 1981 for 007′s For Your Eyes Only.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming — Best For: Steep & Challenging Terrain
With a reputation for challenging, vertical terrain, Jackson Hole attracts local, and international, hard-core snow enthusiasts in droves. Located in the shadow of the Grand Tetons, Jackson has some the most challenging (read FUN) inbounds terrain in North America. Even the cat tracks here are marked intermediate, not because they’re steep, but because of where you’ll potentially end up if you come off one. When a sign at Jackson Hole says ‘cliff’ it means it!
Zermatt, Switzerland – Best For: Mountaineers & Alpine Enthusiasts
Frequently ranked as Switzerland’s top resort, Zermatt is amazingly picturesque and remarkably peaceful, thanks to the towns car-free policy. Its cobbled streets and horse-drawn sleighs are dominated by views of the Matterhorn, which at 14,692 ft is one of the tallest in the Alps. The terrain here at Switerlands’ most southerly resort consists of long, well-groomed fast carving trails, mogul runs and plentiful tree skiing.
Banff, Canada – Best For: Monster Moguls
Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff skiing is world famous, and ranks as one of the most scenic mountain resorts in North America. There isn’t a Banff ski resort per se, instead there are three ski areas within the majestic National Park - Mount Norquay/Mystic Ridge, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise – all accessible on an interchangeable, tri-area lift ticket.
Kitzbuhel, Austria – Best For: 800-year Old Charm
The medieval town of Kitzbuhel is the most famous holiday resort in the Austrian Tyrol – people have been skiing here since of 1892! Otherwise known as the “Pearl of the Alps” its cobbled roads and quaint buildings bustle with restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges, and are just as popular with visitors as the skiing. The town of Kitzbühel is surrounded by 3 major ski areas: the Jochberg Pass Turn, the Kitzbüheler Horn and the Hahnenkamm, the namesake of a premier World Cup downhill course.
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