The European ski resorts in the Alps and the Pyrenees often feature on lists of the world’s best ski resorts, and rightly so. The mountains here feature quality slopes and excellent facilities, including modern accommodation, après-ski and ski lifts.
Yet North America’s top slopes commonly steal the limelight, with the high-profile Aspen, the Olympic host Whistler-Blackcomb and the vast Vail among the most visited ski resorts in the world. Elsewhere, New Zealand, Japan and Chile are fast becoming skiing hotspots.
Alps, Austria While the Alps stretch across vast areas of Europe, some of the best skiing in this favored mountain range is in Austria, in the Central Eastern Alps. Here you will find not only hundreds of slopes to suit all levels of skiers, but unbeatable facilities. The ski season runs from December to April.
Aspen - Colorado, US The world’s highest profile ski resort draws celebrities with its quality skiing, excellent facilities and world-class accommodation. With four main mountains to choose from at Aspen, spotting movie stars and models on the slopes can be tricky.
Whistler-Blackcomb - British Columbia, Canada Canada’s number one ski resort is set to host the 2010 Olympics ski events. The snowfall here is typically excellent, and the popular Seventh Heaven and Glacier Express runs offer plenty of thrills.
Vail - Colorado, US A great choice for all levels of skiers, Vali offers the largest ski terrain of any ski resort in the world, ensuring you’ll find a slope to suit your needs here. Vail also has the biggest ski school in the US, making it a great place to learn how to ski.
Mont Tremblant - Quebec, Canada Highly regarded among skiers worldwide and frequently voted North America’s best ski resort, Mont Tremblant has an outstanding 600-plus acres of ski trails as well as an attractive ski village.
Pyrenees, Andorra The tiny Andorra lies at the heart of the Pyrenees and presents skiers with some of the best slopes in this southwest European mountain range. Not as expensive as some of Europe’s other ski destinations, Andorra has affordable resorts and duty-free shopping to complement its world-class skiing.
Hakuba Valley, Japan Visitors to the valley have a choice of 200 runs and 10 resorts, which together encompass more than 18 miles of skiing. Easily reached from the Japanese capital by the Shinkansen rail network, the valley ranks as one of Asia’s best ski spots and has a lively après-ski scene to boot.
Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand New Zealand’s easily accessible Mount Ruapehu, the highest peak in the UNESCO-protected Tongariro National Park, draws skiers with its two large ski fields, the country’s highest ski lift at 7,500 feet and Australasia’s longest vertical drop at 2,360 feet.
Queenstown, New Zealand If regular skiing is too dull for you, try the excellent night skiing and heli-skiing available at New Zealand’s highly regarded Queenstown ski resort. The best snow here can be found at Clarke Glacier and the Harris Mountains, with plenty of ski lifts providing access.
Portillo, Chile Chile’s number one ski resort offers 17 runs and a number of attractions aside from the slopes. Laguna de Inca, a scenic glacial alpine lake, sits near the resort and is worth a side trip. Portillo’s slopes lie between 2,500m and 3,500m.