The winter ski season is coming to an end, but there is still time to hit the slopes if you choose your destination wisely. In fact, some ski resorts in the Alps keep their lifts open throughout May. Savvy skiers have long understood the benefits of late-season skiing and snowboarding, which include empty slopes (excluding the Easter holidays), sunny weather and longer days on the mountains. We’ve selected the best Alpine resorts to visit in spring 2017 according to snow conditions, luxury chalet rentals and things to do off the slopes.
1. Gstaad, Switzerland
Despite the well-groomed slopes of Gstaad closing in mid-April, Glacier 3000 will be open until 7th May 2017. It is one of the most popular freeride areas in the Bernese Oberland because snow is guaranteed on the various runs between 1,200 and 3,000 metres. It is perfect for daring snowboarders who love deep powder and a feeling of freedom. The glamorous resort is full of luxurious accommodation, but for a truly ‘Heidi’ experience, Chalet Riedsunne is the ideal alpine bolthole for your spring skiing holiday in Gstaad. The 5-bedroom property has been converted from a barn into a contemporary home standing in acres of its own farmland, so it oozes Swiss charm. Gather your friends and family around the roaring fire in the spacious lounge and share stories of your snow sports exploits. A chauffeur will be on hand to whisk you to the slopes or centre of town to sample the fantastic shopping, art galleries and museums.
2. Val d’Isere and Tignes, France
These two resorts are closely linked and combine to form the popular Espace Killy ski area. The high slopes make this area one of the most reliable for late season snow with an altitude of 1,550m-3,450m. Although Tignes lacks trees and the traditional alpine village aesthetics tourists have come to expect from European ski resorts, it is abundant in snow and has the Grande Motte glacier on its doorstep to provide summer skiing options with 20 kilometres of runs and a vertical drop of over 750m. Val d’Isere is equally impressive and offers the infamous black run ‘La Face’, for skiers in search of a formidable challenge.
Both resorts offer modern facilities and some fantastic ski schools for beginners and children. They also have a lively apres-ski scene that continues into spring; bars are plentiful and there is always a party going on somewhere. When you’re ready to crash, there’s nowhere more appealing than the sumptuous surroundings of Chalet Black Pearl in Val d’Isere. The 5-bedroom property was designed by internationally renowned architect Philippe Capezzone and it is the embodiment of contemporary chic, utilising natural materials like wood, stone and sleek black marble with comfy sofas and artwork. Guests have a personal spa, an indoor swimming pool with jet stream and a cinema screen, books and games.
3. St Anton, Austria
St Anton guarantees snow until the end of April thanks to its high-altitude slopes and exceptional snow cover. Even the Arlberg region’s lower pistes have an underlay of man-made snow which makes it a mecca for skiers and boarders. The easily accessible and varied terrain, dramatic scenery and endless freeriding possibilities make it almost impossible to resist. Best of all, this charming Austrian resort is a pretty car-free village of traditional Tyrolean buildings and is brimming with character. St Anton is justifiably famous for its vibrant apres-ski scene but for those looking for a more relaxed pace, there are some lovely cafes. For those who want a big spring get together of friends, the huge Chalet Eden Rock can accommodate up to 20 guests across three spacious luxury chalet apartments, so it’s a great way to bring the extended family together. It features a large indoor pool as well as a sauna, steam room and private gym.
4. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is made for late season skiing with its high altitude that boasts the highest runs in the Alps at above 3,000 metres. The Klein Matterhorn area is best suited to advanced and intermediate skiers with the longest ski run extending over a distance of 21 km and 2,279 vertical metres down to Zermatt. Easier terrain can be found on the glacier, but this resort is best for confident skiers. However, non-skiers will also be thrilled with the area and its views of the legendary Matterhorn. Hiking trails extend over 400 km and experienced guides can make sure you have all the right equipment and local knowledge.
Zermatt’s centre is car-free and cutting-edge architecture and trendy bars harmoniously blend with traditional farmhouses. Chalet Les Anges was designed by Magali de Tscharner and it’s a good example of the ultra-luxurious architecture of Zermatt. The 7-bedroom chalet is filled with light from huge windows that provide guests with some of the best alpine views in the world. Bedroom balcony views, fresh flowers, complimentary daily newspapers and all the Perrier Jouet Champagne you can quaff will make a stay at Chalet Les Anges a Zermatt spring break to remember.