The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and it’s at this time of year that the country becomes split between people who start fantasising about escaping for some winter sun vs people who love the fun and excitement of a ski holiday. With the trend for Bleisure (a business trip which is extended for some leisure time) really starting to take off (excuse the pun!), whether you prefer ski or sun, we have rounded up the best options for you over the winter. Combine skiing with a business trip, whether you want to add on a few days for a long weekend with friends or you want to fly the family out to join you for a week or two.
Business trip: Vancouver
Leisure trip: From Vancouver you are a short distance from five seriously impressive ski resorts, some of which were 2012 Winter Olympic venues.
Whistler Blackcomb Resort – One of the major 2010 Winter Olympic venues, it’s about 2 hrs north of Vancouver and really easy to get to for a couple of nights, or if you are tight for time, a day trip is manageable.
Cypress Mountain – Another 2010 Winter Olympics venue and at only 30 minutes from Vancouver, it’s really accessible. It offers 52 ski trails and has the highest vertical rise of all the North Shore Mountains.
Grouse Mountain – A smaller resort just 15 minutes north of Vancouver which offers 26 ski runs and a range of other activities such as outdoor ice skating.
Mount Seymour – A similar size to Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour is 30 minutes drive from Vancouver. It has 24 ski runs and is really family friendly, hosting Family First Night, a New Year’s event for all ages as well as tubing and tobogganing. A perfect option if you want to add a family holiday on to your trip.
Mount Washington – Well known for being the best resort on Vancouver Island, it is the second busiest resort in British Columbia with 60 trails. They also offer a Snowboard park for those who prefer snowboarding to skiing and cross-country skiing for those who want to try Nordic skiing.
Business trip: Tokyo
Leisure trip: From Tokyo you can take advantage of the quick and efficient public transport to get to at least 5 different resorts, all less than 3 hours away.
GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort – Located near bullet train station, it is a really convenient and can be reached in only 75 minutes. As you exit the train station, the ski resort will welcome you and you can change into your ski clothes and get on to the slopes straight away. There are 17 trails and it’s worth noting that it can get very busy so allow plenty of time to get down in the gondolas after you’ve finished skiing.
Fujimi Panorama Resort – Known for its “heart shaped slope” which makes it perfect for a romantic weekend. In fact, it’s a local saying that if you go to Yatsugatake observation deck and then ski down the heart slope, you will live happily ever after.
Snow Town Yeti – The only place where you can ski with Mount Fuji in the background and with direct buses from Tokyo running from 18 different stations it is easily accessible, although the journey time is slightly longer at 2hrs 40minutes. It has artificial snow machines which allow it to be the earliest resort in Japan to open with skiing starting in October, rather than late November/December like most resorts.
Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Area or “KaruSki – A child friendly option is which is just a one-hour bullet train ride away from Tokyo and offers free lift tickets for kids as well as other activities such as sledding and snow tubing. If you or one of your family prefer après-ski to skiing, they also run a sightseeing lift and night tours as well.
Norn Minakami Ski Resort – Accessible via the bullet train in 90 minutes from Tokyo this resort offers extended hours skiing so whatever the time of day you arrive, you can get on the slopes. They have a range of different passes such as early morning, twilight pass and night pass. They night skiing is highly recommended with the slopes open until 22:00 Sunday to Thursday and midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Be aware that the slopes are only suitable for intermediate level skiers and above.
Business trip: Paris
Leisure trip: It might not seem the most obvious Bleisure city/ski location and as most ski resorts are least 5 hours train journey from Paris you would need a little more time to enjoy the slopes but if you are willing to travel you can get to ski resorts in the France, Austria or Italy.
Courchevel, France – Le Trois Vallees is the location of 5 interconnected villages which make up the world’s largest ski resort, Courchevel. The 5 villages vary in facilitates, atmosphere and cost but all give you access to some amazing ski slopes with over 400 miles of ski runs suitable for beginners and experts alike. In addition to the great slopes, you can enjoy the après-ski in some of the best restaurants in Europe, in fact, Courchevel has the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, outside of Paris.
Avoriaz, France – Accessible from both Paris and Geneva, Avoriaz is a 4 hour train journey plus a 50 minute bus/taxi ride. The village is charming with the benefit of being traffic free. It is a great base for intermediate skiers to explore the local terrain and more experienced skiers to utilise the off-piste options. This French resort gets little sun for most of the winter so can offer good skiing right in to mid/late April.
Sauze d’Oulx, Italy – A 5 hour train journey plus a 15-minute bus/taxi will take you in to Italy where you’ll find this charming village and resort. Part of the 400 km Milky Way ski area it is ideal for intermediate skiers rather than beginners and those who enjoy a lively après-ski atmosphere.
St Anton, Austria – For more experienced skiers, this resort is worth the 8 hour train journey in to Austria. This resort boasts some of the Alps finest off-piste skiing as well as over 340 km of runs. The town is charming and there is a buzz in the air without it being too boisterous.
Val Cenis, France – A firm favourites with French families, this resort has over 125 km of green, blue and red runs as well as a toboggan run and a pool and spa complex. It is also known for its reasonably priced self-catering accommodation and is only 4 hours by train from Paris (plus a 30-minute bus/taxi ride).
Business trip: Geneva
Leisure trip: It is possible to get to Courchevel from Geneva airport in around 2 hours however there are numerous other options, all of which are less than 90 minutes from the airport and are situated in France rather than Switzerland.
Argentiere (Chamonix), France – For the expert skiers, in just 1 hour you can get from Geneva to Argentiere, the north-east of the Chamonix valley which offers pistes of up to 3000m. It also boasts 1,300km vertical black runs and some of the most dangerous terrain in the Alps which is perfect for those who crave an adrenaline rush.
Flaine, France – 75 minutes from Geneva, Flaine is one of the snowiest resorts in the Alps. The actual resort gets close to 6 meters most seasons and the mountain summit has an annual snowfall of around 15meters. In addition, the main bowl is north facing so it gets quite shaded and the snow stays late in to the season. It’s a great environment for beginners and intermediates but there are still options for more advanced skiers.
Avoriaz, France – Accessible from both Paris and Geneva, Avoriaz is 90 minutes from Geneva. Another resort which is renowned for its high snowfall although the resort and the mountain summit don’t differ in depth that much. This French resort gets little sun for most of the winter so can offer good skiing right in to mid/late April. There is plenty of off-piste options but also runs for those who need a little more practice before attempting the black runs.
Business trip: Zurich
Leisure trip: Less than 90 minutes by car or public transport (some resorts are only accessible by car) and you can find yourself in some of most stunning mountainous surroundings our planet has to offer.
Flumserberg, Switzerland – Under an hour by car or public transport, the Flumserberg winter sports resort lies perfect for a day trip or long weekend. Not just a ski resort but a wide range of other winter sports are also on offer – from 3km sledge runs to cross country ski tracks, night skiing (or sledding!) to snowshoe hikes and family fun parks to off piste skiing it really does have something for everyone.
Sattel-Hockstuckli, Switzerland – if your family meet you in Zurich you can load the car up and be at this resort in just 40 minutes. This centrally located, reasonably priced resort is perfect if you want to spend time together and not lose anyone in the hustle and bustle of a larger resort. There are plenty of blue runs and lots of entertainment for both children and adults including the foot suspension bridge which is 1,227ft long and 190ft above the ground as well as the Stuckli Rondo revolving gondolas.
Hoch-Ybrig, Switzerland – If you are looking to relax as well as ski then this child friendly, modern resort just an hour’s drive from Zurich is highly recommended. Children can travel up the mountain on ‘the magic carpet’ and go on the carousel while the whole family can ski, snowboard, toboggan or just enjoy the magnificent views of the 3 mountain peaks.
Mt. Titlis, Switzerland – one of the most popular Swiss ski destinations for both the skiing and the amount of activities you can do, a weekend just won’t be enough to enjoy this resort! For skiers, the highlight has to be the longest downhill run which is over 12 km long and a decrease in altitude of over 2,000 ft! The rest of the 80 km of runs offer variety for both skiers and snowboarders. When you’ve exhausted yourself skiing, take a ride on the Titlis Rotair cable car which will transport you up to the 3,020 m summit, revolving 360 degrees throughout the journey. At the top, you can transfer to the Ice Flyer chairlift which takes you across the only glacier in the area, giving spectacular views of both the glacier and the surrounding mountains. If you don’t enjoy heights, you can go to the edge of the glacier by foot and enter the glacier cave which is 20 m below the surface. If you want to get your heart racing, a walk across the Titlis cliff walk suspension bridge should do just that! It is 3,041 meters above sea level, 100 meters long and can be crossed in approximately 150 steps.
Chäserrugg, Switzerland – This resort is enjoyed by nature lovers all your round. It sits high above the beautiful Lake Walen there is a new 10-seater gondola to take you up to the breath-taking views of six countries and nearly 500 mountain peaks. In winter, there are eight ski runs of varying difficulty as well as a toboggan run which allows you to take in the amazing views.