You’ve done Aspen and Vail, you ventured out to Banff, and even hit Hokkaido’s slopes in Japan. It may be difficult, but finding an off-the-beaten-path ski destination is well worth it for uncrowded runs, no lift lines, and a true sense of adventure; that’s not to mention the more serious piste and off-piste opportunities that these lesser-known destinations offer. What’s most surprising is just how outfitted these hidden gems are — spas, fine dining, and sleek hotel suites can be found in many, while others are a stone’s throw from cosmopolitan cities like Los Angeles and Marrakesh.
Japan’s ski scene has seen steady growth over the last 10 years or so, with Americans finally making the trip to its most popular ski area, Hokkaido. But just an hour from Nagano is one of Japan’s oldest skiing areas, Myoko Kogen, that also happens to be one of the less traversed. It’s a truly tiny Japanese mountain town with amazing skiing during the day and warm, hole-in-the-wall izakayas serving ramen noodles and fresh sushi by night. And while you may not consider Morocco a skier or snowboarder’s destination of choice, Oukaïmeden, Africa’s highest ski area, is a quick trip from Marrakesh. The mountain is both rustic and luxurious, with great lodgings and restaurants and donkeys instead of shuttles.
Just because they’re far flung doesn’t mean these destinations are for experts and Black Diamond skiers only. Many are family-friendly and offer great runs for beginners and more timid skiers, like Saint-Lary in France or Monte Rosa in Italy. What’s more, they all offer intimate eateries and après-ski like creamy fondues in the Alps, rich tagines eaten slope-side in Morocco, grilled meats by the fire in Chile, and fine wines from all over the world with spectacular, snow-capped views.
So move away from the bunny slopes and après-skis that are so last year and hit these unknown spots before the rest of the pack follows you there.