Daniel Elkan is a freelance ski journalist and founder of Snowcarbon, a website about how to travel to ski resorts by train.
He’s passionate about helping people choose the best resorts for their ski holidays – and discovering and researching the best places to ski. You can find out more about Snowcarbon here.
We asked Daniel where he would recommend for ski holidays this January. Take it away, Daniel.
"January is a brilliant month to go skiing, and I always organise a big group holiday for friends at that time, because the slopes are quietest and it’s a good period in terms of snow conditions. As it is ‘low season’, prices are cheaper and there are more available options to choose from."
"One of the places I’ll be skiing this January is the ski-in/ski-out resort of Avoriaz. There are not many resorts that can truly promise that wherever you stay, you’ll only have to walk out of the front door, put your skis on and go – but Avoriaz is one of them. The place is such fun – the entire village is totally car free. There's no traffic for kids to worry about, which makes it a very safe playground; and when you arrive in the resorts with your luggage, you get picked up and taken to your accommodation by a horse drawn sleigh!
"The central area in the resort doubles as beginner zone in the daytime and a toboggan area in the evenings, and there are bars and cafes with some brilliant DJs, so you get this après ski ambience and a really friendly vibe. The resort is also well-placed in the massive Portes du Soleil ski area, so you’ve got epic skiing beginning on your doorstep everyday."
Saas Fee and Verbier, Switzerland
"In January, there is certainly no particular need to be searching for high-altitude resorts, but two cracking ones are Saas Fee and Verbier. I got to know Saas Fee a few years ago. It’s a captivating place, and staying there is like living in a picture postcard. There are lots of cute pedestrian streets, lined with little restaurants, cafes and chocolate-box hotels. The scenery is stunning - and not least the view from the rotating restaurant, called Three Sixty, up at Mittelallalin at 3,500m.
"There are also some very cosy places, such as Berghaus Plattjen, with a classic, warm Alpine atmosphere. Verbier, meanwhile, is renowned for its off-piste terrain, so if you like straying from the piste, you’ll enjoy an abundance of options. An early-season trip there had us gliding through knee-deep snow in the Savoleyres area, weaving though powder fields between trees, all the way down to La Tzoumaz. It’s the kind of place for those epic ski days that you remember for a long time."
"It’s been a while since I first strapped on my snowboard – but recently I started learning to ski. It brought home how important location can be when you are learning. The quiet pistes in January make that month a particularly good time to learn, but the weather can be cold. So for those of you starting out, one of the best resorts in the Alps is Montgenevre.
"The village is charming and unpretentious, and being on the border of Italy, has influences from both countries. But what is particularly good for those learning to ski is that there is a huge beginner zone that pours onto the front of the village. The gradient is really gentle, there’s loads of space, and right next to you there are all these little cafes where you can stop for a chocolate – or if you are feeling even more celebratory, vin chaud."
St Anton, Austria
"I love the journey by train from the UK to St Anton. You go via Paris and Zurich, past Lake Zurich and Lake Wallensee with a ringside seat on the train. In January, as you pass through the Arlberg Valley, the scenery is likely to be snow-covered on either side. It’s a wonderful way to arrive, and when you get to St Anton you won’t be disappointed.
"The place has some incredible skiing, sure, but there’s something more about the place. It does it with a sense of style, and humour. For example, at the Hospitz Alm in St Christophe (a great restaurant), you don’t need to take the stairs down to go to visit the wine cellar (or the toilets). There’s a slide, saving lots of clanking in ski boots. In the village, the museum charts the history of skiing – apt in a resort that can claim to be the cradle of the sport. The museum has a wonderful restaurant too – well worth a bite."
Megève and St Gervais, France
"The resorts of Megève and St Gervais are linked as part of the Evasion Mont Blanc Ski area – which has a huge 325km of piste shared between them. The altitude of the skiing isn’t that high, but what many skiers don’t realise is that because the terrain is on grass-covered slopes (as opposed to rock), as soon as you have snow, you have great skiing.
"What’s also brilliant is that if you are an intermediate skier and getting a taste for accessible off piste, you’ll find it in abundance here – there is often plenty of powder snow alongside and between the pistes, which you can dip in and out of. And once you’ve carved and skied yourself into a state of hunger, you’ll find a cosy mountain restaurant is never far away.
"Try Sous les Freddy’s – one of the Alps’ most charming restaurants. Both villages have oodles of tradition and style. In Megève, seek out the little jazz bar – cosy entertainment on a cold January night!
“We’ve had a fantastic start to the season for snow – and that bodes well. The resorts above are just a few of the many tantalising places to ski. Wherever you choose in January, enjoy the quiet slopes, crisp fresh air and have a great holiday.”
Snowcarbon is an independent website that freelance ski-journalist Daniel Elkan has founded to help skiers and snowboarders find out how to travel to ski resorts by train – and includes an ‘Ask Daniel’ free advice service on where to ski and how to get there.
Image credits: Thanks to Daniel Elkan, and the Verbier Tourist Office, Stephane Lerendu, Montgenevre Tourist Office, Megève and St Gervais Tourist Office, and the St Anton Tourism Office.