It’s been a busy summer as Ski Safari prepares for the ski season ahead. It promises to be another packed winter programme, full of inspirational trips and some new incredible adventures. Behind the scenes, Ski Safari has a strong team of dedicated skiers and snowboarders who have selected a series of new resorts, ski safaris and hotels carefully planned to match the desires of those looking for an incredible skiing holiday.
Here’s what’s new for winter 2019/20:
Spectacular Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Schweitzer sits in the Selkirk Mountain range and is Idaho’s largest ski resort, only about 40 miles from the Canadian border (so perfect to combine with resorts in British Columbia on a ski safari). The resort offers 92 slopes for intermediate to advanced skiers as well as some of the USA’s best bowls and tree skiing. From the top of the mountain the vista of the glittering Alpine lake, dubbed Lake Pend Oreille by early French explorers, is stunning, with views across to Idaho, Montana, Washington and Canada. There are nearly 3,000 acres to explore including some of the steepest groomed terrain and equally steep off-piste (744 metres of vertical) right next to the slopes, and an average annual snowfall of 8.3 metres. Guests can enjoy ski-in, ski-out convenience in the resort village, home to nine interesting restaurants, an outfitter for winter-sports gear, a food market, and an art gallery, and the charming Idaho town of Sandpoint is a short hop away for more dining options
For those in the know, there's a secret land in the far north where the skiing's epic and the adventures are just a bit different. The destination is northern Norway, high above the Arctic Circle, and it's the new frontier for resort-weary skiers and snowboarders. The bustling town of Narvik is one of the most northerly towns in the world, sitting 140 miles within the Arctic Circle., Not only do most skiers come to experience the slopes, but they also come for the chance to see the mystical northern lights and to interact with wolves, muskox, arctic foxes, and reindeer in the nearby Polar Park. The ski mountain, known as Narvikfjellet, rises majestically with unsurpassable views of the town and the magnificent fjord below. The new Porsche gondola here, opened in February 2019, services both those looking for fun on the piste plus those looking to explore the vast backcountry area from here.
Thanks to the North Atlantic Current, the deep Ofotfjord never freezes, which is why the port of Narvik became so strategically important during WWII as a passage for millions of tonnes of iron ore, transported on the historic Ofoten railway, from the nearby Swedish mine in Kiruna. Find out more at the impressive war museum in the heart of the city, which is well worth a visit. After making the most of Norway, skiers and snowboarders can easily step aboard the pleasingly old-fashioned Ofoten Line train for a spectacular journey to the Swedish ski resorts of Riksgränsen and Björkliden to allow a multi-resort itinerary. This is an experience for those who want the thrill of the northern lights, with spectacular skiing and Norwegian culture.
Ski in the Tracks of Former Olympians with Ski Safari’s new Scandinavian resorts
Ski Safari continues to expand in Norway and has chosen two internationally acclaimed resorts which featured in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics.
Have a Family Holiday in Hafjell
Home of the slalom and giant slalom events at the 1994 Winter Olympics, Hafjell combines fantastic skiing for both beginners and experts alike. The third largest ski resort in Norway profits from varied terrain adorned with stunning tree-lined slopes. The area retains its Olympic heritage with the slopes overlooking the iconic Fakkelmannen, the Olympic torchbearer carved into the forest in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley. The family orientated resort transports guests to the top by gondola, where a delightful area ideal for gathering groups together to learn how to ski awaits. The whole resort delivers top class amenities and easy accessibility. A simple train journey of under two hours from Oslo airport to Lillehammer, followed by a 15 minute transfer, is the best way to get to Hafjell. The slopes are relatively quiet and queues at the lift stations are a rare occurrence even over peak dates. The resort is perfect for a family holiday, where the Hunderfossen Winter Park is a particular highlight with horse drawn sleigh rides, a troll museum, and the prospect to stop for a drink inside an ice hotel. The 3* Hafjell Hotel is walking distance to the slopes, or just one stop on the ski bus, and boasts spacious communal areas and comfortable rooms. The hotel offers full board which comprises a breakfast buffet, three-course dinner and the choice to have lunch at the hotel or at one of three mountainside restaurants.
Kvitfjell is one of the most snow sure resorts in Norway, consistently being one of the first to open and the last to close. A variety of wide, open groomers and rolling tree-line descents make Kvitfjell a fantastic resort for families and intermediates whilst the Olympiabakken downhill course presents a challenge to the most experienced. Ski teams from around the world come to train and race here and it was in this mountain that Kjetil Jansrud trained to become the world's best alpinist. Like Hafjell, Kvitfjell hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics and is now a regular feature on the exciting Alpine Skiing World Cup. There are three distinct faces to Kvitfjell, all easily accessible via the modern lift system and each boasting fantastic on-mountain dining options, including traditional Norwegian cabins at Tyrihanstunet and Koia. The area is jaw-droppingly beautiful, with views over Jotunheimen National Park having, apparently, provided inspiration for Henrik Ibsen’s fairy-tale stories about Peer Gynt. The 4* GudbrandsGard Hotel is located mid-way up the slopes, offering a convenient ski-in, ski-out location as well as first-class amenities. From the hot tub and sauna to the decadent furnishings of the rooms, the GudbrandsGard Hotel is a welcome retreat after a day on the slopes.
New Ski Safaris
The Powder Triangle Ski Safari combines RED Mountain Resort, Whitewater and, new to the programme for 2019/20, Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Combined, guests can experience the world’s best powder skiing and snowboarding in the USA and Canada on one trip. Ideal for strong intermediates to powder experts, this Powder Triangle Ski Safari is perfect for those wanting to access amazing waist deep snow and make the most of this magnificent area. The three resorts are quirky and all independently managed. Think zero queues, spectacular skiing and impressive views.
Start the tour in RED, home to 3,850 acres of lift-accessed glades, steep chutes, meadows and fast groomers with an annual snowfall of 7.6 metres. New for 2020, the Topping Chair in RED is expanding the terrain by 300 additional acres, which will provide six new intermediate runs, plus an exhilarating 1,000 vertical feet in arguably some of the best snow in resort. There is also a $10 a run in-bounds cat-skiing option that simply is the best. Drive the short distance to the quirky ski town of Nelson, the gateway toWhitewater. Whitewater is a perfect destination for those wanting to progress to more challenging off-piste, with steep Alpine chutes, hair-raising cliffs and gnarly scenery. It’s a serious mountain. Spend a day with Valhalla Powdercats and discover even more of this awe-inspiring destination. Pure, simple, real and deep. End the trip in the rugged Selkirk Mountains at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, which offers breath-taking views across three states and is considered by many as the best skiing in Idaho. Schweitzer Mountain Resort is independently owned with 2,900 acres of amazing terrain thanks to its two massive bowls and has renowned tree skiing. For winter 2019/20, Schweitzer is replacing two of its lifts as the first phase of a master plan of improvements for the resort. This plan includes more lifts and a dedicated beginner area, which officials expect to see happen over the course of the next few years.
JaPow - Playground of the Gods
The new Hokkaido Cat-Ski Safari invites powder hungry skiers and snowboarders to experience Japan’s ultimate backcountry terrain. First up is the larger resort of the two, Niseko, located two-and-a-half-hours drive from Sapporo Chitose Airport and comprising four interlinked ski areas with legendary powder, world-class tree runs and a lively village with endless restaurants and bars to sample. Next stop, Furano is fast becoming the hottest destination to ski pow without the crowds. The slopes are quiet and the nine metres of snow (on average) is lighter and drier than resorts in western Hokkaido.
Two days of cat-skiing are included in this ski safari - due to National Park status and governmental restrictions on heli-skiing, cat-skiing operations have taken advantage and started up in abandoned ski resorts across Hokkaido, making this exciting option an easy addition. The first is with Niseko Weiss Powder Cats accessing the long-abandoned ski area on Mt Weisshorn. Affording views to the Sea of Japan, there is nothing like the purr of a snowcat engine ploughing its way into the deep Japanese powder with the striking Mt Yōtei as a backdrop. The other is Fukagawa, which guests will explore from Furano. Otoe Powder Cat takes skiers and snowboarders to this powder playground with a combination of superb bowls and glades. The powder in Hokkaido is plentiful, light and deep because cold, snow-bearing winds from Siberia blow it in, in huge quantities.
42 Peaks Ski Safari
Head to the incredible Swiss ski resorts of Saas Fee and Zermatt where the 42 Peaks Ski Safariincorporates the best of both resorts. Saas Fee is beset on all sides by glacial blues and majestic mountain faces; the most noticeable being the Dom, which at 4,545 metres is Switzerland’s highest peak. Despite the dramatic scenery, there is a host of beginner and intermediate-friendly pistes. Over 60 years ago, when the road to Saas Fee was built, the citizens decided that the village should remain car-free and this offers a lovely sanctuary. Just over the mountain ridge in the foothills of the Matterhorn lies world-famous Zermatt, a haven for both charming Swiss culture and electrifying off-piste. Surrounded by 38 peaks all over 4,000 metres, it is considered by many to be the best resort in Europe for heli-skiing. Zermatt also offers extensive pisted terrain with long runs taking skiers into the neighbouring Italian resort of Cervinia. The town itself is an eclectic blend of rich Alpine culture and suave, modern sophistication; horse-drawn sleighs glide past designer storefronts and Michelin star restaurants. To ski from one to the other is not possible, nonetheless they are just an hour’s drive apart.
New City Break
On A Swiss Roll
New to the city-break programme, Zurich is easily accessible from the six Swiss resorts Ski Safari offers. With a host of attractions available, this cultural centre never fails to impress visitors with its scope. Explore Zurich on foot and discover its charm and authenticity. The small city has been creating a buzz recently with the transformation of the industrial district of Zurich-West into a vibrant, cultural corner, whilst across town, Sepp Blatter’s Fifa’s World Football Museum is open to explore. From world-class museums to the small village feel in the old town, Zurich blends old-school charm with post-industrial edge, and, of course, there’s always chocolate and cheese to fall in love with.