For every skier craving knee-deep powder and endless snowstorms is one more fervently hoping for blue-bird days, finely groomed slopes and lunch al fresco on a sun-soaked deck. It is for these skiers that some of the world’s best resorts have married winter with sun to create the kind of ray-catching relaxation typically only found on coastal vacations. From pool-side recliners to outdoor dance parties, the art of the ski beach extends from Deer Valley to Val D’Isere. These five resorts set the bar for outdoor après-ski scenes worldwide:
Deer Valley’s sea of white reclining lounge chairs overlooks the mid-mountain ski runs of Silver Lake Village just as a cruise ship deck overlooks the ocean, making it a focal point of retelling powder runs and showing off the latest in Bogner ski fashion. Flanked by the Royal Street Café on one side with the Stein Eriksen Lodge lunch buffet on the other, the sleep-inducing recliners are also ideal for recovering from a midday food coma. For a livelier après-ski scene, the St. Regis Deer Valley offers pool-side lounging and a separate array of comfy fire-side chairs just outside the hotel bar. The Silver Strike Lodge by Natural Retreats offers a more private experience with seating around a fire pit.
Set amidst towering Andean peaks and the glimmering Laguna del Inca, Ski Portillo draws skiers of all types with its endless variety of terrain and almost unearthly beauty. Consistently great snow conditions make it a summer training favorite among Olympians, while leisure skiers appreciate the familial atmosphere and luxury amenities. The resort’s single lodge, the grand yellow Hotel Portillo, features accommodations fit for royalty, a full range of spa treatments, an on-site disco, and to the particular delight of sun-seekers, a line of lounge chairs surrounding a heated swimming pool and two over-sized hot tubs.
A colorful collection of retro-style lounge chairs aptly nestled near the heated Orange Bubble Lift (America’s first heated chairlift), the Canyons Village ski beach brings to mind the lighthearted surf culture of the ‘60s, an atmosphere heightened by the many live outdoor concerts hosted throughout spring. Of course, the beach provides a practical purpose, too. After slaying more than 7,000 acres of skiable terrain at Utah’s largest resort, even the most die-hard of powder hounds need a place to rest. To complete the après-ski experience, a number of gourmet dining options, including The Farm and the Red Tail Grill, are within ambling-in-ski-boots distance. For a more secluded experience, consider the private pool-side deck of Sky Villa, a ski-in/ski-out chalet with its own heated outdoor pool.
With such a storied après-ski scene that GQ once likened it to an alpine Ibiza, it comes as no surprise that Val D’Isere continues to pioneer the ski-and-sun lifestyle. Leaving rows of relaxing lounge chairs to the many nearby luxury hotels and chalets, Val D’Isere’s après-ski scene centers on La Folie Douce, an on-mountain oasis of DJs, Veuve Clicquot and bikini tops paired with ski boots. The outdoor party scene sets the tone for an all-night affair that often ends at one of the resort’s several nightclubs.
Between rows of pool-side deck chairs at the St. Regis Aspen, the hot tub parties of Sky Hotel’s 39 Degrees Lounge, and the Veuve Clicquot-sponsored Oasis Champagne Bars, Aspen would already have a thriving ski beach scene without the Little Nell-operated Sundeck, a gourmet lift-top enclave as famous for its made-to-order wok stir fries as its nap-worthy lounge chairs. For an even more elevated après-ski experience, the Aspen Ski Cocktail Classic, a largely outdoor event held every March, features chefs, mixologists, fire-side chats, and of course, plenty of opportunities to sip custom cocktails beneath blue-bird skies.
For even more ski-to-actual-beach destinations, look to Australia, New Zealand, and the lesser-known slopes of Spain, where you’ll find chic beach resorts less than two hours from Sierra Nevada.