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  1. 1. Title:Aitos 10 Top Ski ResortsWord Count:1978Summary:Working for AITO (the Association of Independent Tour Operators for those who dont know) hassome unusual benefits, the most exciting of these is the in depth specialist knowledge that ourmembers can offer. In the field of ski holidays, for example, we represent over 30 independent touroperators who deal predominantly in ski packages and winter sports thats a lot of knowledge thatI have ready access to.And from dipping into this resource, Ive been able to compile...Keywords:Ski operators, European ski holidays, Europe ski holidays, best ski resorts, top ski resortsArticle Body:Working for AITO (the Association of Independent Tour Operators for those who dont know) hassome unusual benefits, the most exciting of these is the in depth specialist knowledge that ourmembers can offer. In the field of ski holidays, for example, we represent over 30 independent touroperators who deal predominantly in ski packages and winter sports thats a lot of knowledge thatI have ready access to.And from dipping into this resource, Ive been able to compile a concise list of ten ski resorts that10 of our members endorse on their websites. The immense combined expertise these skioperators boast means that I, despite not being a huge winter sports buff, feel confident to taketheir word and promote these as AITOs favourites.So here are AITOs top ski resorts. Narrowing the list down to the 10 best ski resorts was a realchallenge, given that AITO members offer over 175 between them!1 St Anton Austria:Skiworld recommend St Anton as one of the best ski resorts in the world, and their endorsementseems to be matched by the World Alpine Skiing Championship organisers, who gave the resortthe honour of hosting the event in 2001. The peaceful village nearby is a stark contrast to the
  2. 2. buzzing internationally renowned ski slopes, but the two seem to fit together perfectly despite theirobviously different feels. As the resort attracts ski enthusiasts from all over the world, there is areal cosmopolitan feel to the resort, although English remains the dominating language on theslopes.Off of the slopes, St Antons main street provides plenty of distractions, giving shoppersopportunity to search for jewellery, music, antiques, clothing and local crafts. The latter are worth aspecial mention, as traditional woodcarvings from the region are exported all over the world.But what of the slopes themselves? Well, theyre not for beginners, thats for sure. Its been saidthat in St. Anton, a blue run is a red, while a red is a black - theyre pitched at experts andambitious intermediate level skiers, but those that have the ability are sure to find the slopesendlessly rewarding. The only downside to it is that unless theres been a fresh snow-fall,conditions are sometimes less than perfect, because of the south-facing aspect. That said, if yourein luck with the snow-fall, then youre guaranteed to have one of the best European ski holidays ofyour life.2 Courchevel France:No list could be complete without mentioning Courchevel with its stunning reputation, the onlydownside is the premium price point often bandied around by ski operators when dealing with thismost exclusive resort. Regarded as many as the best ski resort in the world, Courchevel offerssome of the best ski holidays in Europe albeit at a high price! One of the best things about theregion is that the 600 kilometres of pistes offer a challenge for all abilities beginners need notleave their comfort zone on the ample green pistes, while those of intermediate ability can ski achallenging selection of red and blue runs. Those feeling particularly daring can head straight forthe secret powder stashes that await experts on the black runs some of the steepest in Europe.The resort itself lives up to its exclusive reputation with some of the most exciting and expensivenightlife on the European ski holiday circuit. Courchevel 1850 attracts some of Paris top cabaretacts and DJs as well as a variety of other entertainments from places to be pampered to bowlingand a cinema. The more traditional village centres of Courchevel 1300 and 1550 have a lower keyatmosphere with a selection of lively pubs and traditional mountain cuisine.3 Aspen & Snowmass USA:There are 4 mountains in this region, offering a skier over 5,000 acres of skiable terrain and 341trails allowing everyone from beginners to experts to find an exciting variety of routes on theirholiday. This is one of Colorados most attractive resorts, and the fact that all the four mountainsare covered by the same lift pass means that this ski resort can offer excellent variety especially ifyou are experienced enough to take on some of the more challenging runs in Aspen Mountain and
  3. 3. Highlands, with their exciting mix of tree runs, gullies and chutes. Beginners and intermediate levelskiers are well served as well though, with a large selection of wide cruisers at Buttermilk andSnowmass.The town was originally defined by its mining trade, but with the ski traffic it has developed intoone of the finest ski communities in North America. There are 100 bars and restaurants competingfor your attention and an eclectic selection of boutiques and galleries to explore while you taketime off the slopes.4 Verbier Switzerland:One common complaint that people used to have with this famous ski resort was its long queuesand poorly planned lift transport. Nowadays, things have improved considerably and the reputationof the resort should improve alongside. Verbier is still considered one of Europes top ski resorts,and manages to attract skiers from all over the world every year courtesy of its excellent skiingopportunities for experts and a legendary nightlife. There are over 410 kilometers of pistes and ithas an excellent snow record.The downside to the excellent ski opportunities offered to experienced skiers is that it offers little inthe way of entertaining runs for beginners, with just a handful of blue runs at Bruson. And whilethere is a variety of off-piste entertainment available including a sports centre, swimming pool andskating rink, beginners are still better served looking at other ski holidays in Europe or furtherafield..5 La Rosire France:This child-friendly ski resort offers a range of slopes for skiers of all abilities, as well as options fornon-skiers. This accompanied by the ski school meeting point (a development with cateredchalets, bars, restaurants, shops and a bowling alley) and an excellent snow record ensure that LaRosire is a great choice for keen skiers.The ski runs are divided as follows: 6 green ski runs, 23 blue, 32 red and 12 black runs for theexperts. All of these take in the imposing vision of Mont Blanc, and you can even see theMatterhorn and Monte Rosa in the distance, making for some excellent photos and memories thatwill ensure you come back time and time again when looking for a European ski holiday.6 Les Arcs France:With its breathtaking views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, an excellent snow record and skislopes for those of all abilities, its no wonder that Les Arcs has quickly established a world classreputation amongst ski aficionados.
  4. 4. Although the resort is well served with ski runs for beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers,the highlight here is the off piste options. One of only two European stops on the world freeridecircuit, the terrain is steep, amazingly varied and long and a must for skiers who have the ability toenjoy it!The resort is one of only 40 in France to have earned the Famille Plus badge. The accolade isawarded only to those who offer outstanding childcare and family services, so those with childrencan be sure of safe and welcoming surroundings on their ski holiday in Europe.7 Val dIsre - France:Describing the typical visitor to Val dIsre is a near impossible task, which says a great deal aboutits universal appeal. You get everyone from dedicated ski enthusiasts, to off-piste lovers tofamilies and ladies who lunch. The majority of the skiing is above 2300 metres and the snowrecord is, unsurprisingly, excellent.The choice available is the biggest problem facing visitors to this top ski resort. Visitors have thedifficult decision of whether to stick to the ample ski opportunities on the doorstep of theaccommodation, or take the trip to the top of Grand Motte at over 3600 metres high, the view issimply outstanding and well worth the trip.Once the skiing is done, there are plenty of ways of entertaining yourself. Theres live music at theFolie Douce, while there is a wide selection of bars, pubs and clubs in the town. Those who arelooking for something more low key will perhaps be more interested in the pampering bodytreatments or shopping options however.8 Klosters Switzerland:Arguably the most charming and aesthetically pleasing ski resort in this list is Klosters. Located inthe Prattigau valley, the village offers charm and history at every turn. The chalets are a traditionaltimber fare adding to the idyllic atmosphere of the place, and its all part of the experience that youcan come off the piste to a cosy chalet to relax.The experience offered is unique to each skier, with 97 snow runs catering to all abilities. Andalthough the resort has been popularized by Prince Charles patronage, it is still the kind of resortthat offers a unique experience to each skier, giving them much to discuss in their cosy chalet inthe evening, over a reviving hot drink.9 Zermatt Switzerland:Nestled in the foot of the imposing Matterhorn, Zermatt is a top ski resort with an image built on
  5. 5. exclusivity the town is littered with gourmet restaurants, luxury hotels and expensive shops.While this could indicate a reputation not built on the skiing experience, the options available atZermatt are actually world class especially for intermediate and advanced skiers. There are 313kilometres of some of the highest north and west facing slopes in Europe. Expert skiers should besure to check out the heli-ski trips as well for the experience of a lifetime.Off the piste, the village is worth a visit car free (with only electric and solar powered vehicles andhorse-drawn sleighs allowed) with a handful of excellent restaurants. For the best restaurantsthough, the mountain steals the show with 40 dotted throughout the range. Some of them are trulyworld class and threaten, without ever managing, to overshadow the splendid skiing experienceand become the focus of the European ski holiday.10 Whistler Canada:The best ski resort in Canada, and one of the most highly rated in North America, Whistler is anoutstanding winter sports location. Last year it recorded record levels of snow, with 45 feet addingto the crisp piste! But its not just the 8100 acres of fabulous skiing which makes Whistler one ofthe best ski resorts in the world it has an atmosphere incomparable to others.Whistler caters for every skier from beginners who barely know how to put skis on, to expertslooking for a challenge. There are steeps, deeps, chutes, high alpine bowls, glades, long cruisersand gentle rollers essentially something for everyone. Around half of the ski runs are aimed atintermediate users, with over a quarter devoted to experts and the rest for beginners. Theexcitement of some of the tougher intermediate runs and the expert runs provide the perfectincentive for skiers to improve, while the beginner slopes offer the facilities to do so.But I mentioned the atmosphere didnt I? Its about the off-slope activities as much as the on-slope,and there are spas and shopping opportunities aplenty, with Vancouver nearby if it isnt enough.The Aprs Ski at Whistler has won numerous awards, however, and visitors will find somewonderful dining experiences whether youre in the mood for fish, steak, sushi or gourmet cuisine.For those who have the energy, some of the clubs in the region offer the best nightlife on the worldski circuit.Narrowing it down to just the 10 best ski resorts was always going to be tricky, but if youre a skierwho wants to make sure theyve seen it all and if you havent visited all of these, then what are youwaiting for?cheapest hosting