By Jenna Realmuto
For thousands of years, in a season that can seem frightfully unforgiving, winter adventurers have embraced the powdery snow that blankets rooftops, trees and frigid terrain by donning skis and gliding weightlessly through the trees and sleet.
But where to travel to find the ultimate winter wonderland? Resorts can sometimes be kitschy and overrun with tourists, but one should never settle for run-of-the-mill. From the Swiss Alps to the Italian Dolomites to the Sierra Madre, here are the most awe-inspiring destinations—and the most luxurious chalets—to hit the slopes.
Of all the Alpine vistas, none are more thrilling than the Italian Dolomites. The groove-shaped peaks present stunning hues that whimsically dance with the sun’s arc. One drinks in the atmosphere instead of simply being awestruck. If you land here towards the end of ski season, the flowers begin to peep out of the snow, and a stop in a rustic hillside taverna fills your lungs with the aroma of fresh gnocchi and hearty sauces. Perhaps crown your meal with a cumin grappa. The Dolomites tug at the heartstrings like a Puccini aria, and the memory never completely fades. Very few with the means to return fail to do so—it’s impossible to ignore the beckoning of Cortina d’Ampezzo, the cherished heart of the Southern Alps. A longtime jetset location for the European aristocracy, the town centre enchants with a castle-like bell tower reigning against a backdrop of grandiose mountain peaks. Throughout its history, Cortina has housed and aroused artists and intellectuals—Hemingway once lived a year here—so perhaps the serenity will inspire the next masterpiece. Whether one is feeling creative or is itching to strap on the skis, Cortina d’Ampezzo is the perfect landing.