WHERE TO SKI AND SNOWBOARD WORLDWIDE

There is something about winter sports holidays that makes it impossible not to boost your appetite for adventure and joie de vivre. Maybe it’s the adrenaline running through your veins, the crispy fresh air, the sheer joy of freeriding or the breathtaking views. Who knows? But the one thing that all ski-lovers and snowboarders agree on is they can’t have enough of it.
For beginner or advanced skiers, with family or friends, Avantura has been searching high and low - from all-times favorite Austria, stylish France, romantic Switzerland to the celebrity-magnet Aspen Mountains in Colorado - for the perfect ski resort to match your most exquisite taste and fastidious demands.

SKIING AUSTRIA

ISCHGL GALTÜR
Pretty, lively towns with snow-sure slopes and great amenities.
Ischgl is changing fast. It is a strange mixture of pretty, traditional Tyrolean village, pricey, up market hotels and drunken, bawdy après-ski. The resort is quite trendy and attracts top-draw entertainers for open-air concerts - Elton John, Diana Ross, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart to name a few. The slopes are extensive, high, snow-sure and ideal for intermediate cruising - some of the best intermediate terrain in Austria. And the efficient lift system now boasts fourteen high-speed chair-lifts (including six-seaters and eight seater) and three gondolas.
Hotels in Ischgl: Hotel Elisabeth 4*, Hotel Madlein 4*, Hotel Trofana Royal 5*.

KITZBÜHEL KIRCHBERG
Wonderful Tyrolean town and extensive slopes.
Kitzbühel is very far from exclusive. It has its pricey, elegant hotels, but it also has a huge amount of hotel and guest-house accommodation that is more affordable - and not surprisingly attracts quite a few low-budget visitors, many of whom are young and intent on a good time. Enthusiasts enjoy its unique combination of historic town and extensive slopes.
Hotels in Kitzbühel: Grand SPA Resort A-ROSA Kitzbühel 5*, Kempinski Hotel das Tirol 5*.

SANKT ANTON AM ALBERG
Non-stop on-and-off slope action and pretty village base.
St Anton is at the foot of the road up to the Arlberg pass, at the eastern end of a lift network that spreads across to St Christoph and above the pass to Rauz and Stuben. The resort is a long, sprawling mixture of traditional and modern buildings crammed into a narrow valley.
It has also become one of the world's Meccas for ski bums. That's a reflection of the wonderful, tough off-slope runs available in the bowls below the Valluga - the best that Austria has to offer. In good snow conditions they are superb. Sadly, conditions are often less than perfect except just after a fresh snowfall, because of their south-facing aspect. But if you are lucky with the snow you'll have the time of your life. There's a lot to offer adventurous intermediates too, both locally and at Lech and Zürs, a short bus-ride away. There are lots of lively discos and bars, which keep going from 3 pm to 2 am. The resort is an ideal choice for the hard-drinking, disco-loving, keen-for-action holiday maker who can stand the pace of getting to bed late and being up for the first lift - it's not for those who like a quiet life and gentle, uncrowded slopes.
Hotels in St. Anton: Hotel Raffl´s St. Antoner Hotel 5*, Arlberg Hospiz Hotel 5*, Bergschlössl 4*.

ZÜRS
Exclusive village, high snow-sure ski resort.
Ten minutes' drive towards St. Anton from Lech, Zürs is almost on the Flexen Pass, with good snow virtually guaranteed. The village is even more exclusive than Lech, with no hotels of less 3-star standing, and a dozen 4-star and 5-star hotels around which life revolves. But the opulence is less overt here. There are few shops.
Nightlife is quiet. There's a disco in the Edelweiss hotel and a piano bar in the Alpenhof. Mathie's-Stuble and Kaminstuble are worth trying, as is Vernissage, at the Skiclub Alpenrose, which is reported to be the best nightspot in town. Serious dining means Zürserhof and the Lorunser; make sure your wallet will stand a visit before you go - credit cards are not accepted. For something cheaper try spaghetti in the basement of the Edelweiss. Zürs has its own school, but many of the instructors are booked for the entire season by regular clients, and more than 80 per cent of them are hired privately. The resort also has its own kindergarten.
Hotels in Zürs: Thurnhers Alpenhofl 5*.

SKIING FRANCE

CHAMONIX
Winter Adventure High in the Alps.
Rugged beauty, winter sports, and après-ski: all three are a part of what draws visitors to Chamonix. Avid skiers, snowboarders, and partiers flock to this popular resort, and they are not disappointed. The scenic Chamonix Valley is nestled among some of the highest mountain peaks in the Alps, including the famous Mont Blanc massif.
There are 145 trails weaving throughout the area adding up to 140 kilometers (87.5 miles). The favorite runs in the area are Le Brevent, Vallée-Blanche, and the Grands Montets. Chamonix is known for its fantastic off-trail skiing and snowboarding opportunities, as well. Including the off-trail slopes, the area offers up to 30,000 acres of skiable terrain.
Non-skiers enjoy plenty of winter activities such as snowmobiling, ice climbing (best done with a guide), ice hiking, snowshoeing, sleigh riding, and dog sledding, among others. Those who would like to do a little sightseeing in the area may want to visit the Alpine Museum and the Mont Blanc Observatory. Take an unforgettable cable car ride to the Aiguille du Midi (which rises to the elevation of 3,482 meters/11,316 feet). A red cog-wheel train climbs from Montenvers to the scenic Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) glacier.
Après-ski is an art form in Chamonix. Restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars, and even a casino fill time not spent on the slopes. Restaurants range from the Chalet le Cerro, a quaint wooden chalet serving traditional foods of the region to L'Eden which serves classic French food with a modern twist. Just a couple of the bars on a long list include Le Stone Bar, an Italian-style bar serving up fine food and wines as well as live music, and, for something different, the Cybar, an Internet café and a fun après-ski meeting place. The Casino of Chamonix is popular with both visitors and locals.
Hotels in Chamonix: Le Hameau Albert 1er 5*, Grand Hôtel Des Alpes - Chamonix-Mont-Blanc 4*.

COURCHEVEL
Gourmet skiing and boarding - luxury après-ski scene.
Courchevel 1850 - the highest of the five components of this big resort - is the favorite Alpine hangout of the Paris jet set, who fly directly in to the mini-airport in the middle of the slopes. Its top hotels and restaurants are among the best in the Alps, and the most expensive. But don't be put off: a holiday here doesn't have to cost a fortune (especially in the lower villages), the atmosphere is not particularly exclusive, and the slopes are excellent. Courchevel is the most extensive and varied sector of the whole Three Valleys, with everything from long gentle greens to steep couloirs. Many visitors never leave the Courchevel sector; but there is good access to the rest of the Three Valleys, too. Le Praz is an overgrown, but still pleasant village, La Tania and 1550 quieter and good for families, 1650 has more of an old village atmosphere than it seems from the drive through, and the posh bits of 1850 are stylishly woody. But overall the resort is no beauty. Well, nothing's perfect. Courchevel's long list of merits is enough to attract more and more international visitors, but it remains much more French than Méribel, over the hill, as well as having better snow.
Hotels in Courchevel: Hôtel de Charme Les Airelles 5*, Cheval Blanc - Palace 5*, Alpes Hotel Du Pralong 5*, Le Palace Des Neiges 5*, Amanresorts Le Melezin 5*, Le Kilimandjaro 5*, Le Lana 5*.

MEGÈVE
A rustic, traditional alpine village at the foot of Mont Blanc.
Megève is the essence of rustic chic. It has a medieval heart, but it was, in a way, the original purpose-built French ski resort - conceived in the 1920s as a French alternative to Switzerland's St. Moritz. And although Courchevel took over as France's most fashionable winter sports resort ages ago, Megève's sumptuous hotels and chalets still attract plenty of 'beautiful people' with fur coats and fat wallets. Happily, you don't need either to enjoy it. The Megève ski area boasts 300 kilometers of marked trails, served by 81 integrated lifts, (and no t-bars) offering extensive terrain for skiers of all levels. Since opening in 1913, the resort has played its part in the development of the sport of skiing and regularly hosts World Cup races. Two snow parks and a half-pipe are available for snowboarding.
The resort is served by a modern, high-speed lift system that ensures a quick ride to the top. With an average of 200cm of snow falling every year, the trails are well covered. On the occasion when Mother Nature doesn’t provide enough snow, there are more than 175 snow cannons to make extra.
Hotels in Megève: Chalet du Mont d'Arbois 5*, Flocons de Sel 4*, Mont-Blanc 4*.

SKIING ITALY

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO
Simply the world's most beautiful winter playground.
Nowhere is more picturesque than chic Cortina, the most up market of Italian resorts. Dramatic pink-tinged peaks rise sheerly from the top of the slopes, giving picture-postcard views from wherever you are. Cortina's slopes are fine for its regular up market visitors from Rome and Milan, many of whom have second homes here and enjoy the strolling, shopping, people-watching and lunching as much as the odd leisurely excursion on to the slopes. For beginners and leisurely intermediates, the splendid beginner slopes and long, easy, well-groomed runs are ideal. For keen slope-bashers, Cortina's fragmented areas can be frustrating, especially if snow is scarce and the area is fragmented even more; but the access to the Sella Ronda and other Dolomiti Super ski resorts, though time consuming, is some compensation - having a car is best for exploring. For experts, there are few tough runs, and the best of those are liable to poor snow conditions and closure because they face south.

SKIING SWITZERLAND

GSTAAD
Romantic mountain village with overlooking castle and extensive, scenic slopes.
Gstaad is the Swiss resort of fairy tales. Surrounded by Alps, the town’s most prominent feature is a picturesque castle that sits on a hill overlooking the village. At night, the Palace Hotel is lit by spotlights and the eves of every chalet in the village are illuminated by strings of small white lights. Adding to the charm of this winter marvel is that the town is car free and all destinations are a close walk away.
Gstaad is known for its luxury hotels and shopping, excellent service, and international stars, as well as being one of the largest ski areas in Europe. The town is located at the intersection of two valleys in the Bernese Oberland in the Alps. Switzerland is a multicultural nation with the two largest ethnicities being French and German speakers. The dividing line between these two distinct parts of the country is located close to Gstaad, enabling anyone spending time at the resort the opportunity to experience two cultures. A few miles to the west are Vaudois, French-speaking Alps region, and Gruyère, world famous for its cheese; to the northeast are the international resorts of Adelboden and Interlaken. There is a vast array of activities year-round to be found in Gstaad. Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular activities, and are abundant for both the novice and the advanced skier. Visitors can ski the entire Gstaad "Super Ski Region," which is comprised of some six sectors, over 70 lifts, and 150 miles (250 kilometers) of trails. In summer this ticket enables skiers access to summer skiing on the gentle Diablerets glacier.

ST. MORITZ PONTRÈSINA
Luxury living on and off the flatteringly easy ski slopes.
No wonder St. Moritz is promoted as Top of the World. Two times host to the Winter Olympics, it has all the cruisers, glades, steeps and terrain parks to challenge even the most knowledgeable skier or boarder. It was referenced in two James Bond films, For Your Eyes Only and Goldfinger. Not to mention it’s a celebrity getaway haven, the place to be seen for the wealthy, the famous, the young and the beautiful, beaming with upscale boutiques, salons and high-end restaurants.

VERBIER
Good skiing and snowboarding, great powder and lots of nightlife.
There is no doubt that Verbier is trying hard to retain its international visitors, improving over the last few years its grooming, snowmaking, ski school and lifts - most recently with the overdue replacement of the Tortin gondola. But major complaints remain. Some are down to the organization of the resort - the kind of slope sign posting would be comical if it were not infuriating - but others are down to the lie of the land. For experts prepared to hire a guide in order to explore off-slope, Verbier is one of the big names. With its Four Valleys lift network and a claimed 250 miles of slopes; Verbier would seem at first sight to rank alongside the French mega-resorts such as Courchevel or La Plagne for slope skiers, too. But it doesn't; the Four Valleys is an inconveniently sprawling affair, while Verbier's local slopes are surprisingly confined. Of course, slope skiers can have a satisfying holiday here - but you can do that in scores of resorts from Alpbach to Zell am See. Whether they can match Verbier's famously vibrant nightlife is another question.

SKIING USA

ASPEN, COLORADO
Aspen Mountain, with its famous black-diamond terrain, has kept us on the map since 1947. Inbounds you’ll get a variety of glades, bumps and steeps. For an out-of-bounds experience, Aspen Mountain Powder Tours will hook you up with fresh tracks on the backside. While the mountain hasn’t changed much, you’ll appreciate the new gondola, great views & food at the Sundeck at the summit and Ajax Tavern at the base, where the après rivals the skiing and snowboarding. Aspen is a year-round destination, with great hiking and mountain biking in summer. Ski season runs from Thanksgiving through April. High season, and maximum powder (38 cm per week on average), is between January and March. The best deals can be found in November and April.
Hotels in Aspen: The Little Nell 5 stars, The St Regis Resort Aspen 5 stars, Hotel Jerome 5 stars.

SUMMER SKIING IN SOUTH AMERICA

PORTILLO, CHILE
International ski resort in a majestic Andean setting
Portillo has been South America's premier destination ski resort for more than 50 years. Located high in the majestic Andes at the edge of the Lake of the Incas, Portillo is known for spectacular scenery, extraordinary terrain and superb hotel ambiance. Just two hours from Santiago via a modern highway, Portillo has just one grand hotel and feels almost like a private club. The resort has a capacity of 450 guests offering ski-in/ski-out facilities, uncrowded slopes and no lift lines.
The terrain surrounding Portillo is unsurpassed for heliskiing. Lama helicopters enable landing at elevations of up to 14,000 feet/5,000 meters where the snow is excellent. Runs average 2,400 vertical feet/730 meters and many runs are over 4,000 vertical feet/1,215 meters. There are at least six different valleys characterized by alpine bowls, couloirs, and big mountain faces. Heliski guests are rewarded with beautiful glacier views and stunning peaks including Aconcagua, the highest summit in the Americas at 22,841 feet/6,950 meters.
The ski school instructors, under the direction of Mike Rogan, are a select group of accredited, experienced and multilingual professionals selected from the best ski schools in the Northern Hemisphere.
Hotels in Portillo: Grand Hotel Portillo.

VALLE NEVADO, CHILE
Exclusive mountain resort with limitless heliskiing.
Valle Nevado is the gateway to the Three Valleys of the Andes, which includes El Colorado and La Parva. Valle Nevado is Chile's newest and most modern resort, located just 37 miles from Santiago’s international airport amid breathtaking landscapes in the Andes Mountains. The three interconnected ski resorts offer 65 miles of ski runs and 24,000 acres of skiing, accessible by 43 lifts, all above the tree line at 10,000 feet. It's the largest skiable acreage in the Southern Hemisphere with an abundance of sun and quality snow. Valle Nevado is strong in and Heliskiing and snowboarding. Helicopters depart directly from the hotel’s helipad and reach heights of 13,800 feet, with vertical drops of 6,000 feet. Virgin snow awaits your decent amidst majestic snowfields of the Andes Mountains. Valle Nevado has hosted the World Cup of Snowboard for five consecutive years and facilities include: Snowpark, Half Pipe and Border Cross. 35 groomed trails are also open for snowboarding. Although the resort was designed for winter sports, it's also equipped for relaxation and entertainment. There are three hotels and apartments, six ethnic restaurants, bars, a pub and disco. Amenities include: heated pool, fitness center, gymnasium, day care center, variety of stores and more.
Hotels in Valle Nevado: Hotel Valle Nevado 5*,
Hotel Puerta del Sol 4*, Hotel Tres Puntas 3*.