When choosing our summer getaway, the places to go seem to get wilder and wackier each time. Your neighbour just got back from whale shark diving, whilst your Gran toured Borneo on a handcart. Your friends have seen it all, from the gap year backpackers to the Morrocco-bound all-inclusive crew. Even those opting to stay in the UK are getting all yurty with eco-holidays and meditation retreats. How can you top that? It might be time to turn your thoughts towards winter and the same old ski destinations Be the envy of everyone you know by working your winter holiday into an unforgettable experience, using inspiration from these top ten ski destinations with a difference.
Firstly, try a couple of European destinations with a twist. Head over to the Czech Republic for cheap and cheerful skiing, where beginners are welcomed with open arms and the beer flows cheaply. Go from the city of Prague by bus, train or plane to reach some eccentric little resorts with a laid back attitude to working the piste.
Les Rousses, France
Or try Les Rousses for a really authentic French feel. This ditches the cookie-cutter Alps scene and the pretty poor food farmed out to a lot of European resorts. Instead you get cheese tasting, stone cottages, honey beer and some really beautiful snow. Quiet and very, very French, it helps to know the language conversationally here.
Mount Hermon, Israel
Get yourself on a plane to Israel in search of the best snow around. Bordering directly with Syria and Lebanon, Mount Hermon overlooks mine fields and some pretty rough terrain in parts. The site is a popular tourist attraction and is safe as houses on the resort. This little gem has 143 runs and opens only in the dead of Israeli winter for about fifty days, so catch it while you can.
Did you know you can ski in China? Yabuli Ski Resort near Harbin is the biggie over there and it can match anything anywhere for its accommodation of beginners and experts alike. Hotels, gyms, entertainment and restaurants about in the village and you can hang at the ice rink come evening time. The China national team ski and board here, so watch out for them.
The USA and Canada are global giants in the skiing world but there are some destinations better known than others. There is something pretty cool about hitting the only all year round ski resort in America and you can do this by heading straight to the Timberline Lodge, near Mount Hood in Oregon. This is a pricey one, so watch out.
Or try the Middlebury College Snow Bowl where holidaymakers ski amongst students of the American university which still owns the resort. It has everything you need there and is staffed by students all trained and qualified in their ski ability and emergency response procedures. Go in February and see the traditional cap and gown-clad piste run of graduating students.
Combine a Christmas trip with the wonderland visions found in Yllas Ski Resort, Lapland. You can do Santa’s grotto and the reindeer, take a husky sledding ride and see the Northern Lights at night with a glass of schnapps or a hot cuppa. The skiing is to die for and the accommodation errs on the side of luxurious in this area of the country.
Turkey has some great winter go-to resorts, like the Uldag Bursa retreat which blows all of your ideas about what Turkey should be like out of the water. No sandy beaches or rocky ruins here, just snow and lots of it. The size and scope of resorts like Uldag Bursa will surprise you and the food is reportedly very good at Turkish ski locations, with a big emphasis on lamb stews and hearty breakfasts.
Or, head to a place which certainly knows snow. Russia has countless resorts ranging from the super-lavish to the pretty basic. Whatever you choose to go for, the powder will be outstanding as Russia gets some of the most fierce snowfall the world over. Try Krasnaya Polyana Resort close to Sochi, which has great hotels and amazing slopes. There’s even helicopter skiing for the real contenders.
Finally, a place you never thought it possible to ski. One of the hottest destinations on the planet harbours one of the coolest resorts in the world. India hosts the Gulmarg in the Balamura region for the adventurous piste-seeker. You can get from Kashmir to here in about two hours and experience the beautiful, remote and peaceful slopes of this developing resort. No queues at the gondola and fresh snow all the way home. what more could you ask for?
For those who truly love to ski, who could resist these destinations with a twist?
About the author: Keith Swift blogs for Holiday Gems. Keith first hit the slopes when he was 12 years old, and had been completely addicted ever since.