Ski resort

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Ski resorts in the world by country Ski resorts in the world.png
Ski resorts in the world by country

A ski resort is a resort developed for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. In Europe, most ski resorts are towns or villages in or adjacent to a ski area – a mountainous area with pistes (ski trails) and a ski lift system. In North America, it is more common for ski areas to exist well away from towns, so ski resorts usually are destination resorts, often purpose-built and self-contained, where skiing is the main activity.


Ski resort

Map of world ski resorts (interactive map) World ski resorts.png
Map of world ski resorts (interactive map)

Ski resorts are located on both northern and southern hemispheres on all continents except Antarctica. They typically are located on mountains, as they require a large slope. They also need to receive at least 50 cm (20 in) of snow (unless the resort uses dry ski slopes).

High concentrations of ski resorts are located in the Alps, Scandinavia, western and eastern North America, and Japan. There are also ski resorts in the Andes, scattered across central Asia, and in Australia and New Zealand.

Extreme locations of non-indoor (at least one ski lift outside) ski resorts:


Mzaar Kfardebian Ski Resort in Lebanon Mzaar Ski Resort1.jpg
Mzaar Kfardebian Ski Resort in Lebanon

The ski industry has identified advancing generations of ski resorts: [1] [2]

First generation
Developed around a well-established summer resort or village (e.g. Davos, St. Moritz, Kitzbühel, Chamonix, Megève, Val Gardena).
Second generation
Created from a non-tourist village or pasture (e.g. St. Anton, Lech, Courchevel, L'Alpe d'Huez, Aspen, Breckenridge).
Third generation or integrated
Designed from scratch on virgin territory to be a purpose-built ski resort, all the amenities and services nearby (e.g. Sestrière, Flaine, La Plagne, Isola 2000).
Fourth generation or village resorts
Created from virgin territory or around an existing village, but more concerned with traditional uses (e.g. Valmeinier, Valmorel, Shahdag Mountain Resort, Azerbaijan).

The term ski station is also used, particularly in Europe, for a skiing facility which is not located in or near a town or village. A ski resort which is also open for summer activities is often referred to as a mountain resort.

Facilities and amenities

This image of Zauchensee, Austria, shows the pistes, served by a gondola lift, detachable chairlift and a funicular. There is a snow fence to prevent snowdrift; and avalanche towers and avalanche barriers to mitigate the risk of avalanches 2017-18 Skigebiet Zauchensee (41).jpg
This image of Zauchensee, Austria, shows the pistes, served by a gondola lift, detachable chairlift and a funicular. There is a snow fence to prevent snowdrift; and avalanche towers and avalanche barriers to mitigate the risk of avalanches
Jasna ski resort in Slovakia Jasna-koliesko.jpg
Jasná ski resort in Slovakia
Cerro Catedral Ski Resort, Argentina Bariloche -Argentina-.jpeg
Cerro Catedral Ski Resort, Argentina
Ski resorts can also be situated on a volcano like this one on Etna in Sicily Etna nord skiresort.JPG
Ski resorts can also be situated on a volcano like this one on Etna in Sicily
Gambarie, a ski resort above the Strait of Messina Pista Azzurra Gambarie.jpg
Gambarie, a ski resort above the Strait of Messina

Ski areas have marked paths for skiing known as runs, trails or pistes. Ski areas typically have one or more chairlifts for moving skiers rapidly to the top of hills, and to interconnect the various trails. Rope tows can also be used on short slopes (usually beginner hills or bunny slopes). Larger ski areas may use gondola lifts or aerial tramways for transportation across longer distances within the ski area. Resorts post their trail map illustrating the location of lifts, trails, services and the ski area boundary, and during the ski season issue a daily snow conditions report listing open trails, operating lifts and weather status.

Ski areas usually have at least a basic first aid facility, and some kind of ski patrol service to ensure that injured skiers are rescued. The ski patrol is usually responsible for rule enforcement, marking hazards, closing individual runs (if a sufficient level of hazard exists), and removing (dismissing) dangerous participants from the area.

The typical ski area base includes a ticket office, ski lodge, ski school, equipment rental/repair shop, restaurant/bar, shopping, shuttle bus stop and parking. [3]

Some ski resorts offer lodging options on the slopes themselves, with ski-in and ski-out access allowing guests to ski right up to the door. Ski resorts often have other activities, such as snowmobiling, sledding, horse-drawn sleds, dog-sledding, ice-skating, indoor or outdoor swimming, and hot tubbing, game rooms, and local forms of entertainment, such as clubs, cinema, theaters and cabarets. Après-ski (French : after skiing) is a term for entertainment, nightlife or social events that occur specifically at ski resorts. [4] [5] These add to the enjoyment of resort-goers and provide something to do besides skiing and snowboarding. The culture originated in the Alps, where it is most popular and where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear. [6]

Though the word ‘ski’ is a derivation of the Old Norse ‘skíð’ via Norwegian, the choice of French is likely attributed to the early popularity of such activities in the French Alps, with which it was then linked. [7]

Environmental impacts

The process of resort development have progressed since the birth of the skiing industry. As the economic role of the skiing industry grew, the environmental impact of resort development has also caused environmental burdens on the natural ecosystem including mountain water levels of lakes, streams, and wildlife. [8] Amenities and infrastructure such as concrete buildings, ski-lifts, gondolas, access roads, parking lots, and railways have contributed to the urbanization of mountainous zones.

Primary (direct) impact of resort development

In recent years, the use of snow cannons has increased due to the fall in the volume of snow. In order to obtain good quality snow, dust or bacteria is mixed with the water in the process of snow making to form better snowflakes. Not only that the manufacture of artificial snow is costly and uses large amounts of water, but sometimes the creation of artificial lakes is necessary for the snow-making process. Snow cannons redistribute a large amount of water unnaturally over the land and freezes the ground vegetation late into spring, preventing growth and leaving pistes bare. [8] With enough excess water, the likelihood of landslides and avalanches may be drastically higher.

Secondary (indirect) impact of resort development

The required space for hotels, flats and secondary residences has increased the amount of space occupied by roads and buildings. [8] While a large number of people requires special water, sewage and electricity systems, a great deal of construction work is needed. Access roads and the treatment of salt are responsible for high amounts of erosion at ski resorts. In some cases natural lakes must be tapped or reservoirs built to cater for the population demand. The urbanization of mountainous areas have increased the space of impervious surface, and prevents the natural flow of water into the ground, resulting in a disturbed water table and potential cause of erosion in undesired places. Lastly, when building ski lifts, its line of operation must be shaped and drained, and large concrete blocks must be set down for pylons. [8] If the pylons are not carefully placed, it could cause damage to surface vegetation.

See also

Related Research Articles

Gondola lift Aerial transport by cable

A gondola lift is a means of cable transport and type of aerial lift which is supported and propelled by cables from above. It consists of a loop of steel wire rope that is strung between two stations, sometimes over intermediate supporting towers. The cable is driven by a bullwheel in a terminal, which is typically connected to an engine or electric motor. It is often considered a continuous system since it features a haul rope which continuously moves and circulates around two terminal stations. In contrast, an aerial tramway operates solely with fixed grips and simply shuttles back and forth between two end terminals.

Serre Chevalier

Serre Chevalier is a major ski resort in Southeastern France, near the Italian border, located in the Hautes-Alpes department, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. Situated to the northeast of Écrins National Park in the French Alps, the resort encompasses a large skiing area, with 250 km (155 mi) of slopes and favourable weather, boasting 300 days of sunshine a year. In Serre Chevalier, 80 km (50 mi) of the slopes are covered by snow cannons to supplement natural snowfall. The resort is owned by Compagnie des Alpes.

Portes du Soleil

Les Portes du Soleil is a major skisports destination in the Alps, encompassing thirteen resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland. With more than 650 km of marked pistes and about 200 lifts in total, spread over 14 valleys and about 1,036 square kilometres (400 sq mi), Portes du Soleil ranks among the two largest ski areas in the world. Almost all of the pistes are connected by lifts – a few marginal towns can be reached only by the free bus services in the area. The highest altitude accessible on skis is 2260m and the lowest is 930m. As with many other Alpine ski resorts, the lower slopes of the Portes du Soleil have snow-making facilities to extend the ski season by keeping the lower slopes open during the warmer months.

St Anton am Arlberg Place in Tyrol, Austria

Sankt Anton am Arlberg, commonly referred to as St. Anton, is a village and ski resort in the Austrian state of Tyrol. It lies in the Tyrolean Alps, with aerial tramways and chairlifts up to 2,811 m (9,222 ft), yielding a vertical drop of 1,507 m (4,944 ft). It is also a popular summer resort among hikers, trekkers and mountaineers.

Obertauern Winter sports resort in Austria

Obertauern is a tourist destination which is located in the Radstädter Tauern in the Salzburger Land of Austria. The winter sports resort is separated in two communities: Tweng and Untertauern.

Les Trois Vallées Ski region in France

Les Trois Vallées is a ski region in the Tarentaise Valley in the Savoie department of Southeastern France, to the south of the town of Moûtiers, partly in Vanoise National Park.


Tignes-les-Brevières (1550m) is a small skiing village in the French Alps that is the lowest point of the ski resort of Tignes.

Tignes Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Tignes is a commune in the Tarentaise Valley, in the Savoie department in the Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France, known for the highest skiable area in Europe and the longest ski season in Europe. It is located in the Savoie region with good transport links in and out of Lyon, Geneva and Chambéry.

Piste Marked ski run

A piste is a marked ski run or path down a mountain for snow skiing, snowboarding, or other mountain sports.

Galtür Place in Tyrol, Austria

Galtür is a village and ski resort in the upper Paznaun valley in Austrian state of Tyrol located in the Central Eastern Alps 35 km southwest of Landeck near the border of Vorarlberg and Switzerland.

Big White Ski Resort Ski resort in British Columbia, Canada

Big White Ski Resort, or simply Big White, is a ski resort located 56 km (35 mi) southeast of Kelowna in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Located on Big White Mountain, the highest summit in the Okanagan Highland, an upland area between the Monashee Mountains and the Okanagan Valley. Big White is also the third-largest resort in British Columbia, after Whistler-Blackcomb and Sun Peaks. Furthermore, in 2019 Big White was nominated as the third-best ski resort in the nation by Snowpak.

Les Arcs

Les Arcs is a ski resort located in Savoie, France, in the Tarentaise Valley town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Initially created by Robert Blanc and Roger Godino, it is a part of the huge Paradiski system which is under ownership by Compagnie des Alpes, a French-listed company owning several other ski resorts as well as theme parks.

Les Deux Alpes Ski resort in France

Les Deux Alpes is a ski resort in the French department of Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The village sits at 1,650 m (5,413 ft) and lifts run to 3,600 m (11,811 ft). It has the largest skiable glacier in Europe and is France's second oldest ski resort behind Chamonix. It has the longest, normally open full on-piste vertical available in the world. It is a 71 km (44 mi) drive southeast of Grenoble.


Borovets, known as Chamkoria until the middle of the 20th century, is a popular Bulgarian mountain resort situated in Sofia Province, on the northern slopes of Rila, at an altitude of 1350 m. Borovets is about 10 km from Samokov, about 70 km from Sofia and about 110 km from Plovdiv.

Alpendorf is a village and a part of the town St. Johann im Pongau. It is 55 km (34 mi) south of the Austrian city of Salzburg. It is at an altitude of 850 m (2,790 ft) above sea level.

Montgenèvre Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Montgenèvre is a commune on the Italian border in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in Southeastern France. In 2018, it had a population of 456.

Val Cenis Vanoise

Val Cenis is a ski and mountain resort situated in the Haute-Maurienne region of the French Alps, close to the Italian border. It is composed of five villages; Lanslebourg, Lanslevillard, Termignon, Sollières-Sardières and Bramans. The villages sit between 1200m and 1500m, respectively, and lifts climb to a maximum altitude of 2740m. The resort is not very well known due to its location at the end of a valley and difficulty of access and attracts a mainly French, Italian, Belgian and Dutch contingent each winter. It is a lot quieter than larger ski resorts in the French Alps and does not normally suffer from long lift queues. It is ideally located in the Maurienne region with good transport links in and out of Modane, Lyon, Geneva and Chambery.

Valloire Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Valloire is a commune in the Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France.

Shahdag Mountain Resort

Shahdag Mountain Resort is Azerbaijan's first and largest winter resort.

This glossary of skiing and snowboarding terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon used in skiing, snowboarding, and related winter sports.


  1. Heller, Mark F., editor (1979) The Skier's Encyclopedia Paddington Press ISBN   9780448224282 pg 15–18, 140–145, 157–159
  2. R. Knaffou (1978) Les Stations intégrées de sports d'hiver dans les Alpes françaises, Paris: Masson ISBN   9782225494123
  3. Berry, I. William (1984) The Great North American Ski Book Scribners ISBN 0-684-18207-6 page 72-73
  4. "Definition of après-ski". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  5. Flower, Raymond (1976) The History of Skiing and Other Winter Sports; Toronto, New York: Methuen Inc. ISBN   0-458-92780-5 pp 132-141
  6. Lund, Morton (March 2007). "Tea Dance To Disco. Après-Ski Through the Ages". Skiing Heritage Journal. 19 (1): 6–12. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  7. Harper, Douglas. "ski (n.)". Etymology Online. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Chivers, John (1994). "Effects of the Skiing Industry on the Environment" (PDF). School of International Studies and Law, Coventry University.