Departures Board

By Cheryl Caira

Mammoth moment

If you want to follow in the snowy tracks of Olympians, then the vast and naturally beautiful Mammoth Mountain could be the place to direct your skis. One of the official training grounds for US and worldwide alpine athletes, it offers up world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities, with the Eastern Sierra peak renowned for its steep chutes, wide open bowls, gullies and well-groomed trails. The ski season typically runs from 10th November until 4th July, and United Airlines have now started daily, year-round services from Los Angeles, with a daily seasonal service from San Francisco until 30th March.

Bluegrass in the snow

Courtesy of WinterWonderGrass Festival

It’s only the fifth year for California music and brew festival, WinterWonderGrass, but it’s already proving to be a major calendar highlight. Located in Squaw Valley in majestic North Lake Tahoe (this year from 20th – 31st March), and held in Colorado and Vermont earlier in the season, it’s open to all ages and is part music festival, part beer tasting, part snow holiday. There’s set to be a variety of bluegrass artists across several stages, California craft brewers, local wines and warm cuisines for a unique winter wonderland experience.

Skye high

Niseko, the popular ski resort on Japan’s northern Hokkaido Island has welcomed a new luxury option for ski-in ski-out access to the slopes. Following eight years of planning, Skye Niseko has opened as an alpine hideaway with world class interior design, a spa, Kumo Restaurant with dishes using signature Hokkaido ingredients and living rooms and bedrooms that ensure external views of the mountains and ski slopes.

Epic opportunity

Get in there quickly for an Epic Pass for the 2019/2020 winter season. They go on sale in the spring and allow access to 66 mountain resorts in eight countries – more than any other season pass in the world. Rusutsu Resort in Hokkaido has just been added to the pass, which also includes top resorts across the US, Canada, France, Switzerland and Austria.

Take a peak

If you’re not familiar with Off Peak Week, it’s a travel agency option to ponder if you’re thinking of going away in the lower season. Launched just two years ago, they source reasonably priced accommodation for skiers and snowboarders and cover six countries and 25 resorts, with new properties added to their portfolio this winter.

Say cheese

The legendary Gstaad Palace hotel in the Swiss Alps will unveil a cosy-chic makeover to its La Fromagerie restaurant in January. British interior designer Marina Nickels has combined the ambience of a traditional Swiss mountain stubli with the hotel’s feel of elegance. Once a wartime gold bunker, the restaurant is famed for its truffle and champagne fondue and raclette.

Meribel luxury

Luxury chalet operator Consensio have added a new property to their collection. Le Grenier is in the heart of Meribel, with the Morel ski lift and Hulotte piste on its doorstep. The catered chalet has six bedrooms, overlooks the Meribel valley and features a spa to relax in after a hard day on the slopes, with a sunken Jacuzzi, sauna and massage room. Perrier-Jouët Champagne is also served at any time of day – need we say more.