As ski season starts to hot up (or not, as many fans will hope) boarders and skiers alike will be looking up and towards the direction of some of Europe's most popular resorts. The season typically starts from around the beginning of November and continues throughout the winter months until things start to slow down immediately after Easter. And for thrill-seekers and speed enthusiasts it signals the chance to plan the next challenge.
Europe has fantastic ski resorts all over its mountainous regions but not all were created equal. Here are some that come high up on the list when looking for the best European ski holidays around.
Val Thorens, France
For many, Val Thorens (often shortened to Val Tho) is the best ski resort in the world. And whilst this may be subjective, there are some things about this resort that cannot be denied. It lies in the south-east corner of France, close to the Italian border, and is the highest ski resort in Europe. At an altitude of 2,300 metres, it is part of 'Les Trois Vallées' which is the largest ski area in the world and is comprised of over 370 miles of runs that are connected to each other.
Away from the slopes, the resort aims to accommodate people from all around the world and offer them a true and unique skiing experience. The atmosphere is infectious and everybody is encouraged to create their own experience during their time in Val Thorens.
La Thuile, Italy
This resort may have a French sounding name, but it actually lies over the border in Italy. The slopes here are particularly popular with UK skiers and have a modern lift system to help you reach the summit of your chosen run. And for the experts, there's even the chance to take part in some heliskiing.
The Italian locals have nicknamed this place 'Little Siberia' due to the fact that there is always an abundance of snow, so there's no need to worry about the weather thwarting your plans. Something else you don't need to concern yourself with is queues. The lifts at La Tuile can cater for up to 50,000 skiers per hour, but there are only around 2,000 rooms in the surrounding hotels.
As we trace the Alps into Austria, we find the resort of Saalbach towards the south-west of the country. This ski area is famous for its rather loud après-ski environment, but those who are looking for something slightly quieter will be pleased to know that it is twinned with both Hinterglemm and Leogang which are calmer areas.
Some of the slopes are situated in a circuit, an area known as the Ski Circus, and designed so that you can easily ski between them and take them all on in one day. And if you fancy the chance to combine your skiing skills with your passion for surfing, you can take on the brand new Asitz Run which mimics the experience of riding the waves.
Slovakia may not strike you as the best place for skiing, but if you are looking for a last minute getaway or something that doesn't break the bank then it could be perfect. Jasna is great for beginners and has just opened up a brand new area focussing on helping those who are still getting to grips with the basics. And as you ski down the Chopuk mountain (north Chopuk for pisted runs and south Chopuk for off-piste), you can look forward to the fact that the beer waiting for you at the bottom is likely to cost less than a Euro.
Those planning a European skiing holiday to the resort of Zermatt may be pleased to hear that the dining and entertainment facilities here receive almost as much focus as the slopes themselves. Whilst you can challenge yourself over the 150 miles of runs available in the shadow of the mighty Matterhorn peak, the hunger you build up in the process can easily be quelled in a variety of different restaurants.
These range from a 19th century converted farmhouse that serves local platters of cheese and meat to five-star eatery, Findlerhof, which has a menu featuring dishes such as 'Fillet of lamb with herbs, rösti and salad' and 'Apple strudel with warm vanilla sauce and cinnamon ice-cream'. After dinner, why not relax in front of the outdoor fireplace at the Cervo Hotel and plan tomorrow's raid on the mountainside.
Away from the busy slopes of the Alpine region, Sweden also has some great ski resorts that can cater for the whole family. There are many runs suitable for children and beginners, but the resort also has its fair share of fear-inducing black runs that will get the pulse racing. Away from skiing, there is a host of other winter sports to try including frozen lake activities.
If you would like to plan your ski holiday or you are looking for more information about the best resorts in Europe, contact the team at Fred.\ Holidays. We can tailor-make an experience so that it is unique and personal to you.