Our World A cool change: Boutique snow stays from Austria to Argentina

Photo of Gemma Nisbet

Modern design, bathtubs with mountain views and quirky touches such as a rooftop igloo are among the luxurious features offered by these high-end ski properties.

If sleek eco-conscious design, a restaurant serving local and organic cuisine, an ultra-luxury spa and perhaps a private heli-picnic outing are on the wish list for your next trip to the snow, then the 30-odd boutique ski resorts in the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection are a good place to start looking.

Among them are Blanket Bay, a luxury lodge built from local stone and timber overlooking Lake Wakatipu, near Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island. Here you could enjoy views over the Southern Alps from your private terrace, dinner beside the outdoor fireplace or inside the intimate Wine Cave and activities including heli-skiing. 

At the Karuizawa Prince Hotel East near Nagano in Japan, there are indoor and open-air onsen baths fed by a hot spring and a teppanyaki bar, while Los Cauquenes Resort and Spa, at the southern tip of Argentina in Ushuaia, has an indoor-outdoor heated pool with views over the Beagle Channel. 

In the US, options include the glamorous Stein Eriksen Residences in Deer Valley, Utah, with its modern design and terrace with fire pits, an infinity pool and hot tubs.

There are also plenty of properties in Europe, in less-obvious ski destinations such as Bulgaria, northern Greece and Spain’s Sierra Nevadas, as well as in the Alps. Among the latter are DasPosthotel in the Austrian Tyrol, which has luxury penthouses featuring bathtubs with mountain views, and the ski-in, ski-out Hotel Le Strato in France’s up-market Courchevel 1850 area, where guests can hire handmade Strato skis.

Then there are Austrian properties offering a modern take on traditional alpine style, such as Boutique Hotel Wachtelhof in Hinterthal Maria Alm near Salzburg, Grossarler Hof (pictured at top) in the Grossarl Valley and the 10-suite Severin’s the Alpine Retreat at the exclusive ski resort of Lech am Arlberg. The former property has three different saunas; the latter high-tech features such as iPad lighting controls and hidden sound systems.

Top-notch service is to be expected. At the 29-room Kristiania Lech, a short walk from Lech am Arlberg, amenities include novelties such as bath and reading butlers and a “leisure time consultant” as well as personal ski guides and three restaurants. Established by Olympic Gold medallist skier Othmar Schneider, it also lays claim to being Austria’s first carbon-neutral hotel. 

Some of the hotels have quirky touches, too. At the Hotel Pashmina Le Refuge in the French Alps, you could sleep under the stars in the rooftop Igloo Pod, while buildings at the Parkhotel Adler in Germany’s Black Forest — which has been owned by the same family since the 15th century — are connected by a network of underground passageways. 

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