Skiing is often a rushed vacation. You race to the nearest peak, hope the snow is adequate and the food palatable, and fight the crowds for a day or two of action. Travel agents suggest a different approach the next time the slopes whisper your name. Don’t just take a ski trip to the local hill, take a ski vacation to one of the world’s best ski resorts.
A ski vacation allows you to experience an exciting part of the world while providing ample time for skiing and snowboarding. Tackle the world’s most famous mountains and enjoy the genuine ski villages that have lured the skiing elite for decades. Visit the winter playgrounds of legends and race down the slopes that roared with past glories of the Olympic Winter Games.
Whether you’re looking for fun, family skiing in extraordinary powder, or extreme black diamond adventures with skyscraping verticals, set your sights on one of these top ski resorts compiled by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that there’s a difference between skiing right and skiing right now. Skiing right is an unforgettable vacation at one of these resorts.
An Exclusive Guide on World’s Best Ski Resorts
Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia
Consistently voted the Best North American Ski Resort,” Whistler/Blackcomb is climbing in the ranks as the best ski resort in the world. These two mountains anchoring the Canadian Rockies have it all: the largest vertical drop (5,280 ft), expert terrain, glaciers, and wide alpine bowls. Even though 16,000 skiers a day race down these slopes, there’s plenty of room for everyone in the 7,000 acres of the skiable mountainside. Whistler’s charming village, with cafes, international stores, and more than 100 restaurants, truly highlights any ski vacation to this capital of snow in the Great White North.
Have your travel agent book you into the famous Fairmont Chateau Whistler, where every room comes with a giant soaking tub to soothe those weary muscles after an incredible day conquering mountains. In Whistler, your vacation experiences will run the gamut, from heli-skiing and indoor rock climbing to cooking lessons and spa therapy.
There are resorts in the Alps with more imposing mountains and better snow, but Kitzbühel is unsurpassed when it comes to pure Alpine charm. Known as the Pearl of the Alps,” this captivating 700-year old village was one of the first international ski resorts, and it still draws a combination of tradition-loving Europeans along with young revelers enjoying the nightlife. Kitzbühel’s most intimidating slope is the Hahnenkamm, a legendary mountain on the World Cup circuit.
Any skier who conquers this steep, tricky, and fast-paced course instantly earns the respect of his or her peers. But Kitzbühel has a softer side too, found on such long, tree-lined runs as the Kitzbüheler Horn and the Bichlalm. At Kitzbühel, you’ll rub shoulders with the rich and famous and be treated like royalty, but at about half the cost of Aspen or Vail. All these make it one of the world’s best ski resorts
Ideally located at the foot of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is considered by many to be Switzerland’s top ski resort, which is saying a lot considering the mountainous country’s long history with the sport.
Offering spectacular views of the iconic Matterhorn and 28 other peaks surrounding the village, Zermatt is a remarkably peaceful getaway, thanks to its car-free environment, where your skiing options are staggering with the world’s second-biggest lift-served vertical drop at your disposal and guaranteed snow from top to bottom. The most dramatic ski area in the resort is the Schwarzsee-Trockner Steg-Klein section. After an awe-inspiring ride through the mountains, the lift unloads you at a rocky point with an extraordinary 360-degree panorama.
After the scenery is done wowing you, take the lift once more to access the Plateau Rosa, where you can slide 4,700 vertical feet down into Cervinia, Italy, for a two-nation Alps experience that is unrivaled.
Another gem of the Alps, Cortina d’Ampezzo near Venice is one of the world’s first and world’s best ski resorts. It is also the most stylish in all of Europe. Located amidst the magnificent Dolomites, Cortina is a lively alpine village where Italians come to be seen, to show off their Ferraris and to linger over an espresso. Even when the town is crowded, the slopes are generally empty, because nearly three-quarters of the winter guests just come for the scene and the sunshine. As a skiing hotspot, Cortina boasts a wide variety of slopes for all abilities, matched with an abundance of off-snow activities.
The Dolomites’ cliffy outcroppings, which give the area its stunning beauty, somewhat limit the skiable summit terrain. Yet skiers still find enough thrilling slopes near the central village, which has 52 lifts and 87 miles of groomed runs. But if that’s not enough, your travel agent can secure a pass that allows access to more than 50 resorts in the area.
Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France
One of the world’s best ski resorts, Chamonix sits atop the highest peak in the Alps and the second highest in all of Europe. More than any other resort on this list, Chamonix appeals to hip adventure-seekers and boarders who crave long runs and reliable snow with plenty of cliffs, chutes, and headwalls. Chamonix’s extreme terrain has even starred in several ski movies, though it doesn’t like to sign autographs, so don’t ask. Of Chamonix’s seven ski areas, the Grands Montets is the most renowned, since skiers far and wide consider it to be one of the world’s most challenging ski areas. Here a cable car rises to 10,000 feet, and if your legs are strong and your courage unshakable, you can climb 121 metal steps to an observation deck that offers arguably the best panorama in all the Alps.
What really sets Chamonix apart is the abundance of off-piste terrain and guided explorations of chutes, snowfields, glaciers and high bowls. The most famous off-piste run in the world is the Aiguille du Midi, a 12-mile thriller that begins at the top 12,606 feet high and ends in the valley some 9,000 feet below. It is a long, steady ride with dramatic terrain that is not too challenging, with the exception of a giant crevasse near the Mer de Glace glacier that your guide will warn you about repeatedly. In short, it’s the skiing excursion of a lifetime. Just like an off-piste guide pointing out which bottomless crevasses to avoid, your travel agent will help you steer clear of certain travel-related hazards.
Travel agents know which hotels to avoid and why if those discounted ski-lift passes are real, and which resorts are the family friendliest. Moreover, having a trusted travel agent take care of all your travel details leaves you with more time to concentrate on the important details of your vacation to the world’s best ski resorts, like which pair of goggles make your head look thinner. Ski the best.