When planning a ski holiday, a myriad of factors need to be considered when deciding which resort, let alone which continent! Both sides of the pond have their clear strengths - reasons not only to book, but also to return year on year. Snow, being a huge concern, is one factor that is out of our hands to foretell – Meribel could have deep powder over Christmas whilst Jackson Hole is lush and green – so we will leave snow predictions to the weather professionals and let you decide on all other factors that we can anticipate.
Photo: Megeve, Daniel Durand
If you are looking for picturesque alpine villages, cobbled streets and delicious, typical local food, then The Alps are for you. However what you might lose in North America in terms of quintessential resorts you gain in the friendly, happy-go-lucky locals, always ready to help and in fact (seemingly) wanting to help and to ensure you are having the best holiday you possibly can.
In any of the European resorts you will be treated to fantastic and celebrated national cuisine, but you also gain the advantage of being able to try local foods from neighboring countries (Italian, Swiss, French) as they have all merged and connected over the years to offer the best of each. Alternatively the American resorts are keen on steak houses (of course), Italian restaurants (always crowd pleasers) and more surprisingly… they love sushi! Not only that but you are always served mountains (forgive the pun) of whatever you order – good news for hungry skiers!
Backcountry “riding” in the US offers endless exploration and fresh lines but as with Europe this should be done with a guide and/or all the correct kit (avalanche beacon, shovel and probe) to ensure maximum safety. In American resorts the pistes are much wider and boundaries vast therefore even in peak season you can find yourself skiing on your own or just with your group of friends around you - every skier’s dream! Piste grooming is meticulous in the US and the American lifts are more advanced enabling quicker access and mobility around the mountains (we’re talking heated seats…). Not only that but you are often plied with free oatmeal bars, hot apple juice and sunscreen when you reach the summit of a lift – hello American hospitality, this is tempting! On the other hand resorts and villages are all interconnected in Europe; for example, you could ski from Morzine (France), have lunch in Morgins (Switzerland), then back for supper - racking up many miles and panoramas along the way and crossing borders and cultures!
Skiing with the Family
It was the Americans who really established skiing as a sport for all ages, and when we say all we mean as young as 3! They have established a skiing formula that encourages children to approach the mountain through amazing facilities such as Treetops Adventure Center (Snowmass) that not only entertains all day but gives lessons too. There is also great childcare in most resorts and the ski schools tend to be much more flexible e.g. you don’t need to book the full week. That being said, the European resorts are not far behind and there are several highly professional, welcoming and innovative ski schools who can cater to any child’s needs. For that we recommend talking to one of our team so that we can source the perfect instructor for you and your family.
Apres Ski Around the World
Hands down European resorts offer an après ski that is unsurpassable by any other ski destination! The continuous drinking culture throughout the day, from gluhwein at elevenses to a rosé fuelled lunch, then skiing straight to bars in town, dancing on tables in ski boots or magnums of champagne shared in a group, demonstrates Europeans know how to let their coiffed hair down (everyday). American skiing is such that they mostly drive to the lifts, ski all day, and then drive home to their condos or hotel. Therefore the après culture has not yet developed as it has in Europe. The social side mainly happens in the hotels, or in the town centre around a brazier with live music and events put on by the town or hotel – meaning a much more friendly environment for families wanting to spend time together.
Luxury Ski Chalets and Accommodation
The American resorts boast a wide range of fabulous hotels, some of which have residences attached for added autonomy but retaining the height of luxury. As with Europe there are also beautiful private homes (chalets) all of which offer endless extravagance and elegance. Alternatively, over in the Alps, you’ll find a plethora of either hotels or chalets that offer similar levels of chic indulgence and really, everything that a skiing party could need; from private spas, to drivers and chefs, cinema rooms for lazy days and heli pads for easy access!
Of course, in an ideal world you would try both options for yourself and then decide which side of the fence (or pond!) you are on. But holidays are precious and it would be a shame to waste our first-hand experience. So give us a call on +44 1993 899 420 or contact us here and we will happily chat through the pros and cons for you and your group before tailor-making your holiday to your very own needs.