If you thought a ski holiday was all about the downhill to a vin chaud then we’re here to show you that the après is getting an upgrade. From mindfulness to the Northern Lights, SheerLuxe contributor Georgina Blaskey has rounded up the best short breaks bringing so much more than simply skiing to your winter escape….
Ski and…. mindfulness in Chamonix
Take a three-day break at Hip Chalet’s flagship property in Chamonix, and connect your mind to your body to help improve your skiing techniques. Every element of this holiday is aimed at wellbeing, relaxation and good times. Jamie, founder of Hip Chalets, has skied the world and knows Chamonix like the back of his hand, he is also a keen yogi and meditator, not to mention former British number one free ride skier. Bringing mindfulness to your skiing will not only improve your techniques and mental strength on the slopes, it will also ground you and lift your spirits.
Ski and… gourmet dining in St. Anton
In the kitchen of the five-star Hotel Tannenhof is award-winning chef James Baron, recently named ‘Austrian Chef of the Year 2017’ by the Gault Millau guide. Experience James’s seven-course gourmet menu, which can be tailor-made to fit your requirements, before you sleep peacefully in one of the hotel’s suites. We love the penthouse, which comes with a free-standing bath, dressing room, sun terrace and office (including a Mac, should you need to work). Following an indulgent evening, hosts Judith Volker and Axel Bach can arrange for a seasoned St. Anton guide to take you on a Gourmet Ski Safari – skiing to culinary hotspots across the Arlberg. Stop off at the Hospiz Alm in St. Christoph, a favourite haunt of Prince Charles and Boris Becker, before trialling the new lift system taking you into Zürs. Ski the legendary ‘White Ring’ circuit finishing in Lech with a late lunch at the best mountain restaurant, Rud-Alpe.
Ski and… sleeping in an Igloo in France
Wrap up warm for a truly memorable night and experience sleeping in an authentic, hand-built igloo on a high alpine plateau at 2,300m. Inside, there is a sleeping platform which is higher than the entrance tunnel to make the most of the warmer air rising for comfortable sleeping conditions. In the walls are little shelves for candles and, if you’re feeling creative, you can make ice carvings on the walls. After a star-gazing stroll to dinner in a nearby chalet, you’ll return to your igloo to sleep, then wake up to the deserted mountains before the skiers take over.
Ski and… the Northern Lights in Lapland
Levi, Lapland, is the ultimate winter wonderland offering breath-taking scenery and frozen lakes. But there’s so much to do on a break to Lapland beyond skiing, so make the most of the area and go on a three-hour safari including a 10km sled ride under the night sky in search of the Northern Lights. The sleds are driven by a guide and you’ll warm up in at a Kammi hut for drinks and a snack afterwards. The spectacular Aurora Borealis are visible approximately 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland, so it’s not too late to book for this season’s spectacular.
Ski and… moonlit snowshoeing in the Southern Alps
Snowshoeing has to be one of the best ways to explore the mountains in winter, especially if you want the experience of a ski resort but are a nervous first-timer. There are hundreds of beautiful snowshoe walks and the dedicated guides will choose the most suitable routes for the group and conditions. You can walk through forests, around frozen lakes, across snow meadows, up a summit or along the valley floor with the mountains towering over you. You can even go out for a moonlit snowshoe and experience the majesty of the mountains by night.
Ski and… windsurfing in Finland
According to the team at Talvi Surf, windsurfing on ice is a lot easier than on water in the summer. You don’t need to drift in waves or spend hours falling, the focus is on the main thing, learning how to feel the sail. Apart from the sailing, you’ll also get chance to try something else – ice fishing, Frisbee golf, alpine curling... whatever suits the conditions. For lunch, expect a small camp fire with coffee and sausages, to fuel you for a day of winter sports with a twist.
Ski and… hot springs in Italy
Opulent and luxurious, the five-star Grand Bagni Nuovi first opened in Bormio as a spa resort in 1836 and was reopened in 2003 after a long refurbishment. It remains redolent of the belle époque, with Murano glass chandeliers and art nouveau flourishes in the grand rooms.
For a truly relaxing stay, enjoy a hydro-massage bath fed with thermal water before moving to the spa, with indoor and outdoor thermal facilities including 11 open-air baths, Jacuzzis, saunas and a Turkish bath. There are 70 expert treatments on offer, try the facial with mud made from the thermal waters, and guests can walk through the park (or take the hotel shuttle-bus) to the 12-room Hotel Bagni Vecchi, where the outdoor pool has magnificent mountain views.