Which Alps Are the Alps for You?
From schmoozing in Switzerland to singalongs in Salz
The Alps, like the Rockies, are a ragtag bunch. Just as we’ve got New Age Boulder and New Money Jackson, they’ve got Gstaad (home of the World Economic Forum) and Salzburg (home of the von Trapp Family Singers). Below, a supertight edit to help you figure out which European mountain (and resort, and possible fondue restaurant) is the one for you.
For the Advanced Jetsetter
Hôtel Le K2
The French Alps are no longer the budget destination beloved by British Channel-hoppers, who’ve mostly decamped to Austria and Slovenia — but they are still very fun and as luxe-minded as Switzerland without the ponderous bar-talks about quantitative easing. Non-skiers can stake out a space at Le Kintessence, the K2’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant.
For the Guy with Cash to Burn
Gstaad is Switzerland’s starriest ski resort, with regular sightings of Clooney, Madonna and a slate of international royals. Match them Veuve Clicquot for Veuve Clicquot at the mountain’s over-the-top luxurious grand hotel, The Alpina. Follow dinner at the Swiss Stübli (expect fondue, steak) with post-prandials at the 1930s-style cigar bar, views of the Bernese Oberland included.
For Ski Families Who Also Want Toboggans
Austria offers a less expensive, lower-key Alp experience with just as much natural beauty as its neighbors to the west. Try the Zillertal resort for a huge variety of family-friendly winter sports: not just skiing (on offer 365 days of the year) but tobogganing, snowboarding, glacier walks and a ton of options for kids’ instruction. If you’re committed to five-star hotel living, we like the Stock, but the emphasis here is on private apartment rentals.
For the Bored Nomad
Bohinj Park Hotel
Bohinjska Bistrica, Slovenia
If Gstaad’s too staid, take a chance on the Julian Alps in Slovenia. This central European country has its administrative hands full at the moment, which makes it a great time to support the local tourism industry, which will in turn support your wallet. You’re not going to find $3 half-liter beers in Verbier, but you will here. The resorts are small, but the local appetite for the sport is strong (just ask the country’s 2014 Winter Olympics team, who placed fourth in the medals table for Alpine skiing). Our picks: Vogel and the nearby Bohinj Park Hotel.
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