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Where to snowboard and sightsee at Christmas?
August 14, 2009 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Great places worldwide for a two week snowboarding and sightseeing holiday around Christmas time?

I've just had leave approved for two weeks over Christmas (week before and after) and am looking for inspiration for great places to go with my wife on a snowboarding and sightseeing trip.

Requirements:
1. Snow :-) Not easy to guarantee I know, especially around Christmas.
2. Ability to rent boats and boards easily (we have everything else).
3. At least half-decent ski area infrastructure - we're okay boarders (intermediate I guess), but need decent lifts....we're not quite back country heli-jumpers just yet.....
4. We've already done a few US locations over past winters (Tahoe, Colorado, Utah, Idaho) and love them, but looking to go somewhere different this year.
5. We'd probably only board 4-5 days, leaving 6-7 days for doing other things - so being near interesting villages, beautiful mountain ranges, other attractions, etc is a plus. We're cool with driving/training/busing around

Aside from that - we're totally open to ideas! Know a great hidden ski area in Slovakia, Japan, China, Finland, Alaska, Iceland, or anywhere else that may be blanketed with the white fluffy stuff at Christmas? Let me know!
posted by inflatablekiwi to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
 
Agh. I mean "rent boots and boards". Not boats.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:07 PM on August 14, 2009


I wouldn't worry about 2...because almost any place will have rentals. Likewise 3 is not a concern because if a place has reliable snow at Christmas it is going to have good infrastructure.

For North America at least, aligning goals 1 and 5 will be tough since most great ski resorts (i.e. big, loads of fast lifts and high likelihood of lots of pre-Christmas snow) are many, many hours away from civilization. The major exceptions to this being the resorts that ring Salt Lake City, some of the Summit County resorts in Colorado which are a few hours from Denver and Whistler which is a few hours from Vancouver.

You might consider the ski resorts of New England and Quebec. These are obviously smaller than the ones in the Western United States and the lower elevation has risks of the resorts being not 100% open but there will be a lot more cultural and sight seeing things.

Again for North America you also might consider that some places (especially those that don't get huge amounts of early snow), artificially keep their terrain closed until after Christmas because of staffing issues and to save the snow for the bigger post Christmas crowds).
posted by mmascolino at 1:46 PM on August 14, 2009


ignoring the sightseeing aspect, two of my favourite skiing resorts in the world (and ive seen a lot) are Saalbach Hinterglemm in Austria and Zermatt in Switzerland (on the border to Italy). The latter also provides beautiful views of the Matterhorn.
posted by freddymetz at 2:28 PM on August 14, 2009


I was just in Berner Oberland in Switzerland and stayed in Murren. It was great hiking but I noticed they've been adding chairlifts lately. It would be amazing skiing/boarding and breathtaking views. There was snow on the peaks during August so I'm assuming there would be some in December. The town of Murren was very quaint and I'm sure they would be welcoming on Christmas. I know we passed many rental shops (closed for the Summer)

If you are interested, we stayed at Chalet Fontana and the proprietor was British and had great suggestions everyday on activities and what to see in the area. She would definitely give you the low down on how it is there in December.

Contact Denise at Chalet Fontana
posted by patrad at 2:50 PM on August 14, 2009


You may also consider Whistler and spend some time in Vancouver for some sightseeing. Whistler is hosting the Olympics this Winter as well so it may be cool seeing what pre-events may be taking place.
posted by patrad at 2:51 PM on August 14, 2009


Japan is awesome for this!!
1) Hokkaido. If it were post-Christmas, you would have more options on Honshu (main island). Hokkaido is the big island in the north of Japan, a 2-ish hour flight from Tokyo. Once landing at the airport, you are a 1 or 2 hour trip from the airport to the resorts. I have been at Niseko for the most part. It is big, has a nice little town built around it, and, I don't know if it's good or not, there are a lot of foreigners.

2) Renting and tickets and everything are really really cheap here. This past winter I was paying about $60 including board, boots, clothes, and transportation to/from Sapporo by a rapid train.

3) Snowboarding is welcome in resorts here, and you can look at breakdowns of percentage of boarders/skiiers, what type of slopes (beginner, intermediate...) and what kind of lifts. Being Japan, things are generally in great condition and safe-like-rounded edge scissors.

5) There is so much to see and do in Japan and Hokkaido, you will never feel bored. No matter what, you would be passing through Kansai or Tokyo, and can easily spend your 6 to 7 days in temples, electronics shops, restaurants, karaoke bars, etc. Hokkaido has other amazing opportunities all its own, and a totally different feel. There are lots of neat coastal and mountain towns, and the northern-most city in Japan from which you can take cruises on ice-breaking boats. Oh, and I forgot the onsen, the natural hot spring baths. These are a Japan-favorite experience, but there is nothing better than an outdoor hot bath overlooking the slopes and the forests, especially if it is snowing, and nighttime.
posted by whatzit at 7:41 PM on August 14, 2009


Let me clarify 2) above - the $60 was for all that AND the lift ticket.
posted by whatzit at 7:42 PM on August 14, 2009


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