giovedì 26 novembre 2009

Top 10 Worldwide Ski Resorts

Hope you enjoyed staying at the finest hotels around the world. Few things in life beat the luxury and amenities of fine hotels, except perhaps a visit to some choice ski destinations around the world. So bundle up and make some cocoa because we're about to embark on some crazy vertical drops...
10. Aspen, Colorado, Western United States
Want to ski with the rich and famous? If yes, then Aspen is the place to be. Aspen is known for its steeps and its four mountains that are not linked. This Colorado ski resort accommodates all by featuring excellent terrain for all skier levels. Filled with steeps and bumps, Aspen Mountain has fantastic groomed intermediate runs as well. The mountain is also a great choice for experts, who can access hundreds of acres of terrain off the backside of the mountain. As the resort-of-choice for the "better off," Aspen has a tendency to get slightly expensive.

9. Cortina, Italy
Perhaps this is where Alberto 'la bomba' Tomba got his start. Cortina matches any resort in the Alps and served as the host of the Olympic games in 1956. Similar to Zermatt in Switzerland, life revolves around a trafficless street. One of the world's first ski resorts, Cortina is also Italy's most stylish.

8. Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Eastern Canada
French Canadian joie de vivre meets North American service standards. Tremblant, Eastern Canada's best-known resort, has been given a facelift thanks to a $1 billion investment (that's Canadian currency, so roughly $13 American dollars). Open since 1939, Tremblant was the first resort to open in Canada and the second in North America. What makes Tremblant even more special is that it is an hour away from Montreal. An alternative would be Mont-Sainte-Anne, which is a nicer mountain and a short trip away from Quebec City, perhaps North America's most historic city as the gateway into the "New World."

7. Stowe, Vermont, Eastern United States
One of the most renowned and picturesque ski resorts on the map, Stowe offers traditional New England charm and the biggest vertical drop in the area. Stowe's two ski areas are Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. The latter actually backs onto Smugglers' Notch's terrain. As a result, Stowe is amongst a handful of American resort that has a lift-link to another resort. Stowe offers over 90 shops and 60 restaurants to make sure that visitors do not trek too far away.

6. Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France
Host of the world's first Winter Olympic games in 1924, Chamonix ranks among the elite of contenders for the title of "world's most famous ski resort." Located at the foot of Mont-Blanc, it's the highest peak in the Alps and the second highest in Europe (top elevation 4,810 m/15,771 ft). Chamonix Mont-Blanc holds bragging rights both for its lift-served vertical drop of 2807 meters (9209 feet) and for having one of the world's longest runs (Vallée Blanche), at 22 km (13.7 miles).

5. Banff/Lake Louise, Alberta, Western Canada
Located in the heart of Canada's Banff National Park, Lake Louise ranks as one of the most scenic mountain resorts in North America, if not the entire world. Banff/Lake Louise has three different ski areas (Mount Norquay/Mystic Ridge, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise) that are roughly 50 km apart (yes, they use km outside of the US). The Insider's Guide to the Best Canadian Skiing has labeled Norquay as "an unforgiving brute legendary for its unrelenting vertical and monster moguls."

4. Vail, Colorado, Western United States
Legendary Vail markets itself as "America's favorite resort" and deserves to be ranked amongst the world's top five all-around ski resorts. As the largest single ski area in the United States, Vail offers roughly 5,300 acres of skiable, terrain. Let's not forget the fastest high-speed detachable quads on one mountain. No small feat, I'm sure. Vail offers much more with several art galleries, museums, ballooning, dog sledding, ice skating, hockey, snowmobiling, and much more.

3. Zermatt, Switzerland
While neighboring Gstaad is one of the world's top resorts with its three five-star hotels and St. Moritz is more popular, most rank Zermatt as Switzerland's top resort. A remarkably peaceful getaway, the village is peaceful thanks to its car-free environment. Amazingly picturesque, Zermatt holds the world's second biggest lift-served vertical drop and receives huge snowfalls thanks to its altitude (and some help from snowmakers on the lower slopes).

2. Kitzbuhel, Austria
While St. Anton holds the crown of "Europe's liveliest ski resort," and Innsbruck is home to one of Europe's liveliest and most beautiful cities (the International Olympic Committee must have thought so as well, as the city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976), Kitzbuhel is considered the "Pearl of the Alps" and is the most famous holiday resort in the Austrian Tyrol. This 700-year-old village offers visitors the charm of an alpine village. Skiing began in the winter of 1892.

1. Whistler/Blackcomb, Canada
These two towering mountains provide the best skiing in North America, with the biggest vertical drop. It's funny what a difference 30 years and $600 million can make. Yet there was not much there but a mountain for courageous hikers. Whistler's charming village offers everything snowboarders and skiers crave; cafes, international stores and over 100 restaurants that cater to all tastes including Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, and Thai cuisine. Food is key after partaking in the activities that really make Whistler legendary. Whistler quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the strongest contenders for the much-disputed title of "world's greatest ski resort." Over the past decade, Whistler was consistently voted "Best North American Ski Resort" by North Americans. The Japanese repeatedly rank it as their favorite international destination.

By Harry Marks

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