Whether you plan to ski or are just interested in dressing up for the most ooh-worthy après-ski aperitifs, these are the luxury winter destinations you can pick from.
You have the Fendi ski pants and the Moncler down jacket. Your private jet is fuelled and furbished and biting at the bit to fly. But now, you are wondering where to spend your moolah to see and be seen. The average DDLJ-inspired journey will never do for you.
You want the exhilaration of skiing and the fun that comes after. You’ve heard of the après-ski scene — parties in plush Alpine chalets that start in the afternoon and often go on until the sun rises — where the bubbly flows like a perennial mountain brook and the who’s who of the world nonchalantly drop names while they drop thousands of Euro. Here’s a quick look at your options…
Nestled in the heart of the White River National Forest and surrounded by the peaks of the Elk Mountains, Aspen has been attracting wealthy ski aficionados ever since the 1950s. Whether it’s because of John Denver’s songs about it or journalist Hunter S Thompson’s working from here, the silver-mining town of Aspen has become a sought-after spot. Thanks to its reputation as one of world’s most famous and luxurious ski destinations, it’s also one of America’s most expensive places if you’re looking to buy a home.
Explore: It has a culturally rich town filled with luxury boutiques and a vibrant après-ski scene. You could be sipping champagne on the patio of the Lynn Britt Cabin, trying the new wine bar at The Little Nell, or hobnobbing with the who’s who over truffle fries at Ajax Tavern this winter.
Indulge: Check in to The St Regis Aspen Resort for Aspen Mountain-view suites with bespoke furnishings by Ralph Lauren, sumptuous 400-thread-count Frette linens and pristine marble bathrooms accessorised with Remède amenities. A heated outdoor pool, modern mountain cuisine at The Velvet Buck, and the daily St Regis ritual of champagne sabering are other highlights.
The star of the country’s Arlberg region, Lech is probably the most exclusive ski resort in the Alps, whose development has been meticulously monitored and planned over the years. Even entrance on to its slopes is limited daily so that it is not over-run by tourists. Its micro-climate assures more snow than other parts of Austria, which allows the ski season here to run from early December almost until April. This local ski area is connected with the entire Arlberg ski zone, including St Anton, Zürs, Warth and Schröcken, by some really fast gondolas. This makes the Arlberg, with 305 kms of runs, the biggest ski region in Austria.
Explore: Frozen ice bars to après-ski restaurants, museums to tobogganing, many interesting activities abound. And then there’s biking and golfing in Lech if you decide to go in another season. About 200 metres above Lech and connected by cable car is the car-free area called Oberlech, studded with luxury hotels and a ski kindergarten!
Indulge: Stay at Severin’s, The Alpine Retreat, a five-star hotel featuring nine luxury suites and a two-storey ‘Residence’, furnished in Alpine style. All rooms are spacious and have terraces or balconies with delectable views of the Alpine scenery. The Residence, apart from four bedrooms, a modern kitchen, dining room, and spacious living area, also offers a home cinema, bar, office, and an outdoor whirlpool. Modern restaurants, a luxury wellness centre with an infinity pool, complete the hotel’s picture of perfection.
The stomping ground of well-heeled international celebrities, this traffic-free holiday destination boasts 200 kms of ski slopes of varying difficulties, 47 chair lifts and even helicopter skiing. No wonder then, that it’s considered the place to fly to in winter by the jet set.
Explore: Gstaad has everything, luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, and an airport at hand. Not to mention, a promenade lined with the likes of Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren stores! Hot-air balloons to classic cars, music concerts to fashion shows, there’s a lot to do here in winter or any other season.
Indulge: At Gstaad Palace, with its 108 years of history, is well versed with bringing you the uber luxe experience. Be it the Penthouse Suite with its grand jacuzzi and a panoramic view of the Swiss Alps in winter, or a tower suite with a climate cabinet for wine, each one of the 90 rooms spells top quality and good taste.
You can also binge on their legendary truffle and champagne fondue, enjoy the taste of home with Indian fare by Chef Ravi Bajaj, attend an exclusive watchmaking class, take a leisurely horse-carriage ride through Saanenland, or zoom down the slopes after being tutored by your own private ski instructor. They even give you the option of booking out the entire palace hotel, including the spa and nightclub, in case you’re looking for the most incredible (and expensive!) destination for your wow winter wedding.
The Dolomites, Italy
A UNESCO world heritage site, this region has over 1200 kms of ski trails across 12 valleys. You can pick from various towns such as Arraba, Alta Badia, Cortina D’Ampezzo, Civetta, Kronplatz, Val Gardena, etc, which are covered by the 450 lifts of the Dolomiti Superski carousel, the world’s largest network of lifts and ski slopes!
Explore: Madonna di Campiglio got its first ski lift in 1948 and is still a hidden gem that’s mainly known among winter sports enthusiasts. The village regularly hosts alpine skiing world cups and snowboarding races, as well as events by the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One and Ducati Corse MotoGP teams. Après-ski over wine and tiramisu, or just mastering ‘la passeggiata‘, Italian for dressing up for a leisurely winter walk around town, shopping and indulging yourself to the hilt.
Indulge: The Chalet Del Sogno Campiglio is a family-owned five-star boutique property with a bio-label certification that features bio architecture heated using geothermal technology. While its reduced impact on the environment is a feel-good factor, it has some stunning mountain-view suites, excellent restaurants, and a truly unique spa that has everything from an Alpine-scented bio sauna to an ice fountain, and something they call a Biodream ‘joy machine’!
Also known as Chamonix-Mont-Blanc thanks to the famous mountain that serves as a fulcrum for attracting tourists, this is one of the oldest ski resorts in France. Nestled in the French Alps at the foot of the Mont Blanc and close to the border of Italy and Switzerland, Chamonix was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. Earliest known for its monastic order, it has since morphed into the winter sports hub of France, with a rip-roaring après-ski party scene.
Explore: There are a lot of activities on offer here, apart from the skiing. Hikes and bikes, jazz clubs and art classes, museums and more. The Roman ruins at Aosta or the charming medieval waterways in Annecy are a short drive away and make for great day trips even in winter.
Indulge: The Grand Hotel des Alpes, Chamonix, is a grand old heritage building with fantastic views and luxurious rooms. Head to the two Michelin-starred Albert Premier Restaurant in another hotel for some stellar fare and a sommelier to help you select from the wine cellar that counts no less than 20,000 bottles.