Asia is the largest continent in the world, offering every kind of traveller some of the best destinations for a perfect holiday. While the beaches and calming azure waters of Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia offer tranquillity to those seeking refuge from the humdrum of city life, the snowy slopes and mountainous terrain in South Korea, Japan, China and India are where tourists can work up their adrenaline by opting for activities such as skiing and snowboarding. By Ruchit Rastogi
Additionally, the continent is touted to have some of the biggest ski resorts in Asia. One of them is Shymbulak, which is the largest ski resort in Central Asia. It is famous amongst expert skiers and amateurs alike — even Prince Harry, an experienced skier, has been spotted on the strip to Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, Japan’s Shiga Kogen is one of the largest and highest ski resorts in the country, comprising 18 ski areas. It offers some of Nagano’s best spring skiing opportunities.
Besides these adventurous activities, there are many other reasons to visit a ski resort. Some of the best places showcase state-of-art interiors and offer luxurious amenities such as heated swimming pools, plush spas with traditional treatments, signature dishes infused with local flavours and much more. Additionally, in such chilly weather, the cosy nooks provide comfort for visitors with bonfires, steaming hot chocolate, vibrant bars and a winter charm to immerse themselves in.
Best time to visit
Whether you are an expert skier or someone who is looking for a relaxing vacation at a ski resort, the best time to visit is between December and March. During this time, the weather conditions are the most suitable for skiing. It offers a perfect snowy blanket for every visitor who gets to be a part of some of the best ‘winter-only’ activities such as snowboarding, skiing and heliskiing.
Here are some of the best luxury ski resorts you must visit in Asia
The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, India
Promising a unique experience, the luxury resort is surrounded by a coniferous forest and offers a spectacular view of the Pir Panjal mountain range in the Himalayas. Constructed in the traditional Kashmiri style, the Khyber resort has 85 rooms that have state-of-the-art climate control features along with architecture that promotes the local Basholi art.
The luxury resort gives its guests a mix of true fine-dining as well as casual dining experiences, with restaurants that serve global cuisines, tea and finger food, and grilled meat over coal-fired barbeques.
It also has a Sheesha lounge that is a cosy nook for people to relax in the evening. Among other luxuries, the Khyber has a well-equipped spa and a heated swimming pool. With a children’s club, a mini-theatre, and a dedicated Activities Concierge, this resort is a true reflection of luxury in India.
One of the best ski resorts in India, the resort is within a walking distance of the Gulmarg Gondola, the second longest and highest gondola ride in the world. The ski lift takes everyone to the Kongdoori mountain close to the Apharwat peak at a height of 13,870 ft.
How to reach: A 90-minute drive by car will take you to The Khyber from the Srinagar Airport, which is at a distance of just 65 kilometres from the resort.
Solang Valley Resort, India
Perched on the banks of river Beas in Kullu Valley, the Solang Valley Resort mirrors the beauty of Himachal Pradesh. The resort boasts 70 luxurious rooms built from local teak wood and houses vintage furniture with an old-world charm. Dhauladhar forms the backdrop of the ski resort and offers every guest a picturesque view of the snow-clad mountain range from the property.
Keeping in mind the culinary preferences of guests, the luxury resort serves authentic flavours from the Himachali cuisine at Dhaam. Its Italian restaurant The Gazebo stays true to its roots and prepares mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas and other traditional Italian dishes. Meanwhile, the Malana Bar has an elegant setting that offers drinks and delectable small eats.
The Solang Valley resort is also a popular destination for adventure sports. Tourists can come here to experience the best of snow tubing, camping and trekking, among other activities, during winter. It is also one of the most famous ski destinations in India.
How to reach: The Solang Valley Resort is 154 kilometres from the Joginder Nagar Railway Station and 60.2 kilometres from the Kullu Manali Airport. You can also opt for a bus ride at the Manali Bus Depot, which will take you to the resort 10.4 kilometres away.
The Vale Niseko, Japan
One of the best ski resorts in Asia, the Vale has 49 fully serviced apartments, including two luxury penthouses with ultra-luxe amenities. A number of these apartments have private onsens with views of Mount Yotei, Niseko’s famous semi-dormant volcano. A heated outdoor pool and a traditional kakenagashi (free-flowing) onsen (hot spring) are available to all guests.
The hotel is situated on the outskirts of upper Hirafu Village, giving guests easy access to some of Niseko’s liveliest restaurants, bars and patisseries.
Traditional Japanese dishes, as well as contemporary fusion and foreign cuisine, are presented at the beautiful restaurants in and around Niseko Village. Visitors must try the locally produced sake, Hokkaido wines and brewed beers. The patisseries in the village have a wide selection of pastries, chocolates and Japanese cakes. The delectable dishes are ideal when paired with gourmet coffee, tea or other beverages.
The resort also has a provision ski rental shop from where beginners, as well as advanced skiers, can hire equipment on snowy slopes.
How to reach: Tourists can hire a taxi from the Okadama Airport, 62 km from the resort. The closest bus, train or metro station to The Vale can be boarded at the Hirafu train station, which is 1.8 kilometres away from the resort. Guests also have the option of hiring or driving their own vehicle to the ski resort.
Park Hyatt Changbaishan, China
Among the other ski resorts in China, this luxury property is touted as the best in the region and one of the best ski resorts in Asia. It is located on the mountain slopes of one of the most popular winter destinations in Asia. Nestled in a forest, the hotel reflects a beautiful mix of contemporary design, traditional Chinese art forms and local residential features.
The five-star resort boasts 163 rooms that include 10 villas and 36 suites. Each room has been added with elements of traditional Chinese decor, heated floors and ultra-luxe amenities, and offers a beautiful view of the gardens and snow-clad mountains.
Guests looking for downtime can relax in Park Hyatt’s indoor heated pool with underground music or its outdoor hot mineral pool that connects them with nature. The Spa takes a holistic approach to rejuvenate your body through ancient Chinese therapies and healing hydrotherapy.
Promising a view of ski areas, including snowy slopes and mountains, the all-day dining restaurant Living Room offers a specially curated menu serving a wide selection of Chinese and Western comfort food.
It also has a cold kitchen and an open-style pantry. Rather than being presented with a menu, patrons are encouraged to talk directly with the butlers or chefs about what they want to eat.
How to reach: One way to get to Park Hyatt is to book a cab from the Changbaishan Airport, which is 40.8 kilometres away from the resort. The parking is free so guests also have an option of hiring a car or driving their own vehicle.
Intercontinental Alpensia, South Korea
The luxury alpine resort is nestled in the Taebaek mountain range in Pyeongchang. It is a 238 modern rooms and suites property that gives every guest a stunning scenery of the Alpensia Lake and Mount Balwang. Each room has temperature control and smart lighting.
This eco-friendly luxury resort features the flavours restaurant, an all-day dining restaurant that specialises in handcrafted stone-oven pizzas, dishes cooked with seasonal produce and fresh seafood made in an open kitchen. It also has Oxy Deli, a gourmet bakery that sells freshly baked cookies, cakes and chocolates. The Oxy Lounge at the hotel is a fancy nook with an excellent selection of premium liquor, wines, coffee and tea.
This resort takes its inspiration from European Alpine villages and sits as a popular ski resort in the Alpensia resort town in South Korea. Alpensia’s main attractions create memorable guest experiences with two spectacular ski jump slopes, the Ocean 700 water park and a golf course.
How to reach: The Intercontinental Alpensia is closest to the Yangyang International Airport at 44.8 kilometres. Guests can reach the resort by hiring a taxi from the airport.
Appi Kogen, Japan
The luxury all-season Japanese resort is where guests can enjoy winter adventure sports such as snowboarding and skiing, with tracks carpeted with the finest and fresh powder snow. All rooms have been decked up keeping in mind modern amenities, and they come with a view of the scenic Appi Kogen highlands.
One of the best ski resorts in Asia, it treats its guests to an authentic Japanese gastronomical experience with food that is prepared using the finest local ingredients available at Nanashigure and Sushi Nagata. They also have a bar that serves premium quality wines and most notably the Japanese Sake.
The Appi Kogen resort also has the Appi hot spring, a mineral-rich, natural hot spring that will rejuvenate the mind and body of all tired souls.
It is a true reflection of Japanese culture alongside being a popular destination as a ski resort in Asia.
How to reach: The closest airport is the Iwate Hanamaki Airport, at a distance of 77.7 kilometres, which will take about 1.5 hours to reach the Japanese resort.
(This story first appeared on Prestige Online Singapore)