When half-term rolls around, we know you and the family can’t wait to don your skis and hit the slopes. But will it be a short hop to the world-class skiing destinations of Europe, or an adventure further afield to experience the incredible, wide-open scenery of North America?
The most obvious advantage of heading to Europe is the relatively short time you’ll spend travelling. If you opt for Austria, you can fly from London Heathrow to either Innsbruck – from which the classic Tyrolean ski resort of Alpbach is less than one hour’s drive – or take a two-hour flight to Salzburg.
Alternatively, fly from London City Airport to Geneva, Switzerland, and, in less than 1.5 hours, you’ll be in legendary Chamonix.
The terrain across Europe’s well-linked ski areas is hugely varied, and you’ll always find a great spread of greens, blues and blacks. Val Thorens in France is the highest resort in the region, and Avoriaz, with its cosy kids’ village and no-car policy, is a good family-friendly choice.
Les Trois Vallèes area is highly popular, and you can get stuck into over 600km of piste. On some routes, it’s even possible to begin your day in France and blast your way into Switzerland by the afternoon.
Note that, thanks to the short transfer times and wide range of terrains, European resorts are notoriously popular in half-term holidays, so you’ll find that the slopes get busy. This does mean that adults will get to sample a lively après-ski scene though, and there’s plenty of opportunities for kids to make friends at ski school too.
Alternatively, make the leap and head long-haul for a thrilling half-term adventure. From the UK, you can reach either Colorado or Vancouver in 10 hours. To cut travel time, once you’re there you can choose a nearby resort like Vail, which is just 2.5 hours from Denver airport, or Alta, a 45-minute drive from Salt Lake City.
Wherever you go, you’ll still get a fantastic five days’ skiing, or more if you can add a cheeky extra day on one end of half-term. As the British and North American holidays don’t usually match up, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful weekday slopes.
Having the slopes (almost) to yourself makes Canada’s Lake Louise powder bowls and the impressive views from Whistler mountain even more exciting, and the short transfer to Vancouver airport is a bonus.
In Colorado, you can use the quiet time to get to grips with Breckenridge resort’s extensive list of high-altitude black runs – 55% of the pistes – while less experienced group members can tear up the blues and greens.
In Europe, you can take advantage of the many cosy chalets for that classic Alpine ski experience. In America and Canada, accommodation is generally in condo-style apartments and hotel lodges, which are perfect for an easy, all-inclusive break.
So what’s it to be? Go the extra mile for peaceful mid-week skiing in the USA’s or Canada’s epic powder bowls, or maximise your time on the slopes with a short hop to Europe?