There are many ingredients required to make the ultimate recipe for a perfect skiing holiday. Mix together fresh powder and mountain scenery, add a sprinkling of sunshine and combine it with convenient accommodation options and heaps to do off the slopes and you almost have the perfect fusion. The one vital ingredient which is becoming as important to the ski holiday as the skiing itself: the food. Whether it’s because we like to indulge ourselves having burned those extra calories on the slopes or maybe it’s because we like to immerse ourselves in different cultures. Perhaps we’ve just grown tired of mediocre self-service restaurants and want the culinary experience to be part of the overall holiday. The expert team at Ski Safari has picked five of the best skiing holidays for foodies this winter. Cooking workshop in Niseko, Japan
Skiing in Japan should be on every skier and snowboarder’s bucket list. Made up of four interlinked ski areas, Hirafu, Niseko Village, Annupuri and Hanazono, Niseko is Japan’s largest and most well-known ski resort. Famous for its record-breaking snowfall producing some of the world’s best powder, the resort has transformed into a vibrant ski destination brimming with modern hotels, incredible food and world-class restaurants. There’s an abundance of places to eat, with most centred around Hirafu Village, the majority offering traditional Japanese dining from sushi platters at Izakaya Raku and Hokkaido ramen at Asahikawa Ramen to the snow crab hot pot at Abu-cha. There is also a selection of western-style restaurants such as the French inspired, fine-dining The Barn and Lava Lounge Pizza. For guests to Niseko who want to take their culinary journey that little bit further, why not enrol in a Japanese cooking workshop with Niseko Gourmet. These run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11am – 1.30pm and you can choose between a tempura, sushi and sumashijiru workshop (approx. £68) or a Japanese home cooking class (approx. £49), providing an insight into the basics of Japanese cooking.
How much? Located next to the Hirafu Gondola in an enviable ski-in ski-out position, the 4* Ki Niseko opened in December 2014. Ski Safari (01273 224 060, www.skisafari.com) has a 10 night holiday, starting from £1799 per person. Price based on 2 adults sharing and includes flights and transfers. Departs in March 2016.
Gastronomy Week in Åre, Sweden
Skiing in Åre, Scandinavia’s world-class ski resort, is unique and so different from the usual European skiing experience. With snow from early December to early May, the slopes offer perfect intermediate tree-lined terrain on the network of wide, welcoming and crowd-free slopes. Åre is one of the best places in the world to sample winter beyond just the downhill slopes. Ice-skating, sleigh rides, ice-fishing, dog-sledding, snow-shoeing, snowmobiling, tobogganing, ice-driving, zip-lining, snow-kiting and even moose kissing are all on offer to maximise winter fun. Head to Åre between 8th – 14th February for Gastronomy Week, where Åre’s restaurants come together to create a programme of events celebrating the region’s food and drink artisans. There are over 60 restaurants in Åre offering a diverse range of sophisticated restaurants you would more likely expect in a city rather than a ski resort. Try a long lunch at the on-mountain restaurant Hummelstugan, or take a ‘Fika’ break, which basically means meet for a coffee and cake, at the Gradda or the Åre Ski Inn for that late afternoon sugar rush. Come evening, there are lots of good all-round dining choices or some high-end culinary options such as the Villa Tottebo, an old hunting lodge serving local specialties such as elk, reindeer and salmon, or the Fjällpubbe, run by two well-known Swedish chefs.
How much? Ski Safari (01273 224 068, www.skisafari.com ) has a 7 night holiday at the 4* Hotel Fjällgården in Åre, with prices starting from £815 per person in a double room on B&B, including flights and transfers. Departs 7 February 2016.
Whistler Peaks Safari, Canada
Combining British Columbia’s two largest ski resorts, Whistler and Sun Peaks, is a sure winner for those looking for huge terrain, superb snow conditions and high-quality accommodation. Last winter, Sun Peaks became the second largest ski area in Canada by adding over 500 acres of terrain, putting it just behind Whistler. Sun Peaks has seen real development in the last couple of years and has earned the nickname ‘little Whistler’ – the village certainly has a similar flavour. Foodies and wine lovers can bring together the very best of skiing and gastronomy in British Columbia, by booking up a Whistler Tasting Tour in Whistler and by visiting Sun Peaks during the 18th Annual Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival, from 14th – 24th January 2016. The Whistler Tasting Tour is a guided walking tour, featuring four courses at four award-winning restaurants, including the Bearfoot Bistro, Hy’s steakhouse, Quattro and Rocky Mountain. The tour departs daily at 5pm, costs from $115 (£55) and also includes a visit to an impressive 15,000-bottle wine cellar, where guests learn to saber champagne. Over in Sun Peaks, there are more than 20 wine events to savour during the Wine Festival, including a wine and dine evening, a grilled cheese and wine event, a moonlight snowshoe and mulled wine tour and a blind tasting party. Let’s just hope the fresh mountain air cures the hangover the next morning.
How much? Ski Safari (01273 224060, www.skisafari.com) has a 10 night Whistler Peaks Safari, including accommodation at the 4* Sun Peaks Grand, in Sun Peaks, and the 4* Delta Whistler Village Suites in Whistler. Prices start from £1390 per person, based on 2 adults sharing, departing in January 2016 to coincide with the Wine Festival dates, and include flights and transfers.
With awe-inspiring views of the mighty Matterhorn, Zermatt is one of those ski resorts that needs little introduction, mixing all the positives of skiing together to create a superpower that few resorts can match. Superb intermediate and advanced slopes, reliable snow conditions well into April, magnificent scenery, alpine charm and fantastic mountain restaurants – who said you can’t have it all? There’s no shortage of places to dine in Zermatt, home to some of the world’s best mountain restaurants, where the standards, and often prices, are high. On mountain, stop off at the Findlerhof for some traditional Swiss cooking and ambience, or try the Ice Restaurant at the Trockener Steg for a more modern, table-service option. Over in Findeln, Chez Vrony delivers the very best in haute cuisine. With such a high calibre on-mountain offering, it’s a hard act for the village restaurants to follow. Contenders for top of the leaderboard include The Omnia for modern, imaginative cuisine, the Wymperstube for fondue at its best and the Schaferstube for the best locally-sourced lamb in town. Enjoy a Greetings from the Kitchen experience in Zermatt, every Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, taking in four different restaurants and dining in the heart of every restaurant – the kitchen. The experience costs CHF189 (£128) and can be booked online.
How much? Ski Safari (01273 224062, www.skisafari.com) has a 7 night holiday at the 4*+ Matterhorn Focus, with prices starting from £920 per person, based on 2 adults sharing, departing in April 2016 and includes flights and transfers.
Rich in heritage, Aspen prospered in the 18th century, thanks to the discovery of silver and has since become one of the most attractive resorts in Colorado. Many of the historical buildings have been preserved to create a picturesque town, now home to over 100 bars, restaurants and boutiques. Aspen and Snowmass have gained a reputation and following amongst the international culinary scene and dining out is a highlight in Aspen. For a dining experience to remember, board a snowcat to take you up the mountain for the evening at Snowmass’ Lynn Britt Cabin and Aspen Highlands’ Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, where an Austrian chef prepares daily specials such as bouillabaisse, elk stroganoff and black truffle gnocchi. As for the skiing, the terrain is split over 4 mountains, all on one lift pass and linked by an incredibly efficient shuttle bus system. Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands offer some of the more challenging skiing with some beautiful tree runs, Buttermilk is great for intermediates thanks to its wide cruisers, whilst Snowmass is the biggest of all four areas and has a range of terrain suited for all.
A 7 night holiday to Aspen the 4*+ Sky Hotel starts from £1450 per person, based on 2 sharing a Premier Room B&B, including flights and transfers. Based on January 16 departure. Call Ski Safari on 01273 224 060 or visit www.skisafari.com/Aspen.