Whether it’s can’t ski or won’t ski, over a million Brits still head for the hills each year to enjoy fresh powder, mountain air and aprés ski entertainment without hitting the slopes. With over £700 million spent each season, we’ve rounded up the best off-piste activities to get stuck into this winter. By Jessica Harris
Best for Adventure Junkies
Just a plane, three trains and a car journey from London and you’ll find yourself in the beautiful town of Arosa. Home to the achingly cool and freshly refurbed Valsana hotel, it’s a winter wonderland worth the gruelling (yet beautiful) journey made all the easier thanks to an unlimited Swiss Travel Pass. Sitting metres away from the bus shuttle to the ski lifts, the sustainable bolthole is a hotspot for avid skiers (their equally popular nearby sister property, Tschuggen Grand has a private ski lift directly to the slopes) and non-skiers alike thanks to its central location for ice skating, paragliding and ice bathing (not for the faint hearted).
However, for a fully immersive experience, a personal snowshoeing expedition with Valsana’s guide is a must. Exploring untouched pathways and ice waterfalls is the epitome of Swiss living as you venture into the alpine forests, walk on frozen rivers and channel your inner Bear Grylls with a little animal tracking. After you’ve worked up an appetite, you can warm up back in Valsana’s Twist restaurant, where you can expect a hearty yet healthy menu of homemade dishes – think pearl barley risotto and zucchini noodles – and an extensive local wine list. Wile away the afternoon in their modest spa overlooking the snow-capped mountains or curl up with a hot chocolate in front of the fire in their cosy leather-clad lounge with a good book. www.valsana.ch
Best for Spa Lovers
Green Leaf Nisko Village, Japan
No one does zen quite like the Japanese and the Green Leaf Nisko Village doesn’t disappointed if your MO is to relax and unwind. Located at the base of the slopes with a contemporary aesthetic, the hotel is the epitome of chic minimalism with clean lines, a neutral colour palette and 200 rooms kitted out with Yukata robes, Japanese teas and simple necessities. But the crown jewel is their holistic spa complete with organic beauty products and three outdoor onsen pools.
Packed with minerals, the natural spring baths gathering water from deep within the earth, and are cooled from a balmy 53.2C degrees to a bearable 40ºC degrees. Surrounded by pine forests, rocky pools and views as far as the eye can see, they are separated by gender, have a strict code of silence and must be enjoyed, ahem, naked. Promising to heal the body, soothe the senses and relax the mind, it’s the perfect place to recuperate. thegreenleafhotel.com
Best for Foodies
W Hotel, Verbier
The hotel group may be known for their party atmosphere and celebrity guests but W Verbier is also establishing itself as a snowy mecca on the food and drink circuit. With head chef Sergi Arola already in possession of 2 Michelin stars from his restaurant in Madrid, his Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is rumoured to earn him his third shortly. Offering six dining experiences ranging from Spanish tapas to Asian fusion, W also lives up to its reputation with a a trendy lounge fuelled by experimental cocktails and a DJ set to boot.
But if there was ever a worthy excuse to venture up 1500 metres into the mountains, it’s the hotel’s annual Haute Cuisine event. Home to 10 celebrity chefs, the four-day event offers interactive cooking classes, workshops and themed dinners in a formal foodie setting. Taking place April 1st-4th 2020, book your tickets now. wverbier-restaurants.com
Best for Culture Vultures
Kulm Hotel, St Moritz
It may be the oldest hotel in St Moritz, but the dependable Kulm hotel is by no means resting on its laurels. With plush furnishings, grand architecture and a no-fuss approach to décor, it’s a dependable choice for those looking for tradition. Set in the Engadin Valley overlooking the beautiful St. Moritz lake, its 2000 square-metre wellness facility, pillow menu and extensive spa facilities are a big draw for its affluent guests.
But, if you’re looking for a bit more bang for your buck, Kulm hotel is a firm favourite for those flocking to the region for the annual volleyball championship and the historic International Horse Races. An exclusive, top-class event, the latter includes frozen lake horse-racing, gourmet catering, lively music and inspiring art exhibitions, all taking place in winter sunshine among the stunningly beautiful mountains. A spectacle not to missed on the 2nd, 6th and 19th February 2020. kulm.com
Best for Shopaholics
Schwarzen Adler, Kitzbühel
Known for its winter sports (including the annual Hahnenkamm downhill race), the pretty medieval town is fondly nicknamed Glitzy Kitz due to its extensive designer stores such as Prada, Swarovski and Louis Vuitton and local designer boutiques including Keramikstube Kitzbühel and Frauenschuh. Lined with candy-coloured buildings, twinkling lights and unique craft shops it’s sure to give your credit card a thorough workout.
In between shopping this season’s catwalk collections, you can rest up at the nearby Schwarzen Adler hotel by reclining on their rooftop terrace and taking in the 360 degree views or indulging in a treatment at their impressive Black Spa. With minimal décor and a cool, moody atmosphere, it’s a stylish base to lay your head and stow your shopping. adlerkitz.at