Salopettes at the ready: it’s time to get the ski season underway with a cross-country selection of our best boutique ski hotels. From a chic chalet in the French resort of Megève to an Aman hotel in the wilds of Wyoming, these are our favourite places to cosy up fireside this year – with a dusting of our newest additions, too.
VALSANA, AROSA, SWITZERLAND
Alpine chintz be gone. The architecture at this new Arosa address reflects the sylvan landscape outside, with balconies that resemble the undersides of leaves and a spa that looks out onto the forest. Designer Carlo Rampazzi extends the organic scene with a living room dressed in autumnal shades. Elsewhere, there’s a health-conscious Twist restaurant and rooms quilted in thick throws. However, it’s the apartments that claim king of the mountain for their top-floor fireplaces. You may find it hard to leave: but outside, snow-sure Arosa has 225km of slopes in the Graubünden mountains, a freestyle Snowpark, sledging runs and snowshoeing trails. Ski lifts wait to whisk you up to mountain restaurants, where views of Switzerland‘s snow-draped forests and frozen lakes unfurl.
WIESERGUT, HINTERGLEMM, AUSTRIA
The couple behind this 14th-century family estate in Austria have transformed it afresh for the 21st century. At the hotel’s heart is the pitch-roofed Alpine farmhouse, surrounded by flower-flecked meadows and snow-dusted slopes, depending on the season. So far, so traditional. But where the hotel sets itself apart is with the ultra-modern, low-lying buildings that surround the main hub. Dotted throughout, you’ll find a luxury spa with an indoor pool and Finnish sauna; a restaurant that serves up harvest-fresh food; and suite-only rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that frame views of the Kitzbühel Alps. Cream-coloured linens, whitewashed walls and orb-like pendant lights make this more laid-back museum than hotel. But you’ll want to explore the pistes of Saalbach-Hinterglemm, as well as admiring this work of art.
LE CHALET ZANNIER, MEGÈVE, FRANCE
The Mont Blanc massif forms a backdrop to this chic chalet in Megève. Indeed, you’re in one of France’s oldest winter-sports resorts, founded a century ago by Baroness de Rothschild and famed for attracting old money ever since. Part of Megève’s appeal comes from its offering of other activities, including ice rinks, husky rides, snowshoeing, paragliding, ice-skating and even heli-skiing to Italy or Switzerland – plus its concentration of Michelin stars. After assailing the slopes, your luxury sheepskin-covered, fire-warmed lair awaits at Le Chalet Zannier. Inside this romantic retreat, you’ll find 12 opulent rooms and suites, with a team of 40 staff to cater to every whim. A discreet bistro-style restaurant, candle-lit wine bar and cavernous spa completes the peerless scene.
LAGACIÓ, SOUTH TYROL, ITALY
Lagació sets aside Italy‘s big-resort bustle in favour of soaring South Tyrolean scenery in the tiny north-eastern hamlet of San Cassiano. The main slopes of Alta Badia are a free shuttle ride away, connecting you with 1,200km of runs in the Dolomiti Superski area – the world’s largest ski zone. Hire gear from the hotel’s onsite ski shop and arrange passes through the concierge to accelerate the journey from reception to runs. The hotel resembles a cosy log cabin inside, with pale woods, white linens and sheepskins rugs, plus balconies primed for taking in crisp mountain air. The spa provides the last word in luxury, with steam rooms, saunas and hot tub, plus Alpine massages, mud wraps and facials.
DEPLAR FARM, TROLL PENINSULA, ICELAND
For an off-beat ski destination, where better than Iceland? At no-luxuries-spared Deplar Farm on the Troll Peninsula, you can heli-ski around the Arctic Circle and take on the slopes of the island’s furrowed hinterland. Outdoor adventure is the order of the day, of course, so even if you don’t ski, you can spend time sea kayaking, wild swimming, whale watching, fat-biking or spying the aurora from the hotel’s open-air geothermal pool. There’s even an onsite Gear Room where you can hire all your kit. On the face of it, this converted sheep farm looks much the same as any other rural estate in Iceland: a turf-topped roof blending to a black-clad exterior. However, step within and you’ll find meals prepared by Iceland’s chef of the year; a huge lounge and bar with windows that frame the scenery; and the best spa on the island, with a gym, yoga studio, saunas and steam rooms, collectively given an entire floor of their own.
AMANGANI, JACKSON HOLE, US
It takes a lot to dwarf an Aman hotel, but the peaks of the Teton Range almost achieve it. That’s until you step inside Amangani, which displays the group’s hallmark minimal design, a signature Aman spa and an American-accented restaurant, that serves up refined takes on ranch meats and fresh fish. On an outdoor terrace, mist rises above the heated infinity pool. Use it to wonder at Wyoming’s wilderness, then head out to explore via an activity list that runs from nature treks to heli-skiing, dog sledding, white-water rafting, fly fishing and Western-style horse-riding. There’s also snowmobiling, snowshoeing and almost any other kind of activity involving snow, too. The US ski valley of Jackson Hole offers unparalleled pistes nearby, and two major national parks – Grand Teton and Yellowstone – open you up to a snow-carpeted landscape, flecked only by the footprints of elk and moose.
Powder fans, rejoice. This is just the first in our three-part ski-season series. Next up: ice-cool après-ski experiences in our favourite winter-sports resorts, followed by some of the world’s most pampering post-piste spas…