Giant Christmas trees, picture postcard village squares, soothing hot chocolate in cosy mountain-top chalets. Is there a better way to spend Christmas than in a ski resort?
For piste perfection this Xmas follow our top insider tips.
AIM HIGH: Research wisely
Remember the hype last November when an early blanket of snow covered the resorts? Then three days of torrential rain swept across the Alps. At high altitudes, it fell as snowflakes, but at lower lying resorts it washed away the powder, and the slopes returned to their autumnal shades of green.
Before heading to the slopes this December do your research.
Check for high-altitude lifts, glacier skiing, north-facing slopes, snow-making facilities and look at the last few season’s snowfall.
Weather forecast websites, like Snow Forecast or On The Snow are useful, as are individual resorts sites.
Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland all have resorts open from mid-November.
GO LAST MINUTE: Follow the powder
If you have the flexibility to book last-minute go for it. Save time and money with a full-package holiday rather than separate flights, hotels and passes.
Look at comparison sites like Travel Supermarket or dedicated discount holiday sites such as Igluski and Secret Escapes.
Remember you won’t be the only one chasing the best conditions, so prepare to put the time in looking for the best last-minute deals.
VISIT TOURIST INFORMATION: Get the local tips
Head to the local tourist office (or email ahead) to find out about special Christmas events in the area. Many of the resorts and the surrounding villages have Santa sleighs, night skiing, choirs, bands and precessions.
GET FIT: Make the most of it
Eight star jumps and a lotus position stretch before you head to the airport won’t cut it. Skiing works muscles you forgot you had. Get prepared and enjoy every moment.
Head out on your bike, jog up and down the park steps or sign-up for some hard-hitting cardio classes. And stretch. Nothing makes you feel sillier than not being able to lift your arms to fasten your helmet on day two of the holiday (so we heard).
CHRISTMAS DAY: And Relax
The majority of ski lifts are open on Christmas day. Follow a morning ski with a warming sauna before settling down for dinner and fireside drinks. You won't ever have felt so chilled.