Powder has already started falling in the Northern Hemisphere, which means its time to wax up those snowboards, strap on your skis, and break out the bobsleds. There are a variety of fresh charms waiting on the slopes this season, from brand-new and newly renovated hotels to just-opened lifts, and virgin trails. From Park City’s 50th anniversary to the new W Resort in Verbier, Switzerland, these are the year’s must-visit ski destinations.
By Kathleen Squires
Verbier has long been known for its sunny slopes and stylish skiers. The area becomes even more fashionable on December 1, when W Hotels opens its first alpine ski resort, W Verbier. It’s also the brand’s first foray into Switzerland, and with 123 rooms conveniently adjacent to the mountain’s main gondola, it is sure to draw a crowd. Foodies will flock to Michelin-starred chef Sergei Arola’s Pica Pica restaurant on site.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Verbier Guide
Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, NH
Nordic skiers have a new, high-country option this season at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire when it adds to its 60-mile network of trails. Forty new snow guns and 20 upgraded snow guns will keep the new Nordic trails on Mount Stickney well-packed for early and late season terrain.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Bretton Woods Guide
Zoom up to the peak this season on a new high-speed six-person chairlift, courtesy of the resort’s new Peak 6 project. High speed means less waiting and more time in the powder on 543 acres of new terrain. Get your snowshoes out too—the new area includes 143 acres of hike-to territory.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Breckenridge Guide
Whistler, BC, Canada
One of the more impressive investments this season in Whistler was the $18 million poured into Canada’s most popular ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb. Powderheads can look forward to two new high-speed chairlifts—all the better to explore the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Whistler Guide
Westerners know the city of Sapporo for its beer, but it is also one of Japan’s premier ski destinations having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972. In addition to drawing crowds for resorts such as Teine Mountain, it also hosts the International Snow Sculpture Contest, which draws two million visitors each winter to admire the chilly creations. This year the festival runs from February 5-11, 2014.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Sapporo Guide
Topnotch Hotel and Spa, Stowe, VT
One of Stowe’s premiere resorts, the Topnotch Hotel & Spa, reopened this spring after a $15 million renovation. Ready to head into its first winter, the resort now features a new lobby, with expansive views, updated guest rooms, two new restaurants, a renovated indoor tennis center, and refurbished spa—new amenities that put it at the top of the list for post-ski pampering.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Stowe Guide
Park City Mountain Resort, UT
What is “freeskiing?” It’s an acrobatic-type freestyle skiing that is about to become the next big Olympic event. And as this season is Park City Mountain Resort’s 50th anniversary, it has been given the honor of announcing the very first US Olympic freeskiing team at the resort in January 17-19, 2014, just after the team’s final qualification event at the Visa US Grand Prix.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Park City Guide
The glamorous Gstaad Palace celebrates a centennial as one of Europe’s grandest ski hotels this season, and what better way to say “happy birthday” than to ski the 155 miles of trails surrounding it. Unwind after a day of snow by enjoying an oxygen treatment at the Palace Spa, or indulging in a truffle fondue at La Fromagerie restaurant before making a toast at GreenGo nightclub.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Gstaad Guide
Looking for an adrenaline boost? You can catch thrilling competition at the X Games, which will take place in Aspen from January 23-26. Over 200 skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling champions from around the world will vie for the highest honors in snow-action athletics. The best part: the events are completely free to the public.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Aspen Guide