As the Northern Hemisphere gears up for the beginning of its ski season in the next couple of months, it’s a good time to start thinking about where to ski next! If you’ve covered the main spots in Europe or even tried the southern hemisphere, then time to look at North America.
With some of the steepest mountains on earth, blanketed with thick snow and boasting some of the most breath-taking views in the world, this part of the world has a lot to offer skiers (and snowboarders too).
It’s a big place and the terrains are vast and wild– which is part of the appeal of course. But more than that, you will find outstanding facilities, affordable resorts, spectacular scenery and exceptional ski areas.
The majority of ski resorts across north America open in October and November and close in April (with a few staying open until well into May) so the ‘prime time’ is considered to be November to March.
Let’s start with Canada
Let’s start at the very north end of the territory. With 290 ski resorts to choose from and nearly 4000km of slopes to explore, Canada is a skier’s paradise. A vast white wilderness peppered with fascinating cities, forests, incredible wildlife, mountains, volcanoes and world renowned great lakes the size of small countries – Canada is a very special place to both visit and live!
The climate means that the snow is reliable, and some say that the air is so clean and the snow so light and dry, that the ski conditions are the best in the world. There is also a very special ‘vibe’ in Canada; the people are friendly and laid-back and it’s not an overcrowded or heavily populated place. There’s room for everyone.
The economy is also excellent, and you’ll get far more bang for your buck that you would in the United States or western European resorts.
The ski areas are mostly spread across Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.
The main resorts in Alberta are: Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Sunshine Village and Calgary. In British Columbia to the west, we have Big White (very popular resort for families), Fernie (named North America’s ‘coolest’ town by Rolling Stone Magazine), Blackcomb, Mount Seymour, Kimberley, Panorama, Sun Peaks, Sunshine Village, Whistler and Revelstoke.
Investing in ski property in Canada is a pretty sound investment decision, based on the fact that house prices are much lower than in other North American ski areas and the mountains will always be there, people will always want to ski!
We have listings in Swiss resorts for $15 million 4 bedroom homes – which only the super-rich can consider. However, look at this utterly astounding Rockefeller-inspired SEVEN bedroom log cabin nestled in woodland of Mont Tremblant, overlooking Lake Manitou – priced at USD 4,365,811. This figure would get you much less elsewhere.
This sensational home and 8 acre estate have its own gym, library, servants’ quarters, five fireplaces and 500 feet of land on the shores of Lake Manitou.
If you’re looking for something smaller and with less maintenance involved, you have a recently renovated ski-in ski-out 2 bedroom apartment in Mont Tremblant that has use of a gym, pool and hot tub for just USD 243,136!
Skiing in most areas in North America is an exhilarating experience due to the sheer vastness of the terrain. The altitude is another big plus (or a downside if you suffer from altitude sickness – take care to stay hydrated and be aware of this).
Resorts like Breckenridge in Colorado, USA hold such old Midwest charm, with their main street lined with historical clapboard buildings making a trip there like stepping into the town’s past, as if the wild west still lives and breathes.
The ski area in Breckenridge is top notch; offering 153km of excellent slopes for varied levels. Elevations are high (2926km and 3914km) and there are plenty of places to eat and enjoy a drink after a day on the slopes. The town itself is huge draw for tourists due to its colourful buildings and historical architecture. People still yearn for that cowboy culture and charm. Breckenridge is also home to the world’s highest distillery which produces award winning spirits!
Elsewhere in Colorado, there is Aspen, a very famous north American ski area, encompassing Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk mountain (the famous beginners ski area) and Snowmass resorts. Snowmass is actually one of the largest ski resorts in America (and possibly the world) with around 237km of slopes to devour.
Aspen Mountain is most suited to seasoned skiers and snowboarders as it contains mostly intermediate and expert levels slopes, whilst Aspen highlands is home to the famous ‘Highland Bowl’ so can offer up an intense and exhilarating ski/snowboarding experience.
Aspen has a lively après-ski scene as well, with many restaurants, bars and clubs earning global stardom in the ski world. Aspen property is known to be on the pricey side due to the massive ski area and excellent reputation of the resorts so be ready to face big prices if you’re looking to invest in ski property here.
Another well-known North American resort is Vail. If you’re a Friends fan, you’ll remember this is where Rachel was headed in ‘The One Without the Ski Trip’.
Vail is a very large and very popular resort; with 234km of ski slopes to discover along with a vibrant après-ski and resort culture to enjoy. The resort is elegant and extremely well equipped and there is plenty to do here, both on and off the slopes. The slopes are so varied that whatever your level or whatever challenge you seek, you’ll find it somewhere in this massive resort.
Property-wise, the same principle applies in Vail as it does in Aspen. Property is very expensive and in high demand. We currently do not have any listings in Vail but SnowOnly is in the process of building good relationships with local agents, so we will have some gorgeous gems to show you soon.
Schweitzer Mountain resort is a truly incredible place to ski. Situated in Idaho, USA, this resort boasts just under 100km of slopes suited to all levels. Plenty of terrain to explore, and it’s blissfully uncrowded as this resort is still on the ‘hidden gem’ list of well-kept secrets!
Heavenly, California is a beautiful ski resort overlooking breath-taking Lake Tahoe. You can ski across two states and enjoy around 4800 acres of magnificent terrain. The scenic setting makes this resort live up to its name.
The beauty of investing in property at or near a resort like this is the dual-seasonality. Lake Tahoe is such a beautiful place, it retains appeal in the summer too and is a very popular tourist destination all year round.
It has to be said that Heavenly is well-known for being popular with gamblers and casino-lovers as well – due to the proximity of several casinos in the area and the prolific ‘casino scene’ throughout Nevada. So, if you are a winter sports fan with a penchant for the slots and tables, Heavenly is your playground!
Last but definitely not least, we’d like to mention the stunning Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This resort is very large and beautiful. With a massive 112km of versatile slopes, most of which are most geared up towards the more seasoned skiers, but there are 12km of easy slopes that are perfect for beginners and families.
The scenic setting of Jackson Hole is one of its major selling points). Nestled between two famously breath-taking national parks (Yellowstone and Grand Teton), Jackson Hole attracts adventurers and beauty-seekers from all over the world.
Whilst it’s a fantastic ski destination, it’s actually more popular in the summer because of the outstanding natural beauty of the area and outdoor pursuits available. This means this would be a pretty perfect place to invest in property-wise because it’s a place that has complete all-year-round appeal.
Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding and old-fashioned sleigh rides in the winter and then hiking, paragliding and seeing the rodeo in the summer. There is plenty of wildlife to look out for, including good old grizzly and black bears, moose, elk and bison.
Getting there is easy too, as Jackson Hole has the only commercial airport in the country situated in a national park.
Keep an eye on SnowOnly for property listings in Jackson Hole because available homes are likely to sell faster than they appear! And for good reason!