Winter is coming! And you know what that means? Yes, aside from Christmas… that’s it, winter sports. Whilst some of us may head to warmer climates as the temperatures drop, many of us seek out those utterly charming snow-capped destinations for a spot of skiing, snowboarding or other alpine adventure. From sleigh rides à la huskies to thrilling ice climbing, we’ve handpicked the most exciting experiences and the finest winter wonderlands to enjoy them in. What are you waiting for – it’s time to get packing!
Location: Vorarlberg, Austria
Must love dogs. Ok huskies to be precise. But who can resist the lure of a ride through the slopes led by your very own team of winter fur friends. With eyes of blue, brown or even multi coloured, these Siberian or Alaskan beauties have a friendly temperament and a keen sense of direction, making them the next best team to lead your sleigh next to Rudolf and his gang. Whilst Austria might not be the first place you think of when you think about husky rides, apparently “there’s a guy” in the picturesque province of Vorarlberg, a guy called Husky Toni actually (aka Anton Kuttner) who has a beautiful farm with 16 of these wolf-like pooches ready to make your sledding dreams come true.
Toni has been sledding with his huskies for some twenty years. With four dogs pulling your sled, you’ll get a taste of what it was like to be an explorer back in the days when man, animals and nature were far more interdependent. There’s even a mental coaching workshop with Toni and a husky. We’re not sure about you, but any time spent with any one of these gorgeous animals, is time spent stress-free. For the best place to stay in this pristine mountain world, head to Walliserhof, in Brand - a design, family and ski hotel rolled into one gracious offering. Describing itself as "the sporty active hotel in Vorarlberg for design freaks", this alpine bolthole serves up a sublime blend of tradition and stylish modernity. Set at 1,050 metres above sea level, with delicious sustainable fare, imaginative cocktails and their Glacier Spa to find your inner bliss, what more could you possibly ask for?
Location: Crans-Montana, Switzerland
If you like hiking, chances are you’ll love snowshoe hiking, as you discover the magic of snow-covered mountains, forests and hills on foot. A slower alternative to skiing or snowboarding, snowshoe hiking offers a truly immersive experience where you can be at one with mother nature herself. An opportunity to go where there is no path, away from the crowded slopes, as you pave your own way across the powdery snow, taking in all the magnificent beauty and glimpses of local fauna around you.
If Switzerland is calling, the breathtaking hotel Chetzeron, is the skiing mecca. Standing proud at 2112 metres above sea level, this cable car station transformed into an architectural masterpiece, is the jewel of the crown. Offering just 16 outstanding rooms and suites and the most breathtaking vistas across the Swiss peaks and the Rhône Valley, this ski-in ski-out hotel is as close to heaven as you’re going to get. There are organised snowshoe hikes from the hotel to nearby Merbé, Crans, Arnouva and Cry d’Er. Take your pick from any of these stunning hikes and let the fresh mountain air invigorate you, whilst the mesmerising beauty of nature astounds you.
Please note – Hotel Chetzeron reopens for the season on December 9th, 2022
Hotel: HUUS Gstaad
Location: Gstaad, Switzerland
There’s skiing and then there’s cross country skiing. If you have the stamina (or want to get it) cross-country skiing (or Nordic Skiing as it’s also known) is the oldest form of the sport, that’s usually practised over flatter or rolling terrain. Choose between three styles: ‘classic’ - which is like running or walking on skis; ‘skate’ - similar to ice skating and ‘off track’ – where, like the name suggests, you really go off the beaten track. As skiers rely on their own selves to cross snow–covered terrain, opposed to using lifts or any other form of assistance, it can be quite the workout.
If you’re looking for the quintessential alpine experience and would like to try your hand at cross country skiing, check into the super deluxe resort that is HUUS Gstaad. Set at an altitude of 1000 – 3000 metres above sea level, this Swiss haven is tucked away in the Swiss Alps, within the spectacular resort village of Gstaad. A picture perfect alpine paradise, where classic chalet chic meets contemporary architecture and design. Take off with your guide and explore this mountainous wonderland before you retreat to your very own home-away-from-home. Think roaring fires, Swiss hot chocolates and 2000 sq. m of wellness area that awaits you. Let yourself be soothed by an aromatic sauna or herbal steam bath, and tomorrow, you’ll be ready to take on the slopes again! As a pet-friendly hotel, you can even bring your furry friends along with you. What could be more paw-fect? Sorry, we couldn’t resist.
Hotel: Hotel Platz
Location: Dolomites, Italy
Close your eyes and picture yourself (and possibly your loved one, or family) sitting on a charming sleigh, a cosy blanket covering your legs and strong horses at the front, ready to lead you on a beautiful adventure through the pure majesty of the Dolomite Mountains. Horse-drawn sleigh rides are a magical experience and one you don’t want to pass on given the opportunity.
Home to the legendary Ski World Cup race on the Saslong or the Gran Rise, this region of Italy is known for its alpine attractions. But what isn’t so well known, is the enchanting village of Bulla, where you’ll find the utterly charming family-run Hotel Platz. Nestled 1,481 metres above sea level, this Italian gem has been providing the warmest hospitality since 1410, with no indication of stopping any time soon. Just 5km from the scenic alpine village of Ortisei, this is the ideal spot to indulge in the highest peaks, go on one of those much-touted horse-drawn sleighs or simply take in the beauty of this unspoiled landscape, far, far away from any madding crowds. Each of the rooms boasts its own private garden or balcony with the most awe-inspiring views. And don’t forget to savour some of the freshly baked goods at The Café, where their famous apricot pie takes inspiration from Grandma Kasslatter’s secret recipe! We won’t tell if you don’t.
Hotel: Berghotel Biberkopf
Location: Vorarlberg, Austria
OK OK so you’ve skied Les Arcs, snowboarded Corbet’s Couloir, but have you ever gone ice climbing… anywhere? Sounds dangerous… but hey, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space, right? Ice climbing tests precision and speed and climbing up mountains or frozen waterfalls you’ll need a pickaxe, crampons and a serious head for heights.
The Wrath-Schröcken region in Austria offers many different spots to try this incredible sport including 300m deep gorges filled with shimmering blue icefalls. And situated within the incredible Alberg Mountains, and Austria’s largest ski region, is Berghotel Biberkopf – your ideal alpine retreat and just the place to organise your ice climbing adventure. This brand new hotel offers direct access onto the neighbouring ski slopes (via the hotel mountain railway) alongside their signature alpine-urban rooms, panoramic windows to bathe in the breathtaking views and not least forgetting a heavenly wellness and fitness area to leave you feeling shiny and new. Expect extraordinary cuisine, your ski boots pre-warmed by the hotel, and, apparently, even an extra dash of passion in your drinks! We’ll drink to that.
Hotel: Hotel & Chalet Aurelio
Location: Vorarlberg, Austria
Some ski, some snowboard, and some do both. We have it on good authority that whichever is your cup of glühwein, Ski Arlberg represents a whole new dimension of alpine pleasure. Whether you’re a glamourous skier or an epically cool snowboarder with tricks up your sleeve, you’re going to love the peaks surrounding Lech. Peaks such as the Rüfikopf, the Omeshorn and the Kriegerhorn, which offer sweeping white powered slopes, pristine nature and an impressive 305 km to experience between 1300 – 2800 m. Lech and the Arlberg region are not only one of the largest ski resorts in the world, but also considered to provide some of the best slopes for skiing and snowboarding in all of Europe.
Recently awarded the “Austria’s Leading Boutique Hotel 2022”, Hotel & Chalet Aurelio is a chalet fit for a king or queen. Overlooking the enchanting village of Lech am Arlberg, this sophisticated ski-in ski-out hotel has everything you could possibly dream of for your winter vacation. Surrounded by the most spectacular mountain landscapes, elegant rooms with ‘flash-roasted’ pine walls and locally sourced ingredients at their in-house Gourmet Restaurant Aurelio's, there’s much to rejoice. And we haven’t even started on the Aurelio Spa. With a thermal suite comprising saunas, aromatherapy steam rooms, herbal baths and more to come back to… it might be all the encouragement you need to go even harder on the slopes.
Hotel: Hotel Petrus
Location: South Tyrol, Italy
It’s one thing to sit back and let gorgeous huskies or horses do all the work, another thing altogether to race down the slopes on your own, or with just one other person. South Tyrol becomes a haven for sledding, once the landscape turns into a fairytale winter wonderland. With bright blue skies and the snow glistening under the sun, these natural luge tracks cater to all levels, so are ideal for the whole family. Whether you’re opting for a classic sled or a fast-paced bobsled for a rush of adrenaline, it’s all here waiting for you. Skip the cable car and jump onto your own sled for a fun ride through the stunning Dolomites.
Run by two generations of the Aichner Family, Hotel Petrus is the ultimate alpine retreat, set within the charming Italian region of South Tyrol. With jaw-dropping vistas from every suite, and day-long sunshine thanks to its south facing position, you’re in the best spot to savour every inch of this breathtaking landscape. Choose from their individually decorated rooms to panoramic suites with jacuzzis, or even indulge in the Spa Suite, with its own infrared sauna. Hotel Petrus offers the ultimate spa-stay. With stress-busting treatments, Brine steam baths and endless warm hospitality, you’ll never want to leave. In fact, the Dolomites provide year-round beauty and activities, long after the snow has melted. Hotel Petrus has a wide selection of activities to keep you entertained whatever the weather.
Please note – Hotel Petrus reopens for the season on December 3rd, 2022
Hotel: Sensoria Dolomites
Location: South Tyrol, Italy
If you have a head for heights and a heart for adventure, ski touring might just be for you. By definition, this alpine sport is skiing that is done in the backcountry, on unmarked, and often unpatrolled areas, often referred to as ‘backcountry skiing’, given the rugged nature of the sport. Skiing the usual way carries risks, so as you can imagine, ski touring carries some more of its own. But if you go prepared (which includes having the right kind of skis) you might just have the adventure of a lifetime. A far more remote and physically demanding style of skiing, ski touring will connect you with nature in a way that commercial trials never will. You know what they say, do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Where better to test your whole body and mind at ski touring than in the heart of the Dolomites. With its dramatic mountain peaks, ethereal frozen rivers and lakes, and 181 km of ski slopes, this South Tyrolean winter wonderland ticks all the boxes. And if you’re wondering where to lay your head after a long day out exploring, Sensoria Dolomites is the answer. “A place of spiritual power for the outer and inner world. A place where these two worlds merge.” A space where luxury and nature are combined. Created with calmness in mind, each of the 47 rooms and suites are bathed in neutral calming palettes, locally sourced materials and ample light filtering through the windows, illuminating your space. One thing’s for sure, you’ll take away memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.
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