Ski Destinations for All Levels (From Noob to Expert)
We picked the brains of founder of The Ski Week, Leo Alsved, to get the resort recommendation to suit your ski level, as well as plenty of insider restaurant and bar picks.
06 November, 2016
If you've ever had your friends swish past you on their skis making snarky comments about your general ineptitude, or been on the other side of the coin helping idiots into their boots and side-stepping back up the mountain because they're 'stuck', then this guide will help you choose an ideal ski resort for your level. And who better to ask than Leo Alsved, founder of The Ski Week.
Most ski resorts have some form of beginner's area for those just learning the sport. Les Trois Vallées (The Three Valleys) in France is a safe bet for those just starting out. Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens all have big beginner areas and easy runs to all the villages. In Courchevel, stay at Le Seizena, which has an aviation-theme and is near the gondola. It also has insane views over the town and down into the valley. If you fancy some delicious food and great atmosphere then head to the beautiful Portetta for dinner. Brilliant menu and fantastic cocktails.
Saas Fee, which is in the Swiss Alps near the Italian border, is also good for beginners. Hotel Bristol is reasonably priced and right next to the nursery slopes so you can be out improving your technique first thing in the morning. If you don't want to stay in a hotel check out Chalet Feekatz - it has six rooms and is a ten-minute walk from the centre.
If you're an intermediate skier you can probably ski in most places, certainly in Europe. If you're looking for some good skiing with a large selection of red and blue runs and a similar number of bars and restaurants then Verbier is the place. As part of Les Quatre vallées (Four Valleys) and with 412km of downhill pistes it's impossible to get bored.
Verbier also offers loads of other stuff for those who aren't as into skiing or snowboarding. There are awesome walks and hikes and nighttime tobogganing down from one of the restaurants on the mountain is a must. For some great Alpine food and good atmosphere head to Le Caveau restaurant in the main town. Verbier is expensive so if you are willing to fork out then stay at Central Hotel which has fabulous modern rooms and is home to the popular TBar downstairs where they play live music.
Samoens, in the French Alps, is great fun and good for intermediate skiers. They have loads of things to do along with skiing. I would recommend staying at Hotel Les Glaciers. It's close to the town centre and has a decent restaurant in the hotel.
Chamonix is a great location for advanced skiers and also where we run The Ski Week. As another resort that is part of the Four Valleys it is one of our largest destinations in terms of ski mileage and makes for a truly epic trip. This season we took over the whole of Pointe Isabelle Hotel. Being able to ski over to Courmayeur, in Italy, is also a great experience. For after hours, Chambre Neuf has a great live cover band and is the most popular après ski bar you'll find in the Alps.
Japan has to be the place to go if you want to ski the best powder in the world. These spectacular mountains will challenge you, but it's definitely worth it. We actually launched The Ski Week in Hakuba last year with an exploratory group and the trip was a massive success. I can tell you from experience that the rumours of the mythical deep powder are definitely true. Niseko is the other go-to destination in Japan. If you do get the chance to go, stay in the Ki Niseko hotel, it's amazing. Then go and eat at Rakuichi - it's a little wooden hut that will most definitely have a queue outside at midday. The food is traditional Japanese and seriously delicious.
Avoriaz, which is part of Portes du Soleil in the French Alps, is a great resort with an awesome snow park for advanced skiers. Everyone moves around in horse-drawn sleighs because there aren't any roads in the winter and you can ski in and out of wherever you're staying. There are some great little places to eat in the town. I would recommend Hotel des Dromonts - it's a fun and cool hotel recently redecorated in 1960s-style with a delicious restaurant.
All these resorts offer so much and have loads of places to stay and eat, but it can be pretty expensive. Maybe I am biased but to save you all the fuss why not just come on The Ski Week and we can sort all that for you!