Every skier deserves a break after a long day on the slopes, but what’s the best way to unwind afterwards? Whether you just want to kick back and relax or you get a second wind for adventure, here are the top après-ski activities and the best places to try them out.
Family ski trips are great…until the little ones get cranky. If they’re off the mountain, changed and fed yet still they aren’t in the best of moods, what do you do? Here are a few ideas that will get the kids smiling again in no time.
Le Grand Bornand ski resort & alps village in Haute-Savoie, France knows exactly how to make the whole family happy. For an hour or more at this resort, your family can rent a pony sled, or “poney luge,” that allows one child to ride the pony, one to ride in the sleigh trailing behind, and one parent or guardian to hold the tether and hike alongside them. This attraction is for children ages 18 months and up (12 years max), and parents pay per 15 minutes.
If your kids are a little too old for the pony riding/sledding, check out the track at La Plagne, one of only seven in Europe and France’s only “bobsleigh” (bobsled) track. La Plagne is also one of only seven such tracks in the world to be open to the public, and visitors have three riding options. First-timers are encouraged to do the bob raft, a 1.5-minute, self-driven ride on a self-braking machine for up to four people. One step up on the thrill scale is the speed luge, which is a one-minute ride on a single-person luge. Bob racing, the fastest and most thrilling of the three options, takes three visitors who sit behind a professional pilot on a ride that they won’t forget. The first two rides were invented at La Plagne and are unique to the resort, while the third is the closest to an actual bobsleigh competition experience.
Whistler Blackcomb, a ski resort in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, features the Whistler Sliding Centre, another bobsleigh facility. Located in the breathtaking southeast portion of Blackcomb Mountain, this facility boasts a 1,450-metre-long track that offers both public bobsleigh and skeleton rides. The bobsleigh holds three people total, two passengers and one pilot, and the skeleton is a head-first, single-person ride on a small sled.
Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
If your family just wants to kick back and enjoy the scenery, consider a scenic sleigh ride through the winter wonderland of your ski village. Filzmoos ski resort in the Salzburg Sportwelt region of Austria offers 2.5-and 3.5-hour-long sleigh rides with a flat fee either per rider or per sleigh. While evening rides may offer more unique views of the surroundings, keep in mind that they cost around 20 euros more.
Group ski trips don’t have to include the kids, so if your group is made up of all adults, you have even more options for après-ski activities. If you’re all of age and can find a second wind after being on the mountain all day, your group should check out the nightlife scene at your resort. If everyone just wants to unwind, check out your resort’s spa facilities and services.
Hit the Dance Floor
If your group knows how to rally after a tiring day of skiing, check out the après-ski celebration at Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly, which was named the No. 1 après-ski party in North America by Forbes and CNN Travel. What was once a grooming machine was turned into a top-notch sound system named DJ CAT that helps skiers get warmed up before Unbuckle, the resort’s official après-ski party, and the highest elevation celebration of its kind in Lake Tahoe. From 3:30-5:30 p.m. daily, Unbuckle features live DJs, half-priced drinks and food specials. The party at the top of the gondola starts to unwind just as the sun sets, so guests get the rare experience of riding the gondola at night as they leave.
Check Out the Music Scene
If your group isn’t really into the club or dance party scene, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy a drink and some music after hitting the slopes. Colorado’s Vista at Arrowhead serves lunch and dinner daily but turns into a piano bar by nightfall. Listen to house player Micky at the Piano every night from 6-9 while you sip on a cocktail, glass of wine or other beverage. Vail’s Shakedown Bar is one of the village’s hottest après-ski spots. This 190-person venue is managed by musician Scott Rednor, who devotes his work to bringing in the state’s best musical acts to perform.
Rejuvenate at the Spa
Skiing takes a lot out of you, so if your group isn’t quite up for leaving the resort at night, that’s totally understandable. Thankfully, most large ski resorts offer a variety of spa treatments right within their facility. Granvara Relais & Spa Hotel in the Italian Dolomites features Granvara Vital, a tranquil oasis that offers massages, facials and other body treatments. Its rejuvenating sauna complex includes an aroma steam bath and herbal bath to help you warm up and unwind, as well as sensory showers and an ice fountain to help you cleanse and cool off afterwards. The spa has large indoor and outdoor pools as well as a vitamin bar.
Regardless of how your group prefers to spend its après-ski time, there are plenty of options for skiers in all parts of the world.
By Niki Kottmann