I love to ski late in the season. The weather is never too cold (even up on the glaciers), the sun is often shining, the hotel rates, even at the best luxury hotels, drop massively, so you can pick up a bargain. There is also a great chance to sunbathe around your chalet after skiing on the upper slopes. I can’t think of a more perfect combination! Sun and snow!
If you pick your resort carefully there are still plenty of snowy slopes that are good enough to ski on in April. This is my pick of the ten best resorts for late season skiing.
My first choice for late season snow is Lech with an altitude of 1,444m. Even in April, the slopes are snowy right down to the resort and the lower runs remain ski-able, so you can ski right from the top of the mountain into the resort. The village remains as pretty as it is in January with the snowy slopes sparkling behind the pretty chalets. Higher up, the mountains surrounding Lech reach an altitude of 2039 metres and offer the best conditions at this time of year.
Stay at the hotel Aurelio in Lech. This Aman style ski hotel in the Alps offers everything you could possibly want from a ski hotel. Every room faces into the valley and across the slopes and each balcony is bathed in sunshine throughout the day. The rooms themselves are uber-modern ski chalet style, with amazing and generous marble bathrooms (with yummy Hermes Paris Un Jardin Sur Le Nil toiletries). A million little touches make this place special such as chocolates and hankie packs in your ski locker, high end lotions at your bedside to fight the mountain dryness, breakfast anytime you like and the swish pool area also hosts fruit, water, teas and nuts, just to keep you going between the bowls of delicious swiss chocolates dotted around this magnificent chalet.
Hotel Aurelio is expensive but worth every penny. In April, room rates are less than half of the peak season rates. In fact, it is so good at this time of year, that I am hesitating in sharing this absolute gem of a hotel with you. It is my little secret and part of me wants to keep it my secret for fear of it becoming too popular. Ski hotels do not come better than this.
2. Sölden, Austria
My second choice for late season snow is Sölden. The town of Sölden is not nearly as pretty as Lech but once you get out of the main street, you will discover mountain streams and pretty fields which look like they are straight out of “Heidi”. At 1368m of altitude, this snow sure resort does not hold onto the snow for as long as Lech. When we went there in April, the valley floor had no snow whatsoever, but you can see the snow on the higher slopes and are just a short gondola ride away from on one of Austria’s largest glacier areas. Rettenbach Glacier and Tiefenbach Glacier feature perfectly groomed slopes surrounded by the stunning Alpine scenery and reaching up to an incredible 3340 metres above sea level. The season here begins as early as September and extends all the way through until May.
The only place to stay in Solden is the 5 star Das Central hotel which sits up a side street from the main drag and is a large and beautifully refurbished luxury hotel. Our tip is to request one of their refurbished rooms which face the front of the hotel. These rooms are south facing and offer sunshine which streams in through the floor to ceiling windows throughout the day. The decor is modern pine with swish bathrooms and superbly comfortable beds. This hotel encourages families and rewards little ones with fun touches like a furry bed time chicken at turndown.
The hotel also has a great pool are with lots of bubble features, and best of all, there is a gondola shuttle which takes guests directly to and from the bottom of the main gondolas every 5 minutes or so, which means no waiting around. Our tip here is to pay a small supplement and take your evening meals at the amazing Ötztaler Stube which offers some of the best food in the Alps. Das Central is a surprisingly affordable 5 star ski hotel (book outside the main season for excellent rates) and is definitely a Luxury Travel Diary favourites.
3. Stubai Glacier, Austria
Our third choice is the Stubai Glacier in Austria. With snow guaranteed until June and offering Austria’s largest glacier ski resort, Stubai sits at an astonishing 1,750 m to 3,210 m. The only downside to this Glacier is that there isn’t a good luxury ski hotel at the base of the Gondola, which means you will need to take a minibus ride to get to and from the base.
That said, we wholeheartedly recommend the very special Jagdhof hotel, which is 20 minutes complimentary shuttle from the Glacier and usefully also only 25 minutes from the airport at Innsbruck. This makes the Jagdhof a brilliant place to come for a weekend of skiing.
This family run Relais & Chateaux property is sat on the edge of a beautiful Austrian village and offers amazing food, a bar with a wonderful atmosphere and live music every night, a very good spa and a superb indoor-outdoor pool which opens up to extensive lawns where you can sunbathe after a day on the glacier. The free glacier transfers offered by the Jagdhof make getting to the glacier surprisingly stress-free, and this resort only comes in 3rd place as skiing is not quite on your doorstep.
4. Val d’Isere, France
Val d’Isere offers peaks which reach up to a height of 1,850, guaranteeing end of season snow. The Espace Killy ski area does in fact remain open until early May. Val d’Isere also benefits from north-facing slopes so the snow does not melt like crazy during the day.
Les Barmes de l’Ours is the best luxury hotel in Val d’Isere. This five star hotel sits at the foot of a spectacular black run and has a Michelin star in its main restaurant. It also has a great spa and stylish rooms with Scandinavian and North American lodge style contemporary decor.
5. Tignes, France
Also in the Espace Killy ski area which remains open until early May, Tignes offers high-altitude skiing on its Grande Motte glacier (3,400m). The glacier means that you can ski nine months of the year.
Your best bet for a luxury stay in Tignes is Village Montana, a five-star complex of Savoyard-style serviced suites and hotel rooms in Le Lac.
6. Whistler, Canada
One of the most snow-sure resorts in North America is Whistler with 3,300 skiable hectares to explore. Whistler’s village is only 675m in altitude so when the snow is falling on the slopes it can turn to rain in the resort. The top lifts here reach 2,285m and the two mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb have gondola access at their bases and are linked by a further gondola at mid-mountain.
Stay at the Four Seasons Whistler which offers everything you would expect from a Four Seasons including a fun outdoor pool and hot tub area which you can swim in while it snows.
7. Val Thorens, France
This is Europe’s highest major resort with slopes that reach up to 3,200m. Offering snowsure slopes right through to May, it is part of the 600-kilometre Three Valleys ski area.
Koh-i Nor is the highest five-star hotel in the Alps and is situated at the top end of the town, with beautiful views over the resort. It offers luxury apartments, hotel rooms, a spa, restaurants, a lounge bar and an equipment hire shop all on site. The look is modern, natural alpine.
8. St. Anton, Austria
We find this resort town a bit of a ski factory so if you have the budget, stay instead at the Aurelio in Lech which is 20 minutes drive away and much prettier. However, if budgets won’t stretch to Lech, St. Anton has slopes which range from 1,304-2,450m and an excellent snow record. It offers skiing from late November through to early May with many north-facing slopes.
Stay at the Tannenhof Hotel in the centre of town. This seven-suite luxury retreat offers a spa with a large indoor pool overlooking the mountains, and superb cuisine served in your suite, on your terrace.
9. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is one of the top ski destinations in Switzerland and offers Europe’s largest glacier ski area at 3,899m high and is open 365 days a year. This fabulous Swiss resort has invested in a summer snowmaking system that can create snow within an internal chamber at positive temperatures which makes it absolutely snow-sure even if there isn’t enough natural snow on the glacier in summer.
You are spoilt for choice for luxury hotels in Zermatt. Our favourite is Mont Cervin Palace which part of the “Leading Hotels of the World”. On arrival at the train station, you will be picked up by a horse-driven carriage (most other hotels send a taxi). Mont Cervin Palace also has an extensive wellness centre including an indoor pool as well as a heated outdoor pool where you can relax with views of the Matterhorn.
10. Aspen, USA
Due to the altitude of Aspen’s slopes being up to 3,417m, mountain conditions remain good for Aspen/Snowmass into April. Take advantage of the empty slopes as the season comes to an end.
The Little Nell on East Durant Avenue, is probably the best luxury hotel in Aspen. It has three bars, two restaurants and a heated outdoor pool and hot tub. It also offers complimentary shuttle services to and from the airport, around town and to all four ski areas.