This is the best resort in Switzerland. Where Chamonix has Mont Blanc as a back drop, Zermatt has the huge and impressive Matterhorn. The facilities here are especially good for more advanced skiers and the town caters for a wealthier skier.
Eating: With its mix of five star hotels and wonderful restaurants and exclusive shops you may find Zermatt a bit pricy, though there are still some good honest pizza places among the thirty plus eating holes. If champagne is your thing then try Elsie’s bar, if you’d rather have a pint then head to Papperla. There are lots of ways to spend your wages, but you’ll certainly have fun doing it.
Skiing: The looming Matterhorn makes this resort a special place to ski. There are facilities for notice skiers, but this resort is really catering for more competent skiers. With more than 200km of piste, and plenty of off piste and heli skiing you will be spoilt for choice here. It is also a pretty good resort for boarders. We are trying to convince our finance director to allow us to relocate our office to this wonderful resort. No seriously.
This old silver mining town with its world famous winter resort is the place to be and to be seen. Many rich and famous people make Aspen their ski resort of choice, which affords you a chance to rub shoulders with the odd movie star, maybe even teaching their little ones to ski. A wealthy silver mining town in Colorado State, Aspen first started to develop as a resort in the 1930s. Today its huge pistes cater for every level of skier. There is plenty to do and see in the compact resort, filled with plenty to entertain those who prefer the apres-ski.
Eating: At the time of writing, Urban Spoon suggests Matsuhisa Japanese restaurant is the best place in town, but you’d be more likely to find us at the Aspen Hickory House. Mmm, BBQ. American’s can get every bit as pretentious about food as the European resorts, but you will always find a good range of down to earth eating too. You certainly won’t go hungry working in Aspen.
Skiing: With more than 200 pistes to choose from, you are going to need more than a full season to explore this place. But that is the advantage of being a resort worker – while everybody else has to go home after a week, you have the chance to explore. All levels of skiing are catered for at Aspen, and the investment in facilities makes for excellent conditions and reasonable queues at the lifts considering the crowds. This is a busy resort.
The world’s first Winter Olympic Games was held at this resort back in the 1920s. Its location at the foot of Mont Blanc offers stunning scenery as well as some huge ski runs. Anyone who has visited an indoor snow dome will surely appreciate the thirteen mile long Vallee Blanche run. That’s a lot of skiing. There aren’t many who wouldn’t want to work in Chamonix.
Eating: There are tones of apre ski opportunities in Chamonix and it’s neighbour Argentiere. To use the old cliche, there is something for every pocket. The French know how to eat and the options will keep you busy all season.
Skiing: There are nursery slopes, but the resort caters more for intermediate skiers. Head for the Grands Montets glacier for some juicy runs. And if you are a boarder, welcome to paradise! This place was made for off piste.
Certainly the best known winter resort in Austria, Kitzbuhel is less expensive than most well known European resorts. Something of a bonus if you are trying to save your wages while you are working out there. The skiing caters for most abilities though experts would probably do better elsewhere.
Eating: Plenty of choice and all that, but in reality you only need to know about Zinnkrug. Awesome eating to be had here. Whether you fancy pizza, or something traditional, they will make you more than welcome and the price is very reasonable so you won’t notice much of dint in your earnings.
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Skiing: Definitely one of the best places to ski in Austria, with some fabulous runs for novice and competent skiers. Don’t miss the Ehrenbachhohe runs!
Host to the 1997 ski world championships, Sestriere is a fabulous winter resort. There is a mix of difficulty catering for all levels of skiers and the town itself has a good nightlife, especially at the weekends when the Italians come in from the big cities.
Eating: Pizza pizza pizza. And some pasta. We try to avoid Italian ski resorts because the quality of the restaurants eats into our skiing time. There is no such thing as a quick refuel when you can eat at places like la Baita and Colombiere.
Skiing: The resort is at quite a high altitude which means it benefits from good snow falls. The main areas to head for are Banchetta and Sises where you will find lots of different kinds of skiing in close proximity. The resort caters well for snowboarders too.
Val Thorens, France
This is the highest resort in Europe and as such is often more reliable than places like Kitzbuhel when it comes to the white stuff falling from the sky, though sometimes there can be too much. Val Thorens is a lively resort and can be quite crowded at the height of the ski season. If you are the kind of person who sees the night life as an essential part of the job, this may well be the place for you.
Eating: Not the best place for the budget conscious, but you will still find a wide range of good food, from crepes and pizza, to more splash out type restaurants.
Skiing: Excellent skiing for every level of ability and plenty for boarders too. This place is one big bowl of a play ground.
This really is the resort that can claim to cater for everybody. Whatever type of skiing you enjoy, whatever you are looking for in a resort, you will find it at Val d’Isere. Well known for its excellent nightlife as much as for its skiing. A word of warning, the town is expensive and the there are lots(!) of English people here. It is not a traditional French resort by any means.
Eating: Head to Bananas for a simple burger, or La Folie Douce for something more substantial that ends with a big slab of cake. There is a lot of choice in this resort.
Skiing: With pistes starting at over 1500 meters and going all the way to an oxygen depleted 3500 meters, if you want to be sure of good skiing, the runs around Val d’Isere are the place to work.
Another high altitude resort, probably one of the most scenic resorts in the alps, with car free roads filled with horse-drawn sledges. Caters for all levels of skiing ability. The nightlife isn’t as busy as some resorts but there is plenty to do and the chalets and hotels often allow you to ski from your front door.
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Eating: It’s to be hoped you like simple food like burgers. The resort is a bit cut off and doesn’t offer a great choice of eating places. Changabangs is the best bet. It’s a good job the skiing is good.
Skiing: Very family friendly, plenty of good runs for beginners, but also some very good skiing for intermediate skiers. Part of the Portes du Soleil circuit.
Las Lenas, Argentina
Las Lenas is known as the Chamonix of the Southern Hemisphere and is a relatively new resort, only built a couple of decades ago. Less organized than a European resort, and definitely more remote, but this leaves plenty of scope for some serious off piste skiing that will keep the expert skier entertained. One thing you will notice is the lack of trees. Could be a good place to work if you want to try something a bit different.
Eating: Pretty good choice to be honest, lots of Italian and Mediterranean food, but we’d suggest Malbec for something more local.
Skiing: Not for the faint hearted. But amazing.
Queenstown, New Zealand
This place caters for lots of extreme sports, many of them involving the snow. There are plenty of easy runs for beginners, making it a great resort for families. The area isn’t very big, but there are plenty of resorts within a short distance and plenty of bars for the evenings. If you are into bungee jumping and white water rafting as well as skiing, this is a great place to work.
Eating: Head to Prime for some no nonsense grilled goodness.
Skiing: Don’t forget your on the wrong side of the earth here so the snow falls in the summer. There are a number of resorts in the Queenstown area, Cardrona is among the best with 23 trails to explore and four pipes and a terrain park for boarders.
North America The mountains of the USA and Canada are home to hundreds of ski resorts, attracting people from all across the world. The most famous resorts include Jackson Hole and Whistler. The best time for ski and snowboarding is December and January.
Europe Arguably the home of skiing, the central Alpine mountains have long been a honey pot for winter sports with hundred of superb resorts with names well known to skiers and non skiers alike. The mountains span the countries of France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy with major centres of population within easy reach of the pistes.
As well as the more famous Alps, other fantastic resorts are to be found on the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain and also in the many snowbound regions of Scandinavia, all of which have a rich tradition of winter sports. There are also emerging resorts in many of the Eastern European countries, such as Slovenia and Poland. The best time for skiing is January and February.
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South America Although not particularly well known in Europe, there are plenty of excellent ski resorts in some of the South American counties, especially along the Andes mountains. Argentina and Bolivia are both well worth a visit with excellent snow conditions in July, August or September.
Australasia The South Island of New Zealand has a range of mountains called the Southern Alps which stretch for 550 kilometers. The most famous resort is Coronet Peak which has facilities for night skiing and heli skiing! Australia also has a number of small resorts, located in the Australian Alps. Although probably not the first place you’d think of as a place to ski, Australia can have its fair share of snow. Best conditions can be found between July and October.
Asia and the Middle East Best known of the Asian ski resorts are those in Japan, where skiing and snowboarding have a big following. The resorts of Nagano are possibly the most well known, since they hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1998. Other ski, snowboarding and winter sports hot spots in Asia include South Korea, Kazakhstan and China.
Africa Like Australia, Africa probably isn’t the first place you’d head for if you fancied a spot of skiing. The resorts may be small but there is good quality skiing to be had in a number of African countries. South Africa has a number of resorts, as do the Atlas mountains of Morocco. The best time for snow in Morocco is January and in South Africa is July to September.
New Skiing Destinations
We have talked about the places that we feel are the best established and developed places to play on the snow, so how about the new and up and coming destinations. You may not be quite so familiar with these locations, but they coule be worth a look if you are the type of person who likes to seek out new poweder. When people start talking about skiing, most people immediately think about the French, Italian or Swiss Alpine resorts. Or else the big American and Canadian resorts of the Rocky Mountains, but if you are anything like us, you aren’t so keen on the crowds, or having to queue to get on the ski lift, or a drink at a slopeside café. Not to mention the inflated prices we have to pay to stay at the best resort chalets and hotels.
But who says you have to ski where everyone else skis? Sure you need snow (unless you are one of those crazy people who likes dry slope, or snowboarding down big sand dunes), but snow falls in lots of places.
Bulgaria – actually this isn’t such an unusual destination any more. With about fifty miles of ski runs and more lifts than you get in many Alpine resorts, Bansko is definitely an up and coming resort, it was even recognised by the World Cup circuit this year for the first time, holding a slalom event. The main slopes are Chalin Valog (1100-1600 m) and Shiligarnika (1700-2500 m) and receive very good snow coverage, with 160 canons are backup, guaranteeing snow from December until May.
Kashmir – India is perhaps not the first destination that springs to mind when you think of snow, but when you think about it, India has mountains that make the Alps look like mole hills. If you are planning to ski in Kashmir, you will probably want to go to the resort of Gulmarg. 13,000 feet anyone?! Be very aware that this is adventure skiing. You will not find a luxury party resort here, just great powder and cheap accommodation. Snowfall is not as predictable as some parts of the world, but when it snows it really snows.
China – Yabuli in Heilongjiang Province is the biggest and perhaps the best resort in China, and training venue for most of their world class athletes. Snowfall is usually good, especially on the runs higher up the mountain, but the Chinese are well prepared to create their own snow, should the need arise, so snow conditions should not be an issue if you are planning to fly to the Middle Kingdom with your skis or board. It is worth noting that their best run is 3km with a vertical drop of more than eight hundred meters. That’s pretty good skiing.
Turkey – Uludağ in the Pontic Mountain range is the resort of choice in Turkey. This is a resort on the up, with 3000 beds currently available, some great off-piste powder and more than a few pine trees to test your slalom skills. The bars and cafes that serve the resort offer up some of the best food in Europe. A glass of mint tea at the end of day as the sun goes down over this very picturesque resort. You’ll think twice about visiting a traditional Alpine resort for your next skiing trip.
Shropshire – Stay with us on this one. The Best Ski Jobs team’s home county may not have mountains as such, but last winter saw us make a bid to establish The Stiperstones as England’s newest ski resort. It may have only lasted a day, but the snow conditions were fantastic, with a good couple of feet of untouched powder on the tops. The resort would be best described as off-piste (watch out for the old lead mine shafts and well camouflaged sheep) but with nobody else to share the slopes, and runs virtually to the door of the Stiperstones Inn (who server a delicious whinberry pie) this is definitely a location to put in your diary.