Fun Beyond the Slopes
Posted January 16, 2018 5:03 p.m. EST
Little compares with the rush of downhill skiing, but for travelers seeking something different this season, hotels and tour providers offer plenty of other ways to experience the winter scenery.
An eight-day Winter Tatra adventure with Intrepid Travel features snowshoeing in Poland’s Tatra Mountains, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that extends into neighboring Slovakia. A kulig, or traditional sleigh ride, with stops along the way for grilled sausages, is also included, along with Polish cooking lessons in Krakow, accommodations and some meals. All departures this year are 15 percent off if you book in January (from $1,054, with promo code 53298).
Prefer something over the top? An Alpine couples package at the Alpina Gstaad in the Swiss resort town includes a private helicopter ride to Refuge L’Espace, a small restaurant perched in the Alps with panoramic views of snowcapped Glacier 3000. The two-night package for two, available through March 17, also offers junior suite accommodations, a horse-drawn carriage or husky-drawn sleigh ride around the nearby village of Launen, a couples hammam (or Turkish bath) treatment in the on-site spa, exclusive use of the hotel’s private cinema for an evening, and a five-course tasting menu at Sommet, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant (from about $5,300).
Snow itself is something of a luxury in Switzerland and Austria, where 50 and 70 percent of slopes have snow-manufacturing capabilities because of inconsistent weather. But the snow-making process has environmental repercussions, prompting Britain-based Responsible Travel to drop itineraries that might contribute to the problem.
Through early March, the tour company offers a seven-day snowshoeing holiday into the spruce and pine forests of Finland’s remote Kainuu region near the Russian border, where natural snowfall is a good bet. The small-group tour (maximum 13 people) includes accommodations in wilderness cabins, all meals, nightly sauna use, an English-speaking guide and airport transfers (from $1,062).
Alternatively, a four-day Yukon dog-sledding holiday in Canada is also available through mid-April, and includes transfers from Whitehorse, accommodations, all meals, mushing instructions, use of sleds and winter boots (from $1,037).
The resort of Jackson Hole in Wyoming, which had its deepest snow on record last winter, offers access to a wealth of outdoor winter pursuits well beyond Nordic and Alpine skiing. At Snake River Sporting Club, an approximately 800-acre working ranch located 25 miles south of downtown Jackson, a three-day Discovery Package includes activities such as snow biking, ice skating and tubing. Accommodations are for two people in either a tiny homestyle Discovery Village unit (from $600) or a sporting cabin (from $750) set just beyond old-growth forest.