Destination: Alpbach, Austria

Alpbach is a ski resort village that neighbors the Wildschönau Valley. Alpbach has been voted Austria’s most beautiful village, and offers picturesque views with a kind of storybook charm. Guests will be delighted with Alpbach’s perfect balance of fanciful older buildings outfitted with totally modern facilities. 

Alpbach’s ski range is connected to the Auffach ski range. In 2012, the entire region was dubbed the Alpbachtal-Wildschönau “Ski Juwel,” and it boasts 145 km of pistes for a singular lift pass. This pass also includes the resorts of Niederau and Oberau in the Wildschönau region, and Reith im Alpbachtal. 

This resort is a solid choice for beginner skiers and snowboarders, and it offers a range of challenges for more intermediate skiers and snowboarders. However, all the village-level slopes at Alpbach are for beginners, which can be frustrating for more experienced skiers and snowboarders who like to end with an exhilarating run. Expert skiers can hire a guide for off-piste and backcountry exploration. Alpbach might not be the first choice for expert skiers with a proclivity for off-piste runs, but that means the available backcountry terrain is largely untouched. This Austrian village really offers something for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. 

The resort’s ice rink and indoor swimming pool offer off-mountain fun. Guests can also partake in low-intensity hikes and walks with jaw-dropping scenery. Alpbach offers horse-drawn sleigh rides for those who want to take in the stunning views while completely relaxed. Après ski can begin as early as mid-afternoon and usually ends in the early evening in this region. Guests can ski right up to Joe’s Salettl and the Umbrella Six Pub after their last run, and begin the après ski debauchery. Alpbach does not have a strong nightlife focus, but a few establishments will have live music.

Destination: Vail, Colorado

Since opening in 1962, Vail Ski Resort has grown to be the third-largest single mountain ski resort in the United States, coming in just after Big Sky and Park City. Offering incredible views, world-class skiing, and extremely varied terrain, this is one of the most beautiful places to ski in the United States. Founded by Pete Seibert, construction began in what was then an uninhabited valley, opening just six months later in December of 1962. The quaint, beautiful town of Vail sprung up at the resort’s base, serving as the best respite from mountain fun skiers could imagine.

 

Vail quickly grew to become a popular ski resort; in the 1970s, President Gerald Ford and family vacationed at their Vail home, bringing the ski area international exposure. Soon after, Vail grew into a super-resort. Visitors were eager to pay European trip prices for a Colorado vacation. Vail Village was later expanded, and in 1970, Denver was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics; Vail was selected to host the skiing competitions. Though Colorado voters denied funding and the games were relocated to Austria, the brief stint in the Olympic spotlight brought Vail to the attention of more European travelers.

 

Vail Ski Resort has a base elevation of 8,120 feet and a summit height of 11,570 feet, creating a formidable 3,450 vertical drop. It provides 5,289 skiable acres, 193 trails, and an average annual snowfall of 370 inches. Their longest run is four miles, and the resort offers three terrain parks, ten bowls, and thirty-one lifts. The resort is truly the centerpiece of the area—though several other ski resorts have sprung up around it, Vail and Vail Village continue to attract the majority of visitors. However, information on other Colorado resorts and lift tickets is widely available, so we encourage you to conduct price comparisons before booking your trip.

 

Vail is interesting for both its industry in history; not many ski resorts catalyze the formation of an entire village. This sequence, however, was undoubtedly for the best; Vail Village is a stunning display of Nordic-inspired buildings set against the backdrop of the resort. While Vail Ski Resort is a beautiful place to ski, Vail Village is a beautiful place to stay.

 

Destination: Megève, France

Founded in the 1920s by Baroness Noémie de Rothschild, this stunning resort village is one of the prettiest in all of Europe. It offers close-up views of Mont Blanc—western Europe’s highest peak (4,810 meters)—and was one of the first purpose-built resorts in the Alps. The original resort was created within a medieval town at the base of the famous mountain. Within a few decades of its opening, the resort grew to be so popular that Jean Cocteau unofficially renamed it the, “21st arrondissement de Paris.”

 

Megève has roots in aristocracy; its first guests were wealthy Frenchmen, and it remains one of the most famous and fancy ski resorts in the world. The resort has expanded since its inception, but the town has retained several historical buildings—farmhouses, churches, and even the cobblestone streets. Visitors can visit any of the numerous high-end boutiques and Michelin-starred restaurants at any tie of the year.

 

For all its glitz and glamour, Megève is—first and foremost—a ski town. The Alpine skiing area offers 8 square kilometers of skiable terrain, which is accessible by one of the 116 available lifts. There are 217 runs—445 kilometers of skiing. 33 trails are black diamonds (hardest), 84 are ungroomed reds, 63 are intermediate blues, and 378 are beginner/easy greens. There are 67 platter lifts, 35 chairlifts, and 13 gondola lifts, as well as a cable car. The Domaine Évasion Mont-Blanc, Megève’s Alpine skiing area, also boasts 18 cross-country trails totaling around 100 kilometers.

 

Megève is a popular destination at any time of year. The resort is renowned for its golfing opportunities. Additionally, the town served as the finishing town for stage 18 and the start town for stage 20 of the 2016 Tour de France. If you have the opportunity to visit this spectacular village, we highly recommend it. Not convinced? Do an image search of that view—we’re sure it will change your mind.