There’s a skiing break, and then there are the kinds of skiing breaks that you never forget. The snow is lush, deep and plentiful. Your bed is the best you’ve ever slept in, and the food – well, you’ll never eat like that again. The whole holiday is a sensory delight from start to finish, including your journey to and from the airport.
If this sounds like the kind of break that you could get on board with, here are the poshest pistes in the world. They’re so good, they should come with a warning – be prepared to re-enter the real world with a bump.
There’s a reason why you’ll never fight for space on the runs at Zürs – all the other (fabulously rich) holidaymakers are busy getting hammered on frighteningly-expensive champagne. Zürs is the resort of choice for royalty and movie stars, but it doesn’t have the arrogance/pomp that permeates resorts like St Moritz. Here’s the catch – the hotels are so brilliant that people don’t bother venturing out for après-ski, as a rule. If you’re fine with holing yourself away at the end of the day with a bottle of Bolly and a roaring fire, you’re in the right place.
Where to stay: Hotel Zürserhof is the ultimate skiing retreat, and for €3,200 per night, you’d expect something spectacular. Feeling racy? Splash out on the Royal Suite, which has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open fire and a sauna/steam cabin. Why would you ever bother leaving your room?
St Moritz, Switzerland
When we mentioned that St Moritz had a bit of an attitude earlier, we weren’t kidding – this ultra-glam resort is the place to see and be seen. This is the place where the world’s wealthy risk lives and limb on the infamous Cresta Toboggan Run, race horses on the frozen lake and go skijoring. Just to be clear, that last activity involves skiing, but you’re dragged along by unbroken horses. The skiing’s also pretty good; our advice? Go in February to do the Cresta and see the horse races.
Where to stay: The Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains receives rave reviews, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s a lush spa, a fitness centre, and guests rave about the hotel bar. Make sure you have breakfast here – portions are massive, and will set you up for the day ahead.
Yellowstone Club, Montana
Even though the richest and best-known people in the world holiday here, you won’t know any of their names. Why? Because this members-only resort is frequented by bankers who own the studios that employ the A-listers. Essentially, you can sort of taste the power in the air.
Located 20 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, the world’s ‘most exclusive’ ski resort is the only place where you can ski without a bodyguard, apparently. After the day is done, take a private snow cat excursion to dinner or indulge in a spot of night skiing. Oh, one more thing – the views here are incredible, and probably the best you’ll ever see on a skiing trip.
Where to stay: It has to be Custom Residences, doesn’t it? These individual chalets are the ultimate in luxurious post-ski comfort – underfloor heating, spas, fire pits and saunas reign supreme.
If you love your food, this is the resort to head to – Zermatt boasts the highest density of gourmet restaurants in the world. Food here is a serious business – you can even hire a guide to take you on a gourmet ski tour, so even if you load up with rich foods, you can then ski off the excess calories. What a good idea. In terms of famous faces, this resort has seen the likes of Madonna, Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman, so keep your eyes peeled for a big name.
Unsurprisingly, après-ski revolves around the food here. The best place to while away the evening is The Vernissage, which is a cinema, bar, restaurant and gallery. All the fun you could ever need under one roof.
Where to stay: In terms of expense, you can’t go wrong with The Chalet Zermatt Peak. Prepare yourself for walk-in wine cellars, HD cinemas and a fitness centre. Thierry Henry was reportedly so impressed he vowed in the guest book that he’d return.
When in Italy, there’s only one choice if you’re after luxury – Cortina. This is the place where the affluent and fabulous Italians spend their winter breaks. Italian living rules OK here, and skiing after lunch is considered a foreigners’ activity – however, don’t let that stop you. The scenery’s top notch and the shopping rivals Milan and Paris, so budget accordingly before you leave.
Expect early mornings spent making tracks in the powder followed by three-hour lunches, a brief siesta, and eating and drinking well into the night. Repeat for two weeks; you’ll come home feeling great.
Where to stay: The Miramonti Majestic Hotel isn’t close to the centre of town, but it’s well worth a visit. As its name would suggest, it’s enchanting; the staff will attend to your every whim, and the food’s fantastic – the vast evening buffet is raved about by guests long after they leave.
Vicky Anscombe is Editor-in-Chief at Columbus Direct.