By Anne Bridges
When you slip on your skis and glide down a hill faster than the wind, you really can feel one with nature. It’s all about the mountain; how you tackle its slope and whether you can make it to the bottom while remaining upright. For some, the tougher the slope and the more difficult it is to reach it, the better. However, these adventurous skiers are also becoming increasingly concerned about how pounding up and down a snowy slope all day and using chairlifts on a continual loop could impact the environment.
The good news is that more and more ski resorts are answering the call from avid skiers to provide environmentally-friendly amenities. After all, a lot of fans of the winter hobby are big fans of the Great Outdoors, and want to ensure their love of winter sports will be able to endure through the ages due to conservation
“At first it just looks like a big pile of snow from the outside. Then you come inside, and people who see an igloo for the first time are like, ‘Wow! That’s big and beautiful!’ So says one of the managers of Iglu-Dorf. This concept is spread throughout various resorts in Western Europe and is centred around on the original ice architecture, the igloo. The igloos are all connected with each other so you never have to go outside and inside, it’s surprisingly cosy: there is no wind, it’s peaceful and quiet. Every room has different sculptures and different lights, and guest are given ultra-warm sleeping bags to curl up in at night. Cheese fondues and a well stocked bar ensure your warm glow lasts long after you’ve done your last run. Plus, you’re right beside the slopes!
Mountain Living Residence Hotel Lagacio, San Cassiano
Located in the heart of the Italian Dolomites, the South Tyrolean village of San Cassiano may well be modest in size, but it’s certainly stylish. Having been placed on the eco ski map quite recently, the hotel hasn’t been open all too long and already it’s a hit. It’s thanks in part to its organic menu and gorgeous Finnish sauna and steam bath – an absolute must-try after a gruelling day on the slopes.
Chic Chocs Mountain Lodge, Quebec, Canada
You’ve got to love the name of this Canadian ski lodge, which is a gorgeous mountain hideaway found in the Matane Wildlife reserve. It’s also as remote as ski lodges get, particularly in winter when it’s reachable only via a snowcat from Cap-Chat. Designed as an energy-saving building, this lodge offers a host of home-from-home comforts you’ll love.
A well-known ski resort, France’s eco-friendly Tignes offers plenty of accommodation such as Ski Bonjour for keen skiers. With chalets located close to the pistes and lifts, this is the perfect base from which to enjoy a family or couples’ holiday. Take in the cold, fresh air while out on the slopes, before cosying up in your cabin for an evening with loved ones.
Mountain Hill Cabin, Norway
A thing of architectural beauty, Norway’s Mountain Hill Cabin has a sloping roof you can literally ski over! Designed by forward-thinking Norwegian architects, the eco-friendly ski resort is a private retreat that’s made for enjoying an outdoor picnic in the cold, crisp air, before heading back to your room for a long, hot soak.
Maison Coutin, France
With flights from London Gatwick and Stanstead to Lyon from just £40 return, this small lodge is a family-run establishment situated in the village of Peisey-Nancroix in the Tarentaise Valley. If crowded ski resorts aren’t for you, you’ll love this quiet lodge, which offers hearty organic suppers with fruit and veg straight from the garden.
Aravis Lodge, France
One hundred years old, this stunning chalet can be found in the village of St Jean de Sixt, amongst the Aravis Mountains. With solar panels for heat and hot water, it sources as much fair trade, local and free range produce as it can, offering a host of amenities via its 17 bedrooms. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a gym, sauna and massage room – absolute bliss!
Whitepod, Les Cerniers, Switzerland
A camp made up of low-impact ‘pods’, Whitepod was officially opened back in 2005. Innovative and exciting, it’s perched above the village of Les Cerniers and offers 15 cosy pods featuring wood stoves and Scandinavian bathrooms. With warmed spring water, the bathrooms are a real delight following a day hitting the slopes.
Monte Rosa Mountain Refuge, Zermatt, Switzerland
With a striking aluminium façade, this gorgeous mountain refuge – run by the Monte Rosa section of the Swiss Alpine Club – supplies its own energy needs. Waste water is recycled and the beautiful hut serves ETH Zurich as a subject for research in the industry of energy and building technology. Opening back in 2009, the hike up to the refuge is more than a little demanding, via a traverse of the glacier. Make sure you only attempt this with a mountain guide, undertaking thorough research before you head to this popular eco resort.
Billed as a ‘ski, wellness and hiking’ hotspot (or rather, coldspot!), Switzerland’s Saas Fee is amongst the top destinations for a European ski break. Offering something to suit all tastes – including perfect skiing conditions and plenty of hiking opportunities -the resort offers eco-friendly accommodation for the whole family.
Whether you’re looking to take a week-long ski break or enjoy a short but sweet stay, you’re bound to find somewhere that takes your fancy amongst our list.