Nothing is more magical during the festive season than the prospect of snow. So why not embrace the colder weather this year skiing forth the sunny slopes of one of Europe’s most acclaimed resorts.
With chalets cloaked in coats of bright white snow, illuminated decorations sparkling in little wooden fairytale towns, clads of michellin-star studded restaurants and five star fondue, what better way to spend a luxurious holiday – complete with seasonal cheer and a touch of exercise just in case the indulgent holiday takes its toll.
Whether relaxing in steaming spas in the midst of secluded hillside vistas or racing down the black slopes under the shadow of Europe’s highest peak, a trip to the mountains serves as the perfect backdrop for the fun-filled festivities around Christmas and New Year.
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Chamonix has well earned its resounding reputation as one of the best skiing destinations in Europe. If its not the bustling town full of boutiques and gourmet restaurants with vin chaud at every slopeside farmhouse, France’s finest ski resort also is home to the world’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, along with the Aiguille du Midi cable car that rises 9,187 feet from Cham Sud to the top of Aiguille.
Val d’Isere, France
Val D’Isere is another of France’s many scintillating skiing spots boasting 97 lifts and high-altitude skiing to almost 3,500 m with breathtaking views from the Pissaillas glacier. Visitors find that the charming atmosphere of the village complex with pedestrian-only paths adds to an altogether magical experience with snow dusted rooftops and quaint village shops. What’s more this ski resort quite possibly has the best snow reliability in Europe and this year will be hosting Frost Gun (9th – 16th February 2013) the famous freestyle event that originated in Denmark.
Gstaad’s endless luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants dotted across the stunning lanscapes makes it the perfect spot for indulging this Christmas. Experience michellin star dining at the Restaurant Prado, named after the Museo del Prado in Madrid, live like royalty with a stay at the Grand Hotel Bellevue or Gstaad Palace Hotel or even discover shopper’s paradise at the likes of Cartier, Chopard, Rolex, Chanel and Hermés.
Zermatt is one of the most exclusive ski resorts in Switzerland, nestled in the valley at the foot of the Matterhorn, it first became internationally famous in the 1860s when the Matterhorn was first attempted and subsequently grew to be a resort for mountaineers and skiers. The ski zone is criss-crossed by mountain railways, ski-lifts and cable cars and boasts over 300 kilometres of pistes while on the roads you will find that only electric cars are driven. The Paradise Glacier is also the highest spot in Europe reachable by cable car and offers a superb 360° view of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps.
Every year in January comes the time for the most prestigious downhill race on the World Cup circuit where around 80,000 ski-racing fanatics flock to Kitzbuhel to witness world class skiing in fantastic resorts. Dare to test your skiing skills on the Streif, a two mile track with hairpin bends, or follow the A-List skiers and ride the Hahnenkamm gondola, which features the names of all past winners across the side of the cabins and leads to the famous track.
And for a moment of relaxation, take to the steaming spas or visit the English-style pub appropriately named The Londoner where you can quench your thirst with a pint of Gösser. With the 16th century castle like backdrop, scenic views and snowy streets, there's no denying that Kitbuhel looks like a page out of a fairytale.
St Anton, Austria
St Anton holds the all important prize for the glitziest ski resort around especially with its proximity to the lovely Lech village. Along with perfect powder snow and ski slopes to cater to connoisseurs in particular the legendary steep drop back to Zura, St Anton is Austria’s nightlife spot. Redeem your hard work during the day at the Krazy Kanguruh bar in the evening or even take a stop off on the slopes by day at Mooserwirt.