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4 Lesser-Known Places to Ski in Europe
Trade storied ski destinations for under-the-radar, but equally impressive slopes across the pond.
With charming chalets, inspiring settings and lively après-ski scenes, these under-the-radar ski spots offer enticing alternatives to well-trodden winter retreats across Europe.(Getty Images)
Stretching across Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland, the Alps provide breathtaking backdrops for ski enthusiasts. And beyond skiing and other winter-weather sports, away from the slopes, you can enjoy charming après-ski scenes. But as any ski enthusiast can attest, these coveted destinations are often clogged with visitors during the peak season. So, instead of fighting through the crowds at storied ski villages, try these underrated, but equally enticing slopes across Europe.
Located in Les Trois Vallées (three valleys) in the French Alps, Courchevel boasts more than 150 kilometers of runs. Since its creation in the 1940s, Courchevel and its four ski villages – each named after its altitude – have become high-end retreats for in-the-know outdoor enthusiasts yearning to enjoy pristine slopes and après-ski activities. The ski-in, ski-out Six Senses Residences Courchevel offers a serene place to unwind after a day on the slopes. Designed by Alain Foeillet, the contemporary hotel features 53 apartments and access to a ski concierge to assist with ski equipment rentals, transportation to and from the slopes and private jet access, among other services. If you want to splurge on your ski retreat, consider springing for one of the 1,067-square-foot penthouses, which offer 360-degree mountain views, balconies and wine cellars.
With its romantic atmosphere, evening ski parties and upscale spa, L'Apogée Courchevel is another ideal lodging choice. Set inside a luxury chalet at the top of Courchevel 1850, the highest of Courchevel's villages, the hotel also offers striking views and easy access to enticing activities apart from skiing, such as snowshoe safaris and dog sledding.
With over 160 ski resorts in Switzerland alone, visitors have a wealth of ski towns to pick from. St. Moritz, Grindelwald and Interlaken are among the best-known ski spots in Switzerland, but for a more off-the-grid Alpine adventure, venture to the small village of Kandersteg, located in the Frutigen-Niedersimmental administrative district near the Bernese Alps. While Kandersteg itself has no luxury ski resorts, the nearby Gstaad Palace, an upscale hotel in the Swiss Alps, is less than a 50-mile drive west of the village. The hotel also offers an Igloo Experience, which gives guests the chance to spend one mid-week night in an actual igloo – albeit, one with a private Jacuzzi – at the nearby Igloo Village.
Long known as the cradle of Alpine skiing, Lech Zürs am Arlberg (Lech) attracts winter sports enthusiasts from across the world to its challenging paths. Five Arlberg resorts, and the Warth-Schröcken Ski Resort, offer access the 350 kilometers of slopes and 200 kilometers of high Alpine deep powder snow runs. And once you're on the slopes, you'll find a myriad of skiing styles to pick from, including heli-skiing, snowboarding and freestyle skiing. Plus, there are plenty of expert ski instructors to help you navigate the powdery terrain.
After an adrenaline-pumping day in the great outdoors, kick back at the Kristiania Hotel Lech, a fashionable boutique conveniently located within minutes of Lech's slopes. From its exterior, Kristiania seems like a traditional ski chalet, but once you step inside, you'll find an extensive contemporary art collection paired with antique accents, along with three gourmet restaurants. Best of all, the hotel offers an abundance of off-slope activities, including indulgent spa treatments, like deep tissue body massages and body scrubs.
Mount Pelion, Greece
While France, Switzerland and Austria may first spring to mind when you think of picturesque ski retreats across the pond, Greece's Mount Pelion boasts a serene ski scene with a fraction of the visitors of its flashier European counterparts. The caveat, of course, is its location. Situated in Thessaly in central Greece, the ski terrain can be challenging to navigate. Agriolefkes is the only ski resort in the mountain range, but with two runs and the challenging Kentriki trail, which spans nearly 1,150 feet in length, the area offers a picturesque backdrop for skiers. And while there are no luxury ski resorts nearby, Mount Pelion offers an enticing option for value-conscious skiers with reasonably-priced room rates and dining options during the peak winter ski season.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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