November 24, 2015

10 Snowy Hotspots for the Ski Season

Amuse rounds up the most exciting places to heli-ski, snowboard, sauna, eat and explore this winter

  • Written by Iona Goulder
  1. 1. Sleep in geodesic dome on the mountain edge

    Explore the Alps in a manner that would make the visionary architect Buckminster Fuller proud by staying at Whitepod, an eco-resort made up of 25 geodesic domes perched 1400 metres high on the edge of a mountain. Guests congregate for meals in an old Swiss ski hut built in the 1800s – and with private lifts and seven kilometres of isolated slopes to ski, but at only an hour's drive from Geneva, it’s the ultimate escape from those busy slopes everywhere else in the Alps.

  2. 2. Peter Zumthor's iconic Swiss spa

    Archtect Peter Zumthor's modernist Hotel Therme Vals 7132 sits on top of an ancient thermal spring 1250 metres above sea level, in the small German-speaking Swiss village of the same name. Built from local quartize slabs, the 1,000-room hotel, spa and hydrotherapy centre are a grand homage to the ancient archaeological discoveries found around the spring. And the architecture is fittingly dramatic, with an angular design stands out in stark contrast against the Swiss hills. Drinking water on site is bottled from the spring below, and they have a heli-pad on site to make heli-skiing just that bit more convenient.

  3. 3. Swap the funicular for a helicopter

    Heli-skiing is the only way to reach those piste-free mountaintops. Alaska for example, has 750,000 acres of snowy terrain. On a busy day in the biggest resort, you’ll find yourself with four other skiers per acre – above the ski lifts and restaurants that means about 12,000 acres of snow per skier. The same goes for Europe, Greenland or the Caucauses mountain range between the Black and Caspian Seas, where you can ski—or snowboard—in a powder soft paradise of your own.

    Europe, Greenland and the Caucuses:

  4. 4. Experience a snowboarder’s paradise in British Columbia

    Baldface Lodge in British Columbia is a haven for snowboarders – as before its owner Baldface owner Jeff Pensiero decided to build a park entirely devoted to vertical drops, jumps and ramps in 32,000 acres of skiable terrain; they were generally seen as a noisy nuisance on the slopes. With its spa, restaurant and buzzy après ski atmosphere, Baldface has become a site of pilgrimage for every professional and amateur snowboarder in the world.

  5. 5. Hjørundfjorden in Norway

    Due to the temperatures and hard ice of the slopes—and as some say, it's lack of tourist infrastructure—Norway's mountains are the least skied in Europe. Yet Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO world heritage site; the lush Sunnmøre Alps; and Hjørundfjord are some of the most breathe-taking and unexplored places in the northern hemisphere. Juvet is a 28-room landscape hotel built in a rural nature reserve in the midst of it all on the stretch between Trollstigen to Geiranger.

  6. 6. Your private onsen in Hokkaido, Japan

    Niseko has miles of backcountry, tonnes of powder and empty slopes – which is why the resort is probably only going to be in its prime, unchartered state for only a little while longer. The picturesque village of Hirafu in Japan’s northern Hokkaido provence is the country's alternative to the French Alps, and the glass and stone Vale Penthouse, with its private onsens [natural thermal baths] and 300-degree panoramic views overlooking Mount Yotei, is the height of mountain extravagance.

  7. 7. Channel Wes Anderson in Davos

    Magic Mountain, AKA Schatzalp in Davos, Switzerland, was named after the Thomas Mann book of the same name thought to be set here. It’s also home to the Hotel Schatzalp, an Art Nouveau masterpiece built in 1898, and is the closest thing to a working Grand Budapest Hotel – with waist-coated lobby boys and a sanatorium, it’s like stepping into a real-life Wes Anderson film.

  8. 8. Super C Couloir in the Andes

    Two hours north of Santiago, the world famous run known as Super C Couloir is a near-vertical chute in between the craggy Andean rock. Stay in Portillo, the hamlet that has the only hotel in the area, one that's thousands of metres above roads and people in Portillo. Travel agents Scott Dunn offers seven nights at Hotel Portillo from £2,800 per person, including return flights from UK and transfers.

  9. 9. Hang with macaques and explore the outer edges of Japanese cuisine

    Nozawa Onsen is a small ski town two hours north of Tokyo, a short drive from the famous macaques lazing around the Nagano hot springs nearby. What it lacks in altitude and snow, its street vendors selling oyakidons, steam box dumplings and wagashi sweets, generation-old recipes of soba soups, makes up for in its potential for experiential dining. The town even has its own sake, Mizuo, which comes in red, blue and green.

  10. 10. Buy a piece of mountain utopia in Utah

    Powder Mountain, Utah, is the first crowd-funded ski resort in the world – one that’s attracted Hollywood producers, tech millionaires and former NFL players to buy plots of land on the mountainside. With eco-homes and public art, farm-to-table restaurants, pop-up stores and co-working spaces, it’s quickly being branded a new-age utopia where postmillennial ideas meets social entrepreneurism, in the snow.


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