Although many people see their December vacation time as an opportunity to escape cold weather, those of a more robust nature prefer to embrace the big chill. And they’re probably better off for it. On a ski vacation, warmth is something that you earn. A cozy fire comes as a reward for an intense day of riding the slopes. Which is why your choice of chalet or resort is critical — you want an après-ski scene that’s equal parts relaxing and fun — somewhere you can sip spiked hot chocolate. These seven ski venues deliver the kind of experience that makes a strong case for winter being the best season.
Terminal Neige – Totem – Arâches-la-Frasse, France
Sure, mountains are beautiful, but to us, it’s modern design that’s really worthy of admiration. Conceived by French geophysicist Eric Boissonnas and designed by American architect Marcel Breuer in the 1960s, this ski resort is a brutalist oasis in precast concrete, slate, limestone, and pine. After shredding the gnar on the slopes, cozy up in one of its skier cabins for mountain views and street-art inspired design envisioned as part of a 2017 renovation by R Architecture.
Caldera House Jackson Hole – Teton Village, Wyoming
Caldera House offers two- and four-bedroom suites designed by award-winning studios Commune Design and Carney Logan Burke. Before you hit the jagged Teton peaks, stop by one of the last remaining independent ski shops in Teton Village: the Mudroom, offering the industry’s latest tech and best brands. Then, once you’ve put your gear to good use, check out Caldera House’s exquisite dining options for some of the best après-ski grub of your life.
Rifugio Scoiattoli – Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy
Before northern Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics, it was a pretty exclusive spot known only to the most avid of skiers. Now, it’s a haven for partiers as well, with an après scene that is absolutely #bumpin. Still seeking peace and quiet? Then get cozy at Rifugio Scoiattoli, a mountain hut built by the local Lorenzi family in the ’60s. They recommend taking a dip in their hot barrel tub located outside where the water is heated by a wood-burning stove. When it comes to stargazing, it’s the best seat in the house.
Cervo Zermatt – Zermatt, Switzerland
Six chalets — each with its own spa — hold numerous rooms and suites decorated in restrained, natural colours at this resort, but nothing beats the views of the Matterhorn, the most famous mountain in Europe. Skiers and snowboarders will enjoy summiting the 4,478-metre mountain — one of the highest in the Alps — while those there solely for the après-ski can admire its rocky tooth from afar in one of the cozy mountain eateries nearby.
Sundance Mountain Resort – Sundance, Utah
In 1969, Robert Redford bought the land now known as Sundance in an effort to bring a community of nature and art lovers together. At Sundance Mountain Resort, you’ll find the two in perfect harmony in rustic modern lodgings that offer daily complimentary Sundance yoga, meditation classes, and nature walks. This resort is home to the award-winning restaurant The Tree Room, showcasing Native American art from Redford’s private collection as well as seasonal cuisine. Just what you need to feel totally relaxed after a day on the slopes.
Das Central Hotel – Sölden, Austria
If you’ve already watched the No Time To Die trailer a dozen times, this 007-approved getaway is for you. Remember the Alpine-set action scene that was a highlight of previous Bond adventure Spectre? It turns out that was filmed at the Ice Q restaurant on Gaislachkogl Peak, one of the most renowned ski destinations in the Otztal Alps — Austria’s only ski area to have three peaks higher than 3,000 metres. Stay at Das Central for a modern take on a rustic lodge and enjoy your sauna or steam bath after a long day at the mountain.
New Sheridan Hotel – Telluride, Colorado
If you seek out ski towns more for the cozy aspects of their surrounding mountain villages, you’ve just discovered your next prime destination. The core area of Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964 due to its significant role in the history of the American West, and modern-day Telluride embraces the small-town mountain lifestyle in its architecture, colourful Victorian-era homes, and charming boutiques. Admire the rugged peaks from a room at the quaint New Sheridan Hotel, beloved for its buzzing Main Street location and rustic elegance.