Imagine yourself vacationing in a ski resort and images of snow-capped mountains, soft powder slopes, and drinking hot toddies by the fireplace usually spring to mind. But what’s often overlooked is that ski towns have much more to offer than just hitting the slopes: they’re also prime summer destinations, with an abundance of mountain activities to enjoy on beautiful green landscapes and cool, fresh mountain air providing a break from sand and surf-filled summer retreats.
And the biggest sell? Ski chalets and resorts often mark down their prices between June-September, which means you can take advantage of low off-season rates while soaking in the beautiful natural scenery and immersing yourself in the wild outdoors. For a summer vacation that won’t disappoint, here are three idyllic ski towns that are worth heading to once the snow melts.
Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Niseko is loved by powderhounds all around the world, and while the snow is undoubtedly fantastic — there’s plenty more to be enjoyed in this world-class resort town once ski season is over. Summer holidays in Niseko are all about soaking up sun and scenery surrounded by lush green landscapes, savouring the fantastic Hokkaido produce (cherry and strawberry picking is a favourite activity amongst kids) and getting the adrenaline pumping with extreme summer sports.
For adventure seekers, you’ll want to head to the Pure Adventure Park at Niseko Village for activities ranging from zip-lining (the longest in the area) to tree-trekking to scavenger hunts and extreme obstacle courses. Or strap on your hiking shoes instead and take a trek through the pristine countryside, breathing in the clean, crisp air and looking out for native wildlife. Prefer cycling instead? Hop on a bike and speed down the downhill mountain biking course, before making your way around Hangetsu Lake and Shinsen Numa pond for some picturesque photo ops. At the foot of Mount Annupuri, you’ll find plenty of quaint cafes and restaurants to fuel up (the famed Rakuichi Soba is not to be missed), before ascending to the summit again to take in the sunset. At night, head to one of the ryokans such as Goshiki Onsen to take advantage of the mineral-rich hot spring baths.
Where to stay: Now is the perfect time to snap up summer season rentals in Niseko if you’re leaning towards a ski resort holiday. Consider Chalet Jun or Ori for a modern, luxuriously outfitted home for group stays; or Kitadori and Boheme, both sleekly designed properties which should appeal to architecture enthusiasts. For traditional luxury, the Annabel is beautiful complete with your private onsen bath, or immerse yourself fully in nature in The Orchards complex, with brand new houses including Icho and Zakuro providing a perfect home base for participating in mountain yoga classes or joining the kids’ summer day camp nearby.
Whistler, Vancouver, British Columbia
If your thoughts are further afield, Whistler may be the perfect summer destination for you, with travellers from all over the world flocking to this pristine ski resort for its unparalleled beauty and gorgeous terrain. Covering 8,171 acres, Whistler is the largest ski resort in North America and popular all throughout the year; during summer months, visitors can experience the thrill of outdoor mountain activities including hiking, zip-lining, ATV tours, canoeing and more.
For a serene escape, try walking the various trails that snake their way up and across the picturesque mountainside, or pitch a tent and go camping under the stars out in the beautiful Coast Mountains with full-service RV resorts and tent sites set up in pockets of remote wilderness. For camping in comfort, try staying in one of the heated yurts: portable, round tents outfitted with cosy amenities, many of which include an outside deck for barbecuing. Of course, if you’re not up for frying up your own steak, you can head to one of the many restaurants in the village for delicious, seasonal fare. Travelling in August? Don’t miss the Wanderlust Festival (2–5 August 2018): a music, wellness and yoga retreat inspired by the natural outdoors, offering everything from local farm-to-table dinners to adventurous outdoor expeditions.
Where to stay: Options are plenty when it comes to finding the perfect accommodation in Whistler, whether you’re on your honeymoon or a group of 10. If you’re looking to rent out a decent-sized house, try the Kadenwood mega house 2927 for ultimate luxury and seclusion — a gorgeous, state-of-the-art home with impeccable amenities and modern details for a luxe home-away-from-home. Offering 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms across 4,646 sq. ft., this coastal house affords views of both mountain and sea, with a private hot tub, limestone fireplace, fully rigged media centre, and top-of-the-line chef’s kitchen for entertaining guests at home. The state-of-the-art home automation and AV system, Apple TV, and 6-person hot tub are just a few of the comforts you’ll be coming home to after an action-packed day of zip-lining or rock climbing.
Alternatively, if the sound of the Swiss Alps tickles your fancy, you’ll want to book tickets to Verbier, a renowned ski resort in southwestern Switzerland in the canton of Valais. Famous for its backcountry skiing, Verbier boasts snow patches year-round, making a summer getaway as glorious for its snow-capped peaks as it is for flowering fields. With Switzerland boasting some of the cleanest air in the world, a trip to Verbier will have you feeling completely refreshed and relaxed in no time.
During summer, options for exploring the outdoors abound over 400km of hiking trails and 200km of mountain bike piste. Situated right smack dab in the midst of the Swiss Alps, Verbier’s scenic vistas are unparalleled with sun, sky and mountain merging together into an idyllic, pastoral landscape. Activities such as paragliding, swimming, rock climbing, golf and even ice karting make Verbier endless fun for both kids and adults. And of course, there’s the annual Verbier Festival (19 July–5 August 2018) with classical music performances taking place over 17 days, and local restaurants and bars throwing open their doors to accommodate the swarms of visitors which add to the buzzing festival vibes.
Where to stay: Charming wooden chalets make up the bulk of accommodations in Verbier; most come equipped with pools, spacious private gardens and terraces. Of these gorgeous properties, we’ve got our eyes on Chalet Bella Coola, located in the centre of town just a few minutes’ walk from the major shops and restaurants. Decorated in beautiful antiques with vaulted ceilings and warm wood paneling, this 4-story vacation home can be rented fully catered with a chalet manager, driver and personal chef. A sprawling terrace affords views of the mountainside, while a lavish spa — complete with a hammam room and indoor pool — is perfect for tired soles after a long day of hiking. For other accommodation options, check out Aurora and Makini, both stunning, stylishly-outfitted properties that can easily sleep 10-plus adults.
For more information on luxury vacation rentals in ski resort destinations, visit the Zekkei Collection website here.