That first leaf is slowly but surely changing its color and making its way toward the ground. Not far behind will be many more of its friends, and just behind them will be the snowflakes. If you’re a glass-half-full type, that means it’s almost ski season. With domestic travel prominent thanks to border closures and COVID protocols, you’ll want to get your accommodations and lift passes booked as soon as possible. This is especially important if you’re looking for space over the holidays. Not to worry, we’re here to help, and there are still quite a few mountainous countries in Europe you can visit, plus Canada.
With a whopping 53 mountains peaking at 14,000 feet or higher, Colorado is at the top of any skier’s list. There are more than a dozen Virtuoso-preferred ski resorts across the state, so there’s surely one for you. From Telluride to Aspen to Vail to Steamboat Springs, you’ll find winter wonderlands with charming towns to usher in the holiday spirit. Utah checks in with a half-dozen Virtuoso-preferred resorts in and around the famed Park City, and there are another three in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole and Teton Village. Many of these have villas and condominiums affiliated with the resort so you can enjoy the best of both worlds with all the space you need to bring your travel pod with the amenities of a hotel.
New England’s mountains might not be as tall as the Rockies or the Alps, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a multitude of great ski destinations that are far closer to home for East Coasters. Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch is a great area for the whole family with all types of terrain for all types of skiers. Jay Peak has excellent instructors if you’re just a beginning and fantastic glades and backcountry for more experienced skiers to roam. Killington spans six peaks and boasts the largest vertical drop in New England. New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain has 370 acres of skiable terrain, plus snow tubing, snowshoeing, ice skating and even a zip line over a frozen river. Average annual snowfall tops 200 inches, and three terrain parks ensure nobody could possibly get bored at Bretton Woods.
Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 a negative test can get you onto the fantastic slopes of British Columbia and Alberta. Whistler, just outside Vancouver, hosted the ski events for the 2010 Winter Olympics and has world-class runs. Head east on the Trans-Canada Highway and you’ll hit Sun Peaks, 4,270 acres of alpine village complete with restaurants and shops you can breeze right by on your way to the chairlift. Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta shine in any season, but their skiing chops are often overlooked. Banff Sunshine is renowned for its light, dry snow. The iconic views of Lake Louise are even more impressive on a long cruising ski run, and Norquay has great conditions for beginners.
Protocols vary in each country, but fully vaccinated Americans are welcome to travel to France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria, which means the Alps can be your playground. Tucked near the Italian border, France’s Courchevel resort area features towns with elevations tacked onto their names and Michelin-star restaurants for après-ski. The area was built in the aftermath of World War II to anticipate better times. Sounds like a harbinger for our era. Like Colorado, Switzerland has more than a dozen Virtuoso-preferred ski resorts, plus incredible lakeside hotels to cap off your vacation. Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy’s Dolomites has hosted the Olympics before and will do so again in 2026. Now’s your chance to train. Just across the Austrian border are fantastic Tyrolean ski resorts in Lech and Zurs, complete with a Virtuoso welcome.