Nothing beats the feeling of fresh powder under your skis. And with winter ski breaks de rigueur for many UK families, finding something truly special is becoming more difficult. Never fear: our selections, from Arctic charters and heli-skiing to a stop along the Silk Road, could see you slicing through your own winter paradise.
1. Sail northern Norway
For a nautical adventure, head into the Arctic Circle and northern Norway aboard the luxury Firebird yacht. Up here you won’t see a chairlift or a chopper, so a good level of fitness is vital. But it’s worth it for the breathtaking locations you’ll visit.
A unique skiers’ paradise, the natural beauty of the mountains is matched by the majesty of the descents towards the surrounding fjords and crystal-blue waters – it’s easy to see why the Lyngen Alps are acclaimed for their off-piste skiing opportunities.
This is bucket-list stuff: where else can you take coffee on a sailboat in the morning and catch sight of the aurora borealis in the evening? Itineraries can be tailored depending on skill, and if the slopes aren’t calling you, Norway’s north features whale watching and dog-sledding as well. The boat is as refined as you’d expect, with staff, drinks and food to match.
Four nights on board the Firebird start at £28,000, based on full occupancy of six people on a full-board basis. Transfers, flights, fuel, a mountain guide and all sailing fees are included.
2. Traverse the land of fire and ice
For those who prefer their skiing adventure to end on solid ground, there are myriad options – not least Eleven Skiing’s Icelandic heli-skiing adventure. With runs averaging 915 vertical metres and the midnight sun giving you the chance to ski through dinner, there’s plenty to keep even the most ardent thrill seekers busy.
If the skiing is superb, it’s nothing compared with the scenery. Crystal-clear views of the northern Atlantic Ocean combine with jagged valleys to lend an otherworldly experience – not for nothing did Jules Verne base his novel Journey to the Center of the Earth on this extraordinary volcanic island. With hot springs giving you the chance to dig out your bathing suit, and accommodation provided in the form of the charming Deplar Farm, it’s an experience you’ll be talking about for decades to come.
Rates start at around £1,900 per person per night, minimum four nights. Includes guided activities, all gear (with the exception of ski boots), in-house meals, drinks, daily housekeeping and airport transfers to/from Akureyri.
3. Party in Chamonix
The spot for après-ski in the Alps? In the shadow of Chamonix’s Mont Blanc. The legendary après-ski institution La Folie Douce has taken the tradition to the next level with the launch of its first hotel, set to open in December 2018. After an €18m investment in the building, the 250-room hotel will combine the joie de vivre of its daily parties with high-end cuisine and – crucially – the only ski-in, ski-out property in Chamonix.
But it’s not just for partying. A kids’ club, spa and fitness centre ensure that nightclubbing isn’t the only evening fun. Chamonix has many pretenders to its crown, but for a high-octane Alpine break, it’s hard to beat.
Premium suites from €129 per night while an access room starts from €69.
4. Luxuriate in a rare St Moritz chalet
Over the border in Switzerland is the beautiful, six-bedroom Chesa el Toula, which offers après-ski of a very different nature. A new entrant in the St Moritz market, it’s a rare beast even in the luxurious surroundings of the Engadin Valley, with a swimming pool, a gym, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, and a home cinema, offering you all the amenities you could ask for.
New chalets in this part of the world don’t come along every year, especially not those as well kitted-out as el Toula. With a wine cellar complete with a selection of fine wines, as well as a chalet manager and in-resort driver, you’ll be well looked after following a day of high-altitude skiing around this truly iconic ski resort.
Rates start at around £58,000 for seven nights, with the chalet sleeping 10 to 14. Includes all in-house beverages, meals and driver service.
Prefer a bit of winter sun instead? Read Paradise Rebuilt: How the Caribbean is Overcoming Natural Disaster for inspiration.
5. Make Olympic memories
How often do you get to share your winter break with an Olympian? This year, James Orr Heliski has launched a four-day trip to Alagna, Italy, hosted by British champion Chemmy Alcott. The schedule: three days of off-piste skiing, and one day indulging your heli-ski dreams.
Located on the east side of the huge ski area of Monterosa, the small hamlet of Alagna oozes traditional Italian charm (and, unsurprisingly, is home to wonderful cuisine). Reachable from Milan and Turin, this Italian trip will win the gold for expert skiers looking for a real challenge. Just don’t try to beat Chemmy down the mountain.
The four-day excursion, set for 7-11 March 2019, starts at £2,275 per person and includes half-board, ski passes and guides, and transfers.
6. Ski the rising sun
Thinking of travelling further afield to enjoy a different cultural experience? While Japan is a long flight for Brits, the country has long been lauded for its high-quality, consistent snowfall, variety of terrain and long season.
Shiga Kogen – a sprawling collection of resorts with more than 50 lifts and gondolas to pistes that reach up to 2,300 metres – doubles as a UNESCO Eco Park, giving you the chance to spy an ermine as you fly down the slopes. The resort is comparatively quiet and low on crowds, with many hotels built for the 1998 Winter Olympics, making it perfect for families. Not to mention its proximity to the famous Jigokudani Monkey Park. Combine it with a trip to Tokyo at either the start or end of the trip (perhaps a recce for the 2019 Rugby World Cup?).
The four-star Shibu Hotel, a traditional Japanese ryokan, starts at around £1,500 for a seven-night stay, breakfast included.
7. Embark on a Silk Road adventure
If you’re an explorer at heart, then seek out Tajikistan’s Zerafshan Range. Silk Road Adventures’ 10-day, world-first opportunity to explore the country’s north alongside local experts and skiing guides doesn’t so much tick an item off the bucket list as blow the entire thing out of the water.
The scenery, unsurprisingly, is superb. And while the experience is sure to be markedly different from a stay in a luxury Alpine chalet or on a grand yacht – accommodation is in local hotels and homestays, with meals prepared by your hosts – the chance to immerse yourself in an entirely different culture stretches the mind as much as your limbs.
Despite the exotic location, you can rest assured you’ll have fresh powder, medical support and even satellite communications, with tour guides taking care of routes and safety. What better way to bring out your inner explorer?
The 10-day tour starts from £3,400 per person, with a fixed departure of 2 March and a minimum group of five, maximum of eight. Ski equipment is required, and international flights are not included.
Lysanne Currie writes about business and luxury travel for magazines including Robb Report, Luxury Plus, Glass Magazine and Meet The Leader.
All prices were sourced from the suppliers and correct at the time of publishing.