Yes, March is all but here. At long last, flowers will bloom, girls will wear sundresses, and you can finally pull the convertible out of the garage. But before you put your parka in storage just yet, remember that early spring is still the best time of year to hit the slopes. Your ski days will be much longer, the air on the mountains won’t be so bitterly cold, and the après ski nightlife will really kick into high gear.
So if you’re in the market for mounds and mounds of fresh snowfall, obnoxiously photogenic scenery, and the best and brightest bluebird days this spring, here are the five resorts across the world you need to visit immediately. And whatever you do, don’t forget the Single Best Way to Fight Off Post-Ski Soreness.
Where it is: Banff, Alberta, Canada
Fly into: Calgary International Airport (YYC)
Stay at: Sunshine Mountain Lodge
Imbibe here: The Chimney Corner
Sunshine Village doesn’t have a single snowmaking machine. Think about that. This resort is so confident in its yearly snowfall that they don’t even have a contingency plan. And every year, this one especially, it works out for them. They’re currently rocking an 80-inch, 100-percent fresh-not-manmade-whatsoever snowpack.
You can stay directly on the slopes at the world-class Sunshine Mountain Lodge. After a day of carving through powder, soak in the mountainside hot tub for a moment. Then head to the Chimney Corner for some elk stew (only in Canada!) and peruse their robust wine list. Whatever you do, just don’t pretend you’re a wine snob.
Where it is: Carrabassett Valley, Maine, United States
Fly into: Portland International Jetport (PWM)
Stay at: Airbnb a condo
Imbibe here: Widowmaker Lounge
Most years, this molehill on the East Coast wouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath with these other locations. But just last week, they received over five feet of fresh powder—with certainly more to come. Sure, you’ll have a two-and-a-half hour drive ahead of you from the airport, but it’s two-and-a-half hours of serene Maine forestry, so there is no need to complain. Sugarloaf isn’t known for its accommodations, but most of the condos are quite lovely and have the added bonus of being directly on the mountain—so Airbnb one of those. Ski out of your condo, ride the lift straight to the peak, and sail through some waste-deep powder in the Snowfields. When it’s all said and done, take a minute and stop by Widowmaker Lounge for a Scotch and some fried green beans. You’ve earned this. And remember: Aspen will still be there next year.
Where it is: Hokkaido, Japan
Fly into: Asahikawa (AKJ), Tokachi-Obihiro (OBO), or New Chitose (CTS) Airports
Stay at: Risonare Tomamu
Imbibe here: Tsubaki Salon
Tomamu has some tremendous runs, to be sure, but you don’t trek all the way across the Pacific just for the skiing. The main draw of Tomamu is their ice village, a winter playground where everything—from the whiskey glasses to the bar stools to the walls and roofs and candleholders—is carved out of ice. When you’re sick of freezing your nuts off, retire to your room in the Risonare Tomamu, a steel-and-glass behemoth overlooking the resort. Change into a snazzy suit and head to the 32nd floor to find Tsubaki Salon, where you’ll sip some Hibiki 18-year in a classy bar and enjoy some soothing piano jazz and breathtaking views. The ice village is only open until the middle of March, before it melts away into memory. Be sure to bring some hand warmers.
Where it is: Åre, Jämtland, Sweden
Fly into: Åre Östersund Airport (OSD)
Stay at: Copperhill Mountain Lodge
Imbibe here: Restaurang Fjallgarden
Åre, the ski resort, boasts six peaks, nearly 90 trails, and an astonishing 42 lifts. Åre, the ski town, at the base of the mountain(s), has a similarly robust offering. Charming in nature yet cosmopolitan in nurture, the village has everything from rustic Scandinavian mom-and-pops to globally renowned White Guide restaurants. But you’re here for the skiing—as is everyone else. Åre consistently attracts the global crème de la crème of the sport. For years, each spring, the resort played host to the Jon Olsson Invitational, an international free-skiing event. This March, it’s the Junior World Alpine Skiing Championships (March 6th to 14th), where you’ll learn who’s going to be the best in the world in five years. After a day of being put in your place by 14-year-olds, head to Restaurang Fjallgarden for live music and a jovial après ski crowd. Enjoy a beer, or get traditional and order some mead. Then ride the gondola up the mountain and retire to Copperhill Mountain Lodge, where an award-winning spa and panoramic views of the lake await you.
Where it is: Annecy, Haute-Savoie, France
Fly into: Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport (LYS) or Geneva Airport (GVA)
Stay at: Chalet Alpage
Imbibe here: Le Cinq
When you think of a quintessential ski village, maybe you think of Whistler or Lake Tahoe. Both are excellent winter destinations, of course, but if you crave an authentic ski village experience, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than La Clusaz. Visitors take gondolas to restaurants and some residents wear snowshoes. To tie a bow on the authenticity factor, stay at the Chalet Alpage, a 10-room boutique hotel with a glass-domed indoor-outdoor heated pool. Dinner is at Le Cinq, an establishment so romantic it’s almost unsettling. Then you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to enjoy what you came here for: some of the best spring skiing on the globe. Due to a generous winter dumping, plus a perfect mix of altitude and region, you can enjoy fluffy powder on a balmy bluebird day. For evidence, refer to Candide Thovex’s viral video of the resort. Just don’t try any of those tricks at home—or, for that matter, at La Clusaz.
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