February 2014

Recently back from a week's skiing in St. Moritz, the Ski Independence Sales Manager, Gareth, has been lucky enough to visit a huge number of our featured resorts - from humble skiing beginnings at Cairngorm Mountain to the heady heights of the Aspen Highlands Bowl. Here are Gareth's recommendations and the top 5 experiences on his wish list.

Ski Bucket List; Gareth

Favourite ski destinations:

Aspen – it has to be the best mix of skiing and town in all of North America…dare I say the world? The people there are so passionate about the place they live in and don’t care who you are, everyone is treated like a Hollywood star! There are some really special places to stay too – I don’t think I could pick one as a favourite but I keep going back to The Gant so I guess that would have to be it.

Ski Bucket List; Gareth A recent powder day in Aspen (image: Jeremy Swanson)

Whistler comes a very close second. I haven’t skied the resort enough, there is just too much terrain (no, I am not complaining) and skiing it with a good skier is the way to do it. I have been taken outside of my comfort zone a good few times and that is the best way to explore and really learn what skiing in Whistler is about. After skiing the place comes alive and there are so many options – I usually go for the hot tub, food and crash option but I am getting old!

Ski Bucket List; Gareth

Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and village areas

In Europe, I love the Espace Killy and would choose to stay in Tignes; again I’m not one for huge après-ski so that rules my thinking over opting for Val d'Isère. The ski area is huge and I have been very lucky to always have good weather, good snow and great times! With Tignes sitting at over 2000m it has a tendency to get lots of weather, just head down towards Les Brevières if you’re unlucky enough to hit at that time. Lunch down there is a very good call, no matter what the weather.

Ski Bucket List; Gareth Tignes, in the vast Espace Killy (image: C Tatin)

Top 5 on my list ‘to do’ would be:

  1. St Moritzso many people say such good things about the place (now ticked off his list, Gareth said, "I don't think I've ever skied powder that deep!")
  2. The Powder Highway: Fernie, Panorama, Kicking Horse and Revelstoke in one trip…I’ve sampled it but would love to spend more than just one morning in each resort. Maybe next year?
  3. Colorado Road Trip: taking in the very best of Colorado so Breckenridge, Steamboat, Vail, Aspen, and Telluride. With day trips to Loveland and Arapahoe Basin just to tick them off. I’d need a good three weeks to do that though…it’s maybe a dream too far?
  4. Avoriaz: it’s so close and I’ve never skied it yet. I’d love to ski in The Portes du Soleil but would probably choose to stay in Avoriaz because of its location high in the heart of the huge ski area.
  5. Whistler: I need to go there for a holiday rather than a work trip, ski it every day and really explore the mountain. We send so many clients there and I know it so well, but there is so much more I can learn about the mountains and the village and I can only do that by being there…right?

My most memorable ski experience

Hiking the Aspen Highlands Bowl

Ski Bucket List; Gareth Aspen Highlands Bowl

I’ve done it twice now and am still amazed that I have done it at all! It is one heck of a hike for those of us who are not the fittest and live at sea level. Hiking at over 12,000ft with vertigo tugging at my sleeve once in a while certainly took my mind of the skiing that I had to come. Once up there I remembered I had to get down…gulp! I was lucky enough to being skiing the bowl with locals and they offered me an easier descent both times, they had seen me ski! Wide open, fresh snow, smiles…that’s what Highlands Bowl is all about. All in all an unreal experience and one that everyone should do – preferably on a bluebird powder day! If you’re lucky you’ll get a pin too.  I have one.

Get in touch with Gareth or any of our reservations team by calling 0131 243 8097 for expert help and advice with your ski holiday plans this winter. Click here to request a tailor-made quotation online.