The Best Resorts for a Late Season Ski Break
Having been tied to school holiday skiing my entire life (thanks to the majority of my family working in schools) I've always loved the late March/early April Easter school holiday break. The sun is shining, the days are longer and you don’t have to worry about wrapping up in -15 degrees! It’s an added bonus that the mountain is also almost empty (especially if you know where to go).
Resorts like Val Thorens, Tignes, Val D’Isere, Zermatt and other high altitude resorts are always a good idea for guaranteed snow but because these are such popular late season destinations, you’re not always guaranteed the peace and quiet you may have hoped for. So where can you go that’s a safe bet for snow but when you’re also likely to have a wide open run to yourself?
To begin, you’ll need access to some decent snow – I’d recommend a resort with the majority of its skiing above 2000m, but do try not to get too hung up on the height as even if you have to get a gondola back to town at the end of the day you can still have a fantastic time on the mountain higher up. A town at a lower altitude such as Chamonix is a fine example of this...
The high slopes of Les Grand Montets in Chamonix are open into the first weekend of May and are an advanced skier’s paradise with some of the best off piste conditions in Europe. It's also home to some fantastic wide open red runs for those who aren’t quite ready to tackle the steep off piste, but beginners may feel a little out of their depth.
For beginners or those who may want something a little more easygoing, I would always recommend Courchevel. Whilst it may not be the highest area in the famous Trois Vallees the majority of the slopes in Courchevel are north facing and hold their snow much longer than other surrounding resorts, often offering doorstep skiing through into mid April. If you wanted to hit the powder then you can always head up to the slopes around Val Thorens. With your three valleys lift pass, you’ll be able to access slopes up to 3300m, but be warned, it can get very busy up there in late season with all the locals having the same idea!
If you want something completely off the radar of most tourists, check out the Swiss resort of Engelberg. The town itself is relatively low but the ski area extends up to 3000m on top of Mt Titlis so you’ll be sure to get some late season powder. Famed for it’s off piste itineraries, there’s plenty for thrill seekers, but don’t worry, one look at the piste map and you’ll see there’s plenty of red slopes to keep the intermediate skier happy too. My main reason for loving ski breaks in Engelberg is the price, Switzerland has a bit of a bad reputation for being expensive, especially with the recent exchange rate fluctuations, but in comparison to some of the bigger, better known European resorts, it offers fantastic value for money.
Hopefully that’s given you a good idea of how to enjoy the late season snow by avoiding the school holiday crowds.