All Downhill From Here: nine top-notch ski getaways

All Downhill From Here: nine top-notch ski getaways

Winter Travel: All Downhill From Here

Ski-loving Torontonians have it rough. The city’s in a topographic dead zone. How else to explain hour-long lineups at Blue Mountain? The only real option for good skiing: get out of town, the farther the better. Here, a few world-class destinations (that aren’t Whistler).

Winter Travel: Distances From Toronto

1.  Lake Placid,
New York

(530 km)
2.  Stowe, Vermont
(690 km)
3.  Charlevoix, Quebec
(920 km)
4. Golden,
British Columbia

(3,600 km)
5. Jackson, Wyoming
(3,000 km)
6. Park City, Utah
(3,000 km)
7. Val d’Isère, France
(6,500 km)
8. Verbier, Switzerland
(6,500 km)
9. Lech, Austria
(6,500 km)
Lake Placid, New York Left: Whiteface; top: Lake Placid Lodge; bottom J. Lohr Café
 

1. CLOSE | Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid is best known for hockey—it’s the site of the “Miracle on Ice,” the storied run by the upstart American team that unexpectedly won gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics. The area should be better known for skiing. New York state has more ski resorts than anywhere else on the East Coast, and the ones in Lake Placid didn’t host the Olympics twice for nothing.

WHERE TO SKI
Whiteface
With so much to choose from in New York state, what sets Whiteface apart? It’s the highest vertical, it has the steepest runs, and we think it’s the continent’s best skiing east of the Rockies. whiteface.com

WHERE TO STAY
Lake Placid Lodge
It’s the Platonic form of a ski lodge: exposed wood everywhere, plaid blankets galore and roaring fireplaces in every room. From $375 a night. lakeplacidlodge.com

WHERE TO EAT
J. Lohr Café
Whiteface has excellent on-mountain options. J. Lohr Café is one of the best—a wine bar that serves simple aprés-ski grub (cheese boards, salads, etc.) alongside a well-considered selection of bottles. whiteface.com

Charlevoix, Quebec Left: Le Massif (Courtesy of Le Massif De Charlevoix); right: Villa Marvic
 

2. CLOSE | Charlevoix, Quebec

Charlevoix is just over an hour from Quebec City, but few Ontarians make the trek. That should change. In 2001, a new highway opened between Quebec City (which is the nearest major airport) and the mountain, and last year a direct train service launched along that same route. The company that runs the mountain is currently pouring more than $350 million into it—for new gondolas, hotels and upscale restaurants. Go now, before it becomes as overbuilt and overcrowded as Tremblant.

WHERE TO SKI
Le Massif
It gets more powder than Tremblant, and more than half of its runs are classified as difficult. Le Massif is not a traditional family resort—visitors come for the skiing, not the hot chocolate. lemassif.com

WHERE TO STAY
Villa Marvic
Chalet rentals are the best bets for lodging, and Villa Marvic is our favourite. The place is straight out of the Alps—it sleeps 15, has a massive hot tub and comes with a personal chef. From $1,500 a night. villamarvic.com

WHERE TO EAT
Au P’tit Resto Suisse
The fondue is good, but try the Bagnes raclette, a gooey cheese dish cooked over the giant wood-burning fire in the middle of the dining room. auxportesdusoleil.com

Stowe, Vermont Left: Stowe Mountain Resort; right: Trapp Family Lodge
 

3. CLOSE | Stowe, Vermont

Vermont is known for covered bridges and mountains. Stowe is the biggest of the latter. Porter now flies to Burlington—a short drive from Stowe—and doesn’t charge to check skis.

WHERE TO SKI
Stowe Mountain Resort
Two mountains—Mansfield and Spruce Peak—make up the resort, offering more than 75 trails for all levels. stowe.com

WHERE TO STAY
Trapp Family Lodge
The von Trapp family—yes, the singing ones—opened the lodge in 1950. It sounds gimmicky, but it’s by far the nicest place to stay in Stowe. From $150 a night. trappfamily.com

WHERE TO EAT
Frida’s Taqueria and Grill
Tacos are crazy trendy in Toronto, and they make excellent greasy ski food here.  fridataqueria.com

Golden, British Columbia Left: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
 

1. FARTHER | Golden, British Columbia

The Rocky Mountains are, indisputably, home to the best skiing in North America. Thanks to a host of complicated geographical factors, they feature killer verticals and near-constant powder. Whistler is busy—Golden is a quainter alternative.

WHERE TO SKI
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
The Canadian Rockies are all about bowls—giant, powdery craters at the tops of mountains. The four on Kicking Horse are some of the finest. They don’t call it champagne powder for nothing. kickinghorseresort.com

WHERE TO STAY
Cedar House Chalets
The complex has five chalets, which can sleep up to 14 of your closest friends. From $200 a night. cedarhousechalets.com

WHERE TO EAT
Cedar House Restaurant
Pacific Northwest fine dining is all about maple glazing—even on the restaurant’s famous buffalo. cedarhousechalets.com

Jackson, Wyoming Left: Amangani (Courtesy of Aman Resorts); top: Snake River Brew Pub; bottom: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
 

2. FARTHER | Jackson, Wyoming

Skiing is, above all, an extreme sport. Jackson is more extreme than most places: the mountain is full of steep fall lines, tight chutes, abrupt cliffs. And at the base: extreme shopping.

WHERE TO SKI
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Home to some of the most pee-in-your-snowpants scary skiing on the continent. Corbet’s Couloir is a must-try run for any enthusiast. jacksonhole.com

WHERE TO STAY
Amangani
The first North American location of the lavish Aman Resorts chain. First-class pampering and first-class views—it’s perched on a cliff over­looking a national park. From $975 a night. amanresorts.com

WHERE TO EAT
Snake River Brewpub
Conquering the slopes of Jackson Hole should be rewarded with a beer. Snake River, a local microbrewery, offers strong and steely IPAs to keep the (adrenaline-fuelled) high going. snakeriverbrewing.com

Park City, Utah Left: Deer Valley Resort; bottom: 350 Main Brasserie
 

3. FARTHER | Park City, Utah

Lindsey Vonn fans take note: the U.S. ski team uses Park City as its home base. And if skiers aren’t your thing (and Hollywood stars are), come in January for the Sundance film festival.

WHERE TO SKI
Deer Valley Resort
Stein Eriksen, the Norwegian gold medalist and ski legend, is director of skiing, which should say enough about the quality
of the place. deervalley.com

WHERE TO STAY
Stein Eriksen Lodge
Eriksen wouldn’t lend his name to a dump. The ski-in, ski-out chalet is Utah’s only five-star hotel. Don’t miss its excellent spa. From $700 a night. steinlodge.com

WHERE TO EAT
350 Main ­Brasserie
Like Aspen or Whistler, Park City’s main drag is awash with fine dining. The best is 350 Main, a known favourite of skiers and celebs. 350main.com

Val d’IsÈre, France Left: Val d’IsÈre; bottom: Marco Polo
 

1. FARTHEST | Val d’IsÈre, France

The little French town sits in the Tarentaise Valley on the Italian border, which has more top-rated, World Cup–approved ski resorts than anywhere else in the world. It’s a postcard version of the Alps: peak-roofed chalets, accented European skiers and giant mountains in every sight line.

WHERE TO SKI
Val d’Isère
The Olympics were held here in 1992, partly because of the difficulty of its 300 kilometres of trails. But do as the locals do and go off-piste—backcountry skiing—for some real adventure. valdisere.com

WHERE TO STAY
Marco Polo
An in-house cinema. A pool decorated with gold leaf. A fromagerie. This is Alpine living at its finest. From $40,000 a week. oxfordski.com

WHERE TO EAT
La Fruitière
In France, on-mountain eats come with Michelin stars and a 500- bottle wine cellar. lafoliedouce.com

Verbier, Switzerland Sayoleyres
 

2. FARTHEST | Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier is one big party. In the same way Aussies come to Whistler to hang out and teach skiing, aspiring World Cup skiers and bored European playboys and -girls come to Verbier to settle in for the winter. The slopes are steep and long, the off-piste runs are unrivalled, and the parties, from aprés-ski till dawn, are legendary—possibly the most fun you can have in a toque. It all comes at a price, but in Verbier, what’s money?

WHERE TO SKI
Savoleyres
On the south side, gentle slopes for beginners. On the north, some of the roughest tree-strewn off-piste skiing in the world. We recommend hiring a guide (to avoid falling off the mountain). verbier.ch

WHERE TO STAY
The Lodge
Sir Richard Branson owns this chalet. There’s a staff of 13, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, an ice rink and a Virgin Touch spa. Oh, and all the champagne you can drink. From $87,000 a week. thelodge.virgin.com

WHERE TO EAT
Chez Dany
Most chalets in the area come with a private chef, so the dining scene in town is fairly limited. Chez Dany serves hearty Swiss mountain food with views of the Baganes Valley. verbier.ch

Lech, Austria Bottom-right: Aurelio Clubhouse
 

3. FARTHEST | Lech, Austria

Don’t go to Innsbruck. It’s big and urban and, unless you’re into crowds and overpriced schnitzel, not worth it. Lech, however, is an old farming village that’s managed to maintain its innate quaintness while still attracting Europe’s most discerning skiers.

WHERE TO SKI
Lech Zurs am Arlberg
Lech is all about comfort—yes, it’s in the Alps, but you don’t have to be Hermann Maier to tackle some of its tamer runs. It’s also home to the best snow in Austria. lechzuers.com

WHERE TO STAY
Aurelio ­Clubhouse
Want to stay at the nicest spot in town? The chalet’s Russian owner has to approve you first. Makes sense, since his amenity-rich pad starts at $16,500 a night. aureliolech.com

WHERE TO EAT
Backstube
Dinner is made by your chalet’s private chef. During the day you’ll still need bread and strudel to snack on, though, and Backstube—a bakery at the base of the mountain—has some of the region’s best. backstubelech.at

Whoa… You Can Ski There?!

A quick look at three of the world’s most exotic—and unexpected— ski destinations

Gulmarg, Kashmir

Gulmarg, Kashmir

The Himalayas: Genghis Khan couldn’t cross them, but you can ski them. British expats started the trend, and Indians who could afford it soon followed. It’s the only place you can ski beside monkeys.

Oukaimeden, Morocco

Oukaimeden, Morocco

There’s skiing in the Atlas Mountains, just outside Marrakesh. It may not be the world’s best, but taking in North African vistas on a pair of skis is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Portillo, Chile

Portillo, Chile

Portillo is where northern ski teams go to train in the summer (when it’s winter there). The ski resort is well developed but, buried deep in the Andes, otherwise wildly remote.