Secret guide to skiing
Whoever it was who first looked at a mountain covered in snow and decided to strap two planks of wood onto their legs and slide down it at great speed is high on my list of dream dinner guests.
I can safely say I wouldn’t have been the first to come up with it. I might have invented the snow angel or the Slush Puppie but skiing would never have occurred to me. Because it’s mad.
I still think it’s a bit mad despite the equipment having moved on a touch and most importantly ski lifts to do the hard work for you. So a big thank you to that man/woman for being brave enough and crazy enough to come up with the best sport in the world.
In England we’re all starting to think about where to ski this season. Whether we’re an expert who’s been going every year since birth or a family taking their kids for the first time it’s just about the most exciting trip to plan. Arguably the best thing is that in most European resorts and many outside they suggest you eat cheese with just about everything. Nowhere else would we agree to eat this much cheese in such a short space of time. But there’s something about a mountain (maybe the altitude or that fresh mountain air) that suddenly makes it ok to replace all the other food groups with a vat of molten cheese and lumps of bread.
This week I have a few recommendations for you… whether you’re an expert, a family or simply looking for some amazing après ski.
Blanket Bay in Queenstown, New Zealand
You’ve done most of Europe, you’ve skied in America… where next?
New Zealand is my pick of the lot as the skiing around Queenstown is challenging and the area is beyond beautiful. With places like Milford Sound to see on top of great slopes and easy access to heli-skiing it has plenty to get even the most experienced skiers excited.
Blanket Bay overlooking Lake Wakatipu is the place to stay. It’s secluded, has views of the Southern Alps and with just 13 rooms it’s exclusive. Make sure you get a room with a balcony or private terrace, available during British summer time.
Crystal Hotel in St Moritz, Switzerland
I like St Moritz for many reasons but most importantly it’s the spirit of the early visitors to one of the world’s oldest resorts.
For it was these early visitors who created the Cresta Run in 1884 that is a toboggan track where people first started throwing themselves down head first. It makes the person who invented skiing seem positively unadventurous.
The town is seriously swish with all the best shops and people dressed in the gladdest of ski rags strolling around like it’s a town-sized catwalk. The bars and restaurants in town and on the mountain have all the vital ingredients required to create perfect sophisticated après ski. To ensure you’re right in the middle of the action stay at Crystal Hotel.
Grand Hotel at Waldhaus Flims Mountain Resort & Spa in Flims Waldhaus, Switzerland
I first skied in Flims aged about 4 and it was perfect for a young girl making her first tentative snow plough.
We didn’t stay at this hotel but we dreamed of a day we could. The 19th century hotel was renowned then and still is now as the finest spot in town.
With a couple of pools, a large choice of bars and restaurants and a spa and wellness centre it has plenty to offer families outside of a range of gentler slopes for beginners and intermediates. And for slightly older children LAAX nearby has a halfpipe up the mountain and an indoor centre with a ski jump, trampolines and a foam pit to practice bolder moves in complete safety.
Where’s your favourite place to ski?