Ideas from those well traveled.

Sbooker

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I'm planning a trip with friends that has different requirements to my own (previous) trips. Some parameters are set out under.
* Friends are a little price sensitive so US and Europe are unlikely due to exchange rate.
* Flights are less important as one works for Virgin and will get uber cheap flights.
* A hill or hills wanted that offers some alternative things to do as one of the group won't want to ski all the time. Think hot pools, interesting town close by etc.
* Hill or hills need to have beginner/early intermediate terrain (for friends) plus stuff that will keep me and my wife interested. Something like Aspen Snowmass would be perfect but for the price sensitive bit. As would Park City, Big Sky, Mammoth, Whistler etc

I'm thinking something in Canada as I've not been to Japan and would prefer to go when I can enjoy the famed powder without worrying if the friends are having a good time. We've done the ski areas around Banff a number of times so would prefer to avoid that. I'm thinking Panorama with a Banff side trip for the 'guests' to check out the town. Or would Sun Peaks fit the bill? Time frame is February 2020.
 

LMB

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So obviously my area of greatest knowledge is Niseko, so I’ll talk about how that may suit your people and leave other destinations to those who are more familiar, even though you had seemed to rule it out, it may not be such a bad option.

I’ve done the group plus non skier thing to Zermatt and had an absolute blast - but that was exxy.

So as far as the costs go: while Niseko is expensive for Japan it is not really all that expensive on an international ticks all your boxes scale. Especially if you book something a little further out than the upper village - a nice lodge in Izumikyo or a house to share, and grab a car - supermarket adventures in Kutchan are cheap and fun, saving the cost of eating out all the time.

There are bunny slopes through to lift accessed backcountry, and if that’s not gnarly enough for you you can always grab a guide and hike Yotei. There are a couple of brilliant lifts on the mountain where a good rider can lap with an intermediate, go opposite directions and meet again at the bottom - trees and fun one way, intermediate groomer the other way.

Your nonskier/skiers can do cross country skiing, guided snowshoe nature walks, snowmobiling, snow biking (power and pedal), outdoor high ropes adventure course, visit the art gallery, go shopping (local artisan, gift ships and ski shops), do a cooking class, do a powder yoga class, visit a float tank (new this year), get any number of beauty treatments, get the best foot massage known to man at Niseko Foot, or just grab a coffee and watch the world go by. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of possibilities.

Just throwing it out there as an option.
 

Legs Akimbo

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Is the US definitely out of the picture? Most of the places in North America I can think of that fit your criteria are in the US. Places like Jackson Hole can be cheaper if you stay in the town of Jackson, not Teton Village (the resort). It is a short commute from town to skiing by car or bus and there is lots of non-skiing stuff to do. Lift tickets can be expensive. Or staying in Salt Lake City and commuting up to resorts. Again by car or bus. Salt Lake is a proper city with great scenery nearby.
 

Sbooker

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Europe and US not definitely out.
I’ve just come back from Europe. We had a blast but decent accomodation close to the snow is expensive. US accom and lift tickets are the same because of the exchange rate. I thought staying near the snow would be less effort for the beginners.
 

Tanuki

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Japan has everything you asked for.
yep, this and what @LMB said. Re your op, if you choose the right place in Japan you won't need to 'worry about enjoying the famed powder without worrying if the friends are having a good time'
 

Heinz

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I wouldn't rule anything out just based on exchange rates (well maybe Schweiz). You can get cheap(ish) and expensive options everywhere. I won't comment much on North America as you seem to be across that in any case - certainly the big name places like Aspen, Vail, Whistler etc will be expensive. There will be smaller cheaper places but whether they offer as much for non skiers I don't know.

Japan options would be onsen resorts like Nozawa or Zao. Not sure how much the recent influx of Chinese to Zao has increased prices, but there will still be plenty of easily affordable options and lots of public onsens and other things to do. Furano is another I always suggested for this type of request, although I hear it is starting to get a bit busier.

Europe certainly has much more to offer non skiers with many traditional towns and cities of different cultures near ski areas. Austria also has several thermal hot pool resort areas, although quite different to Japan. In Austria they are more of a luxury, so staying in a spa resort type hotel will be more expensive as opposed to Japan where it is a normal thing for everyone. Japan onsens are generally segregated. In Austria though you could stay at a basic inexpensive pension (B&B) and visit a spa on a daily basis. Somewhere like Badgastein or bad Hofgastein would be good.
Otherwise you have plenty of ski areas close to interesting towns and cities. Places right by lifts in a ski area will be more expensive, but it is generally pretty easy to find inexpensive pensions a short ski shuttle bus trip away. I've just this week been looking at accommodation in a certain area in Tirol - directly in the resort towns it was hard to find much under €100/night but then I found a place in the valley a 12min free bus trip away for just €35/night. That is quite common.
Plenty of ski areas close to Innsbruck & Salzburg. You can pick a lower proifile ski area close to one of those avoiding the more expensive options like St Anton. Schladming would also be a good option.
 

Harper11

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Impossible not to have a good time
A lot easier than Europe or Japan for the type of trip described
 

bluestick

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Fun question. as mentioned Japan (Hakuba/Niseko although i'm not a fan, Myoko, Zao, Nozawa, Furano, Otaru, Sapporo, Asahikawa & Morrioka with a car). Japan and Europe for kultcha/history/ interesting guff beat anywhere in North America (may as well be in aus). France has some great great value options ( e.g Haute Maurianne or Annecy). OTOH for real excitement you could try Gulmarg, Georgia, Slovenia.
 

BoofHead

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Aspen Snowmass had some good deals last year. Was very happy to get back here even though it was a sh1tty season in Jan.
 

LMB

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Fun question. as mentioned Japan (Hakuba/Niseko although i'm not a fan, Myoko, Zao, Nozawa, Furano, Otaru, Sapporo, Asahikawa & Morrioka with a car). Japan and Europe for kultcha/history/ interesting guff beat anywhere in North America (may as well be in aus). France has some great great value options ( e.g Haute Maurianne or Annecy). OTOH for real excitement you could try Gulmarg, Georgia, Slovenia.
Could be some deadset bargains in Eastern European locations!
 

Budgiesmuggler

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Impossible not to have a good time
A lot easier than Europe or Japan for the type of trip described

Except the 2 times I went to whistler there was no pow and the backcountry was hard. Japan is much more reliable
 

sly_karma

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Sun Peaks has more happening in its resort village than most western Canada ski areas, I would say more than anywhere but Whistler. A serious shopper would quickly get bored, but there's lots going on for someone who wants to ski part of the day and then do something off snow as well. Whistler has amazing range of off snow stuff to do, but it is at a higher price level for accoms, lifts, dining, night life.

Pano has the terrain mix you want, and the slopeside hot pools and water slides are a lot of fun. But there's not much to do off snow beyond that. Shopping is mainly restricted to snow related stuff. Invermere is 20 minute drive and shuttles are sparse, plus it's pretty quiet in winter.

I guess the question to be asked is if your less fanatical skier would want to spend entire days off skis, or do they want morning turns and afternoon village time? Are they prepared to spend a day or two on their own while everyone else skis? Are they willing or able to drive? Western Canada doesnt have much for resorts embedded into towns the way Europe does so well, or even the old mining town with lifts concept like Telluride and Crested Butte. Really there is only Whistler and Sun Peaks. Banff doesnt have lifts right in town, neither does Fernie or Rossland although they are certainly ski towns.
 
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Sbooker

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Sun Peaks has more happening in its resort village than most western Canada ski areas, I would say more than anywhere but Whistler. A serious shopper would quickly get bored, but there's lots going on for someone who wants to ski part of the day and then do something off snow as well. Whistler has amazing range of off snow stuff to do, but it is at a higher price level for accoms, lifts, dining, night life.

Pano has the terrain mix you want, and the slopeside hot pools and water slides are a lot of fun. But there's not much to do off snow beyond that. Shopping is mainly restricted to snow related stuff. Invermere is 20 minute drive and shuttles are sparse, plus it's pretty quiet in winter.

I guess the question to be asked is if your less fanatical skier would want to spend entire days off skis, or do they want morning turns and afternoon village time? Are they prepared to spend a day or two on their own while everyone else skis? Are they willing or able to drive? Western Canada doesnt have much for resorts embedded into towns the way Europe does so well, or even the old mining town with lifts concept like Telluride and Crested Butte. Really there is only Whistler and Sun Peaks. Banff doesnt have lifts right in town, neither does Fernie or Rossland although they are certainly ski towns.

I think they will ski part of every day. I will be urging them to have at least a few lessons and will try to spend some time skiing with them the days they don’t have lessons.
The ‘on snow’ part would also satisfy the tight ones as they could duck back to the accom for lunch. Something like Whistler wouldn’t be so ideal in that regard as the base is pretty low and more of a hassle to back to - like a lot of Austrian ski towns.
I really need a cheap Aspen Snowmass!:)
 

gareth_oau

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Canadian Dollar is almost psrity ith AUD, and relatively stable

Sun Peaks offers ice skating, ice hockey, dog sledding, snow shoeing, horse carriage rides, snow mobiling, fat bikes, snow bikes.

close to Kamloops as a decent support town, and can watch Ice Hockey at the local stadium (games are professional level equivalent to say VFL football)
 

spunk72

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If US is a consideration, I would recommend taking a look at Steamboat in Colarado. We went on a family holiday there a few years ago and had a lot of fun.The cowboy town of Steamboat Springs has an interesting history and has enough shops, cafes and restaurants to keep non-skiiers busy. Plus there are some thermal springs to visit and we even did a night out staring with a horse drawn sleigh, followed by an awesome dinner out at the Golf Resort. The skiing offers plenty for all levels. I am an advanced intermediate and there was challenging pistes, black bowls up the top to drop into, and some off piste and slack country to explore. There were plenty of lovely greens and blues for my children to explore and the ski school was brilliant. There is a good network of shuttle buses to get you around, plus big supermarkets etc if you want to self cater, there is all types of accom to choose from.
https://www.steamboat.com/things-to-do/activities
 

spunk72

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I should add I was super impressed with the ski school there. The instructors were great. It was a super friendly place, the locals and staff made a difference here. You can stay slopeside too. It just had a nice casual vibe, and gets good powder dumps as well.
 

Whatever really

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I must agree with the whistler recommendation, it’s hard to beat and has it all on and off the mountain.
Or
What about Big White or silverstar?
I’ve done Big White and it was great but less to do when not skiing compared to Whistler.
 

Marty McSly

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I must agree with the whistler recommendation, it’s hard to beat and has it all on and off the mountain.
Or
What about Big White or silverstar?
I’ve done Big White and it was great but less to do when not skiing compared to Whistler.
I crossed paths with @bluess57 in Sun Peaks 2 years ago. I went on to Whistler and was mindblown at the size of the place and how busy it was (in the quiet week between President's week and BC spring break).

He went on to Silver Star and remarked that, compared to Sun Peaks, it was like an amusement park in the snow.
 

offshore

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I'm planning a trip with friends that has different requirements to my own (previous) trips. Some parameters are set out under.
* Friends are a little price sensitive so US and Europe are unlikely due to exchange rate.

Don't discount Austria. It can be surprisingly cheap, especially if you go the self contained apartment route. We had a really nice apartment in Solden a few years back for 4 ppl @ about 35-40 Euro per person per night. Skipasses are also relatively inexpensive, especially when you go multi day.

And of course it's really the ultimate ski destination. Nowhere else has the combination of mountains, terrain, apres and atmosphere.

I'd suggest taking a look at Seefeld, Solden or one of the Arlberg resorts (not St Anton though as the beginners would struggle). These villages also have stuff to do on non ski days, and you can do day trips to places like Innsbruck or Salzburg.
 

MarzNC

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If US is a consideration, I would recommend taking a look at Steamboat in Colarado. We went on a family holiday there a few years ago and had a lot of fun.The cowboy town of Steamboat Springs has an interesting history and has enough shops, cafes and restaurants to keep non-skiiers busy. Plus there are some thermal springs to visit and we even did a night out staring with a horse drawn sleigh, followed by an awesome dinner out at the Golf Resort. The skiing offers plenty for all levels. I am an advanced intermediate and there was challenging pistes, black bowls up the top to drop into, and some off piste and slack country to explore. There were plenty of lovely greens and blues for my children to explore and the ski school was brilliant. There is a good network of shuttle buses to get you around, plus big supermarkets etc if you want to self cater, there is all types of accom to choose from.
https://www.steamboat.com/things-to-do/activities
Agree with the idea of Steamboat. Flying into Hayden means no rental car needed. Multiple lodging options that are pretty close to the slopes. I went as an intermediate only skiing groomers a while back and had a good time. I liked the town better than Aspen. One of the places I thought that taking my daughter would make sense before we ended up making Alta our regular spring break destination.

The other area that could work is Tahoe. But need to do some research about slope side lodging options. Note that South Tahoe and North Tahoe are quite different in terms of vibe and ski options. Crowded on weekends but okay midweek. Scenery is fantastic. Even beginners can find places to get a good view of the lake. Can ski cheaper at the smaller areas like Homewood, Diamond Peak, or Mt. Rose if willing to do a little driving.

Whitefish gets mentioned more often these days. But I don't have any personal experience. Only issue often mentioned is lack of visibility due to fog off the lake.

https://www.bigskyfishing.com/Montana-Info/skiing-whitefish-mountain.php
 

Sbooker

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Still considering all options obviously. So many ideas - thanks. My friends really like the idea of US or Canada and Europe is harder logistically.
I personally think Whistler is not ideal. Firstly the crowds and secondly the erratic snow conditions mid mountain down if we were unlucky enough to get rain.
Same goes for Tahoe. Great on a ‘feast’ year but not so great on a ‘famine’ year.
Salt Lake City would be ideal but staying on mountain is expensive and newbies dragging gear to cars and then driving may get tiresome. I guess Park City is an option but after skiing Alta, Snowbird, Brighton I’m thinking I would spend the time wishing I was over the hill.
Mammoth seems to be a bit more reliable than Tahoe so maybe that’s an option.
 

absentskier

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Still considering all options obviously. So many ideas - thanks. My friends really like the idea of US or Canada and Europe is harder logistically.
I personally think Whistler is not ideal. Firstly the crowds and secondly the erratic snow conditions mid mountain down if we were unlucky enough to get rain.
Same goes for Tahoe. Great on a ‘feast’ year but not so great on a ‘famine’ year.
Salt Lake City would be ideal but staying on mountain is expensive and newbies dragging gear to cars and then driving may get tiresome. I guess Park City is an option but after skiing Alta, Snowbird, Brighton I’m thinking I would spend the time wishing I was over the hill.
Mammoth seems to be a bit more reliable than Tahoe so maybe that’s an option.
If you are looking at US, look long and hard at Steamboat. Great town (much more laid back than Aspen), great hill, excellent snow. It's a good combination.
 
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