With the ski season nearly upon us, the search for the best ski and snowboard destinations is hotting up. However, with experiential travel being a growing trend, holidaymakers are now increasingly keen to try non-ski activities too. From horse riding through the snow and climbing up frozen waterfalls to unwinding in a luxury spa, visitors to mountainous regions are searching for more adventurous and relaxing ways to experience the delights of their mesmerising surroundings in new ways.
Here is a selection of the most enchanting non-ski activities in some of the top ski resorts:
Ride a Haflinger horse through the snow in Ebbs, the Austrian Tirol
Put the skis to one side and jump on a purebred Haflinger horse in Ebbs, the Austrian Tirol. The Fohlenhof Ebbs – the largest riding club in the Tirolean Riding and Driving Association – has been a famous riding and driving school for more than 50 years, and employs the most professionally qualified staff in all of western Austria (more than 20 titles have been won since the 1970s). Private instruction and group lessons are available throughout the year for children and adults of all abilities. More experienced riders can take part in the intensive courses that run from Tuesday to Saturday, with practical and theoretical lessons, whereas beginners are taught individually on a long line. Alternatively, private lessons can be booked for as many or as few days as visitors would like. In addition, each participant can take care of their horse, providing an insight into the daily work and care involved. The purebred Haflinger horses are known for their surefootedness, stamina, hardiness, resilience and good health, so offer a reliable and fun ride, whatever the weather.
Austrian Tirol: www.visittirol.co.uk
Try dog sledding along the scenic Manchet Valley in Val d’Isère, France
Home to more than 300 km of pistes, 78 lifts and a top altitude of nearly 3,400 metres, Val d’Isère offers incredible skiing and snowboarding to all its guests. However, for those wanting a break from the sport, there are many exciting activities to try. Ski and outdoor adventure specialist, Evolution 2, based in the resort, offers a magical experience for families, couples and groups of friends – dog sledding. Enthusiasts can drive their own husky sledge, with three Greenland Huskies, around the golf course in neighbouring resort, Tignes, which is linked to Val d’Isère. Alternatively, those after a beautiful and more relaxing ride can enjoy being a passenger in the stunning Manchet Valley. Discover how these majestic pack animals work together and sit back and take in the spectacular snowy setting.
Val d’Isère: www.valdisere.com/en
Ice Climbing in Oz-en-Oisans, France
Sensational, technical, but also ephemeral, ice waterfall climbing arouses the curiosity of many adventurers. With more than 600 ice waterfalls listed in Oisans, the area has become one of the most important sites in Europe. Above all else, this sport requires the advice and explanations of a qualified guide, together with special equipment including crampons, ice axes and a helmet. A beginner’s outing from Oz-en-Oisans is organised by a high-mountain guide and is open to children from 12 years upwards. On 26th and 27th January 2019, the resort will also be hosting Symphon’Ice, an event dedicated to promoting the sport, where workshops will be offered for those wanted to learn or develop ice climbing skills.
Party in the Swiss Alps at the Polaris festival in Verbier
From 29 November to 2 December 2018, Verbier will play host to Polaris, an electronic music festival with a line-up that carries big names from the electro and techno music scenes. This year, revellers will get a chance to see Massive Attack, Ben UFO, Carl Craig, and Dixon performing as well as DJs travelling from across Europe and the United States. This year, Polaris festival runs from 29 November to 2 December 2018.
Try Pierre and Vacances’ Make My Day activities with the family in France
Pierre and Vacances’ Make My Day activities are great for families wanting non-ski adventures in the snow. These sessions are available in Avoriaz, Val Thorens and Arc 1950 and, from e-fat biking to airboarding, there is something for everyone. At the Inuit Camp, guests will explore a winter wonderland and get the chance to build igloos, experience dog-sledding and enjoy warm drinks including mulled wine (for adults). Children will love competing on the electric ‘snowmotos’ on a special race course during afternoon sessions or playing archery tag in teams using a rubber bow and arrow. The Dynafit snow hike under the stars in Val Thorens promises to be a particularly memorable experience.
Pierre & Vacances: www.pierreetvacances.co.uk
Marvel at the spectacular Spanish surroundings on a horse-drawn sleigh ride in Baqueira Beret
Embark on a magical sleigh ride through charming forests in the Spanish Pyrenees, led by local Hispano-Breton horses. This serene journey, only interrupted by the enchanting ring of sleigh bells, gives guests a truly captivating opportunity to discover the snowy delights of Baqueira Beret, from the comfort of their carriage. Be sure to end the adventure with plenty of tapas and Tempranillo.
Baqueira Beret: www.baqueira.es
Paraglide over the snowy peaks of the Dolomites in Trentino
Thrill-seekers looking for a new perspective of the striking Italian alpine landscape should take to the skies on an exhilarating para-gliding adventure. Daring visitors to Trentino can marvel at panoramic views of the Brenta Dolomites and Lake Garda when they embark on an unforgettable flight. IFlyTandem has more than 18 years of paragliding experience and has only the most passionate and qualified staff.
Relax in tranquil spas on a mountain retreat in Norway, with Ski Safari
Indulge in luxurious alpine spas on a relaxing Ski & Spa Ski Safari. Featuring an adults-only spa with a relaxation room, plus a jacuzzi, cold pool and two types of sauna, the 4* Vestlia Resort hotel in Geilo, Norway, offers an award-winning wellness retreat in which to completely unwind. After a couple of days luxuriating in Geilo, the holiday continues in Norefjell, at the 4* Norefjell Ski & Spa hotel. At this first-class residence, guests can indulge in rejuvenating treatments and marvel at breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape. Norway is also home to a multitude of exciting non-ski activities, from ice-fishing to tree-top rope courses.
Ski Safari (01273 224 060, www.skisafari.com