The draw of popular resorts such as Alpe d’Huez, St Anton and Verbier is undeniable; large ski areas, plentiful après ski and convenient connections make for a brilliant holiday. However, if you’re travelling during the peak season, chances are you will be sharing the slopes with other skiers. If you’re now starting to think about where to book your next trip, why not leave the crowds behind and discover three of the best kept secrets in undiscovered resorts.
Alta Badia is in the centre of Europe’s largest ski area, the Dolomiti Superski region, home to an incredible 1,200km of well-groomed slopes serviced by 450 chair lifts. In the heart of the region and on the Sella Ronda circuit are the delightful villages of Corvara and Colfosco.
Both of these resorts offer great access to the main slopes, including connections to the Marmolada Glacier. The Alta Badia ski area itself covers 130km, with sweeping views of the Dolomites and wide blue slopes that are ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers. Experts will enjoy the technically challenging World Cup run, Gran Risa, which features a vertical drop of 448 metres.
Low air humidity ensures the snow remains light and powdery for days on end, and the slopes are kept perfectly groomed throughout the season, ensuring brilliant ski conditions. As an added bonus, skiers can track how far they’ve skied by using the region’s online Ski Performance Check.
Situated in the Aosta Valley on the Italian/French border, the peaceful resort of La Thuile combines a 12th century village with a modern lift-base complex. The resort’s 150km of lift-linked pistes offer a diverse mix of intermediate, black and nursery slopes, as well as links (weather permitting) to the nearby French resort of La Rosière.
Relatively unknown outside of Italy, its quiet, uncrowded slopes make La Thuile an ideal destination for families and beginners. Tree-lined black runs, off-piste terrain and heli-skiing are all available for more experienced skiers. Children up to the age of eight receive a free lift pass for the same duration as an accompanying fee-paying adult, and facilities for children include a snow playground and Edelweiss magic carpet.
The après ski here includes some charming pubs and cafés, as well as an abundance of delightful chocolate shops. The resort was awarded the title of City of Chocolate in 2009 and a trip to the Chocolat café and bar is not to be missed. Be sure to try the famous ‘Tometta di La Thuile’ – a 350g milk chocolate bar filled with a local hazelnut paste and Piedmont hazelnuts.
The French resort of La Clusaz is frequently overlooked due to its low altitude, but this hidden gem offers an abundance of off-piste terrain and quiet slopes, as well as a charming traditional French village. Located in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps, La Clusaz covers a much larger ski area than most people realise, and is spread over five mountains.
Ski terrain includes beginner-friendly nursery slopes and unusual rock formations that provide a suitable challenge for experts. La Clusaz is also home to the world’s first Telemix lift, which features both chair lift seats and covered gondolas. The village has a traditional square and Savoyard church, as well as an ice rink, outdoor market and a good selection of local shops. La Clusaz is known for fine food and has a great choice of restaurants, including La Scierie, where specialities include an incredible champagne fondue.