Many of Australia’s best ski resorts are within driving distance of capital cities and offer a mix of terrain along with a fun village atmosphere – the elements of a top ski weekend
MOUNT HOTHAM, VICTORIA
WHERE TO SKI
Thanks to a quirk of history, Hotham’s village sits above the slopes, rather than snug below like most mountain resorts. The upsides include amazing mountain views and easy access to the skiing and boarding; the downside can be exposure to the upper mountain weather, but even that has an upside if you’re inside and the fire’s crackling. This is an area known for its challenging terrain and it has a core of very good skiers and boarders hooked on that challenge. They can also party hard – get along to a night with DJ Eddy at the General Store and Hotham’s underlying character is quickly revealed.
WHERE TO STAY
Luxury doesn’t deny creativity, or the odd quirk. Blowhard must have driven its builders nuts, so far is it from conforming to an ordered frame or form, but therein lies the appeal of this architectural mille feuille of the mountains. Located on its many layers are a cinema, a rooftop bar, a smart kitchen/dining space and sundecks complete with barbecue. Blowhard will sleep 12, and the slopes of Hotham’s Basin area are straight out the door.
It is part of the Hotham Heights Chalet development, the premier accommodation on the mountain.
Rates: From A$3,387 for two nights for up to 12 people. blowhardallyear.com
As the only ski resort built above the ski slopes in Australasia, at Hotham you can ski down from your accommodation without riding any ski-lifts. And nowhere is closer to the ski slopes than Absollut 1, a huge open-plan two-bedroom self-contained apartment built just metres from the Basin ski run. You’re only 100 metres from the Village chairlift and 150 meters from Hotham Central – home to Hotham’s most luxurious restaurant, the White Room. You’ll enjoy unhindered views out across 320 hectares of skiable terrain and beyond to the Australian Alps. There are a number of high end self-contained apartments on the mountain suitable for couples, families or large groups and all can be booked through the official resort website.
Rates: From NZ$2,058 for two nights in ski season for up to eight guests. mthotham.com.au
What’s best about Chalet Hotham is you can see out over the ski fields and the surrounding mountains from every point of these studio, loft and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Built a few metres from the action at Hotham Central, these European-style chalets have been refurbished recently and now have all the mod-cons – from European hydronic heating throughout every room to huge, spacious lounge rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows to utilise the spectacular view, spa baths and gas log fires. You can ski right out to the slopes from your front door.
Rates: From A$619 for two people for two nights. chalethotham.com.au
Moose Lodge is at Dinner Plain, a small resort with just one poma lift and great cross-country trails, 10 kilometres from Hotham. If you detect a nod to North America at Moose Lodge, you’re on target – both architect and owner are from Colorado and it comes complete with that symbol of US residential accomplishment, the “great room”. And great it is, with a booming entertainment system, sofas enough to fill an airport lounge and a big open fireplace. Scoot around the other side of that fireplace and you’re at the wood-fired oven, heart of a huge kitchen. Moose has four big bedrooms and will sleep eight, more or less. Cross-country ski trails are out the back door and the slopes of Hotham are about half an hour up the road.
Rates: From A$3,200 per night during the ski season. mooselodge.au.com
FALLS CREEK, VICTORIA
WHERE TO SKI
This long-established and charming resort has gentle slopes with nary a scary pitch in sight. For this reason it is a firm family favourite as well as with beginners and intermediates who want to toddle around without being frightened of accidentally skiing onto an experts run. That said there are steeper slopes on which intermediates can improve their skills. With its snow-covered pedestrian village shrouded by snow gums where cars are forbidden to travel, Falls Creek is Australia’s prettiest ski resort. The village is large and the mountainside setting high enough for almost every lodge to be ski in ski out. Walking here would keep you quite fit: the streets are steep. Cars remain in the village base car park for the duration of a guest’s stay and lodges are accessed via snowcat.
WHERE TO STAY
Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek
Located at the base of Falls Creek ski resort, Quay West Resort & Spa is Australia’s most ambitious new on-snow resort. Quay West allows you to sit in your own hot tub on the balcony of your apartment or penthouse suite and look out across the village and ski runs, and down over Kiewa Valley. There’s also a restaurant, bar, café, gym and luxurious day spa within the resort. You can choose from one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
Rates: From A$225 per night. mirvachotels.com/quay-west-resort-spa-falls-creek
Mt Baw Baw Victoria
Mt Baw Baw is the closest ski resort to Melbourne, a two and a half hour drive from the capital. The resort is only small (around 30 hectares) and the slopes are mostly suited for beginners. Luxury accommodation options are limited as Baw Baw can be comfortably skied in a day trip from Melbourne.
There are a number of self-contained lodges in the village of varying quality and the pick of the bunch is Halls Retreat, a luxury one-bedroom apartment in the Tanji Creek Lodge. It’s a romantic retreat for couples, so no children allowed, but the apartment is sleek and stylish, and close to the base of the t-bar.
Rates: From A$175 per night. mtbawbaw.com.au
Coora Valley Chalet
If you’re skiing with the family try the Coora Valley Chalet. It sleeps up to six people and has a full kitchen, Wi-Fi and a mini pool table. 2013 rates are yet to be released. mtbawbaw.com.au
The name gives a nudge to the design influences, and there’s nothing wrong with that – the Scandinavians are no slouches when it comes to life and style in the snow. Fjall has a brilliant location – close to the access road on one side and to the ski trails on the other. The three-bedroom apartments can sleep up to eight and have either a balcony or an outdoor terrace. Fjall was previously a commercial lodge and its very thorough remake as apartments is only a couple of years old, so there’s no rough to the edges.
Rates: Three-bedroom apartments from A$1,395 for two nights. fjall.com.au
Astra Alpine Lodge
This large luxury lodge has something for everyone – plush double rooms, bunk beds for the kids, stylish penthouses and a huge range of communal areas like lounge bars, a swimming pool, sauna, spa, restaurant, dining room and lots of cosy spots to relax in front of the fire. If you’re after a break from skiing the property runs yoga classes or there’s a vodka bar with more than 70 varieties on offer.
Rates: Rooms from A$260 per night and penthouse suites from A$1,900 per night during the ski season. astralodge.com.au
This is a clever collection of apartments named after Ore Frueauf, a Falls Creek pioneer. The apartments come in various shapes and sizes, some of which can be joined to make large chalets that sleep as many as 12. They’re generally well-appointed and nearly all have the highlight of a hot tub on the balcony (for some it’s on the rooftop); just the thing after a day’s skiing. There’s a bar and cafe at the heart of it all and you can ski from here down the village’s snow-covered roads to the lifts.
RATES: Studios from A$561 for two nights during the ski season.
This impressive snowflake-shaped building is a nest of 14 apartments with sleek New York-style interiors. Think heated marble floors dotted with cow skin rugs, full kitchens and balconies with Jacuzzis overlooking the Kiewa Valley. Common areas feature all black walls punctuated with chic artwork. There are studios, one- to three-bedroom apartments and a four-bedroom split level penthouse. Hungry? Several top Sydney chefs have taken over the Three Blue Ducks café/restaurant on the ground floor.
RATES: Studio apartments from A$744 for two nights during the ski season.
MT BULLER, VICTORIA
WHERE TO SKI
Mt Buller is to Victoria what Thredbo is to NSW: its state’s most well-established ski village with much on offer including more than 30 bars and restaurants. Treat yourself in the impressive Breathaker spa and at the other end of the spectrum enjoy a schnapps at traditional Austrian lodge Pension Grimus. The skiing is terrific for every level – gentle learner slopes to gnarly steeps – and most lodging is ski-in ski-out. While the slopes are satisfying Mt Buller can be plagued by a lack of snow on the lower slopes. It has 22 lifts, the most of any resort in Victoria.
WHERE TO STAY
A lot about the character of desirable mountain shelter has to do with the characters they belong to. Pension Grimus has the delightfully mischevious Hans Grimus at the helm (although it’s Lotte Grimus that can be thanked for its calm and order) and it comes complete with handshakes from Hans and a tune on the squeezebox after dinner. Pension Grimus has tributes to the Tyrol region of the European Alps in its design and make-up, the rooms are smart, the bar is lively, the restaurant makes the best schnitzel this side of, well, probably Vienna and there’s a ski lift 50 metres away.
RATES: Rooms from A$275 per night and apartment from A$395 per night during the ski season.
BREATHTAKER ALL SUITE HOTEL
Built just 200 metres from the six-seater Holden Chairlift – Mt Buller’s largest and fastest chairlift – and a further 200 metres from Mt Buller’s bustling alpine village, Breathtaker offers skiers the best location on the mountain. Built on a ridge overlooking the surrounding national park, Breathtaker has luxurious and romantic suites with one of Australia’s best alpine day spas. Mt Buller’s restaurants and cafés are all close to hand while you can almost ski into your accommodation from the Bourke Street ski run.
RATES: From A$250 per night.
MT BULLER CHALET
If you are looking for the ultimate in comfort just steps away from a ski lift network here is your answer. This hotel has 61 gorgeous king rooms and suites plus a house sized penthouse featuring exotic stuffed animals collected by the property developer and owner Bruno Grollo. The dining room and cocktail bar have lovely views over the thickly wooded Victorian alps.
RATES: Rooms from A$324 per night and suites from A$500 per night during the ski season.
This luxury house sleeps up to 10 people across four bedrooms and a loft. The first floor is one large, open-plan living and dining space with a huge stone fireplace and a kitchen with a commercial espresso machine, five burner Smeg oven and double door fridge. There’s a sauna on the top floor, along with the master suite with ensuite and spa, and a drying room and laundry on the ground floor. Ski straight out the door and onto the Shaky Knees run.
RATES: From A$2,000 per night with a five-night minimum stay.
THREDBO, NEW SOUTH WALES
WHERE TO SKI
This ski destination is renowned as the most sophisticated village in New South Wales – the best bars and restaurant scene, as well as the longest runs and highest lifted point in Australia. As such it is the choice of celebrities and captains of industry. That said much work has been done to appeal to beginners and intermediates and as a result there are excellent facilities and runs for both including the Thredboland building for children. Thredbo offers over 1,100 acres of skiable terrain and a little ski-in ski-out lodging but most guests reach the lifts with the help of the village shuttle buses as the streets can be rather steep. Vast improvements in snowmaking mean it is almost always possible now to ski right to the bottom of the main runs.
WHERE TO STAY
THE DENMAN HOTEL & SPA
Set in the heart of Thredbo Village, just a few hundred metres from the chairlift, The Denman Hotel & Spa is one of the country’s best boutique alpine hotels. Boasting 36 rooms with mountain views, it combines the old world charm of Europe with ultra-modern furnishings. It also has the only full day spa in Thredbo, one of the region’s best restaurants (with floor-to-ceiling windows offering every table views over the slopes) and a cocktail bar that’s as chic as any metropolitan bar.
RATES: From A$215 per night.
This multi-storey apartment building makes great use of glass, making the apartments light and bright with unmatched views. All apartments have stone flooring, marble bathrooms, gourmet kitchens, heated drying rooms and ski lockers. The building is one street back from the mountain, facing the High Noon run.
RATES: One-bedroom apartments from A$579 for two nights and two-bedroom apartments from A$1,245 for two nights.
ON THE RUN
This luxury apartment is atop the crown of Thredbo’s five star accommodation. Located at the bottom of the Supertrail, skiers whizz straight by your double glazed windows as you sip champagne from the oversized lounge. Then again you could be availing yourself of the steam room, spa bath, king size beds or simply padding about in bare feet on the heated floors. It’s managed by Thredbo’s leading chalet leasing group Ski In Ski Out that has self-contained apartments available with one to four bedrooms.
RATES: From A$1,214 for two nights.
These apartments are so good songstress Delta Goodrem stayed here when she was engaged to Brian McFadden. The two- and three-bedroom apartments also include two penthouses, all housed in a seven-storey complex. The
main difference between this style of accommodation and On The Run is that it is slap bang in the middle of the village and offers 180-degree views of the ski slopes and Thredbo. Privacy is assured as the apartments can be accessed from the garages via a secure lobby. RATES: Apartments from A$980 for two nights.
This was once a private house which has been renovated into a luxe lodge with five bedrooms all with king beds and ensuites. Floors are heated and the lounge features a granite and wood fireplace surround sound and enormous plasma TV. The boot dryer is not only heated but deodorising, too.
RATES: From A$1,000 per night.
Sequoia is right in the middle of the village and home to Thredbo’s largest penthouse. The three-bedroom penthouse spans the entire top floor and has five balconies, a natural stone fireplace and a dining table that seats 10. If you only need something smaller choose one-bedroom unit two for the private outdoor Jacuzzi.
RATES: Apartments from A$600 for two nights.
This two-bedroom lodge is one of Thredbo’s finest. It’s spacious and stylish and perfect for families with a separate loft area as well as a five person spa and sauna, tucked away in bushland near the Merritt River (and close to the rockpool that gives it its name).
RATES: From A$6,015 per week during the ski season.
PERISHER, NEW SOUTH WALES
WHERE TO SKI
This is a vast ski field by any measure – 47 ski lifts, seven mountain peaks and four base areas. Most of the terrain (60 per cent) is intermediate and so are most Australian skiers and boarders, so it isn’t surprising that Perisher, on the numbers, is Australia’s most popular resort. However the extent of its slopes and the snow quality underpinned by its altitude mean those numbers are generally well-spread. There are some gems amongst it all, like lunch on a sunny day at the Guthega Hotel or a morning coffee at Brunelli’s in the Perisher Centre. Australia’s highest ski resort, Charlotte Pass, is just eight kilometres past Perisher. In winter an oversnow vehicle takes skiers from the Perisher Skitube station up to the resort. It’s great for families with small children and is rarely crowded, so lift lines are never a problem.
WHERE TO STAY
PERISHER VALLEY HOTEL
If location counts, then count this one in. Slopeside at Perisher’s Front Valley, the PVH is true ski-in ski-out accommodation. It has a spa, sauna and in-house massage service, a kids’ games room and Snow Gums, a bar and restaurant with some buzz. The rooms look over the slopes and are up to date with their technology and entertainment options. The PVH is part of the Perisher Centre so the resort’s kids’ centre, ski school and facilities are within easy reach.
RATES: Rooms from A$298 per night and suites from A$796 per night during the ski season.
This complex of 10 luxury apartments is just 200 metres from Perisher Village and the Skitube station. All apartments have a private spa and most have a private sauna along with full kitchens and open fireplaces.
RATES: From A$2,000 for three nights.
These apartments have all the benefits of self-contained, like a full kitchen and laundry, as well as the best qualities of a hotel, like room service and a wine list. The apartments sleep from two to eight people and many have private spa baths and gas flame fires.
RATES: Studios from A$659 for two nights.
Sitting across from the chairlift at Smiggins Hole, one of the smaller resorts that make up Perisher, Heidi’s is one of the newest properties on the mountain. All apartments are two-bedroom with private balconies and views over the ski fields.
RATES: Apartments from A$1,800 for three nights.
KOSCIUSZKO CHALET HOTEL
Charlotte Pass’ only full service hotel, the Kosciuszko Chalet was built in 1930. It has ski-in ski-out access, four bars and restaurants, and a kids’ club that runs a separate children’s dinner time so parents can relax.
RATES: Rooms from A$769 and suites from A$1,093 per person for two nights including meals, lift ticket and oversnow transport.