It may seem that skiers hold a monopoly over winter. But luxury ski resorts are increasingly recognizing that winter doesn’t belong just to snow bunnies by launching innovative new activities -- think snow paragliding and igloo building -- for their non-skiing guests.
For couples who have a hard time reconciling one person’s ski needs and the other person’s aversion to frozen toes and broken limbs, here's a list of some of the most luxurious hotels that double as wintry fairylands and offer a variety of activities.
The Omni Homestead
Hot Springs, Virginia, USA
While your partner heads out to carve snow, take a soak in the outdoor, adult-only hot springs at The Omni Homestead tucked into the Allegheny Mountains.
The property, which has hosted 22 US presidents, sits on the largest private hot springs in Virginia. Once you’re sufficiently warm and toasty, head over to the on-site movie theater.
Other activities include ice skating, snow tubing, and snowmobile tours.
Famed for its world-class skiing, the village of Courchevel 1850 is part of Les Trois Vallees, the largest ski area in the world.
At Hotel de Charme Les Airelles, adventure seekers can explore the area by horse, snowmobile, snowshoe, or even helicopter.
Guests in search of peace and solitude can read a book quietly in the library, or warm up by the fireplace, while gastronomes can look forward to Michelin-grade fare at Pierre Gagnaire for Les Airelles.
The Fairmont Banff Springs
Banff, Alberta, Canada
It’s called Canada’s 'Castle in the Rockies', for good reason. Guests have a slew of winter sports activities to choose from at the stunning, 19th-century property including canyon ice walking, dog sledding, ice fishing, and the very Canadian sport of curling. Thaw out at Banff’s hot springs or at the hotel’s mineral pool and pulsating waterfalls.
This one’s for the design hound who values the importance of aesthetics. Contemporary and minimal in design with cowhide accents and luxury furnishings from B&B Italia, Porada and Knoll International, all rooms are equipped with a flatscreen TV, DVD player and Wi-Fi.
Non-ski activities include snow tubing, winter hiking, igloo-building, ice climbing, night sledding and even snow paragliding.
St Regis Aspen Resort
Aspen, Colorado, USA
One of St Regis’s biggest non-ski assets is its Remede Spa, which holds the distinction of being named best spa in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine.
After a tiring day on the slopes or snowshoes, guests can try out their innovative new treatment, the Farm-to-Massage-Table, an interesting twist on the gastronomic farm-to-table trend. Like its culinary predecessor, the ‘FTMT’ concept uses locally-sourced and natural ingredients in its treatment.
Bibliophiles can also catch up on their reading and curl up with a book and a glass of wine at the hotel’s newly built library.
Cristallo Spa & Golf
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
About two hours from Venice, in the Dolomites mountain range, sits the Cristallo Spa and Golf, a luxury resort that’s also renowned for its world-class spa that includes everything from anti-jet lag facial treatments and Lomi Lomi massage, characterized by slow, winding movements that evoke the rippling of waves for long-lasting relaxation.
The hotel is also located near the Olympic bobsleigh track for non-skiing thrill seekers.
Montage Deer Valley
Park City, Utah, USA
Montage Deer Valley only opened in 2010 but has already amassed a string of accolades from travel publications like CN Traveler and Travel + Leisure in categories like best hotel, spa and resort.
This winter season, activities include cross-country ski, snowshoeing, tubing, ice-skating, snowmobiling, dog sledding, fly fishing and train rides.
Guests can also visit nearby Utah Olympic Park to watch top athletes train in Nordic jumping, bobsled, luge and skeleton.
Four Seasons Whistler
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
As the largest ski resort in North America, the Four Seasons Whistler has earned itself a solid reputation among ski bunnies. But aside from skiing and snowboarding, the luxury resort offers another activity that’s not exactly synonymous with winter: golf.
On the 18th green, putters will be met with a PGA pro, board a private helicopter to fly 2,438 metres, and undertake a glacier tee-off from the 19th hole.
With tips from your personal PGA golf coach, participants get set to make their longest drive and slam their biodegradable golf ball into the abyss of the wintry Canadian mountain range.
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