From the mountains... with love
Written by Oryx
If you’re looking for inspiration for a romantic snow-filled getaway, then look no further. For many travellers, the perfect winter holiday includes a roaring fire and fine cuisine after a day on the slopes, so we’ve picked out some of our favourite retreats around the world with beautiful mountain settings. Claire Bloomfield reports for Oryx.
Riffelalp, Zermatt, Switzerland
Europe’s highest five-star hotel, the Riffelalp (riffelalp.com) is accessible only by rail or mountain path and boasts breathtaking views of the iconic Matterhorn. At 2,222m above sea level, this traditional resort sanctuary also offers three restaurants, a full-service spa, and an outdoor swimming pool.
This grand hotel first opened its doors back in 1884, at a time when it was the favoured meeting place of high society, especially from across the British Empire. Today, fashionable Zermatt is a paradise for skiers, hikers, and even day-trippers.
According to the local tourism experts, skiers and snowboarders hit the pistes on the Theodul Glacier. The area has around 21km of groomed slopes and also offers the Snowpark Zermatt (zermatt.ch) for thrill-seeking freestylers. The snow park and its half-pipe are open nearly all year round, and are suitable for all levels of riders from rookies to pros.
The restaurant at the Romantik Hotel Julen (julen.ch), whose traditions reach back almost 70 years, is a must-visit during your stay in Zermatt. This is the perfect spot to indulge in fondue, raclette, and other Swiss favourites.
Distance: 4,629 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Fairmont Tremblant, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
This romantic five-star hotel (fairmont.com/tremblant) sits at the foot of 96 beautiful ski trails made for all levels of skiers or snowboarders and promises its guests the best ski-in/ski-out access of the mountain resort village.
This is yet another wonderfully romantic location with an in-house spa, and Fairmont Tremblant’s Amerispa offers a range of unique signature treatments. Be sure to try the Lemon Granita Exfoliation and the outdoor Jacuzzi.
You will certainly work up an appetite on Mont-Tremblant, so the hotel’s thoughtful Ski Café is your perfect choice for a speciality coffee, an express breakfast, or even a gourmet dessert. Your evening cravings can be satisfied at the hotel’s Windigo restaurant, which serves themed buffets and a diversified à la carte menu in a warm and rustic setting.
They say the award-winning Tremblant delivers some of the most impeccable snow conditions in North America, with the help of over 1,000 snowguns. Look out for the longest trail – Nansen – at six kilometres.
Once you’ve put your snow skills to the test on one of the 96 marked ski runs, climbing the highest peaks in the Laurentians on a guided trail with your skis on comes highly recommended.
Fairmont Tremblant is situated on a lively street in the pedestrian-only European-style village and is less than a two-hour drive from Montreal should you wish to explore further afield.<
Distance: 10,414 km
Flight Time: 13 hours, 40 mins
Frequency: 3 flights a week
Le M de Megève, Mont Blanc, Megève, France
This Small Luxury Hotels of the World property is a truly romantic ski chalet, offering timber-clad rooms with balconies and a luxury spa with pool. Le M de Megève’s (mdemegeve.com) intimate 28-seat restaurant even has its own cheese cellars, and its menu includes classic French dishes with a unique and personalised service.
Why not take a stroll along the charming medieval cobblestoned streets in this chic alpine village? It’s been dubbed the ‘21st Arrondissement of Paris’ because of its fancy boutiques and Michelin-starred restaurants.
There are seven airports within a two-hour drive of this resort, so it is easily accessible and ideal for a winter weekend away. You’ll find the Chamois lift just 100m away from Le M de Megève.
Megève’s trails are largely cut through thick-forested slopes, apart from the wide slopes of Mont d’Arbois, which is the resort’s highest at 2,350m. Given the terrain, steep slopes, and picturesque views, this area is particularly attractive to intermediate skiers.
Megève is also home to a three-Michelin-starred chef – Emmanuel Renaut at Flocons de Sel’s hotel restaurant (floconsdesel.com). Although this neighbourhood is known for its upmarket and expensive restaurants, there are a variety of venues to enjoy live music, as well as a casino, eight-lane bowling alley, and cinemas.
Distance: 4,980 km
Flight Time: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Frequency: 3 flights a day
Blanket Bay, Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand
Set overlooking the picturesque Lake Wakatipu, Blanket Bay (blanketbay.com) offers what they call an ‘À La Carte Heliskiing’ menu to suit a wide range of skiing and snowboarding abilities.
The resort is bordered on two sides by national parks, and the tiny village sits against a backdrop of rugged high country, beautiful mountains, glacier-fed rivers, and ancient beech forests.
What’s really special about the skiing experience in Blanket Bay is your journey to the slopes. Instead of the usual ski lift and cable cars, you’ll have your very own helicopter exclusively for your use, plus guides and thousands of vertical metres of untracked snow to explore within the Southern Alps.
This luxury lodge also houses a magnificent spa with a therapy suite, steam rooms, gym, and a Jacuzzi with dramatic lake and mountain views – the perfect après-ski activity.
Situated just 40 minutes from Queenstown and overlooking Glenorchy Golf Club, you certainly won’t be short of ways to fill your time should you opt for a break from the slopes. Fly-fishing, golf, horse riding, and trekking are also popular here – weather permitting in the winter months.
Auckland, New Zealand
Distance: 14,518 km
Flight Time: 16 hours, 20 minutes
Frequency: Beginning February 5, 2017, Qatar Airways will operate a daily non-stop service from Doha
For those who love to escape to a snowy destination for a romantic winter getaway but are less fond of the traditional activities like skiing or snowboarding, there are lots of alternative ways you can have fun with your loved one.
From the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the Chamonix Mont-Blanc in France, dog sledding is becoming increasingly popular. Driving the dogs – usually Alaskan huskies – is a special skill, but it’s easy to learn the basics, and anyone can have a go.
Alternatively, arrange a trip with a local tour operator and sit back and enjoy the mountainous scenery whilst you’re being pulled by a pack of strong and beautiful huskies.
This is possibly the most enchanting winter wonderland experience. Just imagine effortlessly zipping through the Rockies, passing through evergreen forests and wide-open snowy meadows as a team of 12 dogs pulls you along. Interestingly, there’s even an 11-day dog-sled race up and over the snowy slopes of the Savoie Mont-Blanc region between France and Switzerland, covering a staggering 760km. Known as La Grande Odyssée, the event sees dog sledders, or ‘mushers’, gather from all over the world. Sled dogs and humans have developed this partnership over many years in the northern regions of North America and Siberia. In fact, some archaeological evidence suggests the earliest date was more than 4,000 years ago.