The Top 10 Winter Holiday Destinations for 2011/12

By alison - August 23, 2011 (Updated: November 21, 2014)

Winter Ski Holiday

Winter Ski Holiday (via wiki)

While many of us are wondering what happened to summer this year, the folks at Club Med are already gearing up for the winter holiday season. They’ve sponsored this great list of top 10 winter destinations for those of you who love the snow and those who want to escape it.

When we go for a winter holiday there is generally one of two things on our mind. One is to escape the cold, wet, winter months for a while and enjoy more temperate climates, bask in brilliant sunshine on a foreign beach and maybe take in a little snorkelling, sailing or some other water sports. The other, of course, is to enjoy some winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, while hopefully enjoying some sunshine at the same time. Thus, in compiling this list of the top ten winter holiday destinations for 2011/12, we have taken both of these motivations into consideration. We begin with some great places to enjoy all inclusive ski holidays, and finish with some suggestions for indulging ourselves in the balmy climates of foreign islands.

Winter Holiday Destinations for Snow Lovers

The first 6 of our top 10 destinations are ideal for skiing and snowboarding. They include four of the top European resorts along with, for the more adventurous, two somewhat further afield; in China and Japan.

1. Starting with Europe, there are many great ski resorts in the southeast of France and one of the most attractive of these is Val d’Isère, located close to the Italian border. There you will find a host of resorts that vary from the comfortable to the luxurious. Whether you are venturing to the ski slopes for the first time or you are an avid skier, you will find conditions and slopes that are appropriate to your skill level.

2. With so many places to ski in France, it is difficult to select which to include in our top ten, but one that must not be excluded is the largest ski area in the world, Les Trois Vallées in the Vanoise National Park. Les Trois Vallées consist of three valleys which are interlinked by cable car and can be skied with just a single ski pass. With over 600 km of slopes and over 100 km of cross-country skiing you’re guaranteed to never get bored.

Vanoise National Park

Vanoise National Park (via wiki)
3. For the third in our top ten we have chosen a resort in Switzerland. This is Villars-sur-Ollon which is in the Vaud Villars canton. This is considered by many to be one of the top ski resorts in the world.  As well as some of the best ski slopes you are likely to find, you will also enjoy some of the most spectacular views, overlooking the Rhône Valley and Mont Blanc.

4. Also in Switzerland is St Moritz which has twice hosted the Winter Olympics and many other winter sports championships. The region includes the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps. There are several resorts to choose from but Roi Soleil is a highly select one with extensive and luxurious facilities.

St Moritz

St Moritz (via wiki)
5. For those wanting to explore further afield, Sahoro, Japan is certainly worth considering, especially for the more adventurous skier. Here you will find a totally different skiing ethos. Unlike the huge resorts of Europe, Sahoro, which is in the prefecture of Hokkaido, is tiny. There are just 16 pistes served by 9 ski lifts. The whole experience is more tranquil and this is a great way to enjoy life the Japanese way.

6. Staying with the oriental, Yabuli, which is located in the North-East of China, is the nation’s first ski destination and it stretches over a huge area which includes three mountains. There are a large number of resorts to choose from and there are extensive facilities for beginners and experts. You will also find some extremely challenging cross country courses. The best time to visit is December to February when you can enjoy the famous Ice and Snow festival.

Winter Holiday Destinations for Sun Seekers

For those who are looking for some alternatives to the ski slopes, we will finish our list with some suggestions for all inclusive winter holidays in the sun. Explore Thailand, the coastline of Southern America, or take a trip to the Indian Ocean and visit beautiful Bali or the islands of Mauritius, where you can enjoy gorgeous corals and spectacular sea life.

Mauritius Sunset

Mauritius Sunset (via wiki)
7. They say the people of Mauritius are the most friendly you will ever encounter, and the best time to visit is during our winter months. This island nation nestles in the Indian Ocean just a few hundred miles off the south-eastern coast of Africa and is an ideal holiday destination. Once part of the British Empire, this thriving multi-cultural economy has much to offer the tourist.

8. Bali is another tropical paradise. This Indonesian island is the nation’s most popular tourist destination and is the centre for a diverse range of cultural activities which include music, dance, fine arts, and traditional crafts. The most popular tourist venues lie in the south of the island where you will find fabulous beaches and legendary night life.

Sunset on Kuta Beach, Bali

Sunset on Kuta Beach, Bali (via wiki)
9. There is something very special about Mexico and its people, and what could be better than slowly sipping a local margarita whilst watching the evening fall over the Gulf of Mexico.   A great Mexican holiday destination is Cancún Yucatán. There you can explore artefacts of the ancient Maya civilisation, relax on some wonderful beaches and participate in some of the many water sports that are so popular there.

10. The last, but certainly not the least, of our top ten destinations is Thailand. There are many different winter holidays you can enjoy there, but one of the most popular destinations is Phuket, the largest of the islands. It matters little what time of the year you visit, as this glorious location enjoys sunshine the year round. There are many things to see and do, and a fabulous local cuisine with some of the best seafood you are likely to come across.

Are you planning a winter holiday this year? Do you prefer to escape to the snow or run for the nearest palm-tree lined beach? Let us know in the comments.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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  1. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler August 24, 2011 at 05:25

    Wow Bali! That sunset is all so dreamy! One place I have been though is Villar. Lovely! These are great picks for top destinations.. Now I really don’t want to think about winter unless it involves summer! 🙂

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison August 24, 2011 at 14:33

      I haven’t been to any of them really Jen so you’re one ahead of me! I’m not much of a winter person but if I could holiday at some of these places it might change my mind!

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