I’ve always admired watching the advanced skiers swooshing down the slopes, kicking up rooster tails of snow as they make a sharp turn. I love to see the smallest skiers, warm layers making them as round as they are tall, snow-plowing down the bunny slope. The snowboarders who catch big air are thrilling to watch and the seemingly rubber knees of the expert mogulers are incredible. But, alas, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never feel those thrills myself (well, maybe the snow-plowing part!). You see, while I do enjoy getting on the slopes, my talent is quite limited and I’m much better at après-ski than the main event.
For me, the activities and events that take place after skiing are just as important. Activities off the slopes are essential for families with younger children or anyone with a limited ski tolerance (ahem, skill) like me. Après-ski activities can fall into many different categories, but one that virtually everyone can appreciate is dining. Playing hard works up a big appetite and although many ski resort accommodations have kitchen facilities where you can dish up your own creations, who doesn’t enjoy a delicious meal that requires no shopping, cooking, serving or clean up? Milly Wassum, Covington Vacation Advisor, says, “Every good resort has several bars with live music and good casual food – we tend to go straight to one of these before going back to the condo. Our favorite is The Red Lion in Vail. Also, Garfunkel’s in Lionshead.” Restaurants range from casual to gourmet so whatever your taste, you can relax together over a meal and relive the day.
The natural extension of dining is nightlife. This is probably the most widely accepted meaning to après-ski but nightlife can run the gamut from a quiet piano bar to a sultry dance club. You night catch a movie at the cinema or catch a game at a sports bar. Whether you want a romantic atmosphere just for two or to meet new friends and compare your day on the slopes, the social aspect of a ski resort is one of its defining characteristics. Quite a few of my poll participants said hitting the bars is their favorite after-ski activity, but made a point of saying that they really do ski all day then enjoy a cocktail with old and new friends.
Another wildly popular activity involves soothing sore muscles and hot tubs are always a good choice. Paul Covington, CFO of Covington Travel , enjoys “relaxing in the hot tub with drinks and friends, reliving the great runs and impressive wipe-outs of the day.” David Hiatt, founder of Luxury New Zealand Travel, agrees saying, “I think it would be tough to beat a private hot tub at Minaret Station after a day heli-skiing in New Zealand.” Whew, now that’s what I call setting the bar high!
Spa services are abundant and in high demand in ski resorts. They offer rejuvenation and relaxation for the strenuous exertion of a day on the slopes. Simone Falvo, AKA @1step2theleft , says she likes “Relaxing and pampering in a good Spa, reading a few pages of a good book on a chaise-longue with a view of the mountains and then slowly falling asleep. My favorite place? The Dolomites … a true paradise!” Massage at a ski resort is so refreshing because you worked so hard on the slopes for the reward of the muscle relaxation. You might choose hot stone massage, Swedish massage or thermal massage, all of which make you ready for the next day on the slopes. Jane from Canadian Mountain Holidays, AKA @heliyes, thinks “the spa at the bugaboo lodge is spectacular! To sit in the hot tub, cool drink in hand, beneath those majestic spires is truly the most peaceful ending to a day spent thigh deep in champagne powder with great friends.”
A ski vacation is satisfying not only because you can conquer the mountain, but also for the fun and bonding that happens during après-ski. Meet new people, relax and revive from your normal daily routine. Dine, dance, celebrate and refresh. Use a ski trip to rejuvenate and enjoy all of the pleasures that the fabulous ski resorts have in store.
What is your favorite après-ski place or activity? Please tell us in the comments below.