Aspen, Vail, Whistler, St. Moritz and various other Alps—the list goes on. They’re all great. They’re great because they offer the best hotels, the best restaurants and the most coveted vistas—the powder isn’t too bad either. The problem is, everyone else knows it, too.
But from Alaska to Austria, there are equally splendiferous slopes that offer truly exclusive, over-the-top ski experiences that (if not fully off the beaten path) are blissfully select. Quiet luxury, this is not.
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While there are plenty of ski and ski-adjacent offerings to keep beginners and lukewarm fans of the sport (who are really in it for the fireside cocktails and fur coats) distracted. But Sheldon Chalet is not one of them. This exclusive backcountry offering in Denali National Park is geared toward powder hounds with a passion for exploring uncharted territory. This backcountry booking includes a private gear fitting, skilled guides (glacier adventures can be arranged), and an epic private mountain experience. The perks don’t end at the base, however. The three-night stay (the minimum) also comes with a concierge, a chef to prepare gourmet meals with premium wine pairings, and a helicopter ride to and from the luxe chalet for a cool $97,000.
Suave, sophisticated piste aficionados can thank travel agency Black Tomato for a cinematic ski experience at Austria’s Gaislachkogl Mountain a la James Bond. The trip starts in London (where else?) with two nights at the Corinthia London, and continues in Solden at Das Central, where the morning begins with a glass of Bollinger and breakfast as the sun rises from ice Q (the setting for the fictional medical center Hoffler Klinik in the 2015 film “Spectre”) and continues with first tracks down the mountain. One of the original Land Rovers from “Spectre” is mounted piste-side. The partnership featuring 007 highlights debuted last year for $12,400 per person. It includes some meals but is not inclusive of international airfare.
Those seeking vast terrain as far as the eye can see can stop right here. This epic skiing experience takes participants across some 300,000 acres of pure powder in the Monashees, Pinnacles, and Valhallas Mountains, hidden gems of British Columbia’s mountainous bounty. Personalization with the experience comes in the form of an excellent guest to guide ratio of 3:2 and a stay at Eleven Revelstoke Lodge, where one to three guests can stay for $10,000 a night (buyout only). Kingfisher, a heli-ski operator, leads the way and provides all necessary gear for jumping out of a helicopter and straight onto pristine, untouched snow. An Experience Team works with guests in advance to tailor the trip, and, of course, appetites are looked after by a chef preparing breakfast, lunch, and aprés fare.
The best way to stay at the secluded Taylor River Lodge in Almont, Colorado is to buy the place out. The $13,500 nightly rate (two night minimum, natch). After a grueling day on the remote slopes, guests of the hygge-centric lodge can rock out to live music via “Music with Eleven,” which promises access to a team of music industry insiders. There’s even an option for recording a session in a mobile snowcat-studio for aspiring musicians. Dinner is a multi-course affair prepared by a highly skilled chef who sources ingredients from local purveyors. In the meantime, weary bodies can book a massage in a picturesque bathhouse or check out sound healing and forest bathing.
Heli-ski obsessives have something new to look forward to this year in Iceland. The late-night sea-to-summit runs, which take place off the grid in the Fljót Valley in the Troll Peninsula, are arranged through Deplar Farm, where a single room starts at around $4,000 and a buyout for up to 12 guests costs $55,000. Included in the uber-special Icelandic experience is much more than just epic heli-ski runs, however. It’s a grand winter wonderland with options to snowshoe, go fat-biking, ice fishing, snow sledding, snowmobiling and more. Specialty gear and equipment are provided for all activities, and the aprés spa scene—traditional sauna plus a cold plunge pool and geothermal indoor/outdoor pool, and Isopod floatation tanks—is nothing to sneeze at. Guests staying four or more nights get a bonus Viking Dinner, an Icelandic-themed culinary experience complete with beer served in bone pints—in the package.
Located in a remote region of Patagonia (a remote part of the world in and of itself), Rio Palena Lodge is reached via a charter flight from Puerto Varas, Chile. The flight, in addition to the half ($15,900) or full ($31,800) property buyout, is included as are guided activities, the most prominent of which is heli-skiing. The exciting addition this year is first descent naming rights. But the bragging rights don’t stop at naming a run in the Andes Mountains, for conquering (via expert guides) this untapped territory is also boast-worthy. An authentic asado, a traditional South American barbecue, feels earned after a day swish-swishing through open bowls and around glaciers. Available through mid-November and again from early August through September, this Patagonia experience is for anyone who refuses to believe there’s just one time of year to hit the slopes.
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