Posted on 14 January 2024
Avid skiers and alpine property hunters might think there is no way to judge what the world’s best ski resort is, but there is. After all, everyone’s idea of what is best differs. Still, we can look to official ranking panels and reader surveys from hundreds of people to determine collective opinions. From charming towns in Europe to excellent skiing, snow conditions, and alpine villages, many factors influence whether a ski resort gets the thumbs up or thumbs down from skiers, and those searching alpine real estate.
Some people like an extended ski season, others like acres of terrain to explore. Advanced skiers often judge off-piste skiing, while snow quality, stunning views, and plenty of variety for off-slope activities can be other factors. Regardless of your ski level, there is a clear winner.
Votes at the World Ski Awards are made by professionals working within the ski and travel industry in Europe and across the world, as well as by the public, who assess resorts from 20 different countries together. Launched in 2012, they drive up standards within the ski industry by rewarding the organisations that are leaders in their field and are the sister organisation of the World Travel Awards. So, for this year, where do they recommend heading to?
What is the World’s Best Ski Resort?
Val Thorens Wins the Crown
Nestled in the French Alps, Val Thorens stands tall as Europe’s highest resort offering an unparalleled winter wonderland for enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike. Val Thorens has established itself as a premier destination for those seeking ultimate alpine adventures, offering breathtaking scenery and extensive ski terrain.
Sitting in the French Tarentaise Valley, which includes renowned resorts like Courchevel and Meribel, the high-altitude location ensures a long and snow-sure season, and accessing Val Thorens is convenient, with the nearest major airport being Geneva, just a few hours away.
Val Thorens boasts an extensive ski area with natural snow that caters to beginners and seasoned experts, and interconnected slopes provide an exhilarating playground with various terrains. The resort’s elevation, up to 3,230 meters (10,597 feet), guarantees excellent snow conditions throughout the season. This high-altitude advantage allows for an extended skiing season compared to many other resorts, making Val Thorens ideal for reliable snow cover.
Noteworthy Ski Runs include
- La Masse: Offering stunning panoramic views, this area is perfect for intermediate skiers looking for leisurely slopes.
- Cime Caron: Accessible by cable car, Cime Caron provides breathtaking 360-degree views, creating memorable backdrops for an advanced ski descent.
- Péclet Glacier: For the more adventurous, Péclet Glacier offers high-altitude thrills and challenges, attracting expert skiers.
Val Thorens is not just about skiing and good annual snowfall; it’s also celebrated for vibrant après-ski scenes and diverse entertainment options. The resort features various restaurants, bars, and clubs for different tastes, ensuring lively atmospheres, and offers accommodations, from luxury hotels to cosy chalets and self-catering apartments.
Forbes Votes the Three Valleys Ski Area
If you want more than one opinion, Forbes has also voted on their favourite places and they opted for the three Valleys ski area in France. Forbes said, “Resorts were scored on 14 factors including the length and variety of slopes, annual snowfall, skier and snowboarder reviews, the quality of après-ski scenes, and value for money, to create ski index scores from 0 to 100.”
With a vast interconnected network of slopes, alpine villages, and breathtaking scenery, the Three Valleys ski area has become synonymous with world-class skiing and winter sports. The Three Valleys, or Les Trois Vallées in French, encompasses the valleys of Courchevel, Meribel, and Belleville and spans over 600 kilometres of interconnected slopes and trails.
One primary attraction of Three Valleys is diverse slopes catering to all levels. Whether you are a beginner on gentle slopes, an intermediate skier seeking red runs, or an expert craving the thrill of black diamond descents, the Three Valleys has it all. The ski area also boasts an extensive network of modern ski lifts, ensuring quick and efficient access to the peaks allowing visitors to maximise their time on the slopes.
Three towns stand out. Enjoy Courchevel, with its glamorous reputation, that offer well-groomed pistes and luxury amenities. Méribel, with picturesque chalet-style architecture, provides varied terrain suitable for all levels. Lastly, Belleville, home to the rustic village of Les Menuires, offers more affordable yet equally thrilling skiing experiences.
For second place, they voted…..
Nestled amidst stunning French and Swiss Alps peaks, Portes du Soleil testifies to the grandeur of alpine beauty. Portes du Soleil, translated as “Gateway to the Sun,” spans 12 interconnected resorts, straddling the border between France and Switzerland. Encompassing iconic destinations such as Morzine, Avoriaz, Les Gets, and Champéry, this expansive area boasts 600 kilometres of ski slopes. The geographical diversity, with panoramic mountain views and charming villages, creates an enchanting backdrop for visitors seeking an unforgettable winter escape.
With vast, skiable terrain, Portes du Soleil caters to beginners and seasoned professionals, and inter-connected ski resorts allow travel between French and Swiss slopes, providing an immersive cross-border skiing experience. Avoriaz, perched on a mountain plateau, features avant-garde architecture. With authentic Savoyard charm, the family-friendly Morzine resort offers beginner-friendly slopes and more advanced runs. The ski area also includes Les Gets, with picturesque landscapes and varied ski options, creating well-rounded experiences.
Portes du Soleil is not just a winter sports haven but offers activities for every taste. Indulge in snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and winter hiking to explore pristine snow-covered landscapes at slower paces. For the more adventurous, try thrilling dog sledging experiences or take scenic helicopter rides to witness breathtaking landscape beauty from above.
While Portes du Soleil is celebrated as a winter wonderland, it transforms into vibrant summer retreats during warmer months, and the resort host summer festivals, offering unique experiences for those who prefer the mountains without the snow. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of winter sports, the tranquillity of summer escapes, or both, Portes du Soleil invites you to step into panoramic embraces, where every season unveils natural beauty and outdoor adventures.
CNN Reader’s Votes in America, Canada and Europe
For different opinions, CNN also did their own panel survey, that rated ski towns worldwide. Rating everything from luxurious hotels, miles of trails, lifts, and whether there is plenty of powder, they separated their results into the USA, Canada and Europe.
For the best resorts in the USA, they voted….
- Snowmass in Colorado
- Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont. Score 89.69
- Aspen Mountain in Colorado
- Sun Valley in Idaho
- Bretton Woods in New Hampshire
- Killington Resort in Vermont
- Telluride in Colorado
Aspen Highlands in Colorado: They also gave a total thumbs up to Aspen Highlands, one of four areas that make up the Aspen Snowmass resort complex. Nestled in the Colorado Rockies, Aspen Highlands offers breathtaking scenery, plenty of lifts, and vibrant mountain cultures. While Aspen Highlands is primarily known for winter offerings, hiking and mountain biking, trails abound in summer. The base area of Aspen Highlands features restaurants, cafes, and shops, and après-ski scenes are sophisticated and laid-back, reflecting the unique character of Aspen.
Jackson Hole mountain resort in Wyoming: Jackson Hole, famous for its steep terrains, making it a haven for advanced and expert skiers, also featured in the top ten. The resort is particularly famed for iconic runs like Corbet’s Couloir, a steep and narrow chute that has become a bucket-list descent for many thrill-seekers.
Deer Valley in Park City: Established in 1981, Deer Valley has consistently ranked among North America’s top resorts for advanced skiers, attracting winter sports enthusiasts seeking premium alpine experiences that boast black diamond runs. While Deer Valley resort is often associated with groomed runs, it offers various terrain catering to different abilities, and for different winter experiences, Park City provides snowshoeing and Nordic skiing opportunities. Park City Mountain Resort is conveniently near the historic town of Park City, which retains its mining town charm. Park City is also just a short drive from Salt Lake City International Airport.
Resorts in Canada
They said Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, the largest resort in North America, was number one for the best ski resorts in Canada. They followed it up with a ranking for Big White, Marmot Basin, Mont-Tremblant and Lake Louise, one of North America’s most prominent resorts featuring over 4,200 acres of skiable terrain.
For the best Ski resorts in Europe, they voted from number 10 upwards
- Zell am See-Kaprun Austrian resort
- Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy
- Courchevel in France
- Bormio Ski in Italy.
- Kitzbühel Austrian ski resort
- Val d’Isère in France.
- Verbier Swiss ski resort
- Innsbruck in Austria
- St Moritz, Swiss town,
- Zermatt Swiss resort.
The Delights of Verbier
Verbier ranked number 4 in the list above, and this is also one of the favourites for our property buyers in Switzerland. Verbier, a popular resort for freeride skiing in the Swiss Alps, features off-piste terrain, miles of trails, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant freeride communities, that attracts many global riders seeking thrilling descents and backcountry adventures.
Mont Fort, the highest point, offers breathtaking panoramic views and access to off-piste routes. Another popular area for freeride skiing is Mont Gele, which has steep descents, while Vallon d’Arbi off-piste route, accessible from the summit, features varying degrees of difficulty for expert riders.
For more secluded experiences, the Bruson area, accessible by lift from Le Châble, offers tree-lined slopes and powder-filled glades. Check out local guides for information into the best routes, current snow conditions, and safety protocols, but the itinerary from La Chaux to Col des Gentianes is popular and has diverse terrain, offering open slopes and couloirs.
Our Favourite Pick – Val D’isere
Val d’Isère, in the French Alps, also ranked highly. Together with Tignes, Val d’Isère forms the Espace Killy ski area, named after the French skiing legend Jean-Claude Killy, that offers incredible views. This destination attracts beginner and experienced skiers with charming villages and lively après-ski scenes, and 300 kilometres of interconnected slopes for all levels of skier. The terrain caters to all levels of skiers, from gentle nursery slopes for beginners to off-piste skiing for advanced enthusiasts.
The resort earns fame for off-piste skiing and snowboarding, with famous areas like La Face de Bellevarde attracting expert riders seeking adrenaline-pumping descents. VBeyond downhill skiing, visitors can enjoy activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the well-marked trails around the area. Val d’Isère has hosted prestigious alpine skiing events, including World Cup races and championships, and commitment to maintaining high-quality slopes and facilities has contributed to its reputation as a top-tier skiing destination.
For Something Different in Asia
Niseko, on the northern island of Hokkaido, features abundant and consistently high-quality powder snow, and for those looking outside of America and Europe, is a firm favourite. The region comprises four interconnected resorts: Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village, and Annupuri, collectively called Niseko United.
Niseko is famous for consistent and abundant powder snow, often called “Japow.” The snow quality contributes to the resort’s popularity for unique and exhilarating winter sports experiences, and Niseko attracts skiers from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, who unwind after the slopes in natural hot springs called onsens. The traditional Japanese onsen hot springs experience is an essential part of the après-ski routine in Niseko.
Readers also Like Chamonix Valley
At the foot of Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest peak, Chamonix is celebrated for stunning mountain scenery and skiing terrain. Dominated by the towering peaks of Mont Blanc and Aiguille du Midi, creating a dramatic backdrop for the entire valley, Mont Blanc, standing at 4,810 meters (15,781 feet), is the highest Alpine mountain and attracts global climbers and adventurers.
Aiguille du Midi cable car reaches 3,842 meters (12,605 feet) with breathtaking panoramic views. From here, experienced mountaineers can access the famous Vallée Blanche, an off-piste ski descent. The resort easily attracts expert skiers and riders, offering steep descents, couloirs, and a wide range of off-piste opportunities, and Vallée Blanche, a legendary off-piste ski descent in the Mont Blanc massif near Chamonix, features stunning glacial scenery.
The ski area includes iconic areas like Grands Montets, known by expert skiers for high-altitude skiing, ice climbing, and glacier skiing, and Brevent-Flegere, which provides stunning views of Mont Blanc. The town of Chamonix itself is a bustling centre with traditional alpine architecture, shops, restaurants, and vibrant après-ski venues, making the ambience both cosmopolitan and authentically alpine. The Chamonix Valley also includes nearby villages such as Argentière, famous for the Grands Montets, and Les Houches, offering family-friendly skiing and stunning views of the Mont Blanc massif. In summer, numerous trails lead to stunning viewpoints, mountain lakes, and high-altitude refuges.
Tips for the United States
Vail Resorts operates popular resorts in North America. The company, founded in 1957 by Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton when they opened Vail Mountain Resort in Colorado, is a leading name in mountain resorts and hospitality industries. In the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Vail Mountain Resort was the first resort developed by Vail Resorts. It quickly symbolised luxury and high-quality skiing, setting the standard for the company’s future endeavours.
Located near Vail, Beaver Creek is another world-class resort in Colorado with upscale amenities and the famous Birds of Prey downhill ski course. Breckenridge, a historic mining town turned resort in Colorado, offers terrain suitable for all levels of skiers, along with vibrant town atmospheres and breathtaking views. Keystone Resort, also in Colorado, offers family-friendly environments and diverse terrain. It provides night skiing and an extensive terrain park, making it appealing to visitors. Heavenly offers stunning views and diverse terrain on the border of California and Nevada at Lake Tahoe. It’s famed for its vibrant après-ski scene and nightlife.
Another Lake Tahoe destination, Northstar California Resort, includes an upscale village, family-friendly atmospheres, and various winter and summer activities. Also, in the Lake Tahoe region, Kirkwood features ample snowfall. It attracts advanced skiers looking for steep runs and off-piste opportunities.
Vail Resorts introduced the Epic Pass, which provides access to multiple resorts under the company’s umbrella. This pass has become highly popular, offering flexibility and value for visiting various resorts. Vail Resorts also strongly emphasises providing high-quality accommodations, ranging from luxurious hotels to condominiums and vacation rentals. Vail Resorts has played significant roles in shaping the ski industry, with endless terrain and well-groomed slopes, offering premier United States mountain destinations.
Also About the USA
Best Mountain Towns to Buy Property: The best mountain towns to buy real estate in the USA are nothing short of spectacular. Acting as winter ski towns, from spring to autumn, many also attract outdoor enthusiasts and buyers who want to experience the best of the great USA outdoors. From investment properties to vacation homes with gorgeous mountain views, the USA mountain real estate market is growing in popularity as the trend of urban living ends.
Use Our Services
If you want to know what the best ski resort in the world is, because you want to invest in ski property, let us introduce ourselves. As specialists in the niche market of ski properties, we bring an in-depth understanding of the unique considerations that come with acquiring real estate in these picturesque, snow-covered landscapes.
Our team is well-versed in the intricacies of ski resort communities, from specific amenities that cater to winter sports enthusiasts to the seasonal fluctuations that can impact property values. Search for ski property here, or contact us today, chat about the ideal resorts to purchase a ski home.