Seasoned skiers in search of the perfect powder conditions will know that Japan, New Zealand, and North America are some of the best places to go deep and steep in winter wonderlands of backcountry beauty…
Away from heavily groomed slopes more often found in the European resorts, an off-piste world of powder-filled adventures awaits – where the tracks you make are as fresh as the snow fall. After bluebird days swishing through pristine ‘pow-pow’, rest ski-weary legs at these high altitude retreats made for post-mountain relaxation.
Niseko Village – Japan
Boasting Mount Yotei as its backdrop and some of the snowiest resorts in the world, Japan‘s northern Hokkaido Island sees over 15 metres of light, fluffy snow fall annually and near constantly from early December to the end of February. As the largest of these resorts, Niseko‘s 55km range of runs and cross-country routes will have more advanced skiers waist-deep in powder thanks to its daily dose of snow from Siberia, while its extensive flood-lit network means that the fun continues after dark. Warm up in one of the onsen hot springs around Niseko, famed for their healing waters rich in minerals, followed by some après ski sushi.
Hinode Hills Niseko Village
Named to pay homage to the rising sun, the sleek, minimalist apartments with volcanic mountain views at Hinode Hills Niseko Village embrace wabi-sabi aesthetics throughout its pared-back, naturally inspired interiors. With ski-in ski-out access to over 2,000 acres of snowsports terrain, and your own personal ski valet to wax your equipment while you sleep, Hinode Hills should be high on any skier’s winter wish-list.
Kasara Niseko Village Townhouse
A contemporary collection of classic Japanese heritage townhouses, Kasara Niseko Villa Townhouse enjoys an enviable location in the picture-perfect foothills of Hokkaido’s mountains. Each of the spacious residences has its own heated ski storage and garage, along with three elegant bedrooms, a chic kitchen and convertible dining space. And attentive concierge services, inspired by the ichi-go ichi-e concept, will make every moment of your stay memorable.
Queenstown – New Zealand
When the Northern Hemisphere begins to heat up, New Zealand‘s ski season begins – and with four resorts around Queenstown to choose from – Coronet Peak, Cardrona, Treble Cone and The Remarkables – skiers of all abilities can find a suitable slope. Powder seekers can warm up in the Saddle Basin and Summit Slope of Treble Cone, an advanced skiing area which is well worth the one-and-a-half hour drive from Queenstown. Hardcore skiers should head to the expert-only zone at Motatapu Chutes, deservedly the playground of international freeskiers for its dramatic cliff drops and daring lines. For some seriously epic powder, open bowls and natural half pipes, a heli-ski trip to the Southern Lakes region is an absolute must.
Eichardt’s Private Hotel
With the best spot on the shores of mountain-backed Lake Wakatipu, Eichardt’s Private Hotel is both sleekly designed and serenely placed. Making the most of its Southern Island landscape, each suite and apartment frames awe-inspiring lake or mountain views, and balances antique furnishings with contemporary style notes. For peak privacy, choose The Residence, an elegant villa set slightly apart from the main hotel.
Utah – USA
Widely acknowledged as one of the powder capitals of the world, Utah is home to heavyweight resorts such as Snowbird and Alta, along with Park City, the largest lift-served terrain in the USA. Most of the slopes are left unpisted, where the snow is consistently fresh and the rugged mountainscape sufficiently steep for intermediates to get a first taste of powder. Whilst boarding is banned in Alta, advanced skiers will enjoy top-to-bottom lifts which serve multiple black and double-black runs for more challenging yet less crowded slopes.
Stein Eriksen Residences
There are not many places in the world where you can ski directly onto the slope from the hotel lounge. Stein Eriksen Residences puts you at the heart of Deer Valley’s Silver Dollar Ski Trail, while giving guests exclusive access to the resort’s Main Lodge. These modern mountain lodges are cosy yet contemporary, with wrap-around windows framing mountain views, soaring ceilings, crackling fires and bubbling hot tubs.
Good to Snow
- If you don’t already own powder skis, make sure you book a fitting with one of the resort’s equipment centres – powder skis are generally wider and longer than piste skis, with a softer flex pattern which helps with your turns in deeper snow.
- We would always recommend hiring an experienced mountain guide if you’re planning to go off-piste, who will know where the best snow spots are along with avoiding high-risk avalanche areas.
- Powder skiing is not for beginners – build up your confidence on groomed runs with an instructor who can teach you backcountry basics before venturing fully off-piste.
- Many new powder skiers tend to sit back to keep their tips above the snow – instead, keep your balance centred, put pressure on your tips, and you’ll find your rhythm in no time.