As many cram themselves into the extremely well-known European ski resorts, paying rocketing prices for the privilege, avoid the crowds and go further afield to explore these (almost) secret ski resorts for some space in the snow.
Las Leñas, Argentina
Located 750 miles from Buenos Aires, on the border of Chile and nestled among the longest continental mountain range the Andes, Las Lenas offers opportunities for extreme and off-piste skiing and snowboarding.
The main ski areas have a good diversity of slopes ranging from very easy to extreme and the resort’s ski school accommodates for any level. Whether a first-time skier or an advanced expert heading off-piste, Las Lenas has a staff of 200 top level Argentinean and overseas instructors to help you conquer your skiing goals with an enjoyable and fun experience.
There are different hotels to choose from, from a five star with shopping centre, health club and casino to a smaller more intimate choice with a privileged location at the foot of the slopes. If there are more than 2 of you, apartments are available with 2 to 6 beds, have TV, phone, safe and night watch and there are even aparthotel rooms sleeping groups of up to 8 people.
Flights from Europe and North America arrive daily into Buenos Aires airport. Charter flights are then available to Malargue Airport (just 1 hour from the resort) or a luxury non-stop charter bus (14 hours) including full dinner, wine, breakfast, private attendant and Wi-Fi are available to ensure you arrive relaxed and ready for your skiing adventure.
Located an hour from Beirut, Mzaar is Lebanon’s main ski area and is the largest ski resort in the Middle East. ‘Mzaar’ is the Arabic word for sanctuary and the highest mountain in Ouyoune il Simane was called ‘Jabal el Mzaar’ (mountain of the sanctuary) after a small Roman temple built on top. Ski season in Mzaar takes place from early December to early April and the resort has ski runs for all abilities, from first-time skiers to extremely challenging slopes.
Mzaar has a total of 42 slopes and over 80 kilometres of well-groomed tracks. The ski school staff recommend that the most advanced skiers need at least two days to ski the best runs of the resort if they would like to search out untouched areas! If those skiers do require a more challenging, thrill-seeking route, the ski school has guides to hire for the day to show you the more secret areas.
Mzaar (previously known as Faraya Mzaar) has plenty of lodgings, from a five star hotel to self-catering chalets. Book your stay at www.skimzaar.com or email bookingskifaraya.com and the bookings staff will cater to your every need.
Mzaar ski resort is only 46km from Beirut and just over an hour from the airport by car. There are many reputable hire car companies at the airport such as Europcar, Avis and Budget with all available to book online prior to your trip. Just pick up after your flight and be on the powdery slopes within two hours!
Nevados de Chillan
Termas de Chillan is a town and ski resort located 82km east of the Chilean city of Chillán. It is part of Nevados de Chillán, a group of stratovolcanoes (the classic cone-shaped) located in the Andes and is one of the most active volcanoes in the region.
This is definitely a ski destination for the more adventurous as there is excitement at every turn! Once you get used to the brooding, smoking volcanoes those brave skiers can venture to the top stations of the ski lifts, which are a little way below the crater of Villarica Volcano. A popular experience is hiking up to the rim of the crater and gazing down into its molten depths – before a long smooth ski down relatively un-touched powder.
In Termas de Chillan itself there are two hotels, a luxury 5-star offering a fitness centre, full-service hot springs spa and 3 hot springs pools (one indoor and two outdoor) and a three star, both in walking distance of the trails.
Flights are available daily from large UK airports, with 2 stops in Canada and Santiago, Chile, before arriving at the small airport of Concepcion, just a little over 80km from the ski resort of Termas de Chillan. And for those seeking a completely different skiing experience, this small resort in Chile is well worth those two small stops. You will leave Nevados de Chillan safe in the knowledge that you are sharing one of the best skiing secrets in the world.