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SKILL LEVEL: CONFIDENT

Budget

It’s back to Bulgaria for what is arguably the ski capital of Eastern Europe. Bansko (bulgariaski.com) benefits from a long season (roughly December to May) and plenty of good powder. Together with 64km of pistes to explore, this cute medieval town has many cultural monuments and historic sites, while slightly further afield is the Pirin National Park – a Unesco World Heritage site home to epic limestone mountainscapes, glacial lakes, waterfalls and caves. There’s also a wealth of cheap accommodation options at Bansko and a decent clubbing scene. Set aside around £150 for a six day ski pass including skis and poles.

Midrange

With 13 trails over 500 acres, Happo-one (snowjapan.com) is Japan’s number one ski resort. The views across the Japanese Northern Alps are breathtaking, the powder is deep and dry, and there isn’t the mad rush for tracks you might encounter in European resorts. The Hakuba valley – about 300km northwest of Tokyo – offers plenty of activities, including snow rafting, hot air ballooning, mountain biking and trekking. After a long day on the piste, be sure to head to your nearest onsen (hot spring) to relax those aching muscles. Lift passes, costing about £146 for six days, can also be used in three other ski and snowboard resorts in Hakuba. Alternatively, Alpbach in western Austria (alpbachtal.at) offers slopes suited to those who have graduated from the nursery runs but aren’t quite fearless yet. There is a large British presence here – the largest of any Austrian ski village – but it tends to be a laid back brand of Brit that makes it toAlpbach, owing to the subdued bar scene. A lift pass for six days costs about £175 during high season, with discounted rates for not just kids but teenagers too.

Luxury

For guaranteed great snow, try Tignes (tignes.co.uk) in France. At an altitude of 3500m, it is one of only two ski areas in the country – the other being upmarket Vald’Isere – listed as a ‘snow-sure resort’ in The Good Ski &Snowboarding Guide from Which? As well as having plenty of self-catering apartments, Tignes is rich in hotels ranging from two to four stars. If you get bored of plain old skiing and snowboarding, Tignes also offers a programme of more offbeat winter sports, including dog-sledding, ice-diving and ski-joring. Ski passes start at about £215 for six days: whether you rank your cost up in a four-star or keep it cheap in a two star is up to you. Aspen in Colorado is a good choice for those fortunate enough not to be counting the pennies. At Snowmass SkiResort (aspensnowmass.com), half of the 90 ski trails are suited to intermediates. Colorado’s second-largest ski resort is also renowned for its crowd-free runs, owing to the sheer spread of terrain (128 acres), and there’s no shortage of firstclass food and drink. A ski pass costs approx £355 for six days.


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