It sounds quite indulgent, ski weekend…
But if you know where to look, these brief escapes can be both affordable and feasible. They are also a good opportunity to burn-off the surplus calories we all find ourselves enjoying over the festive period.
Get back in shape and warm-up those ski legs in order to make the most of your longer holiday later in the season, by organising a weekend retreat to the mountains.
The timing is crucial; January is the time of year for an affordable ski weekend.
This earlier slice of the season sees lower accommodation rates, less busy slopes and can often have some of the best snow conditions. Despite these facts, January is still sadly underrated as a time to go skiing.
This is also a great time of year for corporate groups to travel due to the increased availability in a range of accommodation types including hotels.
In fact, I recently wrote an article all about organising a company or group ski trip, which you can find here.
A downside to January can be that resorts are quieter and therefore après not as lively; however, this problem can be avoided in the larger resorts, which see a lot of weekend traffic.
To help you decide where to head for you weekend getaway, I am going to give a breakdown of six of our favourite resorts for a January ski weekend.
They range from the small and intimate resort to the larger, more well-known ones too – let’s delve!
Nestled in the beautiful Italian Alps, on the southern side of Mont Blanc, is the resort of Courmayeur.
This characterful town, offering a real holiday feel to your weekend break, has a propensity for fantastic food. There is an impressive selection of shops, bars and restaurants to choose from to keep you entertained and well fed.
After all, how better to shelter yourselves from the cold than in a cosy restaurant next to a crackling fire.
For some advice on where is best to eat in Courmayeur, you can find helpful information and browse your options here.
The resort sits at an elevation of 1, 224 m, slightly higher than the average.
This meaning the snow is kept in even better condition by the cold. With the completion of the new ‘Skyway Monte Bianco’ cable-car, skiing on the Toula Glacier or doing the Vallee Blanche run to Chamonix is both swift and spectacular.
Should the weather rudely move-in whilst you are on your trip, Courmayeur can still allow you to enjoy the snow thanks to its sheltered tree-skiing.
In Courmayeur, you have the rustic charm of a small Italian resort, with its cobbled streets, history and culture, whilst only being one lift away from the benefit of Chamonix’s huge and modernised ski area.
You may recognise the name. This iconic medieval Austrian town has been made famous by perhaps the most famous downhill slope in the world, the Hahnenkamm.
The resort hosts the annual alpine ski races and therefore the bars here in terms of quality of skiing is especially high. But don’t fret, there is a broad range of slopes to be found here which cater for all abilities.
The town is built in the classic Austrian style.
Colourful buildings and wide streets create a distinctly alpine ambience which in my opinion makes this resort very special indeed.
The resort is low-lying and sits in a large natural bowl creating a picturesque setting. Outside of the resort, the ski area is vast, with the opportunity to explore the wider Kitzbüheler Alps Area.
At 762 m it won’t be as cold here as in other resorts, so if you feel the cold, Kitzbühel might be for you!
However, if you do get chilly, remember you can always drop-in on a restaurant or bar- Schnapps is best cold!
Just remember to avoid the mid-January weekend when the Hahnenkamm race comes to town as the resort and the skiing may be hard to enjoy to its full potential with the volume of traffic the resort experiences in this weekend.
Moving back to the Italian Alps, if you’re looking for a snow-sure resort at a higher altitude… Cervinia could be the place for your ski weekend.
This resort is truly exciting, with incredible off-piste and access to one of the Alps biggest ‘domaines-skiables’.
The resort also boasts one of Europe’s longest runs, the Plateau Rosa which guides off of the mountain and into the resort; in time for dinner at one of the many tantalising restaurants or bars.
As if all that wasn’t enough, you’ll be treated to awesome views of one of the world’s most iconic mountains – The Matterhorn.
January means comparatively empty pistes, allowing for beautiful skiing for a beginner and a veritable playground for the expert.
It’s wise to remember that the resort’s high altitude is a double-edged sword. Though it allows for a more snow-sure resort, in poor weather it can be colder than other resorts. But when the sun is out, the south facing resort and slopes are pleasantly warm.
This south-facing nature helps make Cervinia a more unique and special destination. It is undoubtedly this which makes it so popular and more expensive later in the season.
This is a good motivation to make the most of lower January rates and better weekend availability.
Our first visit to Switzerland in this article. Engelberg, meaning mountain of the angel, is an intimate, quirky destination and enjoys a less commercial atmosphere.
There are many funky bars and restaurants we can recommend to you as well as finding you the best deal. For example, you may wish to take advantage of our free ski pass deal at the Hotel Terrace – a particularly good deal for larger groups.
The resort retains a healthy buzz in January at the weekends thanks to footfall from Zurich and Lucerne. As a result, bars and restaurants remain open late and the resort doesn’t feel too sleepy, something I’m always glad of.
The colder weather will work up a healthy appetite, encouraging you to sample the Swiss cuisine on offer. I’d recommend the local speciality Alplermagronen, a delicious pasta, cheese and potato dish.
Happily, getting to Engelberg couldn’t be easier, if you’d prefer not to hire a private taxi transfer from Zurich, the trains are reliable and there’s a station at the centre of the village. Very easy indeed.
The area has an excellent early season snow record and a glacier allowing punters to enjoy the breath-taking off-piste at any time in the season.
The Laub is an essential descent for any discerning off-pister.
This resorts’ distinctly swanky feel stems from its raison d’être.
The resort was purpose-built in response to Switzerland’s St Moritz and aimed to bring high society to the French Alps. This history means that Megeve has a selection of pleasantly plush accommodation and impressive hotels; and with January rates, these can be bagged at affordable prices.
January also comes before the accommodation-cataclysm that are the French holidays which begin in February; when many resorts become a no-go.
No one enjoys spending half your day in queues.
No one enjoys having to focus on dodging people rather than enjoying the skiing itself.
January can be especially exciting for those of us who enjoy venturing out of the confines of the slopes into off-piste territory. The snow is maintained by cooler temperatures and therefore remains light and powdery; ideal for off-piste.
Just make sure you all wrap-up warm, January can be chilly in the mountains! But as long as you have the appropriate gear, you’ll be fine.
The resort offers excellent tree-skiing for those bad-weather days which we all dread; allowing you to still make the most of your day. If you want to experience this classic French resort, January is the time to go for the best snow.
We may all love skiing, but we don’t all love the cold. Some of the best skiers I know are fair-weather skiers (even if they do try and hide it). With average temperature highs of 5 degrees, Morzine is certainly one of the warmer options for your January ski weekend.
A larger resort, Morzine is trendy and current; offering fantastic après-ski opportunities and even in-resort nightclubs such as Le Paradis.
Though the resort itself is low-lying, the resort links to the sizeable Portes du Soleil ski area into Avoriaz and beyond; giving the option for higher altitudes should you wish to pursue them.
The Portes du Soleil region vies for the title “largest ski area in Europe, with over 650 km of pistes – you certainly won’t be bored in Morzine!
Ready To Go?
To finish-up, January is underappreciated by so many at their own peril and loss. This early season period allows for savings in accommodation rates, savings in time spent biting your nails in queues and some of the best snow at any time in the season.
If you’re looking at booking a ski holiday this January we can make it happen. Not only can we make it happen – we can make it better.
With access to every resort mentioned in this article, we can book the trip that meets your needs.