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Posh Pistes: World's Most Exclusive Ski Resorts

Ice Skating at Beaver Creek Resort

Ice Skating at Beaver Creek Resort

Copyright: Jack Affleck

For the millionaires on the mountain, here's a run-down of the top 10 most exclusive ski resorts in the world.


SHHH! So exclusive you shouldn't really speak its name. Private old boy, nudge-nudge. At least it was until its bankruptcy was splashed all over the front pages in 2009. Until then, this resort was so exclusive that even if you knew its members' names (that is, members of a private club that owns a mountain) you wouldn't know who they are. Bill gates was a notable exception. But for the most part, members were the bankers who owned the studios who employed the 'stars' who stayed in those other non-private resorts.

Located 20 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, this is, arguably the most exclusive ski resort in existence, offering something you can't get anywhere else. You can be super-rich and super-safe all at the same time. It's the only place in the world where you can ski without bodyguards, according to one of its members. That's not to say there aren't any there; resort security is handled by former U.S. Secret Service Agents, the guys who protect the president. While most resorts have 'mountain huts' Yellowstone has 'Sugar Shacks', where you can tuck in to enjoy homemade sweet treats and gourmet coffee. 

Who to see: Barry Sternlicht, the hotelier, and Peter Chernin, former president of News Corporation.

Après-ski: Take a private snow cat dinner excursion to Timberline Lodge or combine dinner with a spot of night skiing at Rainbow Lodge.

Where to stay: Custom Residences boast stupendous views of nearby mountain peaks, others enjoy convenient ski access to YC's exclusive Private Powder - a phrase they've actually trademarked.

Private lodges at Yellowstone Club, Montana.  - © Tom Erickson

Private lodges at Yellowstone Club, Montana.

Copyright: Tom Erickson

2. KLOSTERS, Switzerland

Pronounced clawsters, this is where it all started, at least in public. William and Kate's first pucker-up for the paps was on the piste at Klosters, no doubt securing the resort's social standing for another century. A Rothschild has a home here. And, George I-can-feel-your-pain Osborne likes the odd £11,000-a-time visit. But fears abound that Prince Charles, the resort's most famous visitor, may not return. And the boys might yearn for the buzz of Courchevel over the calm chic of Klosters. Charles hasn't visited for a few seasons now. Glamour model Katie Price has.

Who to see: Prince Charles and the boys, Tara Palmer-Tompkinson, Rupert Everett, George Osborne and Katie Price.

Après-ski: The Casa Antica nightclub is famous for its discretion when it comes to royal custom - Princess Diana was a fan. They'll keep a personal bottle of vodka behind the bar especially for you till it's finished. The Chesa Bar in the Chesa Grischuna hotel is another favourite hangout of the Royal family.

Where to stay: Reserve a suite at the Walserhof hotel, which is where Prince Charles stays (CHF 1,200 p/n).

Suite at the Walserhof hotel in Klosters, Switzerland  - © Walserhof hotel

Suite at the Walserhof hotel in Klosters, Switzerland

Copyright: Walserhof hotel


Utah's most exclusive ski resort offers perfectly manicured runs, free ski valets, heated sidewalks, fine dining and boutique shopping. Skiers in Deer Valley are shielded from even a hint of the overcrowding and inconvenience of so many less expensive resorts, by limiting the number of tickets sold per day. Bad news for snowboarders: you're not welcome. Each December, this super exclusive ski resort opens in style with the Celebrity SkiFest then in January the Sundance Film Festival (Robert Redford is founder) comes to Park City, which always draws the stars.

Who to see: Dustin Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Bruce Springsteen and John Travolta.

Après-ski: Settle in by the fire with a cognac at the Troll Hatten Lounge at the Stein Ericksen Lodge. 

Where to stay: Located mid-mountain in Deer Valley, is the five-star Stein Eriksen Lodge. Book a luxury suite with gourmet kitchen, elegant living room, stone fireplace, master bedroom, and oversized jetted tubs.

Fresh tracks at Deer Valley Ski Resort  - © Liam Doran

Fresh tracks at Deer Valley Ski Resort

Copyright: Liam Doran


So posh, Posh goes there. If the wearing of mink pelts wasn't universally condemned, Courchevel would look like a trappers convention. Courchevel isn't posh in the you're-not-meant-to-be-here way that many on the list are. Mixed in with the mink (fake) is an easy mix of seasonnaires (servants), ski bums and holidaymakers. Prices are as steep as the runs but bargains can be had further down the hill. 

Who to see: Russians and The Ray-Ban set: Posh and Becks, F1 drivers and owners, pop people. Real aristos and royalty are rarer.

Après-ski: Take a long luncheon at the two-Michelin-star Airelles restaurant decorated with jewel-toned silk curtains, Hermès tableware, and Saint Louis chandeliers. After your day's skiing, head to Le Piggy's - the oh-so-chic wine and piano bar - in the centre of town. Then it's on to the Les Caves nightclub for a Jeroboam (3ltr) of Dom Perignon or if you are really thirsty a Nebuchadnezzar (15ltr) of Moët. 

Where to stay: So long as it's 1850, who cares? You'll find nine five-star hotels here. One of which is Le Kilimandjaro where individual chalets (sleeping 12) include a private butler who will warm your ski boots for you overnight.

South-facing terrace at Airelles, Courchevel  - © Airelles

South-facing terrace at Airelles, Courchevel

Copyright: Airelles

5. TELLURIDE, Colorado

Telluride is often compared to Aspen. The difference, according to the locals, is the attitude. Aspen is a place to see and be seen while Telluride is a place where celebrities can put on their ski boots and blend in. Mixed in with the celebs, you'll find artists, ski bums, musicians and execs all too cool to pay attention to the celebs - and that's why they like it. September is film festival time which means the celebrity count inevitably increases. This exclusive ski resort is also home to numerous musical festivals: blues, bluegrass, brews, jazz, film and arts - you name it. 

Who to see: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (separately of course), Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld and Dan Quayle.

Après-ski: Hang out in or around the Historic Bar at the New Sheridan Hotel. For a bite to eat, try the caribou carpaccio or pan-seared elk short loin at Allred's.

Where to stay: In a penthouse suite of the Lumiere Telluride. Prearrange ski equipment fittings in your penthouse and, at the end of the day, simply drop you boots off at the ski valet, grab your slippers and head to the bar for a signature cocktail. A chef will come to your suite and prepare dinner while you watch the sunset from your private hot tub.

Penthouse at the Lumiere Telluride  - © Lumiere Telluride

Penthouse at the Lumiere Telluride

Copyright: Lumiere Telluride


Ice Skating at Beaver Creek Resort - © Jack Affleck
Deer Valley Resort, Utah
Ralph Lauren and Cartier are two major sponsors of the Cartier Polo Tournament, St. Moritz.
Suite at the Walserhof hotel in Klosters, Switzerland - © Walserhof hotel

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6. SUN VALLEY, Idaho

Sun Valley was America's first luxury, purpose-built winter resort. It is a seasonal home to the rich and famous who flock to the luxury lodges at the foot of the slopes. Along the walls of the Sun Valley Lodge you'll find photos of Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper, Ernest Hemingway and a smattering of Kennedies. Until recently, Bruce Willis owned a mountain here - Soldier Mountain ski area just west of Hailey.

Who to see: Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Larry David, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (not together).

Après-ski: Sun Valley has a rowdy apres scene, but for a more sophisticated evening you take a horse-drawn sleigh ride from Sun Valley Inn to the romantic Trail Creek Cabin for dinner.

Where to stay: In the Sun Valley Resort's Dollar Cottage - a sprawling six-bed, six-bath home with a wood burning fireplace, a marble kitchen and hot tub on the deck overlooking the lake.

Sun Room at Sun Valley Lodge. Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Resort.  - © Sun Valley Lodge

Sun Room at Sun Valley Lodge. Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Resort.

Copyright: Sun Valley Lodge

7. ST. MORITZ, Switzerland

This swiss resort boasts a "champagne climate" (dry air and sunshine to the rest of us). If you're rich, St. Moritz is the place to flaunt your thick furs and expensive cars. You'll also find plenty of high-end boutiques in which to buy yet more stuff. Rub shoulders with the creme de la creme at the Cartier Polo Tournament. This exclusive ski resort is a favourite of Russian billionaires who fly their jets from Moscow to Samedan, then hop in a limo for the short drive (5km) to St. Moritz. 

Who to see: Liz Hurley, Ivana Trump and Indian steel baron Lakshmi-Mittal

Après-ski: Take an after-dinner drink at the Altitude Bar in the Kulm Hotel with live piano music (gentlemen must wear jackets and ties) then double your millions at the Casino St. Moritz in the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains.

Where to stay: In a CHF 2,120-per-night suite at the five-star Kulm Hotel on the lake.


Designer shopping on Via Serlas, St. Moritz  - © Engadin-St. Moritz

Designer shopping on Via Serlas, St. Moritz

Copyright: Engadin-St. Moritz

8. BEAVER CREEK, Colorado

Beaver Creek oozers European chateau-style elegance, and, like neighbor Aspen, it attracts the celebrities. This exclusive ski resort is dotted with boutiques, art galleries and top-notch restaurants. There's also an idyllic ice skating rink in the center of town. Accommodation largely consists of upscale hotels and condos, and prices reflect that. In the morning, there's no cold, hard trudge to the lifts in your ski boots, instead ride the covered escalator from the village direct to the slopes.

Who to see: Kelsey Grammer, Tom Hanks, Tiger Woods, Harry Connick Jr. and Justin Timberlake.

Après-ski: Oysters and champagne at the Beaver Creek Chophouse is the only way to end an indulgant day on the slopes.

Where to stay: At the luxury mountaintop getaway of Trappers Cabin (four beds/four baths). Opt for the Premium Package and a private chef will come cook breakfast and dinner while your cabin keeper keeps you topped up in champagne.

Trappers Cabin, Beaver Creek  - © Beaver Creek Resort Properties

Trappers Cabin, Beaver Creek

Copyright: Beaver Creek Resort Properties

9. ZURS, Austria

Austria's most exclusive ski resort, where the runs are never crowded as the wealthy clientele are all too busy knocking back the Bolly. Small, but perfectly formed, Zürs is really a collection of extremely expensive hotels. It is a favourite of royalty and movie stars, but doesn't have the ostentatious attitude of, say, St. Moritz or Courchevel. The neighbouring village of Lech was a favorite of Princess Diana and was also featured in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Who to see: Princess Caroline of Monaco and Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands.

Après-ski: The nightlife here is pretty low-key. Everyone is staying in a lavish hotel so they don't feel the need to venture out much. Enjoy evening drinks in Hotel Montana's piano bar and dine on roast sucking pig or veal at Hotel Zürserhof (jackets mandatory).

Where to stay: Five-star Hotel Zürserhof is up there with the world's most luxurious mountain refuges. The best room(s) in the house is the Royal Suite (two-bed, two-bath) with an open fireplace, sauna/steam cabin and your own personal butler.

Wellness centre at Hotel Montana, Zuers  - © Hotel Montana

Wellness centre at Hotel Montana, Zuers

Copyright: Hotel Montana

10. ZERMATT, Switzerland

Madonna, Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams have all skied here, but the truth is you're more likely to find yourself sharing a ski lift with Phil Collins or Mike Hucknall. That said, fans of fine dining are spoiled for choice: Zermatt has the highest density of gourmet restaurants in the world. You can even hire a guide to take you on a gourmet ski tour of the mountains. Sample sweetbreads with morel cream sauce at Zum See and risotto with white truffle shavings at Chez Vrony. Arrange a private helicopter or limousine pick-up from Geneva, Zurich or Milan airports.

Who to see: Phil Collins and 'the dark-haired one from ABBA' lives there apparently.

Après-ski: Dine at the stylish Cervo Restaurant - typical dishes include succulent venison, home-made ravioli with ricotta, and côte de boeuf. The coolest place to hang-out is The Vernissage - a cinema, bar, restaurant and gallery all rolled into one. Start the evening with here with cocktails; music goes on until 4 a.m.

Where to stay: The Chalet Zermatt Peak is a private catered residence and is the most expensive in the Zermatt high-price segment. Highlights include a walk-in wine cellar, three HD cinema areas and a wellness centre. French footballer Thierry Henry wrote in their guest book: "The best chalet I have ever stayed in, and I cannot wait to come back." Alternatively, the stylish boutique Hotel Cervo is also top notch.

Zermatt Airport transfer by limousine for well-heeled guests  - © Zermatt Tourism

Zermatt Airport transfer by limousine for well-heeled guests

Copyright: Zermatt Tourism



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