It’s peak season. Whether you indulge your winter wanderlust from the comfort of your own couch or pack your bags with travel essentials and chic extras, we’ll guide you through the key trends to make you snow ready …
Altitude is everything when it comes to skiing – as it is when it investing in a ski chalet – to avoid being left high and dry in the snow. In fact, due to increasingly unpredictable weather and changes in snowfall, many resorts are having to invest in snowmaking facilities, avalanche protection and also to diversify with a cross-section of activities. Climate issues aside, surveys have revealed the younger generation don’t have the same enthusiasm for winter sports, though they love the hygge lifestyle elements associated with skiing.
“This growing trend of non-ski winter trips is fuelled by travellers’ desires to learn new skills and focus on slower, more mindful practices such as snow-yoga and snowshoeing,” says Kirsty Edwards, head of ski at Scott Dunn. Try Adler Mountain Lodge in South Tyrol for the latter. To appeal to the millennial traveller, WiFi is being rolled out in hotels, lifts and even on the slopes. There are plenty of luxury hotels with large spas, and new private residences are incorporating five-star wellness facilities. These include the Refuge de la Traye, an eco-resort in the Three Valley, and Dixence Resort and thermal spa in Les Collons, Four Valleys, France.
Demand for healthy travel goes beyond activities, too. Food and drink play an important role. Visitors expect a range of cuisines beyond the traditional, cheese-heavy, Savoie-style dishes. More hotels and ski companies are offering vegan menus, embracing the wider global trend. Demand is increasing too for weekend skiing holidays, rather than the standard week. While resorts can’t relocate, those closer to transport links are more popular for shorter trips, with investment being made to improve infrastructure to shorten transfer times. There’s a new train station in Le Chable that directly connects Verbier to Geneva. More flexibility with arrival, length of stay and lift passes all add to a resort’s appeal, which is why so many mid-termers will be flying SAS to Oslo to connect to Norway’s kid-friendly ski resorts, all within a short drive or train ride. You don’t have to leave home, though, to enjoy a high altitude lifestyle …
EAT … Blackrock restaurant Volpe Nera has a Scandi vibe with a vegan edge and former Etto chef Barry Sun at the helm. For a special treat, Lignum (Latin for fire), located in Ballaun, Co Galway in a beautifully reimagined converted barn, is all about cooking over wood.
STAY … Mayo’s Ice Hotel’s Igloo Package combines Yon Ka facials at its Chill Spa. Post treatment, snuggle up in Foxford blankets before hibernating with movies and room service; www.icehousehotel.ie. Or book ahead for the Yoga Retreat Package at Lough Eske Castle, led by Tara O’Rourke, January 24-26, combining mindfulness, four yoga sessions, a wellness workshop and two nights accommodation. €149 per person; www.lougheskecastlehotel.com.
HOLIDAY … Try Georgia, it’s an up-and-coming ski destination, or as a weekend treat, Gstaad Palace. Its ski-free activities include visiting an ostrich farm and an Alpine wellness journey. Don’t leave without a ride on the new Mount Eggli cablecar; www.palace.ch.
READ: Philosophy for Polar Explorers, Erling Kagge, Viking, €13.99. Philosophical adventurer, Kagge was the first man in history to reach all of Earth’s poles on foot. He offers insights and expertise from these expeditions.
St Moritz Chic, produced by Giorgio Pace, text by Dora Lardelli, Assouline, €95. Nestled in the Engadin valley, St Moritz has been the winter home of everyone from Gianni Agnelli to Claudia Schiffer, who love its enduring mystique.
New Nordic Houses, Dominic Bradbury, Thames & Hudson, £45stg. Bradbury’s reveals Scandinavian cabins meet a growing need for solace, escapism and a deeper relationship with nature as an antidote to the pressures of the urban, digital world.
GET THE LOOK: Dominic Bradbury believes warmth and a fireplace are a pivotal part of Nordic interiors. No-nos include wall-to-wall carpeting. Add texture with sheepskin rugs and wool and mohair throws. Opt for shades of grey, charcoal and natural textures such as burlap and jute. Functionality is to the fore with storage pieces often doubling as stylish décor.
INVEST: Want a chalet in the mountains? Look for resilience – long seasons, high snowfall and glaciers before buying. The Italian town of Breuil Cervinia is laidback and does not have the same restrictions for buyers as its Swiss counterparts, Zermatt and Saas Fee.