Winter holidaying, by and large, is synonymous with getaways to snow-coated mountains for a week or two of ski, snowboarding and a little taste of log fire action. Yet, as some of the most popular pastimes come this part of the calendar, the lists of destinations to visit nowadays are seemingly oversaturated with suggestions, making it difficult for one to decipher where exactly they should hit the powder.
This year, with ‘focus’ being the key mantra at GJ, we’ve decided to curate a thoroughly considered shortlist of ski and snowboard destinations that are always a surefire bet, season after season, and we’ve done so in partnership with Farnborough Airport, the UK’s largest business aviation hub – and one that acts as a gateway to some of the continent’s best slopes.
Under an hour’s drive from central London, Farnborough Airport is celebrated for its commitment to a private-aviation experience that brings together a first-class passenger service, history (it is at Farnborough where key civil and military aviation research has happened across the years), superlative architect that evokes the technology and theatrics that come with flying (a stroke of design genius that owes to practice 3DReid) and an intimate, personable feel.
For some of the finest snowsport destinations that a flight from Farnborough Airport can get you near, take a look below…
The marquee name of the Swiss ski scene, St Moritz is the epicentre of tourism in the Alps and is known for having ties to the red-carpet crowd, members of royal families and the high society ever since 1864, a year in which, according to lore, hotelier Johannes Badrutt hosted the area’s first leisure-time visitors.
The allure is all there to see – 217 miles of fine, reliable pistes; forests that appear from storytime pages; early- and mid-20th-century Olympics heritage; and a lake whose blue hue wouldn’t look out of place on a Pantone swatch page. Kulm Hotel is what the frequent flyers would call a grande dame, one known for its colossal yellow facade, food-and-drink venues by names such as Mauro Colagreco and Tom Booton, and 2,000sq m spa area.
Defined by its quartet of villages, each at different altitudes, beginning with community-like Le Praz, at 1,300m, and ending with the nicely heeled Courchevel, at 1,850m, this famed ski resort is cradled nicely in Les Trois Vallées, in which there is access to 600km of marked pistes – many of which are known not just for the fact that they cater to all abilities, but also for their pristine appearance (it is said that Courchevel, itself, invests roughly €30-40m a year to uphold standards).
When looking for a moment of pause, we’d recommend booking a room at L'Apogée Courchevel, the sibling to The Lanesborough (London) and Le Bristol (Paris), where the outdoor hot tubs are a fine place to soothe sore muscles. Cheval Blanc, meanwhile, is renowned for its Alpine cosiness, with its strong use of soft leathers and animal skins within the interiors. And, Grandes Alpes, popular among the design set, veers away from log-cabin clichés and leans into a muted scheme.
Frequently billed as a festive playground for billionaires, it is said that 6,000 of the world’s most affluent enter the resort town every Christmas, driven by the need to witness the frosty terrain come to life with a galaxy of stars (Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Andrews and Roger Moore have all provided the area with an Old Hollywood pedigree). Here, deep-pocketed regulars are ensconced in either luxury chalets or with royal treatment at the Gstaad Palace, whose Alpine fantasyland interiors have been welcoming legends of high society since 1913.
The skiing is, of course, marvellous on the mountains, which include Eggli and Wispile, not to mention glacier- and heli-skiing. Private instructors and guides are de rigueur and often come in the form of former Swiss champions. If you can, do nab an invite to The Eagle Club, a destination littered with old money, wiener schnitzels and a sea of magnums.
This village, noted for its rather exquisite 14th-century church, is perhaps the most exclusive ski resort in Austria’s Bludenz district. And, though it’s flush with well-kept, gentle slopes – access to Zürs, St Anton and Warth-Schröcken provide it with an extensive reach, and, in total, there’s 303km of linked pistes – there are still testing routes that’d challenge even the most seasoned of knees.
A pretty riverside setting lends Lech the neat, fairytale slant that most people seek out when jetting away during winter, and the fuss-free-appearing chalets, at least when compared to more monied rivals, keep the topography seemingly modest and down-home – a notion bolstered by the widely held view that even public transport moves quietly and elegantly here. A 'Resort Full' sign helps prevent overcrowding and an overall Disneyfied effect.
Want more from Farnborough Airport? We take a deep-dive into its architecture and history...
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