As snowflakes start to descend on the world’s snowy mountains and villages, a whole world of winter activities appears. These winter experiences hold the key to turning frosty days into enchanting moments. Take helicopter rides to untouched powder, chase snow on a worldwide ski tour, go night skiing down Switzerland’s longest pist, don’t miss wildlife spotting in Antarctica and stay in luxury lodges to warm you up from days spent in subzero temperatures.
From skiing the most inaccessible places on Earth to sipping a velvety red by a roaring fire, these are some of winter’s ultimate experiences.
Heli-ski from your remote lodge
You know you’re remote when your only way in is by helicopter. Tucked away in a picturesque glacial valley on a working high-country farm in Otago, on New Zealand’s South Island, is the family-run Minaret Station – one of the most secluded and private luxury lodges in the world. From here, Southern Lakes Heliski (Minaret’s heli-ski division) can take you to one of 17 mountain ranges with more than 800 diverse runs. After a morning of skiing, have a gourmet picnic lunch at the top of the mountain. Do ski days get any better?
Ski, then a meet with wolves at Yellowstone National Park
You can be assured of a mind-blowing and luxe snow holiday when you head to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming. The skiing and snowboarding on Rendezvous and Après Vous is world-class. As a bonus, Jackson Hole has something many other resorts don’t – incredible wildlife tours into Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge.
Encountering elusive gray wolves in the wild is a rare but intoxicating experience, made possible with the help of a Four Seasons naturalist. A day trip to Yellowstone National Park from Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole begins with a private flight on board an seven-passenger aircraft. Land at Yellowstone’s northernmost edge, where you can search for the wolves and learn about their history, movement and behaviour patterns. There’s also a chance to see moose, elk, bison and bears. Available between October and May, the exclusive experience costs $16,000 and is restricted to eight guests.
For luxury accommodation The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole is unbeatable. Rooms have rustic furnishings and open fireplaces. The spa and heated outdoor pool are the best spots for easing sore muscles after a day on the slopes. Then the expert concierge team can organise your incredible wildlife experiences.
Take lessons with an Olympian at Whistler Blackcomb
Fancy yourself as a good skier, or plan on becoming one? You can now ski or ride privately with an Olympic athlete at Whistler Blackcomb. Start your day cruising down some of their favourite runs and ask them to show you their mountain sweet spots. Don’t ski? Olympic snowboarders are also available to pass on their skills.
Heli-ski at Alaska’s Tordrill
When you check in to Alaska’s Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in winter, there’s only one thing to do: heli-ski. You have some of the deepest runs and most pristine powder at your disposal. Not to mention North America’s longest-running winter season and 15 metres of snow a season. When you’re not on the slopes, plunge into frozen lakes, go fat-biking, or try snow-shoeing.
Drive a Porsche on snow in Finland
Have you always avoided driving in the snow? Now’s the time to break the ice. Porsche’s ‘Ice Experience’ in Finland sees you spend five unforgettable days zipping around extreme landscapes in the brand’s latest sportscars. Instructors teach the basics of ice driving followed by an intensive driving experience on snow and sheer ice. You’ll stay in luxe accommodation, eat well and get your heart racing.
Enjoy bubbles below zero in Switzerland
Remarkably, there are multiple destinations in Switzerland where you can not only wander on a glacier, but also walk inside it. Jungfrau – aka the ‘Top of Europe’ – in the Bernese Alps is one such place, where the magical Ice Palace welcomes you with carvings of bears and penguins, plus (if you are VIP) an achingly-cool Ice Bar. Bubbles below zero, anyone?
Stay in a luxury ski chalet in Japan
One Happo is the kind of ski chalet you could imagine squirreling yourself away in for years. Perhaps with a martini in hand. This luxe home in Japan’s Happo One ski region (you’re 100 metres from the gondola) comes with every trimming imaginable, from a fully-stocked wine cellar to a glass-topped pool table, onsen and sauna. What better way to revive after a day playing in powder?
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Winter at Scarp Ridge Lodge
Don’t be fooled by the miner’s saloon exterior at Scarp Ridge Lodge at Crested Butte, Colorado. It might still have its Wild West looks, but it’s all meticulous style on the inside. Transformed with reclaimed iron from the old mills in town, there are just six rooms. Wake to a custom-designed snowcat waiting at the front door to whisk you to the 400-plus hectares of exclusive ski terrain in nearby Irwin. Back at the lodge, a steamy rooftop hot tub is the perfect setting to relive the day’s highlights.
Soak surrounded by snow in the Swiss Alps
A trip to Iglu-Dorf Zermatt is a pinch-me moment. Sit in a hot tub in the snow while looking up at the majestic Matterhorn and the mountain ranges fringing Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. The property has igloos at 2,727 metres, along with a restaurant and bar, pools and hot tubs, both indoor and out. Enjoy fondue in the afternoon on the sun terrace, admire the incredible ice art, enjoy your icy abode and be mesmerised by the eye-popping views.
Visit Antarctica by private yacht
Visiting Antarctica is a life-changing experience. Imagine exploring this icy continent on a private yacht and by helicopter. That’s what Pelorus promises on its expeditions around the world’s most southern continent. Embark on whale-watching cruises, then drop in on glaciated mountains above fjords and icebergs, your skis and poles in hand, and your imagination piqued. So this is what it means to be alive.
Then heli-ski the southernmost continent
Pelorus will take you to glide down slopes in the Antarctic Peninsula. Heli-ski in one of the most inaccessible places on the planet where colonies of emperor penguins roam and Antarctic fur seals laze. When you’re done skiing – and observing the local wildlife – trek peaks, abseil into a giant crevasse, and kayak through the icy waters alongside colossal icebergs.
Deer Valley delivered adventures
Utah’s Deer Valley winter resort has always been exclusive. But above and beyond strapping on your skis or snowboard, there are diversions aplenty to have you playing in this powdery paradise. Check in to the Montage resort and sign up for a roll-call of adventure activities, from hydrofoil flights and skimboarding to heli-skiing and off-roading. Hold on to your ski hat.
Catch a helicopter to New Zealand’s highest peak
The concierge team at A Touch of Spice deliver the kind of winter experiences you can only dream about. Like catching a helicopter to New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki Mt. Cook, landing among the crevasses of the Tasman Glacier and wandering through seracs, icefalls and caves of ancient blue ice.
Ski Switzerland’s longest night pists
Ski down sparkling slopes under floodlight in the longest night piste in Switzerland. Every Friday night during winter is VIP Snow Night. Two flaming torches light up the entrance of the Corvatsch aerial cableway in the Upper Engadin. Start with hors d’oeuvres and a glass of champagne, then make your way down the freshly groomed, white velvet carpet stretching out before you.
Fly by private charter around the world
Pack your stamina alongside your ski boots – Scott Dunn’s ‘Epic Round the World Ski Trip’ is not for the faint of heart. The 33-day snow-chasing sojourn sees you enjoy blue-sky days at Zermatt in Switzerland, tackle Aspen Snowmass in the US, and climb to lofty heights at Whistler in Canada – among other destinations. And in true Scott Dunn style, you fly private charter and stay in glitzy mountain resorts.
Discovery Tours at Thredbo
While Thredbo’s runs are worth waiting in line for, nothing’s better than lift-queue priority – and you get it with the mountain’s new daily ‘Discovery Tours‘. The three-hour tour caters to intermediate and advanced skiers and riders, with a guide showing you the best-kept secrets on the mountain.
The Kareela Supper Club presented by G.H.Mumm is also new this winter, with guests transferred by gondola and snowcat up to the legendary Kareela Hutte for bubbles and fireworks. Thredbo’s Sunrise Sessions see snow lovers up before dawn to ride the snowcat to Australia’s highest lifted point to watch the sun rise.
Helicopter over NZ’s South Island
Soar over the glacier-carved Lake Wakatipu, lush farmland and tumbling waterfalls in the landscape known as Middle-earth. The Otago region in the South Island has most notably featured in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit – and once you’re up here, it’s not hard to see why. Your helicopter will weave over the picture-perfect film locations and land near the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, where you can have a picnic and sip on a glass of silky-smooth Otago pinot noir.
Looking for a little more adrenaline? Helicopter over the Remarkables, Hector and Garvie Mountains into the Nevis River Valley where you can partake in the only wilderness snowmobiling experience in Aotearoa. Ride with your guide along the most inland mountain range in New Zealand – a pristine, untouched and otherworldly landscape. Winter experiences don’t get much better.
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