The Seven Best Alternative Ski Resorts to Hit this Winter

From a smattering of new boutique hotels in the Dolomites to powder hunting in Uzbekistan, here’s what you’re missing.

of the cultural sort can sometimes be overlooked when
it comes to skiing, with reliable snowfall and a strong apres scene
taking priority. If you venture further than the Three Valleys,
however, untouched slopes and non-existent lift queues await in all
sorts of unlikely places. What’s more, you can sub out the gluhwein
for biodynamic Georgian
wine, Japanese
Scottish whisky
or some rich Italian
hot chocolate. From a smattering of new boutique hotels in the
to powder hunting in Uzbekistan,
here’s what you’re missing.

Off piste: our favourite alternative ski resorts this



Georgia might just be Europe’s best kept secret when it comes to
skiing. More than half of the country is covered by the Caucasus
mountain range, for a start, making it a haven for cross-country
skiers wanting to cover serious distance. Then factor in the
incredibly high altitude, mile upon mile of snowy terrain, and
non-existent lift-queues. To get a feel for the country, head to
Gudauri, the country’s most popular resort and home to a handful of
boutique hotels and fine Georgian restaurants. For the truly
adventurous, the valley of Svaneti is a UNESCO World Heritage with
a couple of charming yet remote ski villages. In both areas, lift
passes cost a fraction of the Alps – often not more than £10 a

Stay: Gudauri Lodge


The Dolomites

Sub out tartiflette for pumpkin ravioli (a local speciality
known as Casunziei), and cheese fondue for hearty slices of polenta
with game ragu: a skiing holiday to the Dolomites is a must for
those hankering after a taste of northern Italy. Technically part
of the Alps, the Italian mountains have a strong identity of their
own, while also offering some of Europe’s best and longest slopes.
Pinzolo is in the region of Trentino, with access to over 150km
slopes with a single pass, and is a good place to start. Oh, and
did we mention the thick, creamy Italian hot chocolates?

Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti



If skiing in Scotland makes you think of lugging skis up a hill
for an hour to enjoy 2 minutes of slushy skiing, you’re not alone.
What British skiing lacks in snowfall though, it more than makes up
for in other activities: Blair Castle, Balmoral, rock climbing and
archery are all on the cards. Glenshee is Scotland’s largest area
for skiing and snowboarding and your best bet if you want some
actual skiing, with 8km of pistes, and snow machines on hand for
warmer winters. You’ll also find gorgeous mountain lodges and
hotels such as The Fife Arms, which in itself is worth the trip
(there’s a casual Picasso hanging on the walls!). Nearby, Braemar
Mountain Sports have cabins, a shop and restaurant.

Stay: The
Fife Arms



If you can hack the Russian signposts and lack of familiar
amenities, you’re in for a treat with Uzbekistan’s first official
ski resort. Following a multi-million pound investment, Amirsoy
opened to much excitement in 2019, with a shiny new gondola,
chalets, hotels and 900 hectares of terrain to explore. Lift
passes, gourmet food and even heli-skiing are seriously affordable,
and the sense of adventure is palpable for their first proper
season. It’s an hour’s drive from Tashkent, which has regular
international flights.

Stay: Le Chalet by
Amirsoy Hotel



Dubbed ‘Tenjin’ by the locals, this tiny Japanese resort is
known for serious amounts of snowfall and world-class powder, while
only being a couple of hours from Tokyo. There are only a few runs
in the actual resort; the reason people really come here is for the
backcountry, a freeriding paradise of deep powder and open valleys.
Tenjindaira also has one of Japan’s longest ski seasons, running
from late November to early May. A short drive down the mountain,
you’ll find Takaragawa Onsen, one of the largest outdoor hot
springs in Japan.

Stay: Tenjin

St Martin de Belleville


Okay, it’s in the Alps, but you won’t find any Meribel or Val
d’Isere-goers on the slopes of St Martin de Belleville. Agreed to
be the prettiest resort in the Three Valleys, it’s a traditional
Savoyard village which *just so happens* to be located on the edge
of the biggest ski area in the world. Access to the pistes is
better than ever thanks to the installation of a brand-new gondola
in 2020, meaning St Martin ticks the boxes for pounding the slopes
as well as just looking picturesque.

Stay: La



A Norwegian secret with a fascinating history, word is only just
getting out about this remote mountainous region. There’s a railway
running to the top of the mountain dating back to the Second World
War, and 45km of peaceful slopes to wind your way down. A lack of
smart hotels is part of the appeal, with only a smattering of
lodges and one small guesthouse. A little more mainstream,
Myrkdalen resort on the north west coast of Norway has wide open
valleys and easier accessibility. The latter is one of the most
snow-sure resorts in Europe, making it a good option for early
season or later on in April. 62ºNORD can arrange trips for those
wishing to get under the skin of Norwegian, with activities like
deep sea rafting also on offer.

Gaustablikk Høyfjellshotell

ski chalet roofs in sers chevalier

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