Winter sports holidays are a fantastic way to blast away the winter blues, but knowing where to go can be a tall order. If you’re already adept on the slopes, you don’t want to go to a resort where you’ll have skied the entire mountain within a day. Likewise, trying to learn on challenging terrain or with poor instructors who don't speak English can be a confidence-sapping ordeal that could put you off the mountains for life.
We’ve taken a closer look at some of the some destinations in Europe and beyond, with suggestions for whatever your scenario might be...
For tight budgets – Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Eastern Europe has been a favourite for cash-strapped snow addicts for a while now, and this is one of the better destinations for winter sports on the cheap.
Just a few miles from the Austrian and Italian boarders, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia is a great option for for first timers taking their fledgling runs, and has plenty of gentle nursery slopes and English-speaking instructors. If you fancy a bit of Nordic action, there’s 40km of marked cross-country trails too. There’s no shortage of stuff to do away from the slopes either – Venice and Lake Bled are easy to get to on day trips.
Best of all, eating and drinking is a relative snip – three course meals start from just £12, while a drink of beer can set you back as little as £1.50. Ski holiday specialist Inghams is offering two-for-one ski lessons and ski hire, and discounts of up to 30 per cent on lift passes on selected dates.
For complete beginners – Seefeld, Austria
It’s all well and good booking a holiday to an exclusive destination with a head-spinning array of runs – if you can’t ski or board already, then you could be wasting your time and money. Best then, to select a resort in which you can learn quickly and easily. Seefeld is a cracking resort for doing just this. Gentle nursery slopes, Good snow record and well-regarded ski schools make for a great mix for the novice.
Beginners start on the wide, easy slopes of the Geigenbühel, before moving on to the more challenging pistes on the Geschwandtkopf, Seefelderjoch and Härmelekpot. There’s a decent enough blend for the more experienced to stay occupied, too.
Away from the slopes the friendly village has a wide range of outdoor activities including Nordic walking, ice-skating, husky sledding, bobsleigh excursions, wine tasting and horse drawn sleigh rides. Tour operator Inghams is offering learn-to-ski packages from £179 per person.
For families – Kühtai, Austria
“Are we there yet?” They're four words which every parent dreads, and a surefire way to put an end to a nice, relaxed journey. Snow-mad mums and dads will thank their lucky stars for the Austrian resort of Kühtai. It’s the highest resort in Austria and has a mercifully quick transfer from Innsbruck airport – meaning that there’s less time for the little 'uns to wheel out their infernal question.
Kühtai has reliable snow, ski in/ski out convenience and quiet lift queues, making it a top resort for families. The gentle nursery slopes in the village centre are ideal for beginners and children to develop their skills, whilst the Kühtai Igloo Village is worth a visit, where families can enjoy a snowshoe trip, night-time sledging or learning to build an igloo.
For off the beaten track – Jackson Hole, USA
Now for something completely different – like a hybrid of an episode of Ski Sunday and a wild west film marathon, Jackson Hole is an old fashioned western town with authentic cowboy saloons, raised wooden boardwalks and frontier architecture. Just a short 15 minute ride from the Trenton Village ski area, it's situated on the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and provides an ideal opportunity for a slightly different winter sports experience.
First timers can enjoy the wide open slopes on Snow King Mountain and the area is a paradise for advanced skiers with steep terrain, as well as over 3,000 acres of backcountry action, which visitors can combine with an overnight stay in a yurt. Yee-ha!
For the pro’s - Arabba, Italy
One for the heads. Known as a real skiers’ destination, Arabba is full of challenging pistes, stunning slopes and the mighty Marmolada glacier. Advanced skiers will find a range of challenging skiing with exhilarating black runs from the scenic Porta Vescovo Mountain and testing skiing at the Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Dolomites.
For the really adventurous, the spectacular Dolmomiti Superski region, which includes 12 resorts and over 1,200 kilometers of fresh piste, offers endless skiing possibilities.
For snowboarders - Whistler, Canada
Remember the 2010 Winter Olympics? Course you do. Much of it was staged at this very resort, on Canada’s stunning Pacific North West just a few hours away from Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s a massively popular resort with boarders with over 800 acres of challenging and varied terrains across its two mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb, which are linked by a spectacular inter-mountain gondola. The town itself has plenty of shops and eateries, and its very own brewpub - perfect for taking the edge off after a hard day on the slopes.
For Apres-ski fans – St Anton, Austria
For many, just as much enjoyment is to be gleaned on a ski holiday from ingesting vast quantities of local schnapps and pulling questionable dance moves to Eurodance until the wee hours as it is hurtling down a mountain on skis or a snowboard. You can do both to your heart’s content here. St Anton is famous for its challenging skiing, but it also boasts some of the choicest après-ski in the Alps. If you want to get in early stop off in one of the mountain après-ski bars, the Krazy Kangaruh is a good choice with its sun terrace and party atmosphere from 3pm onwards. Or try the mighty Mooserwirt, above the village centre. If you want to get away from the crowds head to Jacksy’s, just off the main street.
For self-drive – Morzine, France
Plenty of skiers and boarders prefer to bust out the roof racks and get to their destination on their own steam on a self-drive holiday than take to the air, particularly if they’ve got their own gear. Morzine is an ideal destination for this, with drviers reaching their destinations after a stunning drive through the French countryside. Morzine is situated in the Portes du Soleil ski area, one of the largest in the world with 650km of pistes.
If you’re driving, make sure that European cover is included with your car insurance policy, and make sure that you’ve notified your insurer well in advance of where you’re going. Likewise, make sure you’re up to speed with local traffic laws and customs. For instance in France, when a car to your rear flashes its' lights, it means that they’re coming through, not giving way!
If you’re hitting the piste this season, don’t forget to get yourself a decent travel insurance policy before you set off. And what better place to start your search than right here?