For some people, skiing and snowboarding is more than a hobby; it’s a passion, a way of life. For everyone else, it can be a cold, expensive, injury-inducing waste of a good weekend. If you happen to be one of the many unwilling souls dragged along on a ski holiday by family, friends, or a ski-crazy spouse, all is not lost: Most ski resorts have activities, excursions, and services tailored specifically for the non-skier.
Whether you’re looking for an alternative outdoor activity, or the best way to pamper yourself indoors, we have a list of some of the best ideas and places to get your non-ski on. So bundle up, hop in the car with a smile, and go to a ski resort knowing that you’ll be able to eat, drink, and be merry without ever setting foot on the slopes.
Go for a skate at Sun Valley in Idaho (Photo: Sun Valley/Facebook)
Go for a Skate: Or try a snowshoe, an inner-tube ride, or a hike. If you’re averse to heights (or the high prices of lift tickets) at the resorts, there are still plenty of non-ski activities available. Go for a skate at resort rinks at Idaho’s Sun Valley, Tahoe’s Northstar, or even the outdoor pick-up hockey rink at Canada’s Big White. There’s a fun kids snow center at Mammoth Mountain with inner tube rides, and most every mountain also has a nearby hill for sledding, or an accessible trail in the woods for a hike or a snowshoe.
Why ski when you can take in a poolside view like this one at Chile’s Portillo Lodge? (Photo: Bill Fink)
Soak in a Pool: There’s nothing quite like soaking in an outdoor hot tub with a spiced wine while snowflakes fall around you. Beyond a hotel Jacuzzi, many resorts have expansive outdoor pools from which you can warmly enjoy the views, or get in a few laps if you’re motivated. Squaw Valley has a great mid-mountain pool for parties, The Cliff Lodge at Utah’s Snowbird has a scenic rooftop pool, while Vermont’s Jay Peak waterpark rivals that of any amusement park. Chile’s Portillo Lodge has a swimming pool which may have the best view of any on the planet (plus, Pisco Sours—see drinking, below).
Nothing like a glass of wine or hot toddy after a long day on the slopes. (Photo: Portillo Ski Resort)
Have a Drink: Apres-ski isn’t just for skiers. Mountain lodges provide a cozy setting to sit in front of a roaring fire with a hot toddy or Irish coffee whether you’ve been out on the slopes or not. For connoisseurs, Big White resort in British Colombia is in the heart of wine-producing Okanagan valley, and offers wine-tasting tours and festivals. Chile’s Portillo lodge has a Chilean Wine Week package with tastings and speakers. Even Utah is a fine place for an après drink, with Park City distillery High West and Wasatch Brewery serving up tasty pints.
Courchevel offers many fine dining options, including the 2-Michelin Star restaurant Le Chabichou. (Photo: Courchevel)
Graze Like a Bighorn: Ok, if you’re not skiing, you’re not burning all the calories and don’t have the built-in excuse to gorge on fine mountain cuisine. So go shovel the walk, then feast on some of the fine food offerings at ski resorts. France leads the list, with four Michelin-starred restaurants at Courchevel alone. Even regular French on-mountain dining halls have mouthwatering cheese plates and desserts. Apple strudel in Austria, lunchtime pasta in the Italian Alps and Swiss mountain fondues are enough to make even dedicated skiers decide to call it a day at lunchtime.
Who wouldn’t want to spend an hour in this massage room with breathtaking mountain views at Tahoe’s Ritz Carlton? (Photo: The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe)
Get a Massage: Ski resorts often come with attached spas and massage services to tend to all those tired skiers. But guess what, they really don’t care if you’ve been skiing or not (as long as you can afford their rates…). Step inside for some high end massages, or facial treatments to deal with that high and dry mountain air. Charge it to your room, then see how many more ski trips they drag you to! Some of the highly rated ski resort spas include Tahoe’s Ritz Carlton, Telluride’s Peaks Resort, and Whistler’s Avello Spa at the Westin.
What’s more magical than a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the mountains? (Photo: Canyons Resort)
Go to the Dogs: Or the moose or buffalo. One of the most fun things to do at a winter resort is to go for a dogsled ride. Offered at many resorts including Vermont’s Stowe, and Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor, you can get bundled up and slide around the forest with some really, really enthusiastic pups. Or perhaps go for a more sedate sleigh ride, as at Utah’s Canyons Resort. For bigger winter animals, try out a fascinating winter wildlife safari to nearby Teton and Yellowstone Parks from Jackson Hole or Big Sky ski resorts and see an amazing array of animals living in the snowy landscape.
Kristy McNichol knew how to have a great time at a ski resort with only one “good” foot. (Photo: MGM / Courtesy: Everett Collection)
Fake an Injury: AKA the “Just the Way You Are” plan: From the archives of bad 80’s movies, handicapped flute player Kristy McNichol puts a fake cast on her leg and hangs out at the bars in a French ski resort, finds free drinks, new friends, and of course true love. This seems like a completely fail-safe plan. Give it a try, let us know how it goes.
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