Whether you’re planning a trip or already packing for one, there is no shortage of new ski resorts and boutique hotels near the slopes to tempt you into hitting the pistes of Europe.
Club Med is a brand well-loved by South African travellers, with their all-inclusive concept perfectly pitched for budgeting those hard-stretched randelas abroad. And while many may associate the brand with island vibes in Mauritius and the Maldives, Club Med has a strong presence on the slopes of France, Italy and Switzerland.
In fact, Club Med is debuting two new mountain resorts in Europe this season, with the latest addition being an all-new Club Med Val d'Isère.
It’s a resort that has long been popular with South Africans thanks to its easy ski-in ski-out access to a range of slopes, and its location in the scenic Tarentaise Valley. It’s also one of the largest ski areas in Europe, with dependable snow throughout the season. Club Med Val d'Isère also reopened in mid-December after being upgraded to become Club Med’s first Exclusive Collection – equivalent to a five-star – mountain resort. All 216 suites have been refurbished and upgraded, with glorious private balconies offering mountain views. But also look for the softer touch-points that speak to a more luxurious experience, from a dedicated concierge to evening champagne service. There’s also unlimited ski access, elevated restaurant options and an expanded wellness program to help soothe those tired legs.
Club Med Tignes is another iconic resort that’s been given a much-needed overhaul. There’s been a Club Med here for more than 50 years, but the new-look Club Med Tignes now boasts 430 contemporary rooms and suites, alongside two gastronomic restaurants. In the wellness centre the 33-metre indoor pool is said to be one of the largest in the Alps. While you’ll pay extra for spa treatments, that’s about it. Club Med's all-inclusive ski experience includes everything from lift passes and ski lessons to the brand’s famous apres-ski entertainment.
If your pockets are a little deeper, hop across the border to the Swiss canton of the Valais, where the new Six Senses Crans-Montana combines high-altitude luxury with high-end design.
The 45 terrace rooms – plus a selection of suites – channel a modern interpretation of the Swiss chalet, with muted tones and natural textures. Private terraces offer impressive vistas across the Valais, from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc.
You’ll spend your days exploring the 140-kilometers of pistes the region has to offer, with easy ski-in ski-out access thanks to its location alongside the main gondola in Crans. Questions? There’s a ski concierge on-site to sort everything from lift passes to rentals.
But perhaps you don’t want the constraints of a ski resort? What they offer in on-site services they may lose in authenticity. If you don’t plan to spend all day on the slopes, consider a boutique hotel close to the pistes, with easy access to lifts and rental shops.
In the Italian ski village of Cortina d’Ampezzo you’ll find the gorgeous Hotel De LEN, a reinvention of an existing historic hotel that has infused a remarkable new lease on life to the property.
De Len means ‘of wood’ in the regional dialect, and the 22 rooms handcrafted of Swiss pine and fir offer a thoroughly contemporary take on the ski chalet aesthetic. The wellness offering is impressive too, with a rooftop spa kitted with a hammam, Jacuzzi and a variety of saunas.
And the skiing? Cortina is set in the heart of the Dolomiti Superski area, where the slopes are so good they played host to the 1956 Winter Olympics and will do so again in 2024. A new ski lift now offers easy access to neighbouring ski routes, while the hotel can organise everything from dog-sledding to snow-shoe adventures.
But remember, it’s not only the pricey pistes of western Europe that offer great skiing. If you’re looking to hit the slopes without breaking the bank, look to Georgia.
More than half of this ancient European country is covered by the lofty Caucuses Mountains, and amid those snowy peaks you’ll find memorable ski resorts at a fraction of what you’ll pay in France.
If you’re looking to hit the slopes without breaking the bank, look to Georgia
The popular pistes of Gudauri are just 90 minutes drive from the capital Tbilisi, offering slopes that top out at a – literally – breathtaking 3700-meters above sea level, with a clutch of western-style resorts that offer all the services you could ask for.
In the Lower Caucuses the region of Bakuriani is a little more low-key and local, but with a pleasing off-the-beaten-track feel to it. That may soon change though, as the region will host the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Championship in 2023. So be sure to book well in advance for a room at Room Hotels Kokhta. This modern ski-in ski-out is the hottest address in town, featuring contemporary décor by local Georgian designers, and a fine bellwether for the rise and rise of the Georgian ski culture.