A wide range of hotels is now available in all ski nations in Europe and beyond. In most cases, you have the choice of bed and breakfast, half board, full board or all inclusive and of course the full range of services is available, from non-star to five star deluxe.
British tour operators usually offer fairly basic ski hotels in most of the mid-range resorts in the Alps and Pyrenees. Ideal for school group ski trips or first ski holidays, these hotels are always very basic, with decent access to the slopes but very few accessories. Expect a bathroom with a shower but no bathtub, for example, or a small breakfast buffet but no restaurant or bar in the evening. If you are a budget skier who just wants to spend all hours of the day on the slopes and be in bed by 9pm after a simple local dinner, then these establishments are ideal.
Variants of the cheaper hotel theme include Chalet Hotels (chalet-style managed hotels) and ApartHotels, which are apartment complexes with optional hotel facilities and services. A good way to get the best of both worlds (hotel and chalet), these options can give you privacy AND public space.
In addition, an increasing number of newer and more luxurious establishments with swimming pools, spas, nurseries, excellent wines and Michelin-starred restaurants are now also available. Luxury resorts like Courchevel, Zermatt and St. Moritz now offer some of the best hotels in the world with excellent facilities, décor, staff and service.
And depending on where you are, you can find small mega-luxury boutique hotels with just a dozen staggeringly decadent rooms, or giant super-resorts with more than 750 rooms and dozens of restaurants and other facilities.
High-end ski operators like Scott Dunn have the best luxury ski hotels in their portfolio, in a variety of ski resorts around the world, including St Anton, Lech, Val d’Isere, Zermatt and Jackson Hole. For example, this ski season you can choose from Scott Dunn’s 36 luxury ski hotels. Consider Le Seizena at Courchevel 1850, described as a luxurious, high-tech boutique hotel with just 20 rooms, or The Four Seasons Whistler with 273 rooms, suites, and townhouses, as well as ski-in/ski-out, an air-conditioned spa outdoor swimming pool and two restaurants.
While not strictly a hotel stay, Scott Dunn also offers a split chalet option – you’re still staying in a chalet, but the fact that you’re sharing the space with other guests outside of your own group often makes it a Boutique hotel feel, and can be very good value.
In addition to service and facilities, of course you’re paying for style, and in style, good luxury hotels should capture the essence of a fabulous mountain hideaway, with natural wood and stone finishes, spacious yet cozy rooms, magnificent mountain or valley. views, balconies and fireplaces and, of course, fluffy duvets and fluffy, cozy towels. Some of the world’s best ski hotel rooms even have private hot tubs, private butler service, and helicopter access to the rooftop!
Always remember the golden rule when planning your ski vacation: figure out exactly what you want out of it before you book. Ski accommodation in cheaper hotels is better for the budget, of course, but if they’re less convenient to the slopes, you’ll inevitably spend less time on the snow. And if this is your only Winter Wonderland week of the year, then you need to make every second count!