Still looking to book a trip on the slopes this winter? These are the best ski resorts for 2020.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to the slopes, a ski trip is the perfect antidote to Hong Kong’s humidity. There are plenty of options for a wintry adventure to the mountains, including short-haul trips to Japan and South Korea, or vacations further afield to Europe and North America. Here’s our pick of the best. You’ll be sipping on hot chocolate by the fire, soaking up the après-ski vibes in no time.
Japan is undoubtedly one of the world’s best destinations for a ski holiday. There are slopes to suit all abilities, multiple resorts to choose from, as well as steaming onsen to relax those tired muscles at the end of the day. The best bit? It’s an easy flight from Hong Kong!
To reach some of the best powder (and countless blue sky days), check out the resorts of Niseko and Tomamu in Hokkaido (from Hong Kong, fly direct to Sapporo). Or there’s also Hakuba, near the city of Nagano, to consider as a great alternative that’s close to Tokyo.
With an average of 15 metres of snow per year, Niseko has been called one of the world’s snowiest alpine resorts, and its hotels and ski runs regularly get voted “Best in Japan” at the World Ski Awards. The region of Niseko includes four ski resorts, Niseko Hanazono, Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri Ski Area, which can all be accessed using the one lift pass. Need more reasons to visit? Here are some of our top accommodation picks.
Located in the heart of Hirafu Village, J-Sekka Suites offers spacious luxury apartments, including duplex and triplex suites, making it a good option for group or family travel (each suite sleeps 2 to 4 people). This pick comes complete with an in-house ski lounge and locker facility, which means you don’t have to clutter your room with all your ski-gear. Plus, it’s a convenient 1-minute level walk to the chair lifts, just across the road! During your stay, you’ll also have direct access to plenty of restaurants and services (including Japanese sports massages) and in-room dining for those evenings where you want to relax in the comfort of your luxury suite.
Ministry Of Villas
There’s something special about having your own private space. That’s why we recommend looking into a private villa or chalet, especially if there’s a few of you travelling. Ministry of Villas has a range of options, from simple two-bedroom to lavish six-bedroom accommodations. Villas are available both in Niseko and Hakuba.
Tomamu is a smaller, boutique resort option, just 90-minutes from Sapporo Airport. As well as fantastic runs and trails to suit all abilities, there are also a host of other winter activities to keep you entertained. Head out on a snowmobile, snowshoeing or dog-sledding, or visit the stunning Ice Village. When things get a bit too cold, head indoors to the heated wave pool! Stay at the appropriately named Tower Hotel by Hoshino Resort, and treat yourself to spa treatments, hot chocolate and wine by the fireplace.
Hakuba is one of the most easily accessible ski resorts in Japan and became famous as one of the locations for the 1998 Winter Olympics. With over 11 metres of snowfall a year, plenty of accommodation and dining options, as well as English-speaking staff, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular winter destination. In the valley, there are nine resorts and 135 lifts which give you access to over 200 runs, so you’re bound to find some suited to your ability. The resorts are connected by a shuttle bus and can all be accessed on the same lift ticket.
Happo One is a great place to base yourself. The snow is exceptional and with Evergreen Outdoor Centre offering private and group lessons in skiing and snowboarding, any newbies will be well looked after. The slopes are beginner and intermediate-friendly, with a few steeper black runs for the more advanced. The neighbouring Cortina and Iwatake are good resorts for the more experienced looking to access off-piste.
For accommodation, Hotel La Neige Higashikan is a luxury 5-star hotel, located in the charming and scenic forest of Wadano, five minutes from Happo One. The hotel offers beautiful log cabins and individual styled boutique rooms. Alternatively, the Double Black Hotel is a (more affordable) 3-star gem that includes a Japanese Onsen to relax in post-skiing and a cosy bar with hearty food and snacks. Located just 10 minutes from the Happo One ski area.
Looking for an alternative to a Japan ski holiday, but still keen to stay in Asia? South Korea hit our radar after the 2018 Winter Olympics. You won’t find the huge expansive resorts of elsewhere around the world, but you will find many smaller, beginner slopes, ideal for an introduction to snow sports for the uninitiated.
Located in North East South Korea, a stone’s throw away from Seoul, Gangwon is renowned for its mountainous forested backdrops, housing up to 128 kilometres of slopes.
Elysian Gangchono Ski Resort
Just 90 minutes from Seoul (you can even take the subway to get there!), this beautiful valley resort offers wide panoramic views as you take to the slopes. There are six lifts servicing the resort’s 10 slopes and beginners are very well catered for with the onsite ski school.
Yong Pyong Ski Resort
This resort has been named South Korea’s Best Ski Resort five times, so you can guarantee it’s worth checking out. There’s more to this award-winning ski resort than the mountain though. You’ll also find a bowling alley, karaoke and arcade games to keep you occupied off the slopes. For the ski bunnies, there are 28 ski slopes to suit all abilities. To get to Yong Pyong, you can drive or take a shuttle (seasonal). It’s 200km away from Seoul.
For powder-hounds looking for their next adventure, head to the off-the-beaten-track destination of Gulmarg in the Indian Himalayas. Journey on the world’s second highest gondola to access endless amounts of off-piste terrain and five kilometres of endless bowls and ridges, all with 15 metres of annual snowfall. It is likely you will experience fresh tracks with only a few people on the mountain. Book with The Adventure Project to have everything from your accommodation and dining, to guiding, avalanche safety training and ski tuition sorted for you. Recommended for experienced skiers only!
Verbier, Swiss Alps
Verbier provides access to the huge expanse of the “4 Valleys” ski area. Here, the terrain is varied, perfect for experienced skiers looking to improve. There are also a number of excellent ski schools and courses including European Snowsport and The Warren Smith Ski Academy for those who need a little more practice.
After a hard day’s skiing, a true chalet experience is well-deserved, and Ski Armadillo in Verbier offers just that. With a selection of premium chalets, Ski Armadillo provides exceptional service, dining and a very reasonable package price that includes half-board accommodation, a driver and afternoon tea and cake.
From Hong Kong, fly direct to Zurich followed by a scenic two-hour drive, or fly to Geneva which is a slightly closer, 90-minute drive.
The Dolomiti Superski region encompasses 12 resorts featuring 1,200km of pistes, over 5,000 vertical feet of terrain and seriously impressive scenery. The region includes the welcoming atmosphere of the Ampezzo region to the Dolomiti di Sesto and Alta Badia, and the towering peaks of the Val de Fassa and Val Gardena. Dolomite Mountains, a tailor-made adventure company, designs itineraries for solo travellers and classic ski holidays, ensuring you make the most of your stay in this fabulous region. As for where to stay, the Hotel Rosa Alpina offers five-star luxury accommodation and is located in San Cassiano in the heart of the Italian Dolomites.
Fly to Milan from Hong Kong, followed by a four-hour drive to the Dolomites.
Lech has fantastic early season skiing in December due to the region’s microclimate. Lech neighbours the fun-loving resort of St. Anton and, with its picturesque alpine charm, is a great option for those who prefer cruising the blue and red runs. For more challenging skiing, try the “The White Ring” – a circuit linking Lech, Zürs, Zug and Oberlech with over 22km of piste.
Fly from Hong Kong to either Munich, Germany or Zurich, Switzerland. From there, it is a 2.5 to 3-hour drive to the ski resort.
With direct Hong Kong to Vancouver flights and a two-hour transfer to the resort, Whistler is an easy and exciting option for your winter ski break. The three main centres are traffic-free and the chalet-style apartments on the hillsides give it a charming ambience. Look out for the world-famous Peak 2 Peak Gondola, the highest lift of its kind, which connects the two incredible mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb in just 11 minutes. In addition to skiing, Whistler also offers a huge range of extra activities, such as night snowmobiling and sleigh rides. When it comes to where to stay, Four Seasons stands out from the crowd with its beautiful decoration and cosy wood interiors.
Happy ski season!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on 4, December 2014 and was updated by Jess Mizzi on 15, November 2019.
Featured image courtesy of Nicolai Berntsen via Unsplash, image 1 courtesy of Alexandra Luniel on Unsplash, image 2 courtesy of J-Sekka Suites, image 3 courtesy of Bernard Hermant via Unsplash, image 4 courtesy of Xue Guangjian via Pexels, image 5 courtesy of Valentin B. Kremer via Unsplash.
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