With 2014 snow season well underway, there’s nothing better than a bit of ski inspiration from Europe’s most exclusive ski resorts. All accessible from Geneva and Zurich, these resorts are perfect for those who want to snow plough and carve their way through the winter months in luxury.
Sledging, skiing, boarding or walking, Verbier is a sport enthusiast’s dream. Perched above the Rhone Valley, it’s a snow paradise popular with the royal family.
- Best for experts/intermediates: Beginners aren’t spoiled for choice in Verbier, but those who know the ropes will have miles of exciting red and black slopes to choose from.
- Off-Piste Ski: Part of the Four Valleys area, Verbier is one of the most popular off-piste resorts due to its access to the beautiful off-piste areas around the Alps.
- Famous visitors: A favourite with the royals, in March last year, Wills surprised Kate with a ski holiday to Verbier following his six week stint as a pilot in the Falklands. Reported to have said ‘Pack your thermals, darling’, Wills wanted some privacy and thought that a ski holiday, wrapped up in hats and goggles, would be the perfect way to enjoy some time together without attracting too much attention.
- Airport: Verbier is a two and half hour drive from Geneva airport.
Courcheval 1850, French Alps
Nestled in the French Alps. Courcheval is split into a number of areas, named after their altitude. Courcheval 1850 is the most exclusive part and is a popular haunt for the social elite.
- Best for après ski: After a day on the slopes, Courcheval 1850 looks after its residents with a huge choice of exclusive restaurants and bars. 1850 is the most popular of the Courcheval areas for nightlife and is a great place to play ‘spot the celebrity’.
- Off-Piste: Courcheval offers plenty of backcountry tours and off-piste guides to explore its varied terrain. As part of the Three Valleys, there are plenty of different areas to discover from the resort.
- Famous visitors: Posh and Becks visited Courcheval in April 2004 with Victoria and the children returning in March 2006. A year later, March 2007, Victoria came back, enjoying a lunch at the Bouc Blan restaurant and cruising down the slopes on her own Chanel skis (of course).
- Airport: there are also good transport links from Geneva airport to the Three Valleys (including Courchevel).
St. Moritz, Switzerland
One of the pioneers of winter holidays in the Alps, St. Moritz is famed for having unrivalled facilities including horse racing, polo, frozen cricket and of course, some world class skiing.
- Best for large groups: St Mortiz is perfect if you have a group of mixed ability. There are enough exciting runs for the more advanced skiers, lots to keep snow-boarders entertained and a nice choice of nurseries and greens for total beginners.
- Off-piste: Although not a huge destination for off-piste, a third of the St. Moritz slopes are black runs and there are some off-piste itinerary tours as well as some rarely tracked backcountry.
- Famous visitors: The list of people who’ve visited St. Moritz reads like a who’s who of Hollywood. Elizabeth Hurley and her family regularly take their holidays here, as does the gorgeous Claudia Schiffer and her family. Robbie Williams, Robert De Niro, Tina Turner and George Clooney are also known to visit the resort.
- Airport: St. Moritz is a two and half hour drive from Zurich airport.
Although the village of Klosters may look like it’s frozen in time, the Rega Pass ski area surrounding it has continued to expand and grow. Klosters is served by 52 lifts and has 307km of runs, as well as access to all the slopes in the Rega Pass ski area.
- Best for snow-boarders: Rega Pass is one of the world’s leading snow-boarding destinations with four board parks, a dedicated board area at Klosters and another in the Jakobshorn region. The nearby resort of Davos recently hosted the Snowboarding World Championships.
- Off-piste: The gentle off-piste available in Klosters is the perfect way for intermediates to try improving their off-piste terrain skills.
- Famous visitors: Kate and Wills were papped skiing in Klosters back in 2004 and their first public kiss was captured in this ski resort way back in January 2006.
- Airport: Klosters is a two and half hour drive from Zurich airport.
Arguably Austria’s finest resort, Zürs has become a classic snow destination, famed for its long ski history and its stunning scenery.
- Best for intermediates: Experts and beginners will find enough to amuse themselves in Zürs, but intermediates and boarders will have the most fun with 44 of the 54 pistes being classed as red and blue runs.
- Off-Piste: Many of Zürs off-piste is accessible by its ski lifts and the deep powder terrain is a great way to introduce beginners to off-piste.
- Famous visitors: Royals, celebrities and aristocracy choose Zürs for its exclusive and secluded accommodation options and its excellent, discreet hospitality. The neighbouring Lech resort was the film location for the ski scenes in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
- Airport: Zürs is a three hour drive from Zurich airport.
With over 200 ski resorts within a three hour drive of the airport, Geneva airport is the main gateway into the Alps. Flight time from London City Airport to Geneva is an hour and a half. Fly to Zurich for an easy transfer to St. Morritz, Klosters and Zürs.