8 amazing ski resorts in unexpected places

By Emma Power,

Move over Aspen! We’ve considered the three big S’s of a perfect ski trip – ski-lifts, slopes and snow – to create our bucket list of unusual ski destinations around the world. Whether you see yourself hitting the glades in Morocco or the Lebanon, we have fantastic resorts lined up to suit all levels of skiers. Just wrap up warm, take a leaf out of Rachel Green’s book and get ready to “Shoop, shoop, shoop!”

8. Morocco

Michlifen Ifrane Suites & Spa Hotel

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The 5-star Michlifen Ifrane Suites & Spa is situated in one of the most attractive regions of Morocco, 60 km from the two great imperial cities of Meknes and Fez in the Atlas Mountains.

Often described as the “Little Switzerland” of Morocco, the area is full of lush green landscapes, lakes and immense forests of cedars, oaks and pines.

Since opening in 1973, the Michlifen Ifrane has attracted the most prestigious of guests. As well as boasting five types of accommodation – the American lodge, Savoyarde, Tyrolienne and Royal Duplex – the hotel offers three restaurants, two bars, spa, indoor swimming pool and omni-sports compound, as well as cooking workshops and temporary traditional Henna tattoos.

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Known fondly as the “Moroccan Aspen“, the small ski resort Michlifen is located in the beautiful Meknès-Tafilalet Region.

Every winter, the area is blanketed in snow with an average temperature of 5°C, with elevations between 1,880 and 2,060 m above sea level.

Originally built in the 1950s, it’s best suited to families and amateur skiers and snowboarders, with 1 km of slopes available and one ski lift to transport guests.


7. Bulgaria

Euphoria Club & Spa

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Bulgaria is a gorgeous ski destination in Europe for winter holidays, with Borovets Euphoria Club Hotel & Spa being one of the finest – and oldest – ski resorts in Bulgaria.

A picturesque hotel towering at an altitude of 1350m, it boasts beautiful vistas, luxury settings and prime skiing opportunities, all just a leisurely hour drive from Sofia. Private and atmospheric, Borovets invites guests to recharge in the tranquil retreat, rooted deep in the natural beauty of the northern Rila range.

This exceptional hotel offers winter enthusiasts contemporary accommodation with exemplary standard of service, exquisite aesthetics and amazing views over the mountains, meadows and ravines.

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Euphoria Club Hotel & Spa’s secluded location guarantees an unforgettable luxury stay at close proximity to the resort’s 24 slopes and 15 lifts.

The slopes of Borovets are typically covered with snow starting from mid December until April, with the average temperatures during the coldest month of January vary between -6 to 4 °C. The slopes, which are spread over three different areas, accommodate multiple difficulty levels, with thirteen red, three black and eight blue routes.

Cross-country trails and biathlon tracks are situated 2 km away from the resort together with matching training cross-country trails.


6. Italy

Nira Montana

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With Mont Blanc as an impressive backdrop at the edge of the picturesque town of La Thuile, Nira Montana is a sports-focused ski resort in the northwestern part of the Aosta Valley, close to the French border and neighbouring Courmayeur.

Just steps from the ski slopes and hiking trails of the Italian Alps, the three-storey wood-and-stone Design Hotel was built in the style of the valley’s traditional houses. Inspired by the natural elements, the attractive ‘forest theme’ runs throughout the hotel, blending classic features with contemporary design.

As well as featuring extensive wellness facilities, reflecting the picturesque mountain setting, Nira Montana’s 55 luxury rooms are the only five star accommodation in La Thuile.

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Surrounded by some of Europe’s highest mountains including Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso and Mont Blanc, Nira Montana is an ideal resort for skiers, with 160km of skiing either side of the French and Italian borders, in the atmospheric presence of Mont Blanc and Rutor glacier.

With La Thuile on the Italian side, and La Rosière on the French side, the ski runs – which vary in difficulty – leave from an altitude of 1,450 m in the town and reach over 2,600 m in an area known as Belvedere.

One single international pass provides access to 38 swift, modern cable cars carrying up to 58,000 people per hour for non-stop skiing, Nordic skiing, heliskiing, free-riding and snow-kiting.


5. Slovenia

Skipass

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At the very northwest side of Slovenia, between the Karavanke mountains on the north and the Julian Alps in the south, lies the Upper Sava Valley, the small town where Kranjska Gora is located. This casual hotel is a rustic, Alpine-style building is 5 km from Zelenci nature reserve, 8 km from the Planica Nordic Center and 13 km from the Vršič Pass.

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Surrounded by lush nature with a view to the mighty peaks Razor, Prisank Spike and Tromeja, on the ski slopes of Kranjska Gora, Hotel Ski Pass offers ski lessons, ski equipment rental and ski storage near famous Austrian and Italian ski areas. With Planica Mountain just 3 km from the property, and ski slopes just 300 m away, the resort provides its guests with discounted ski passes.


4. Scotland

Highlands Hotel at Macdonald Aviemore Resort

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Perched in the wild Scottish Highlands, the sprawling Macdonald Aviemore Resort offers guests a choice between rural rooms in luxury woodland cabins, family lodgings and classic 4-star hotel accommodation.

Unwind amidst ancient Caledonian pine forests close to Cairngorms National Park and nearby Inverness, just an hour from the mysterious Loch Ness and nine miles from Highland Wildlife Park. The upscale resort also includes a large activity centre, 3D movie theatre, golf course and pool.

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One of the first ski resorts in Scotland, and Britain’s most visited ski resort during the winter months, Aviemore is on the doorstep of Scotland’s best skiing and snowboarding destinations.

CairnGorm Mountain near Aviemore is the best known of the ski and snowboard areas in the National Park; it is also the highest, and holds the snow well throughout the season.

The Lecht on the A939 between Tomintoul and Strathdon is particularly good for families and beginners, with excellent nursery slopes and even a magic carpet to help get you started! Glenshee lies on the A93 near Braemar, the largest ski and snowboard area in Scotland and home to the infamous Tiger, one of the most challenging black runs around.


3. Spain

Ac Baqueira Ski Resort, Autograph Collection

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Located in beautiful Ruda Valley in the Catalan Pyrenees, the AC Baqueira Autograph Collection is a luxury hotel at the foot of the slopes.

Inspired by lovers of winter and adventure sports, and those who simply want to relax in an incredible setting, the recently-built 5-star AC Baqueira features exceptional facilities that will surpass the expectations of the most discerning travellers and sports enthusiasts.

Its 100 guest rooms, extensive range of services, and exceptional facilities make the AC Baqueira Ski Resort a uniquely contemporary base from which to discover the delights of its incomparable surroundings.

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Baqueira-Beret is a ski resort located in the heart of the Pyrenees, in the Aran Valley and Àneu Valley Lleida, Spain.

Getting up to the snowy slopes has never been easier: a cable-car awaits guests of the AC Baqueira just 50 metres from the hotel, as well as a free ski shuttle that takes you directly to the ski slope.

The largest and most visited winter resort in Spain, the ski area extends from 1,500 to 2,510 metres in elevation. It is divided into three different zones, Baqueira, Beret and Bonaigua.

Due to its westerly aspect and position on the northern side of the Pyrenees, the resort of Baqueira-Beret has a good snow record throughout the winter, with the ski season usually begins in November and goes until the end of April.


2. Finland

Chalet Hotel Rovaniemi

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Set on the Kemijoki River, the timbered, village-like hotel of Lapland Hotel Chalet Ounasvaara Apartments & Suites is a 3-minute walk from the Ounasvaara ski resort, 4km from Rovaniemi’s city centre and 7km from the Santa Claus Village theme park. Situated right in the heart of the Arctic Circle, you can experience the midnight sun in the summer and Northern Lights in the winter.

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Ounasvaara Ski Resort is located almost in a centre of Rovaniemi city. From the Northern side of Ounasvaara mountain, you’ll find a modern ski resort where you can downhill ski, snowboard, or ski while enjoying the international atmosphere.

Ounasvaara area has 100 kilometers of Cross Country Tracks, from which 50 kilometers has lights. The top of Ounasvaara is over 200 meters from sea level, while the longest of the maintained slopes is 600 meters long. There are diverse spots in the areas suitable from beginners to professionals.


1. Lebanon

Mzaar Intercontinental Mountain Resort & Spa

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Nestled amid the peaks of Mount Lebanon less than an hour drive from Beirut, the luxury InterContinental Mzaar Lebanon Mountain Resort & Spa continues to attract skiers to the only 5-star ski resort in the Middle East.

With 140 upscale guestrooms, InterContinental Mzaar offers extensive leisure facilities including an indoor heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, kids’ fun centre, cinema and a small shopping arcade.

The resort also boasts its own 1200sqm Spa, “Les Thermes du Mzaar” offering balneotherapy, aromatheraphy, pressotherapy and much more.

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The skiing season in Lebanon is similar in length to that of the Alps, stretching over a period of 4 months.

Ski direct from the resort with access to an 80km trail with 42 slopes. Starting at 1850m, you may reach the 2465m top of Mzaar and enjoy the breathtaking view over the colorful Bekaa valley, Mount Hermon of the Anti-Lebanon and other peaks like Laqlouq and the Cedars.

Advanced skiers will need at least two days to experience all the resort has to offer, and it is also an ideal resort for beginners as the lower slopes are wide and gentle.

 

For more apres-ski inspiration, check out our 10 top most popular ski resorts this winter.