Coolest new hotels
1. Le Totem Flaine, France
This is a big winter for French ski-hotel openings and Le Totem, in high-altitude Flaine, is the pick of them. Until now the renowned Sibuet family’s hotels — of which Les Fermes de Marie in Megève is the best known — have been four or five-star with prices to match, but hip Le Totem is three-star and aimed at a younger crowd. Expect avant-garde art mixed with vintage furniture, “woollen fabrics influenced by Native American culture” and a buzzy après-ski cocktail bar. The Sibuets intend to open a series of similar hotels in the Alps, with the next planned for Avoriaz.
Details: B&B doubles are from €150 (£110). The hotel opens on December 18 (terminal-neige.com)
2. Hotel Pashmina Val Thorens, France
Europe’s highest resort has attracted huge investment from hoteliers. Pashmina will become the fourth five-star hotel in Val Thorens, which was once known for its cheap student breaks in simple apartments (try the Koh-I Nor or Altapura). Pashmina has a slick contemporary style, and a spa with a pool, hot tubs and treatments using L’Occitane products.
Details: Half-board junior suites are from €510. The hotel opens on December 12 (hotelpashmina.com)
3. White 1921 Courchevel 1850, France
The French designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte is the man behind the chic interior of this new 28-room hotel, which has a sister property in Saint-Tropez (opened in 2012). It’s run by LVMH, the group that heads up Louis Vuitton and Moët & Chandon. Expect minimalism mixed with splashes of colour, as well as two salons that are likely to go down well with Courchevel 1850’s socialite ski set. White 1921 will have a spa with a sauna, hammam and hot tub. It’s in the centre of the resort, close to lifts.
Details: B&B doubles are from €290. The hotel opens on December 19 (white1921.com/courchevel)
4. Le Taos Tignes, France
There seems to be an American Wild West trend in the French Alps this winter. This four-star hotel in Tignes will have a “New Mexico-inspired ambiance” — Taos is a village in the Rocky Mountains, New Mexico, that caught the eye of the owners. The interior will feature ranch-style wooden panels, sheepskin rugs, Mexican blankets on beds and a steakhouse. The spa will have a hammam and an indoor heated pool.
Details: B&B doubles are from €183. The hotel opens on December 4 (hotel-le-taos.com)
5. Le Yule Val d’Isère, France
Le Yule is a 41-room boutique property with a vintage Scandinavian style. Expect blond wood floors, wood-panelled walls, furs and fireplaces. It’s where the Hotel Grand Paradis used to be, right on the slopes, so it’s ski-in and ski-out. The inside has been transformed. There’s a pool and spa with treatment rooms, saunas and a steam room. The restaurant will serve local dishes.
Details: Doubles with half-board are from €350. The hotel opens on December 9 (leyule.fr)
6. Peaks Place Laax, Switzerland
This is a cool new apart-hotel of 74 self-catering apartments with one to three rooms, perfect for friends looking for a reasonably priced break in a lively resort. There’s a spa with a pool, sauna, hot tub and treatments, as well as a bar and a restaurant.
Details: Ski Safari has a seven-night stay from £550pp (four sharing a two-bed apartment) or £785pp (two sharing a one-bed apartment). The hotel opens on December 5 (01273 224060,skisafari.com, peaks-place.com)
7. adeo Alpin Hotel St Johann, Austria
The former Olympic skiing gold medallist Hermann “the Herminator” Maier, with his former team-mate Rainer Schoenfelder, are opening a three-star, budget hotel in the small resort of St Johann. Rooms will be simple but comfortable. Maier plans to start a chain of properties to bring skiing within the means of the less wealthy. There’s to be a spa and a restaurant.
Details: Three nights’ room-only in a double room is from €174. The hotel opens on January 15 (adeo-alpin.com)
8. Hôtel A Lârze Le Châble, Switzerland
Le Châble, a village at 820m (2,690ft), is connected to the gondola that travels up to Les Ruinettes in Verbier, so there’s excellent access to all the slopes of one of the most popular Swiss resorts. Hôtel A Lârze is a ten-room hotel built out of larch, from which the hotel gets its name. This is for those after a down-to-earth hideaway, but with comfortable rooms, wi-fi and a sauna for relaxing in after hitting the slopes.
Details: B&B doubles are from £107 during the ski season. The hotel opens on December 10 (alarze.ch)
Best new hotspots
9. Grand Bornand by rail, France
A new direct Eurostar service to Lyons, which launched this summer, opens up a swathe of resorts previously inaccessible by fast train. To reach the charming village of Grand Bornand take a train from Lyons to Annecy (£42 return), before hopping on a bus up the hill (€8.20).
Details: A week’s self-catering is from £409pp, based on two sharing an apartment at the Village De Lessy (0844 5760170,peakretreats.co.uk). Eurostar (eurostar.com) returns to Lyons are from £89. For more, see snowcarbon.co.uk
10. New ski area, Austria
A €20 million gondola will link the traditional village of Fieberbrunn to the resorts of Saalbach-Hinterglemm for the first time this winter. The new area has 220km of terrain, making it Austria’s second-largest. Fieberbrunn will be offered by Inghams.
Details: A week’s half-board at the four-star Sporthotel Fontana costs from £799pp, including flights and transfers (01483 791114,inghams.co.uk)
11. Mega resort in Utah America
The US has a new ski resort this year thanks to a link between Park City and Canyons. The two will be connected by gondola to become one large resort called Park City, covering 7,300 acres. The new lift forms part of a $50 million (£33 million) project, which will result in the creation of new slopes, upgraded chairlifts and renovated restaurants.
Details: Ten nights’ B&B at the four-star Silverado Lodge costs from £1,425pp, based on four sharing a two-bedroom lodge, including flights and transfers (01273 224060, skisafari.com)
12. Pre-Olympics visit South Korea
If you’re looking for a seriously quirky ski experience, South Korea is hard to rival. Yongpyong is the country’s biggest resort and it will be home to the alpine events at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Games preparations have barely started, so you can still experience this resort at its most authentic.
Details: An eight-night tour of Yongpyong and Seoul costs from £1,280pp, including flights and transfers (01273 224060,skisafari.com). For more information see gokorea.co.uk
Best on a budget
13. Half-price rooms in Whistler Canada
With the most extensive ski area in North America and lively après-ski, Whistler has long been a favourite with British skiers. This season one of its iconic hotels, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, has some tempting offers.
Details: Frontier Travel is offering ten nights room-only in early December at Fairmont Chateau Whistler from £1,185pp with flights, ski carriage and transfers; a 50 per cent discount with an upgrade thrown in (020 8776 8709, frontier-travel.co.uk). Also see Carrier (0161 492 1359, carrier.co.uk) for Fairmont Chateau Whistler deals
14. Early-booking deal Austria
The laid-back village of Hinterglemm is connected to Saalbach by extensive slopes. The mountains suit intermediates, with plenty of long red runs. The area is less busy than the likes of Verbier and St Anton, so rates are usually reasonable.
Details: Inghams has a week’s chalet-catering at the four-star Chalet Hotel Pinzgauerhof from £699pp departing on December 19, with flights and transfers included for bookings made by October 17 (01483 791114, inghams.co.uk)
15. A week from £635pp France
There’s an outdoor hot tub at the Neilson Hotel Escapade in Alpe d’Huez There are also some good rates at the hotel, which is new to Neilson’s stable this winter. Alpe d’Huez’s slopes suit all levels and are famous for the 10km (6.2 miles) Sarenne run, which has some challenging sections for experts.
Details: A week’s chalet-board is from £635pp with flights, transfers, ski guiding and a £25 bar credit, departing on December 19 (0330 0143351, neilson.co.uk)
16. Two-country holiday Italy and France
The resort of La Rosière is linked to La Thuile in Italy, so you can ski in two countries; the village of La Rosière is high, at 1,850m. Good value compared with nearby Les Arcs and Val d’Isère (but with just 150km of piste), it is a great choice for a quiet escape. Most of the apartments and hotels are ski-in, ski-out.
Details: Ski Collection has a seven-night stay in Les Balcons de la Rosière self-catering apartment from £1,835 for a family of five, departing on December 19 or during January, with a Eurotunnel crossing included (02392 890960, skicollection.co.uk)
17. Short break in Gressoney Italy
Fancy a short break for less than £600, staying half-board at a four-star hotel, with flights, transfers and lift passes included? That’s what Ski Solutions is offering in the charming resort of Gressoney in Italy’s Aosta Valley. The resort is part of the Monterosa ski area with 180km of well-connected pistes.
Details: Ski Solutions has four nights’ half-board at Hotel Lo Scoiattolo from £555pp with flights to Turin, transfers (which take 90 minutes) and lift passes, departing on December 10 (020 7471 7700, skisolutions.com)
18. Verbier on the cheap Switzerland
The chic and popular resort of Verbier can be incredibly pricey, but Inghams has put together an enticing week-long break in the comfortable, laid-back Xtra Chalet de Verbier (book by October 15). The chalet-hotel has a bar and is a five-minute walk to the Medran gondolas.
Details: Inghams has seven nights’ chalet-board from £664pp in January with flights and transfers included; week-long lift passes are from £180pp, which is £75 less than usual (01483 791114,inghams.co.uk)
19. Short break in Trysil, Norway
The best exchange rates in a decade will make the 75km of pistes in Norway’s biggest ski area a hit this season. Trysil’s ski area is split into four linked resorts. Turistsenter, with its intermediate terrain, is considered to be the main base. Fageråsen is great for beginners.
Details: Four nights’ B&B at the four-star Hotel Radisson Blu is from £445pp, including flights and transfers (020 8939 0864,flexiski.com)
Best for beginners
20. Europe’s longest green run, France
Newbies to Val Cenis often wonder why they haven’t heard of it before. The 125km ski area overlooks a lake, and is packed with beginner and intermediate terrain. Novices can tackle Europe’s longest green run, the 10km Escargot (or snail).
Details: A week’s self-catering is from £340pp, based on two sharing an apartment at Les Alpages de Val Cenis (0844 5760170,peakretreats.co.uk). Eurostar (eurostar.com) returns to Lyons are from £89. Onward returns to Modane are £25. A bus connects with the resort
21. Winter sports in Geilo, Norway
Headwater’s new activity holiday offers the perfect introduction to four winter pastimes. You’ll start on Nordic cross-country skis before switching to husky sledding and snowshoeing. Only then will you don your skis and head for Geilo’s alpine beginner slopes.
Details: Seven nights’ half-board at the four-star Dr Holms Hotel is from £1,499pp, including equipment rental, all activities, flights and transfers (01606 828261, headwater.com)
22. Gentle slopes in Pyhä Finland
Another Scandinavian resort but with more gentle terrain than the Alps, Pyhä has mountains that are a beginners’ ideal training ground. It has 14 well-prepared slopes, eight lifts and a good ski school.
Details: A week’s self-catering at the Pyhä Suites is from £506pp, including flights and transfers (020 8939 0726, crystalski.co.uk)
23. Stunning setting in Saas-Fee, Switzerland
Few places offer such a stunning setting for learning to ski. Expect neon onesies and mullets in December as Saas-Fee turns back the clock to the 1980s in homage to Wham!, who filmed the video for their 1984 hit Last Christmas there.
Details: A week’s B&B at the three-star Hotel Tenne, departing December 5, is from £585pp, including ski passes (0041 279571212,hotel-tenne.ch). Flights to Geneva with easyJet are from £65. For more information: saas-fee.ch
Best for food and drink
24. Microbreweries in Savoie Mont Blanc, France
Move over Heineken and Kronenbourg 1664: a microbrewery revolution has been taking place in the Savoie Mont Blanc region of the French Alps. More than 20 breweries have opened, including the Brasserie du Mont Blanc, based in Chambéry, which has won accolades for its white and amber beers (brasserie-montblanc.com). Brasserie Galibier in Valloire — France’s highest microbrewery at 1,430m — is renowned for the crisp taste coming from the high-quality water it uses from the glacier (biere-galibier.com). You can arrange to visit some of the breweries and the beers are available at most good bars.
Details: Crystal has a week’s stay at the four-star Les Chalets de la Vallee d’Or in Valloire from £598pp, based on four sharing and including flights, transfers and lift passes in January (020 8939 0726, crystalski.co.uk)
25. Michelin-starred chefs in Alta Badia, Italy
This year’s culinary delights in Italy’s much-loved Alta Badia resort in the Dolomites will include slope-side wine tastings, a south Tyrolean gourmet day and a festival celebrating local Ladin cuisine. They are all part of the annual “A Taste for Skiing” event, which starts on December 13 and runs through the season. This winter it is run in association with Le Soste (lesoste.it), an organisation that represents the best Italian Michelin-starred chefs. Mountain huts will serve tapas-style dishes that they have prepared.
Details: Iglu Ski has a week’s stay at Chalet Hotel Al Pigher, La Villa, from £828pp in January with flights and transfers included (020 8544 6031, igluski.com)
26. Angela Hartnett in Courchevel, France
The former head chef at the Connaught in London, and current head chef of London’s Murano and York & Albany restaurants, is opening her first overseas restaurant in Courcheval Moriond, formerly Courcheval 1650. The new venture, at the rustic chic Le Portetta hotel (sister hotel to the much-loved Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest), is to be called Cucina Angelina and will serve Italian-influenced mountain food.
Details: Menu prices are yet to be set; Scott Dunn has seven nights’ half-board from £1,640pp with flights and transfers (020 8682 5050,scottdunn.com)
27. Heston Blumenthal in Courmayeur, Italy
It’s the third year of Heston Blumenthal’s collaboration with celebrity chefs Marcus Wareing and Sat Bains in Courmayeur in Italy’s Aosta Valley to create a four-day weekend break for skiers who are serious about their food (and have serious cash). This year’s event will have a few new culinary twists, including Blumenthal’s “Alpine surprise” dish and a gourmet-pizza tasting lunch alongside meals by each of the Michelin-starred chefs. One meal will be served in a lodge only accessible by snowmobile. Sixty places are available for the weekend in Courmayeur where, this winter, a new €110 million cable car will link the resort to the 3,462m Punta Helbronner, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc.
Details The three-night trip costs from £3,500pp with flights, B&B at a five-star hotel, a three-day ski pass and equipment, all meals and wine (020 7371 9111, momentumski.com )
Best for families
28. Easy run in Les Deux Alpes, France
Les Deux Alpes has long been popular with families, but it has always suffered from not having a convenient run back into the village. As the Where to Ski & Snowboard 2016 guidebook points out, the choice has always been between a narrow, congested green run or “icy black mogul slopes”, so the introduction of a blue run into the village this winter will really open things up and give it a new lease of life.
Details Neilson has seven nights’ chalet-board at Hotel Aalborg, which has a kids’ club, from £3,313 for a family of four departing on December 20 from Gatwick (neilson.co.uk)
29. Ski touring in La Plagne, France
Most beginners and families feel a bit daunted by the idea of ski touring — skiing across mountains without lifts, walking uphill with “skins” attached to skis and then skiing downhill — but the Oxygène ski school (oxygene-ski.com) in La Plagne doesn’t think they should be. It has created a series of new ski touring itineraries to suit all levels, linking the ten villages of La Plagne. One-off guided trips are available at 7-8.30am or 5.30-7pm each day (for £26pp), or you can opt for a five-day course from £237pp (9am to midday). All courses are available for both adults and kids, who must be aged over 14. Equipment hire is included.
Details A week’s self-catering at Plagne Centre is from £113pp, based on four sharing (la-plagne.com); easyJet has flights to Geneva from about £50
30. New family-friendly chalet in El Tarter, Andorra
Andorra has some of the best ski schools in Europe, with a reputation for good English speaking instructors. Plus, as the Pyrenees are less fashionable than the Alps, your pound goes further. The well-run family-friendly tour operator Neilson has opened up in Hotel del Clos in the little village of El Tarter, which is close to Soldeu, the gateway to the Grandvalira ski area. It has twin, triple and four-bedded rooms. Childcare is available for 4-month-olds to 16-year-olds.
Details A week’s “chalet board” (breakfast, afternoon tea, four-course evening meals) with Gatwick flights, transfers and ski guiding is from £435pp in January (0844 8798155, neilson.co.uk); childcare for 4 to 23-month-olds is £250 a week, for 2 to 4-year-olds it’s £220, and for 5 to 16-year-olds, £85
31. Learn to ski in Myrkdalen, Norway
With uncrowded slopes, patient English-speaking guides, modern lifts, good quality accommodation and reasonable prices, Myrkdalen has a lot going for it. Ski Safari has created a “Learn to Ski” programme that focuses on Scandinavia for this winter. Myrkdalen is not far from the city of Bergen, so it’s possible to combine a first try on the slopes with a bit of sightseeing — and a good seafood meal.
Details Seven nights’ half-board at the four-star Hotel Myrkdalen during half-term in February is from £985pp, based on two adults and two children, with flights, transfers, six-day lift passes, ski rental and five days at the ski school for kids and adults (01273 224068,skisafari.com)
32. Fun in Les Arcs, France
Mille 8 is an area at the bottom of the slopes at Les Arcs 1800 that centres on Aquafun, an indoor water park with pools, hot tubs and water chutes. There are also toboggan runs, freestyle courses with obstacles, igloos and ice sculptures. Les Arcs is great for families, with good ski schools with English-speaking guides. Snow conditions are usually reliable.
Details Esprit Ski has a week’s chalet-board staying at Chalet McKinley, departing on December 20, for an adult and a child from £1,639, or from £4,629 for a family of four departing on December 27; flights and transfers are included (01483 791900, espritski.com)
33. Long, easy runs in Champoluc, Italy
Champoluc is part of the Monterosa ski area, which also includes the family-friendly resorts of Gressoney and Alagna. It’s within the Aosta Valley and is particularly suited to intermediates, with long runs and some challenging sections. There are also decent nursery slopes for beginners, so it’s ideal for families with a range of abilities. Food at on-slope restaurants is high quality and not too expensive.
Details A week’s chalet-board for a family of four, departing on December 19, is from £2,397 with flights and transfers, staying at Chalet Hotel Breithorn, which has a spa with a hot tub, steam room and sauna (01483 791933, skitotal.com). For Monterosa Ski, also try Ski 2 (01962 713330, ski-2.com)
34. Winter activities in Mösern, Austria
This picturesque old village has access to the decent downhill ski runs at Seefeld and is also connected to an extensive selection of cross-country trails. The skiing is a little limited, but other activities include snow-shoeing, ice-skating and tobogganing. This is a place for a relaxing winter escape in the heart of the Tyrol, and is well-suited to young families.
Details A week’s full-board at the Hotel Inntaler Hof is from £862 per adult, £540 per child aged 9-12, and £338 for children aged 2-5, with flights and transfers included (01653 617000, inntravel.co.uk); for stays between January 2-16 and March 5-19 a horse-drawn sleigh ride is included
Best for partying
35. Chic bars in Engelberg, Switzerland
Verbier’s party scene is great, but eschew the mêlée — and the overpriced Dom Pérignon — and head for up-and-coming Engelberg, which offers a more refined (and less pricey) experience. You’ll find chic bars — the Ski Lodge is a must — as well as more lively places, such as the Chalet. There’s also an Igloo Village, high in the mountains, with rooms and an ice bar that serves mean shots.
Details Seven nights’ half-board at the three-star Hotel Terrace is from £1,200pp, including six days’ mountain guiding, lift pass, transceiver hire, flights and rail transfers (020 8410 2022,skiclub.co.uk, departures January 2, 23 and March 12)
36 Great après-ski in Morzine France
Après-ski can be hit or miss in France, but in Morzine it’s possible to find good parties from mid-afternoon, with live music at many of the bars around the main thoroughfare. L’Opéra is a great late-night haunt, but with the whole of the Portes du Soleil area — with a whopping 650km of pistes that span the Franco-Swiss border — to ski, it’s best not to stay out too late.
Details A week’s B&B at the Rude Lodge is from £245pp (0870 068 7030, rudechalets.com). EasyJet return flights to Geneva are from £65
37. Saké and spa in Niseko, Japan
If you think ski resorts in Europe are party towns, wait until you’ve experienced a night in Japan’s biggest ski area. Don’t be fooled into thinking that après-ski here is merely a time spent relaxing at a traditional hot spring. Once night falls, the beer and saké start to flow. The Hirafu area has the best party vibes and bars that stay open well into the wee hours. The powder at Niseko is some of the best in the world, and night skiing under floodlights is avaialable until 8.30pm.
Details Seven nights’ B&B at the four-star Ki Niseko is from £1,695pp, including flights and transfers (01273 224060,skisafari.com)
38. Festivals in Mayrhofen, Austria
Arguably the party capital of the Alps, Mayrhofen is home to skiing’s biggest music festival, Snowbombing (April 4-9). But, if you’re after something a little more low-key, the Altitude Comedy Festival also has its home here, and this year moves from the spring to new mid-season dates (January 11-15), ensuring the best snow on its extensive network of mainly intermediate slopes. Marcus Brigstocke is headlining, with further acts to be announced.
Details For single skiers, the resort is a new addition to Solos Holidays (0844 3718860, solosholidays.co.uk) with a week’s half-board from £1,065pp, including flights and transfers
Best for experts
39. Sella Ronda circuit from Arabba, Italy
In the middle of the extensive Sella Ronda circuit, Arabba is home to the area’s steepest pistes and offers plenty of challenges for advanced skiers. The best slopes are the north-facing reds and blacks that descend from Porta Vescovo, while those looking for high-mileage skiing should tackle the entire circuit, which is easily doable in a day.
Details A week’s half-board at the four-star Sporthotel Arabba costs from £839pp, based on two sharing, including flights and transfers (020 8939 0726, crystalski.co.uk)
40. Ski touring, Switzerland
Winter sports pioneers used to ski tour as a mode of transport to reach remote villages, but in recent years the sport has seen a huge resurgence, with skiers keen to bypass the lifts and explore the wilderness. It’s tough going on the steepest mountains at first but once you have mastered it you’ll be whizzing up the mountains and taking on brilliant slopes that cannot be reached by lifts. Exodus is launching an introductory touring holiday this winter. You’ll be taught the basics and stay at the fabled Saint Bernard Monastery, at 2,500m, which is still owned and run by monks.
Details A four-day trip with Exodus (0845 2873787, exodus.co.uk) costs from £1,499pp, including three days’ ski guiding, equipment, all meals, accommodation, flights and transfers
41. Heli-skiing in the Pyrenees, Spain
While the pistes of Baqueira, in the Spanish Pyrenees, are mainly suited to intermediate skiers, it’s the extensive and varied off-piste that makes it fun for pros. Spain is one of the few European countries where heli-skiing is permitted. It doesn’t come cheap, but offers unrivalled access to some of the best slopes and an adrenaline rush, too.
Details Ski Club Freshtracks has a week’s half-board at the four-star Hotel Val de Ruda from £1,599pp, including six days mountain guiding, two heli-drops, flights and transfers (020 8410 2022,skiclub.co.uk/freshtracks)
42. Off-piste exploration Turkey
For a serious adventure, Snoworks is launching a multi-resort Turkish exploration this winter. After a night in Istanbul you’ll ski Uludag, which at 2,543m is the highest mountain in the region. Then, after a short internal flight, it’s on to Sarıkamıs, followed by Palandöken & Konaklı. With 90 per cent off-piste skiing, however, including some ski touring, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Details Departing February 15, 11 nights’ half-board costs £2,500pp, including internal flights, Snoworks instructor and lift passes (0844 543 0503, snoworks.co.uk). BA return flights to Istanbul are from £130 Best for skiing with extras
43. Fat biking in Gstaad, Switzerland
Bikes able to handle snow were first developed in the late 1940s, but it’s only in recent years that they have taken the Alps by storm. Under-inflated tyres help grip the snow, while disc brakes make sure you don’t go flying. This season Gstaad will allow bikes on five hiking trails in the resort. For novices, the Grand Bellevue hotel is launching bike rental and guided tours for guests.
Details Three nights’ half-board costs from £1,240pp (00 41 33 748 0000, bellevue-gstaad.ch). Swiss (swiss.com) has return flights to Geneva from £56
44. Ice driving in La Clusaz, France
Belt up and watch the rev counter rise as you hurtle around La Clusaz’s ice-driving track. For petrolheads it’s an unmissable activity, except… they use electric cars. But fear not, the Renault Twizys have a top speed of 50mph, so you can still expect hair-raising moments as you tackle the hairpin bends. Ten minutes’ driving is €30 (laclusaz.com).
Details Four nights’ half-board at the two-star Hotel Beaulieu is from £525pp, including flights and transfers (02380 206971,skiweekends.com)
45. Easy ice climbing in Orcières-Merlette 1850
If you fancy yourself as an extreme ice climber, but are — unsurprisingly — put off by the frozen walls, opt instead to try “ruisseling”: equipped with crampons and ice axes, you hike frozen rivers and mini-waterfalls as opposed to towering cliffs. Guides Champsaur Valgaudemar (guides-champsaur-valgaudemar.com) has a three-day course with ruisseling and some ice climbing, if you want, from €930 with all equipment, and accommodation in a gîte included.
Details B&B doubles are from €70 at the Hotel Gardettes (00 33 49 255 7111, gardettes.com)
46. Horse riding in Colorado, America
High in the Rocky Mountains, the former mining town of Telluride —now a top ski-resort — is as Wild West as they come, and will form the dramatic backdrop for Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming film The Hateful Eight. To get into character, wannabe cowboys should saddle up and head out to explore the wilderness on horseback. Circle K Ranch (ckranch.com), 40 miles south of the resort, offers one hour’s riding from $45 (£30). A half-day tour is $120.
Details Rooms at the Lumière Telluride are from about $600 (£380) per night (lumieretelluride.com)
Best for snowsure skiing
47. High altitude at Val Thorens, France
Last season started badly in the Alps, but in Europe’s highest ski resort the lifts were turning from late November. The resort lies at 2,300m in a lunar landscape, with slopes reaching to 3,100m. It’s virtually guaranteed to have snow but, with no trees, inclement days are best spent nursing a hot chocolate. Val Thorens opens on November 21.
Details A week’s self-catering is from £367pp, based on four sharing a one-bedroom apartment at the Olympiades Apartments, including flights and transfers (020 8544 6413, igluski.com)
48. Early snow at Lake Louise, Canada
Being the first resort to open is a hotly contested race in Canada. Lake Louise often wins and is home to the first men’s World Cup downhill race of the season — chosen as the snow is reliable. This year’s competition is on November 28.
Details A week’s stay at the three-star Deer Lodge costs from £989pp, based on four sharing, including flights and transfers (020 8544 6413, igluski.com)
49. November opening at Ischgl Austria
It’s easy to see why Ischgl, with slopes rising to 2,870m, remains a favourite. The slopes are snow-sure, the après-ski wild, and the hotels welcoming. To kick winter off with a serious bang, head to the resort for its opening concert. This year, American band the Beach Boys take to the high-altitude stage, on November 28. Access is free with a lift pass.
Details A week’s B&B at the three-star Hotel Val Sinestra is from £679pp, including flights and transfers (01483 791114,inghams.co.uk)
50. High peaks at Obergurgl, Austria
Another favourite with British skiers, Obergurgl, and lift-linked Hochgurgl, have arguably Europe’s most snow-sure non-glacier pistes, with their summit at 3,080m. Add to that snowmaking on 99 per cent of slopes and it’s fail-safe.
Details A week’s chalet-board at Chalet Angela is from £514pp, including flights and transfers (01483 791 933, skitotal.com)