With blue skies, soft snow and pleasant temperatures, spring is arguably the best time of year for a ski vacation. These top destinations add lively culture and unique experiences that appeal to storm chasers and social skiers alike, so here are our 5 best luxury destinations for Spring skiing:
L’Escape Killy, France
A vast area encompassing the resorts of Tignes and Val d’Isère – 25,000 acres in all – L’Escape Killy offers skiing during 10 months out of the year thanks to La Grande Motte glacier. A state-of-the-art funicular, a world-class thrill itself, whisks skiers to the glacier’s top in less than eight minutes. Expert skiers will appreicate the challenging terrain of Tignes, and leisure skiers will delight in the après ski options of Val d’Isère. Luxurious accommodations are available in both areas, ranging from full-service hotels to lavish chalets that offer private hot tubs and ski rooms with boot warmers.
Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia
With terrain open at Blackcomb through late May as well as Summer skiing on the Horstman Glacier in June and July, Whistler has long enjoyed a reputation for prime late-season skiing. The resort also offers dozens of fine dining restaurants and more than 30 après ski bars and nightlife venues, making it one of the world’s liveliest cultural destinations. For those hoping to add a true comsopolitan experience to their vacation, Vancouver is less than three hours away. Luxury ski accommodations are available at the reputable Fairmont Chateau and Four Seasons Whistler.
A highly accessible ski area just 90 minutes from Tokyo via the shinkansen bullet train, Yuzawa is an ideal destination for skiers hoping to fully experience Japan. April travellers can admire cherry blossoms in Tokyo, ski powder-filled slopes in Yuzawa and soak in the famous onsen hot springs – all in the same vacation. Many Yuzawa resorts, including Gala, Naeba and Kagura, remain open through May. Leisure-minded guests who stay in Yuzawa can choose from traditional Japanese ryokan-style accommodations, or opt for Western familiarity at the deluxe NASPA New Otani hotel.
Park City, Utah
Spring skiing in Park City is about much more than the light, powdery snow that the region is known for. With a chairlift that stretches directly to Main Street, Park City is a destination for those who enjoy après ski as much as skiing iteslf. With more than a dozen bars, pubs and fine dining restaurants, Park City also features galleries, boutiques and even a live theatre. Although the ski season at Park City’s three immediate areas, including Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons, typically ends in mid-April, powder-seeking guests can enjoy the slopes of nearby Snowbird Resort all the way through May. Park City’s wealth of luxury accommodations includes 5-star hotels such as the Stein Eriksen Lodge and private chalets, such as Gandhara, a newly constructed six-suite villa featuring a private theater and hot tub.
Even well-travelled skiers will delight at the novelty of this northern escape, known as the land of the midnight sun. Operating from February through May, Riksgränsen also runs its lifts (weather permitting) for a weekend of ’round the clock skiing during the summer solstice in June, a celebratory time when the sun never fully sets. The luxury of this destination is less about lavish accommodations and fashionable après ski lounges as it is about unique experiences, including some of the world’s most scenic heli-skiing, but the resort is not without creature comforts. The boutique Meteorologen Ski Lodge satisfies upscale tastes with finely appointed rooms, exceptional food and wine, and a charming atmosphere. The Relaxen SPA & Sauna, meanwhile, provides a soothing place to relax with massage treatments and outdoor hot tubs.
Tracie Heffernan is the Communications Director at Resorts West.