World’s best ski resorts in 2017

Bella Coola Heli Sports has access to a blade-busting 2.64 million acres of prime Pacific powder.

It’s not only the highest ski resort in Europe and part of the world’s largest ski area — now Val Thorens in the French Alps has been voted best ski resort in the world for 2017.

The snowsure resort, which sits in a vast natural bowl at 2,300 meters, won the plaudits for a second straight year in a glitzy ceremony at the World Ski Awards in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

Val Thorens, which caters for a range of budgets and has built six 4 and 5 star hotels in the last six years, is part of the famous 3 Vallees — a whopping 600 kilometers of runs and links to Meribel and Courchevel.

“Skiers love Val Thorens and have shown it again this year,” said Gregory Guzzo, director of Val Thorens Tourist Office. “We are very happy; this is the result of a team who questioned itself every day to make sure to offer the best to its clients.”

The benchmark awards, in their fifth year, garnered 1.6 million online votes from ski industry professionals and the public in 85 countries.

In the hotel category, the W in the upmarket Swiss resort of Verbier also held on to its title as World’s Best Ski Hotel.

The cutting-edge W Verbier won again for its take on contemporary alpine chic, with six restaurants and bars and a fireplace and private balcony in each of its 123 rooms.

Val Thorens’ hip, design-led Fahrenheit Seven was named World’s Best New Ski Hotel, while Japan’s Vale Niseko made it a third straight win in the World’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel category.

Chalet chic

In the historic Swiss chocolate-box village of Zermatt, where luxury chalets are as plentiful as snowflakes, Chalet Les Anges — created by the renowned interior designer Magali de Tscharner — took the title of World’s Best Ski Chalet.

The 700-meter-square edifice over three floors is made of reclaimed wood and features huge panoramic windows. Six of the seven bedrooms have uninterrupted views of the iconic Matterhorn mountain.

The stunning spa area is topped off by a black granite plunge pool and Jacuzzi with similar far-reaching views towards the Matterhorn.

Meribel’s sumptuous Chalet Alpaca, with outdoor swimming pool, copper hot tub, spa, cinema room, games room, gym and climbing room, was named the World’s Best New Ski Chalet at the awards, which are voted on by ski industry professionals and the public.

The upmarket, skiers-only Deer Valley area, east of Salt Lake City in Utah, earned the plaudits as the top resort in the United States, while Lake Louise at the heart of the Banff National Park came top in Canada.

In Europe, Laax was voted best in Switzerland (and world’s best freestyle resort), Val Gardena, part of the Sella Ronda circuit in the Dolomites, triumphed in Italy, and Kitzbuhel, home of the infamous Hahnenkamm downhill race in January, came first in Austria.

Rusutsu, on Hokkaido island, was named best resort in Japan.

Rocksresort in Laax, Switzerland, was voted World’s Best Green Ski Hotel for its use of stone buildings, which are heated with renewable biomass energy.

Blade-busting

For those seeking skiing’s ultimate thrill, Bella Coola Heli Sports in British Columbia’s Coast Range Mountains was recognised as the World’s Best Heli-Ski Operator.

Bella Coola boasts the world’s largest contiguous tenure with 2.64 million exclusive acres of pristine snow, based out of one of four lodges including the award-winning Tweedsmuir Park Lodge.

“We are fortunate to have some of the most experienced heliski guides in the world, so we can offer exhilarating skiing while maintaining the highest safety standards possible,” said owner Beat Steiner.

“Off the snow, people rave about the attention to detail and personalized service provided by the staff at our lodges.”