If you want wild, piste-side parties then maybe look elsewhere, but for quality skiing, a classier pace of resort life and good food and wine for afters, these resorts are among the best places to ski in the world.
For a snow trip with the grandkids: Avoriaz
Image © Stéphane Lerendu
The fact that Avoriaz is all ski-in, ski-out saves you having to lug around your grandchildren’s clobber as well as your own – just clip into skis and you’re off. The ski schools are English-speaking and excellent, and with something for the tiniest tots, teens and adults, you’ve the chance to take a break from childcare or have lessons yourself. There’s also magic – in the form of horse-drawn sleighs that trot around resort instead of cars, a tropical-themed waterpark for bad weather days and the mighty Portes du Soleil playground, linking France and Switzerland with every type of terrain.
Closest airport: you can drive here from Geneva airport in about 2 hours
Ski area: 650km of pistes in the Portes du Soleil
For a trans-Atlantic jaunt: Sundance Mountain
Image © Sundance Utah
Sundance is unlike any other ski resort – opened by the one and only Robert Redford and focussing on a rustic, back-to-basics approach to skiing. Over 65’s can join the Senior Ski Group for sociable ski days throughout the season. For non-skiers, there’s fly-fishing on the Provo River, pottery, art classes and winter walking. You can easily extend your trip with a visit to Vegas, LA or San Francisco.
Closest airport: Salt Lake City is a 90-minute drive away
Ski area: 44 runs/450 acres
For your non-skiing pals: Bad Kleinkirchheim
Image © Michael Gruber & BKK Tourism
This is a jolly good ski resort where you can ski with one of the world’s best senior skiers – Olympic champion Franz Klammer – on certain mornings. But before skiing was even a twinkle in Bad Kleinkirchheim’s eye, it was a spa destination. Since the Middle Ages, the anti-inflammatory properties of the local thermal baths have been a big draw for visitors. Whether you want something to ease aches and pains after a day on the hill, or to keep non-skiers entertained while you enjoy the slopes, Bad Kleinkirchheim is brilliant.
Closest airport: Ljubljana airport in Slovenia is 90 minutes away by car
Ski area: 103km of terrain
For a trip back in time: Alpbach
Image © Alpbachtal Seenland Tourismus
Modern infrastructure has made skiing a darn sight cheaper and easier – and long may it continue to do so. But now and again a taste of old times is called for, and Alpbach is the answer. One of Austria’s prettiest villages, it resembles a scene atop a Christmas cake: pine forest, wooden chalets and a steepled church, all covered in a blanket of snow. Not an apartment block in sight. Pootle around the local slopes of the Gmahkopf, venture over to Auffach or explore the old farming village with its charming cafes.
Closest airport: Innsbruck Airport is 30-minute drive away
Ski area: 109km in the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau
For majestic mountains and historic hamlets: Mürren
Image © Mürren Tourism
Mürren makes a magnificent change from daily life: up among three of the most iconic peaks in the Alps, it’s a sight to behold with charming chocolate-box chalets and, even better, it’s wonderfully, peacefully car-free. Explore the Jungfrau area by skis or cog railway, from the sky-high Schilthorn (Blofeld’s lair in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) to the striking Lauterbrunnen valley (Tolkein’s inspiration for Rivendell).
Closest airport: Bern is an hour’s drive or 2 hours train ride away
Ski area: 206km throughout the Jungfrau area
For topmost convenience: Flaine
Image © OT Flaine / Photozoom
Short airport transfers, ski-out accommodation and snow-sure slopes keep ski holidays straightforward in Flaine. If you want non-stop skiing – whether wobbly-legged or ready to roam –the Grand Massif ski area is super. The fact that Flaine doesn’t have classic Alpine good looks means prices tend to be lower than the bigger, prettier resorts. And to save you even more pennies, over 75’s qualify for a free lift pass.
Closest airport: Geneva Airport is only an hour and 20 minutes away
Ski area: 265km in the Grand Massif
For a touch of luxury: Kitzbühel
Image © Michael Werlberger
As our very own David Graham pointed out, SKI works as an acronym for Spending the Kids Inheritance! In Kitzbühel, you can funnel funds into spectacular ski hotels with rooftop swimming pools, spas and gourmet restaurants. The old mining town is fascinating to wander around for non-skiers or just an afternoon off the planks. Maybe you won’t tackle the legendary Streif run of Hahnenkamm fame – or maybe you will – either way, the ski area is fabulous.
Closest airport: getting here from Innsbruck takes about a 90-minute drive
Ski area: 179km of pistes and almost endless off piste
For many a reason: Cortina d’Ampezzo
Image © Bandion
Come for the astounding Dolomite peaks, the posh mountain town, the Aperol spritz or Ithe talian cuisine… Come to follow the footsteps of James Bond (in For Your Eyes Only). Or come for the ski area, which is crowd-free, immaculately groomed and incredibly scenic. Whatever your reason for visiting Cortina d’Ampezzo, it’s certainly one for the bucket list.
Closest airport: Venice Marco Polo Airport is just over 2-hours away by car
Ski area: 120km in Cortina alone, then ten times that throughout the Dolomiti Superski
For your second or third ski trip of the season: Soldeu
Image © Grandvalira
Don’t knock skiing Andorra until you’ve tried it! The Grandvalira ski area has top-notch technology and a more than decent amounts of snow most seasons. And it’s cheap: with terrific spa hotels at far lower prices than the Alps, restaurants that won’t rinse your wallet and low-cost lessons to tweak your technique. Best of all, anyone aged 65+ can claim a reduced-price ski pass, and over seventies get free lift passes all season. If you want to make the most of retirement and take multiple ski trips, this is a cost-effective way to do so.
Nearest airport: Carcassonne, 2.5 hours drive away
Ski area: 210km in the Grandvalira ski area
For food glorious food: San Cassiano
Image © Freddy Planinschek
Even those with the simplest meat-and-two-veg appetites return from San Cassiano full-blown foodies. The village itself is tiny, but bursts with excellent eateries including 3-Michelin-starred St. Hubertus and 2-Michelin-starred La Siriola. Visitors also return relaxed from the quiet village’s wellness facilities, refreshed from the dazzling Dolomite scenery and energised from the sweeping Alta Badia ski area.
Closest airport: the transfer from Venice Treviso airport takes about 2.5 hours
Ski Area: Alta Badia has 130km of pistes, and the Dolomiti Superski a humungous 1,200km.
Credit / honourable mention: We cribbed this list of recommendations from a guide written by one of the top ski holiday experts. You can read more detailed advice for mature and older skiers here.