Winter is already here, and along with the Christmas mood come the plans for the upcoming holiday trips. Ski destinations around the world are evolving and changing along with the preference of the connoisseurs of the good slopes. We've researched a few options for places you can really enjoy during your ski vacation this winter. Here they are:
Riders Hotel, Laax, Switzerland
If you associate skiing in Switzerland with only the local specialties, cuckoo clocks and the red-cheeked royal faces on the slopes, you obviously have not been to Laax. The world center for freestyle skiing and snowboarding offers a significantly different alternative for spending the winter vacation. After a complete renovation last year, Hotel Riders is aimed squarely at the adrenalin-thirsty crowd. The design of the rooms is modern. Only one of them has a bath, but all have floor-to-ceiling windows. Many looking out over the frozen lake from which the carbon-neutral hotel derives its heat.
The place looks like one of the party-hotspots in the resort. A bar on the ground floor hosts free gigs on Friday nights, and a 700-capacity club in the basement heaves at weekends. Breakfast is a fuelling but classic spread of cheeses, hams, breads and müsli. In the evenings things at the restaurant get more interesting with a veggie-only menu. Next door you’ll find the Freestyle Academy, featuring skate ramps, trampolines and dry-slope jumps into an airbag, ideal for perfecting your rodeo flips before strolling five minutes up the road to the Crap Sogn Gion cable car. From there you’ll have access to the Laax and Flims’ varied intermediate terrain and four snow parks – 70 per cent of it is above 6,500ft, meaning seasons are long and the snow is reliable.
Huus Gstaad, Switzerland
From the balconies of this beautiful hotel you can see the private jets landing below. However, to truly immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this place, it is a good idea to get there by train, cranking upwards in a Grand Budapest Hotel-style carriage from Montreux. This hotel landed recently above Gstaad’s neighbouring village, Saanen, with the sort of chalet-style timbers that have been around the area for many years now. Inside, however, things look very different - an open space with lots of air and light, illuminated by purple and green colors in the interior, wine-red lamps and tartans set against dark wood.
You can sit in one of the comfortable armchairs with the cocktail-menu in hand while the DJ is warming up for the weekend. The restaurant serves interesting dishes with pumpkin, chestnuts and mushrooms, but in winter the most attractive place is always the ''Fondue hut''. The view of the mountains and the slopes is equally beautiful from the sauna, the swimming pool, the bedrooms or the bar terrace. There is also a rich program of complementary activities - from snowshoe treks to snowboarding and ski lessons for the kids.
Le Cerf, Amoureux, Cordon-Combloux, France
From the outside, this is an ultra-traditional Alpine chalet, set on the ‘balcony of Mont Blanc’ between the villages of Cordon and Combloux, and 10 minutes from famously pretty Megeve. But it was revamped and reopened last winter by Parisian Lisa Konckier-Abrat. She removed all clichés of alpine design and inserted elements of wabi-sabi into the interior with inherent raw soothing elegance. Traditionally, the walls and ceilings are covered with pine, but here they have been sanded to a pale patina. The armchairs and beds are covered with linen sheets in natural tones. Old dressers and coffee tables complement the story the French designer tells. The hotel has only 11 bedrooms, some overlooking Mont Blanc from their balconies. Couples from France, Switzerland and Italy are among the regular visitors there. The tranquil chalet attracts them with the make-yourself-at-home vibe, the just-made snacks around the fire, the homemade food and fine drinks at the bar. Everything is small but perfectly formed and considered. The menu in the restaurant is short but offers the best of the classics - fondue, raclette, tartiflette. And in the small spa there is massage and yoga. A cozy guest house with all the necessary conditions for a wonderful holiday.